INTERVIEW WITH REHAN WAHEED, BRANCH MANAGER MEEZAN BANK

KHALIL AHMED
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Apr 9 - 15, 20
12

PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF AND MEEZAN BANK?

REHAN WAHEED: I did my Masters in Business Administration and secured first position. I am also partly qualified from ICMAP. I joined Meezan Bank as trainee officer in 2006. I worked for two years in Trade Finance and Advances. Then I looked after the operations of the branch for one year. During this period, I officiated several branches including three new branch openings. Currently, I am officiating as Branch Manager, Gulberg Branch.

Meezan Bank is the first premier Islamic Bank in Pakistan that offers a complete range of Islamic banking products and services. The Bank's branch banking network is comprised of more than 275 branches around Pakistan, supported by 24/7 call centre. Meezan Bank is the largest Islamic Bank of Pakistan with its presence in more than 83 cities. Meezan Bank has received many awards including the Best Islamic Bank in Pakistan for 2011 by Asia Money.

PAGE: DO YOU THINK ISLAMIC BANKS NEED TO BE MORE AGGRESSIVE IN INCREASING THEIR NETWORK IN RURAL AREAS?

REHAN WAHEED: Yes. Opening Islamic banking branches in rural areas is a successful experience for us. Alhamdolilah we have planned more branches in coming years also as we have considerable demand from these areas as well. Islamic banks have managed to achieve 7 per cent of the banking share in nine years since Meezan Bank started operations in Pakistan as first scheduled Islamic bank. This share would definitely increase with opening branches in rural areas, which are still untapped.

PAGE: ISLAMIC BANKING HAS GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO FINANCE PROJECTS IN AGRICULTURE AND SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISE (SME) SECTORS WHICH ARE THE AVENUES MISSED BY CONVENTIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS. YOUR VIEWS.

REHAN WAHEED: There is certainly an opportunity for financing the agriculture projects. Meezan bank is in a process of establishing independent Agri financing department and ready to move in this segment very shortly InshaAllah. Other Islamic banks will also find lot of opportunities in financing projects of Agri business as well in SME segment. Truly speaking, this sector is still untouched and Islamic banks should market this sector for financing business needs of production, raw material, and finished goods financing through various Islamic modes as they have very suitable products to fulfill such needs. As per Islamic Banking Bulletin December 2011 by State Bank of Pakistan, the share of SMEs financing is only 5.2 per cent in the total portfolio of the IBs.

PAGE: IT IS BEING SAID THAT SUSTAINABILITY OF ISLAMIC BANKING HAS IMPROVED ITS PENETRATION LEVELS IN VARIOUS PARTS OF THE WORLD. THE INDUSTRY HAS NOW OVER $1 TRILLION ASSETS WITH PRESENCE IN OVER 75 COUNTRIES. YOUR VIEWS.

REHAN WAHEED: The growth and sustainability of Islamic banking is due to their ability to provide assurance to their customers that all products and services offered by Islamic banks are delivered in conformity with the clear injunctions of Islamic Shariah. The trust of the customers helped Islamic banks to penetrate around the globe and hence enhance the reach to a common person.

PAGE: YOUR COMMENTS ON ISLAMIC BONDS OR SUKUK.

REHAN WAHEED: Sukuk is an alternate to conventional term finance certificates. It is a credential of ownership against an asset or a business enterprise. This certificate represents undivided share in asset or business. These are structured to avoid the payment of interest, which is forbidden in Islam while serving the investors/customer to receive halal earnings periodically.

Meezan Bank is playing its role for establishing Islamic banking as banking of first choice and had arranged various Sukuk in Pakistan, including KAPCO, HUBCO, WAPDA, DH Fertilizers Ltd. etc

PAGE : ISLAMIC FINANCE HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO ATTRACT NOT ONLY CUSTOMERS IN ITS TRADITIONAL AREAS, THE GULF AND MUSLIM PARTS OF ASIA, BUT ALSO INVESTORS AROUND THE WORLD WHO HAVE BEEN HURT BY THE TURMOIL IN MAINSTREAM CAPITAL MARKETS. WHAT DO YOU SAY?

REHAN WAHEED: If we have a look on the sponsors of Islamic bank, it would be evident that investors around the globe have availed the opportunity for investment in Pakistan. The Islamic Banking market is still open for the investors. There is still an opportunity of capturing 93 per cent market share.