Monday, September 9, 2013

VICARY: All hands to the pump, walk the talk

I highlighted in my previous blog that the “Winds of Change” were starting to blow.

Following my attendance at the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB)/ Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) Roundtable last weekend just passed and the subsequent IFSB General Assembly, I can confirm that very frank discussions, with regard to the future of our industry and taking advantage of the ongoing global financial crisis were held.

Indeed, I would say that there is a growing sense of urgency that the opportunity has to be grasped now. Hence the title of this blog is a call to action.

The challenge, as always, is walking the talk and getting the job done. Simply put, translating the talk into executable actions that will start to make a difference.

This challenge is very real and if I have a concern, it is that while the quality of debate and discussion at the roundtable was generally very good, there was probably insufficient representation from industry practitioners to confirm that the ideas being created by the academics, regulators and standard setters were implementable. We need to look at how this can be redressed.

On a broader note, it was generally agreed that more work has to be done on creating awareness of Islamic finance and explaining the key value propositions or USPs that we, as an industry, have.

Too often does the average business person, as I have mentioned many times in this blog, understand incorrectly, that Islamic finance is just for Muslims only! This misperception just simply must be changed.

Opportunities are continuing to present themselves to get the message across and to change these misperceptions.

Next week there will be a workshop organised by the World Bank and International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), as a prelude to the International Monetary Fund Spring Meeting, on the topic “Is Islamic Finance a Catalyst for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development?”

This is a clear opportunity to start changing some of those misperceptions and a call to action for everyone. We must, if I recall my Latin correctly carpe diem.

As ever, there is much to do and not a moment to lose.

[Daud Vicary Abdullah is president/CEO of INCEIF. This is adapted from his blog posting on April 22, 2013 and appeared in the 6 May 2013 issue of The Malaysian Reserve]