Monday, 14 February 2011

Why full fledged Islamic Banks?

Bismillahirohmanirohim (In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate)

Recently I have applied for a position in al-Rajhi bank. They got back to me saying that the position was unavailable and they asked me if I were interested to apply for Graduate Management Trainee Program. I see that I have got nothing to lose, I proceed with the application. There were 2500++ applicants but they(al-Rajhi bank) were only looking for 2-3 candidates and I was the one who were successful through my CV but not through my interview. After being unsuccessful with my application, I am always posed with questions like why don't you go on and apply to HSBC Amanah / CIMB Islamic and etc?

Before I answer those questions, I would like to explain why I chose Islamic banks to be the place for my career. I may not be the best muslim (role model muslim), and I am not the most knowledgeable in Islamic banking but I would love to contribute my best work to Islam. Some feel that they can contribute to Islam with their IT knowledge, some with their science knowledge but as for myself, I feel that I can contribute to Islam with my knowledge and effort in Islamic banking.

The reason why I chose al-Rajhi bank as my first choice is because from my personal understanding, it is the most shari'ah compliant bank. It means that, al-Rajhi bank will do its best to follow the principles of Islam benevolently. What is the difference between HSBC Amanah and al-Rajhi? Firstly, HSBC Amanah is an Islamic window for shari'ah compliant products. The name signifies HSBC, which we all know is not an Islamic bank. Even though HSBC and HSBC Amanah are different (one is Islamic/shari'ah compliant and the other is conventional banking) , from my perception the Islamic bank of HSBC Amanah are giving advertising freely the name HSBC (a bank which deals with great amount of interest). This means that Islamic bank is wearing a jersey of the prohibited product.

I'll explain this in another way. We know that there are such products which are halal beer (beer which doesn't have alcohol). Lets just say that Hieneken produces both halal and a non halal beer, would you buy such halal beer? Personally, I would not because even though it is halal, it is also promoting the non halal beer! The same way my perception towards HSBC Amanah. I wouldn't want to be working with a bank which also promotes the products that are prohibited in my religion. It is against my personal principals to be working in such banks. Unless HSBC Amanah changes its name to something that doesn't promote the name HSBC, I see no reason why I should not apply for it.

The position that I initially applied for was in risk management. Someone told me that there is no such role for entry level or junior level for risk management. I was mentioned that I had to get myself in the treasury or other department to qualify myself in risk management. Is this true? If this is indeed true, in my opinion going through other departments will be a waste of time. I believe that entry/junior level would be beneficial as the entry/junior will be trained to become a specialist in handling risk and as we know we are always facing with risk which is an important aspect of banking hence will be beneficial to the banks. The junior will always be assisted/supervised by a senior because that is what each other is for. Rather than the junior needs to seek experience through other departments which consumes a lot of time and is ridiculous. If this is indeed true, the system here is not systematic at all!

I have no grudges of not being successful in my application and I hope that al-Rajhi bank will be beneficial to Islam. I believe that Allah has other plans for me as He is the Greatest Planner of all. Allah knows best!