Shortage of experts in Islamic banking and finance remains a challenge

BRUNEI DARUSSALAM: More local Islamic banking and finance experts are needed to produce industry-ready professionals to fuel the country’s economy and realise its aspiration of becoming an Islamic financial hub, according to a senior academic.

Speaking during a press conference to announce details of 5th Asean Universities International Conference of Islamic Finance (AICIF), Dr Abdul Nasir bin Haji Abdul Rani, Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Economics and Finance at the Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) said the limited number of local experts in the field of Islamic banking and finance in the country still presents as a main challenge, hindering the country’s vision to become an Islamic financial hub.

But he said concrete efforts are well underway to realise the aspiration.

“In order to realise this vision, we need to be able to generate the relevant human capital and skilled workforce and in order to achieve this, more experts are needed to train them,” Dr Abdul Nasir said.

In UNISSA itself, he said, the presence of local Islamic banking and finance industry practitioners and experts which makes up 40 per cent of the university’s teaching staff is helping to realise this aspiration, through the transfer of information from experts who have valuable practical experience in the industry itself.

As the country strives towards achieving its aspiration to become an Islamic financial hub, Dr Abdul Nasir also mentioned of some of UNISSA’s key efforts in realising this vision. The university recently received an endorsement from the Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM) for having 96 per cent its courses and modules in its Faculty of Islamic Economics and Finance aligned with industry needs in Brunei.

“This shows that UNISSA is committed in ensuring that we have trained local professionals ready for the industry for realising the country’s vision,” he said.

The 5th AICIF, hosted by UNISSA, took place in December in collaboration with seven renowned Asean universities.

The annual conference will see hundreds of academics, experts and professionals of Islamic Finance convene in the Sultanate to discuss current issues and future prospects of Islamic banking and finance and its impact to the regional and international communities.

Revolving around the theme ‘Issues, Challenges and Future Prospect of Islamic Banking and Finance’, Dr Abdul Nasir explained that the 5th AICIF, hosted by Brunei for the first time, will be a platform for discussions and evaluations on the latest developments on Islamic banking and finance.

At the end of the conference, a resolution of recommendations will be made to relevant parties with significant interest in the banking and Islamic finance industry such as academics, practitioners and regulators, for the future direction of Islamic banking and finance.

The conference that will be held at the Parkview Hotel in Jerudong will see the presentation of two keynotes from renowned experts and also simultaneous presentation of some 130 working papers tackling different issues such as the capital markets, compliance, innovation, takaful, risk management, social finance and human capital in Islamic banking and finance, which will be delivered by different experts from the Asean region, the European Union, the Middle East and the African regions.

A highlight of the event will be the keynote address by Professor Dr Abdul Ghafar bin Ismail, Professor of Islamic Economics and Finance at UNISSA who will elaborate on the vast potentials for Brunei and the Asean region as a whole to collaborate and leverage on the growth of Islamic banking finance and how Brunei – which holds the largest number of Islamic finance assets in Asean – can contribute and collaborate with other countries as Asean implements economic integration initiatives through its Asean Economic Community (AEC).

Professor Dr Abdul Ghafar during the press conference said that the potential for growth of the Islamic banking and finance industry in Asean is often overlooked. He hopes his findings and research that will be presented during the 5th AICIF will further add value to the economic integration efforts by Asean.