Arshad Mohamed Ismail speaks on Islamic Finance at the Southeast Asia seminar
Islamic finance is often seen as a segment that is experiencing exponential growth within the global financial arena. The industry is founded upon Islamic principles that prohibit charging of interest and engaging in speculative or gambling transactions, among others. Over the years, the industry has grown not just in terms of volume but also in terms of the breadth of products available to clients of varying degrees of sophistication. Islamic bankers used to be repackaged conventional bankers who taught themselves Islamic finance on-the-job whilst being guided by learned Sharia scholars. The current stream of Islamic bankers, however, often comprises professionals who have had some form of formal education in Islamic principles; it is no longer acceptable for front-line Islamic bankers to wholly delegate the responsibility of ensuring Sharia compliance to Sharia scholars.
Malaysia is often acknowledged as a leader in Islamic finance, and rightly so. The authorities have spent a lot of time and effort to establish a robust Islamic financial system that operates alongside the conventional interest-based financial system. The market share of Islamic banking products has been steadily growing since the establishment of the first Islamic bank in Malaysia in 1983. However, the journey has not been without challenges and issues. Some pertinent questions remain: Is Islamic finance a fad? Is it really different to conventional banking and finance? These are all issues that continue to be debated passionately by proponents on both sides of the divide.
Arshad Mohamed Ismail is currently the SC-OCIS Visiting Fellow in Islamic Finance at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and an Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate and Investment Banking at Maybank Islamic, Malaysia. He oversees the corporate banking and investment banking businesses of Maybank Islamic within Malaysia and regionally. Arshad started his career as a lawyer in the mid 90s with a focus on Islamic finance and banking, corporate and commercial work. He subsequently joined CIMB Islamic in 2003 as one of its pioneer members and spent a significant amount of time originating, structuring and executing Sukuk transactions. Arshad then relocated to the United Arab Emirates to take on the role of Global Head of Sukuk at HSBC Amanah. During his time there, Arshad and his team successfully originated, structured and executed many Sukuk transactions in the GCC region and Asia. After HSBC Amanah, he had stints in Saudi Arabia and again in the United Arab Emirates where he focused on real estate fund management, corporate finance and investment banking before returning to Malaysia at the end of 2011.
Arshad holds a LLB from the International Islamic University, Malaysia and a MBA from the London Business School.