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Talent Development in Islamic Finance

22 Oct 2018 | Monday

Present day Islamic finance has grown from its domestic roots to emerge as one of the fastest growing financial markets in the international field. The rapid progress made in the last 10 years points to a growing momentum. Islamic finance now extends beyond the predominantly Muslim economies to become an increasingly important part of the mainstream international financial system with over 300 Islamic financial institutions worldwide across 75 countries.
With demand for Shariah-compliant investments rising from an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide1, it is projected that the Islamic financial system will account for approximately 4% of the world economy 2.
Malaysia's chronology in Islamic finance began in the 1960s with the establishment of the Pilgrims Fund. This was followed by various initiatives throughout the decades that followed. Notably in the 1980s, Malaysia enacted the Islamic Banking Act 1983 and the Takaful Act 1984 respectively. This paved the way for the creation of Malaysia's first Islamic bank and first takaful company and thereafter the development of more Islamic financial institutions and the growth of the industry as a whole.
Today, Malaysia possesses one of the world's most advanced Islamic financial markets, with an Islamic finance system estimated to be worth around USD1 trillion in assets, 5 times greater than in 2003. The nation has the unique distinction of being the world's first to have a full-fledged Islamic financial system operating in parallel to the conventional banking system, whilst equally placing strong emphasis on human capital development in Islamic finance to ensure the availability of Islamic finance talents.
Recently, the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) was selected as the "Best International Islamic Finance Centre" at the 3rd Annual London Sukuk Summit Awards of Excellence.
In June 2009, Malaysia was awarded "Islamic Finance Hub of the Year" at the Triple A Islamic Finance Awards by The Asset Magazine. This further reinforced MIFC's prominence among Asian issuers and global institutional investors in the region.
Complementing this strength is Malaysia's in-depth experience and solid fundamentals in Islamic finance developed more than 30 years. It is based on this resounding track record that Malaysia offers itself as a base for the development of skilled professionals in Islamic finance.
Experts across the world concur that the sustainable growth of Islamic finance will depend on the availability of ample professional talent to meet the diverse needs of the industry, particularly in the areas of product innovation, research and development and Shariah jurisdiction.
In this regard, Malaysia distinguishes itself through its well-defined and advanced Human Capital Development infrastructure and initiatives. In fact, Malaysia is the only country in Asia Pacific region that offers such comprehensive human capital development approach in Islamic finance.
Malaysia affords opportunities for practical experience, research and development, thus providing a large and diverse pool of Islamic finance talents, comprising product innovators, regulators, intermediaries and risk managers who have financial and Shariah knowledge and expertise.
Malaysia is a well-established hub for educational excellence in the Southeast Asian region. The tertiary education sector, in particular, has experienced impressive growth in the past decade, and is currently home to 20 public universities (2 of which are Islamic universities), 21 private universities, 5 foreign university branch campuses, and more than 400 other higher education institutions3.
Six institutions of higher learning across Malaysia offer undergraduate and post-graduate in finance with a specialisation in Islamic finance. In addition, several learning institutions offer a wide range of Islamic finance training programmes to develop Islamic finance professionals and cultivate Islamic finance thought leadership.
Malaysia has also assisted tertiary and post-graduate learning institutions in various countries to establish Islamic finance educational programmes.
Other HCD initiatives include generous tax incentives that are accorded for talent enrichment; an endowment fund worth USD62.5 million that was established to fund the enhancement of knowledge, research, talents and intellectual discourse in Islamic finance; and supportive immigration policies that encourage expatriates to participate in Malaysia's Islamic financial industry.
With rising demand for more talent in the Islamic finance industry, it is estimated that Malaysia will provide job opportunities for about 12,000 practitioners of Islamic finance in the same year. Malaysia has been successful in meeting the domestic industry's demand for talent. Malaysia now looks to share its infrastructure and insights with the world to meet the burgeoning global demand for skilled Islamic finance professionals.