MEEZAN BANK -SHARIAH COMPLIANT FINANCIAL SOLUTIONS
At Meezan Bank, we strive to find commonalties with the conventional banking system with absolutely no compromise on Shariah rulings
By IRFAN SIDDIQUI
President & CEO, Meezan Bank Ltd
May 29 - June 06, 2004
Meezan Bank stands today, Alhamdolillah, at a noteworthy and critical juncture of its evolution as the premier Islamic Bank in Pakistan. The banking sector is showing a significant paradigm shift away from traditional means of business and is catering to an increasingly astute and demanding financial consumer who is also becoming keenly aware of Islamic Banking. Meezan Bank bears the critical responsibility of leading the way forward in establishing a real, stable, and dynamic Islamic Banking system in Pakistan.
Meezan Bank was first established as an investment banking entity in October of 1997, the bank entered the market with the clear but formidable mandate of establishing and promoting Islamic Banking. Embedded within a deep-rooted conventional financial system and faced with a somewhat skeptical public viewpoint doubtful of the effective applicability and even veracity of the Islamic financial model, the Bank faced an uphill task enormous by any measure. But with the mercy of Allah Almighty, Meezan Bank made fundamental and significant progress forwards, and in doing so established a strong and credible management team comprised of experienced professionals, which achieved a strong balance sheet with excellent operating profitability, including a capital adequacy ratio that placed the Bank at the top of the industry, a long-term entity rating of A+, and a short-term entity rating of A1+, the highest short-term rating.
At Meezan Bank, we strive to find commonalties with the conventional banking system with absolutely no compromise on Shariah rulings. The bank has developed an extraordinary research and development capability by combining investment bankers, commercial bankers, Shariah scholars and legal experts to develop innovative, viable, and competitive value propositions that not only meet the requirements of today's complex financial world, but do so with the world-class service excellence that our customer's demand, all within the bounds of Shariah. Furthermore, the Bank has built a strong Information Technology and customer knowledge-based focus that continues to use state of the art technology and systems. The Bank's Corporate and Investment Banking business unit is geared towards nurturing and developing a long-term relationship with clients by understanding their unique financing requirements and providing Shariah compliant financing solutions. On the asset side, the Murabaha product is the most actively used financing contract which enables an Islamic bank to finance the acquisition of fixed capital assets and meet the working capital needs of clients. The essential feature of this instrument is the requirement for an underlying asset that is financed by the bank on a deferred payment basis. This mode of finance provides a fixed rate of return to the bank, which is acceptable from the Shariah perspective. Other financing modes include Ijarah, Mudaraba and Musharakah. One major recent breakthrough for Meezan Bank was the pioneering introduction of an Islamic Export Refinance Scheme, which enables us to provide export refinance at concessional rates under Shariah compliant instruments.
We are also implementing robust and aggressive strategic and tactical initiatives on the consumer banking side. The Bank has grown its branch network to ten branches across all major cities nation-wide to date, and we envision growing this network to close to 15 branches in the very near future. Providing our customers accessibility and convenience is a prime target, within an atmosphere and culture of dedicated service and recognition of their needs. Our expanding product menu provides a range of depository products that ensure easy accessibility, unmatched stability, and strong return on investment. This also includes Meezan Providence, a long-term investment opportunity specifically designed to cater to the needs of corporate and business concerns for investing their Provident, Gratuity and Pension funds.
On the financing side, we provide Islamic auto finance with Car Ijarah, a product that offers very competitive pricing and quick turn around time. We have also launched our Islamic Home Finance proposition, Easy Home, a very comprehensive product that provides the market a long awaited totally Shariah-compliant mortgage facility that allows home purchase, building, renovation, and even replacement of an existing mortgage. In fact, the market response to EasyHome has been phenomenal, as people have been very desirous of a Halal facility with which to acquire their own homes.
Our call center is geared to attain the next level in alternate distribution by ensuring dedicated convenience and personalized customer attention, while nation-wide ATM access is also being put in place. We are hence very excited and eager to provide the market with a broad range of consumer banking products and services, ones that not only meet our customers needs, but do so in a veritably confirmed Shariah-compliant manner coupled with dedicated service excellence.
We gratefully acknowledge the unwavering commitment and support demonstrated by the State Bank of Pakistan to Meezan Bank, and in particular Dr. Ishrat Husain as well as the Federal Minister for Finance, Mr. Shaukat Aziz, in setting the path for Islamic Banking in Pakistan. We believe that the future of Islamic Banking is bright and with the support of the Government and our customers, Meezan Bank will successfully fulfill its responsibility to play a pioneering role in setting the true foundation of Islamic Banking in Pakistan, Inshallah.