Time for change in Islamic finance

Reading the article Why are we seeing so many corporate scandals?  
By Prof. Dr. Amit S. Mukherjee  I liked the questions that Prof. Amit raises.
The queries resonated with the planner in me and I found them to be interesting. I say interesting because, whilst the erosion of trust has impacted quite heavily on the financial sector and probably enabled the growth of technology based financial solutions or FinTech, these questions are very valid across all industries including the Islamic finance industry.

Here are the questions Prof. Dr. Amit raises:

  1. Have we rethought how we work in a digital age when work increasingly requires large doses of unseen discretionary effort?
  2. Have we redesigned processes and structures to surface problems before these become crises?
  3. Have we allowed the free flow of key information to distributed decision makers?
  4. Have we created collaborative, learning-focused cultures?

Looking at the environment, in which the Islamic finance industry is operating, currently makes these questions quite critical, from an organizational perspective, with regards to sustainability of the various business models
in operation.

There are three key issues that get highlighted when one runs the above mentioned questions through business continuity thinking.

Starting with talent management & development and its allied areas of
learning & development, given the necessity of managing increasing numbers of Millennials, entering the workforce, along with providing gender diversity and equality coupled with ensuring professional development of the existing employees, the need to develop and incorporate digital and its various usages in work and its processes assume significant importance.

This leads into the second key issue of leadership competency.

On one hand erosion of trust, in financial institutions is at an all-time high, on the other technology in the form of social media has made the world a very small place where real-time personal engagement and word-of-mouth recommendation is given preference over any corporate statement or communication. This has created a need for a different type of leadership competency requirement. The control & command leadership style of yesteryear simply does not work in a world where knowledge and technology are driving the comparative advantage for an organization. There is a serious need for industry leadership to be empathetic and transparent in order to create engagement with society and employees simultaneously in order to develop social capital for the organization, from a business continuity perspective.

Thirdly is the issue of technology and its impact.

FinTech, in its various forms, has already impacted the conventional financial sector greatly by disrupting the historical business models. The driving force behind this technology usage and acceptance is the development of the smart phone technology and the need for the layman to have direct and quick access to finances. Add to this the developments taking place in the Islamic economy industry verticals, such as the increasing demand for innovative financing by the start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures, and you have a potential scenario of the Islamic finance industry losing out on big-time growth opportunities as these opportunities will get fulfilled by new financial start-ups who are agile and able to collaborate faster, as maybe required, with the changes in the regulatory landscape.

Whilst asset growth, increase in Islamic social responsible investment and convergence of ESG and Islamic finance are occurring  we, the individual organizations of the  industry, need to create strong sustainability and continuity plans to protect ourselves from further economic upheavals which are still bound to happen. 

Quoting Dave Ulrich‘Wars are won through organisation and you have victory by being in it together.’

This can only happen when we focus on people—employees, customers and partners—and look at the experience we deliver to them and the social issues we solve in order to create and retain engagement and build social capital in our mission for business sustainability.




What I Learnt in 2014

2014 has been a catalytic year for me in more ways than one. Professionally as a senior corporate executive and leader the lessons have helped me better myself. Here are my top five learnings:


Visual Courtesy: www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk
Visual Courtesy: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk


#1 Leadership

Top of the list is leadership as that’s what provides direction, growth and self-development.

Lesson #1 in leadership was getting to understand and use my own emotional intelligence to read the climate and culture of my team in order to earn the respect of being their team leader and providing guidance that is valued, appreciated and most importantly recognized.  As a leader why is it so important to recognise and accept emotions? It’s because as humans we are emotional beings and our emotions impact on our behaviour which in turn affects our business actions.

Lesson #2 was the value of authenticity, as a leader, from my team. Being one’s self in action and thought and asking the team to identify how we could step up our game a notch brought about higher engagement. It created strong bonding and camaraderie to the extent that famous quote “All for one, One for All” (from The Three Musketeers)—was our team motto. Authenticity helped me in understanding and using the team culture in guiding the team to achieve their stretch targets with a smile on their faces.

#2 Culture

“Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you’ve got.” Peter Drucker.

For an organization, culture is defined by the actions of its leaders, its people and the processes.

The lesson I learnt here was an eye-opener! One can be extremely competent technically but what is important is the ability to present one’s point-of-view keeping in mind the recipients’ cultural perspective which frames receptivity.  Technically one can be the best of the best by any parameters but what gets one ahead is the ability to manage both upwards and downwards. In order to have this skill, understanding the culture at play is very important.

#3 Advocacy

Employee advocacy is, perhaps, the least visited or viewed area among Asian organisations. One wonders why when business is by the people for the people. People are the only asset that organisations today, can use to create competitive advantage for themselves.  Providing peer and social recognition of an employee leads to a massive increase in commitment from that employee leading to advocacy that impact positively on the bottom-line. Yet the lack of specific employee engagement strategies emerging from the business plans leaves one wondering about the value an organisation gives to its employees. Is that why we see entrepreneurism on the rise?

#4 Growth

Having being involved in business strategy and its related initiatives in the corporate world for over two decades one key learning I have is that there is a direct correlation between business growths with individual growth. Alignment and line-of-sight between an individual’s goals, functional role and the business goal of the organisation is critical in obtaining commitment with accountability.

In the year past, by achieving this alignment within my operational team, it enabled the team to channel their passion into key initiatives thus surpassing achievements with flying colours. 

This brought into focus the importance of the marketing and human resource functions working closely together in order to map both, individual career growth and the organizations’ business growth.

#5 Profit or Social Responsibilities

For as long as we can remember the basic purpose of business has been to make profit. There is a major amount of literature on this topic on the public domain. Given the changing consumer behaviour, as a result of the financial crises and increase in technology usage, businesses have had to re-look at the profit-maximization model that had been in use. Trust, word-of-mouth referral and most importantly brand experience  that delivers a tangibly perceived value is the order of the day.

Managing a NPO doesn’t mean not achieving the profit target. Without that sustainability is in question.

For me the value of managing the business and marketing functions of an NPO is in the fact that one can put key social responsibilities as primary objective and through the achievement of those goals achieve the profit targets. This is what makes the functional role so very interesting and different from a pure profit-only organization.


I would be happy to know of your top five lessons of 2014 as well as your observations on my lessons.

Wishing you a very Happy & Prosperous 2015.




The (Im)Possible Role of Your Social Media Manager

Businesses are using social media for a host of reasons today. Many run very structured social media strategies and many just run it as is. Whichever method may work for your business, at the end of the day its crucial to remember that at the end of the social media channel is a person. Social  media is but the technology to enable you to connect with another person. Thus, having a full time person to manage your social media presence and enhance your brand reputation becomes a critical success factor.

This presentation highlights, in a very entertaining manner, how important it is to have a central “point of control” person or a “Social Media Manager” to hold together all inputs and outputs to and from the organisation.

The following is courtesy: Carrie Kerpen — co-founder and CEO of Likeable Media, which is an award-winning, global social media & word-of-mouth marketing agency.

Social Media, Revolutions, Ties (And Nine Cross-Disciplines To Think About)

Post by: Mustafa Stefan Dill

Although I’m both a social media geek and a Muslim concerned with developments in the Middle East, I’ve  actively resisted writing about the role of social media in the Arab push for democracy because there’s plenty o’ punditry on that front to go around.

However, some articles that seek to dismiss social media’s role in events — most notably Malcom Gladwell’s
two pieces (first in October and then a sniffy defense in early February) and Devin Caldeway’s piece on  TechCrunch — display an incredible lack of understanding of the user behavior behind how social media is used.

Read the full article here

7 Reasons Your Content Strategy Is Going To Fail

Post By: Hilton Barbour

Like it or not, there’s no simple path to a successful content strategy for your site or social media program. Its tough sledding.

However, there are a number of easy pitfalls to avoid, rookie mistakes that will undermine your efforts every time.

If you’re like most marketers today chances are content creation is becoming an increasingly important part of your marketing activities. As social media has exploded, the need for compelling, intriguing, relevant and sharable content has exploded too. And as quickly as that content demand has risen, the half-life of content freshness seems to have diminished.

Read more at 7 Reasons

Does Your Brand Need a Community Manager?

Post By: Hilton Barbour

Community Manager

Social media has quickly become the de facto for interaction and communication, emerging as the new gateway for consumer influence. With social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook giving consumers the power to directly impact a brand’s performance, businesses are hiring a new member of the marketing team to not only monitor these channels, but also interact with consumers.  Commonly referred to as the Community Manager, these brand ambassadors are a company’s direct link to its customers, owning the critical responsibility to grow, shape and respond to online conversations happening around that brand.

Read the full article here.