Islamic banking in Pakistan sees robust growth, but talent gap remains

Our Correspondent
Friday, May 24, 2024

KARACHI: Pakistan's Islamic finance industry is facing a growing need for qualified professionals due to rising demand and a deadline set by the Federal Shariah Court for a complete shift to an Islamic finance system by 2027, bankers said on Thursday.

These remarks were made at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) during the graduation ceremony for the flagship Islamic Finance Talent development program – Meezan Justuju.The profit before tax of the Islamic banking industry surpassed Rs393.4 billion during the August to December quarter of 2023. With a network spanning over 5,000 branches, an asset base exceeding Rs9 trillion, and a deposit base of Rs6.75 trillion, Islamic finance in Pakistan is not only outpacing conventional banking but also gaining significant global traction. This momentum is driven by its alignment with responsible investing and its appeal to both traditional Muslim markets and beyond.

This demand coupled with the approaching deadline mandated by the Federal Shariah Court for a full transition to an Islamic finance system by 2027, has heightened the need for Islamic finance training.

The partnership between Meezan Bank and IBA represents a crucial step in addressing this shortage and facilitating the transformation of Pakistan’s economy into one that is interest-free and asset-based.

Dr Ishrat Husain, who played a pivotal role in establishing Islamic banking in Pakistan, extended his best wishes to the programme participants and advised them to seize this valuable opportunity. He emphasized the importance of upskilling the youth and expressed appreciation for the collaboration that has facilitated skill-based learning and enhanced the employability of the participants.

"There is a growing need for human resources in the Islamic finance industry, especially as the economic system is slated to change by 2027," Husain said.Founding President and CEO of Meezan Bank, Irfan Siddiqui, stated that the initiative of Meezan Justuju with IBA CEIF demonstrates Meezan Bank's strong commitment to nurturing talent and promoting the growth of Islamic finance in Pakistan. "By investing in the education and training of young professionals, Meezan, as an industry leader, aims to facilitate the Islamic Finance industry of Pakistan," Siddiqui said.

Ahmed Ali Siddiqui, Director of IBA CEIF, remarked, “We are witnessing a remarkable 24 percent growth in the country’s Islamic banking industry, accompanied by a surge in demand for trained resources.”

With almost 5,000 Islamic banking branches now established, there is an average requirement of nearly 4,000 skilled Islamic bankers to meet industry demands, according to Siddiqui. Syed Amir Ali, Deputy CEO of Meezan Bank, said, “As the fifth most populous country in the world, Pakistan has a significant opportunity to harness the potential of its youth. However, the country's female workforce participation remains limited, standing at only 22 percent.”“I am delighted to witness the enthusiastic participation in Meezan Justuju, which presents an excellent opportunity for upskilling and contributing to the country's GDP.”