Saadiq is our success, will keep expanding our services legacy through new and digital capability
Interview with Mr. Shehzad Khokar – Head, Islamic and Personal Banking, Retail Banking
PAGE: PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF.
SHEHZAD KHOKAR: I have been with Standard Chartered Bank since 2007 in several roles including Islamic Retail Products, Islamic SME Banking, Marketing, Consumer Banking Strategy & Service Quality. I have been in Islamic Banking for the last 7 years and have managed Islamic deposits, cards, secured financing and SME banking. I have been heading the Islamic retail business since 2015. Prior to joining Standard Chartered I was with the Nielsen Company. I graduated from the University of Arizona in 2003 with a Major in Retailing and Consumer Sciences and a Minor in Business Administration.
PAGE: WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT STANDARD CHARTERED ISLAMIC BANKING? WHICH PRODUCTS DO YOU OFFER UNDER ISLAMIC BANKING?
SHEHZAD KHOKAR: Standard Chartered launched its Islamic Banking operations in Pakistan in 2003. The strength of our offering lies in our global expertise in Shariah-compliant financial products and solutions development. Our Islamic Banking services are offered across five countries and we are able to leverage our learning and best practices to offer innovative products and solutions to our clients. We have a Global Shariah Advisory Committee and a Shariah Board in Pakistan comprising of Shariah Scholars of international repute who endorse and approve our products.
Ever since we launched our Islamic Banking services in Pakistan, it has been a continuous endeavor of the Bank to enhance its offering in line with the needs of our clients. We offer a full suite of Islamic retail products including Current and Savings Accounts, Term Deposits, Home Financing, Business Financing and Wealth Management solutions. We are the only bank in Pakistan that has been offering a Shariah-compliant Credit Card in the market since 2007. We have been the first in the market to offer the innovative solutions such as hybrid pricing on Home Financing solutions and a Shariah-compliant installment plan on a broad range of products and services including travel, Umrah, home appliances and home decor.
PAGE: WHAT IS THE CONCEPT BEHIND STANDARD CHARTERED BANK SLOGAN “SAADIQ BANKING – THE ISLAMIC WAY”?
SHEHZAD KHOKAR: Saadiq is the brand name for our Islamic Banking operations globally and in Pakistan. For us Saadiq means more than just offering Shariah-compliant products and services to our clients. It means understanding the needs of our client and making efforts to offer solutions to address these needs with fairness and transparency. These are the values that resonate with Standard Chartered Bank, our Saadiq brand and what we stand for.
PAGE: DO YOU THINK PEOPLE ARE AWARE OF THE ISLAMIC BANKING CONCEPT OR DO THEY NEED MORE EDUCATION?
SHEHZAD KHOKAR: The growth of the Islamic Banking industry is a testament to the increasing awareness of Islamic Banking in the population. Today the banking industry in Pakistan has 5 dedicated Islamic banks and almost all conventional banks have Islamic window operations. This is possible only when there is a genuine need for Shariah-compliant products and services and our clients are more aware than before on the underlying Islamic Banking concepts and principles.
PAGE: WHY ARE MISCONCEPTIONS SPREAD AGAINST ISLAMIC BANKING AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES FACED?
SHEHZAD KHOKAR: The misconceptions about Islamic Banking are mostly along the lines of having similar products and services as conventional banking with an Islamic Banking packaging. It is important to understand that between Islamic and conventional banking the end needs of the clients are the same, whether it’s earning a return on deposit, availing financing to purchase a car or home or day-to-day individual and business transaction convenience? Islamic Banking offers an alternative to clients to fulfill these needs with solutions that have been designed in accordance with the principles of Shariah. While the end product may seem the same, the underlying contracts, agreements and certain financial treatments are very different from conventional banking.
As clients’ interest and awareness increase, there will be more opportunities for banks to offer new products and solutions and make Islamic banking more accessible to the masses.
PAGE: WHAT IS YOUR FUTURE PLANS TO EXPAND THE SAADIQ BUSINESS?
SHEHZAD KHOKAR: Saadiq is a very important business for Standard Chartered Bank. We are set and work is already underway on new products and services to meet client needs. A big success of our business depends on leveraging our network and digital capability by making banking more accessible and on the go for our clients. We will continue to enhance our existing offerings and create more value for our clients through strategic alliances.
We are set to ride the digital wave by offering state-of-the-art digital banking platforms and solutions from end-to-end electronic account opening to continuous enhancements in our online, mobile and business banking applications, The fact that we have won the ‘Best Islamic Digital Bank is Asia’ award from Global Finance in 2015 and 2016 is a testament to this commitment.
PAGE: WOULD YOU LIKE TO OUTLINE THE HISTORY OF STANDARD CHARTERED AND WHEN IT STARTED OPERATION IN PAKISTAN?
SHEHZAD KHOKAR: Standard Chartered is operating in Pakistan as the largest and oldest international bank, having been in the country since 1863 and now celebrating 154th years in Pakistan. Our bond with the Indo-Pak subcontinent, especially with Karachi, is a strong one. We opened our first agency office on I. I. Chundrigar Road on 23rd March 1863. The last decade has seen Standard Chartered transform itself in Pakistan to become part of the social and economic fabric of the country. In 2000, the Bank acquired the operations of ANZ Grindlays Bank and saw its footprint jump to 21 branches, from seven branches before the acquisition. The Bank then critically benchmarked itself against the fast-growing local banks. As a result, we implemented an organic growth strategy. By 2006, the branch network had expanded to 50 branches in 12 cities. 2006 saw our strategic acquisition of Union Bank, one of the best private sector banks in Pakistan. The Bank continued to grow organically after the acquisitions to the point that it finds itself today. The Bank is a key contributor towards the economic growth and development of the sixth most populous country in the world. The Bank’s franchise in Pakistan comprises of 97 branches in 11 cities and employs over 3,000 people in Pakistan.
PAGE: WHAT ARE THE FACTORS BEHIND THE SUCCESS OF STANDARD CHARTERED BANK AND WHAT ARE ITS EXPANSION PLANS AND FUTURE TARGETS?
SHEHZAD KHOKAR: Pakistan is one of the key markets for the Group – we have a medium term aspiration to double our business in the next 5 years – and we have a clear plan to get there. Just last week our Chairman met the Prime Minister of Pakistan and reiterated our commitment to the growth in this fantastic market. We also hosted our Global CEO – showing the importance we place on this country. We will continue to capitalize our strengths i.e. affluent clients, wealth management, digital, trade, while sustainably building a prudent balance sheet and nurturing our revenues. We expect to continue to leverage on our strengths as the oldest and largest international Bank to provide thought leadership and best practices to Pakistan.