INTERVIEW WITH MR REHAN WAHEED, FINANCIAL ANALYST

KHALIL AHMED
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Nov 19 - 25, 2012

PAGE: TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF, PLEASE?

REHAN WAHEED: I am working as Branch Manager in Meezan Bank. I joined the bank in March 2006 as Trainee Officer. I worked for 2 years in Trade Finance and Advances. Then, I looked after Branch Operations for about a year. Later, I looked after personal banking in the branch for two years, which focused on customer relationship and deposit mobilization. During my short career at Meezan Bank, I have had the opportunity of opening three new branches. I completed my Masters in Business Administration from Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education and secured first position. I am also associated with few universities as a visiting faculty member for post graduate programs in Banking, Finance and Business Administration. I am a part qualified from ICMAP.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON GROWTH OF BANKING SECTOR IN PAKISTAN:

REHAN WAHEED: The banking sector has grown with a very rapid pace during last decade. If we compare the deposit position of the banks, it stood at Rs. 5,818 billion in December 2012 as compared to Rs. 3,845 billion in December 2008. This shows a growth of 66% in four years, averaging 15-17 % growth in bank deposits annually. With the emergence of branchless banking, the growth has taken a rise in this segment of banking as well. Recently, Financial Times have praised State Bank of Pakistan's regulatory role in development and growth of micro finance and branchless banking. One of the consultative groups of the World Bank has also highlighted Pakistan as the fastest growing branchless banking market in the world. Further, Islamic banks have also shown great potential in Pakistan. Meezan Bank has shown significant growth during last 10 years. Currently, Meezan Bank is operating all over Pakistan with a branch network of more than 300 branches.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON CURRENT ECONOMIC CONDITION OF PAKISTAN:

REHAN WAHEED: Although, economic condition of Pakistan has shown some recovery in terms of GDP growth, but key macro indicators still remain weak. The government failed to comply with the State bank of Pakistan's rules that has asked the government to reduce the borrowings from central bank. High inflation and low returns discouraging savings, which are very critical for investment. The government is heavily relying on bank borrowings instead of increasing the revenues and decreasing expenditures. The Foreign direct investment has also decreased by around 20% in first four months in the current fiscal year. This is resulting due to bad law and order situation in Pakistan, and in particular in the business hub city, Karachi - the largest trade centre in Pakistan.

PAGE: GIVE YOUR COMMENTS ON TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT NEED IN FINANCIAL SECTOR:

REHAN WAHEED: It is quite obvious that this is an era of technological advancement. The staff being hired in bank does have background of banking and finance during their studies at postgraduate levels. However, a continuous and comprehensive training should be planned for banks and financial sector staff and must be updated at regular intervals. Particularly in Pakistan, the staff's attitude towards training and development in banking and other financial sectors including Takaful (Islamic alternate to insurance) should be developed and training is necessary to understand the effectiveness of advanced financial sector. The State Bank of Pakistan in collaboration with Govt. of Pakistan should establish some dedicated institutes which exclusively offer training and development programs including post graduate degrees in financial sector, which must be in the reach of young individuals who wish to start and prosper in the financial sector. The course contents should be set forth in consultation with the renowned bankers and professional in the financial sector. At Meezan Bank we have a dedicated Learning and Development department headed By Mr. Sohail Khan, with special emphasize on staff training on latest development in the financial sector. The training also emphasizes on routine banking activities, prudential updates and further development in Islamic banking.

PAGE: WHAT MUST BE DONE TO FACILITATE THE FINANCIAL SECTOR OF PAKISTAN?

REHAN WAHEED: The State Bank of Pakistan has to take further concrete steps for facilitating the financial sector in Pakistan. The emergence of branchless banking is one of the key initiatives taken by SBP and the segment is flourishing with a very decent pace. SBP must develop an integrated banking system among all the banks operating in Pakistan. This would allow the banks to transfer funds from one bank's branch to any other bank's branch operating in Pakistan. The system would work on the same settlement system of ATMs. To this, few banks have allowed its customer to transfer funds from one account to another by only using ATM cards. In Pakistan e-banking has progressed only to some extent in the last few years. People are still not very well aware of using the e banking facilities. The customers prefer conventional way of doing their banking transaction by visiting the bank personally. One of the reason is our culture and the second the security risk of the transactions. The symptoms are new e-products and new e-channels offered by the private banks in Pakistan. The banks must strive fast to improve their ability to think strategically about better IT investments and infrastructure. The four factors speed, ease and economy and more importantly globalization have become more important due to the busy schedules and competitiveness and usefulness of all the business operations.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON FINANCIAL SERVICES IN PAKISTAN:

REHAN WAHEED: The framework of financial services in Pakistan is growing. The banks should take advantage of a favorable market environment by investing in innovative technologies and products in order to grow their businesses and expand access to financial services in Pakistan. As I mentioned earlier, branchless banking in Pakistan is moving at a phenomenal pace and we should achieve maximum benefits out of this development. Mobile banking is also facilitating customers and we see an increasing number of partnerships between micro-finance banks and branchless banking providers.

State Bank of Pakistan has been promoting innovation in products, services, technology and delivery channels through policy and regulatory measures and market intervention.