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An Exclusive with ADIB CEO : Tirad Mahmoud

December 2015

How are Islamic banks capturing a bigger segment of the market?

Since the global economic crisis, we have entered what I see as a second cycle of super-charged growth, with assets at the top 20 institutions increasing at 16 percent annually over the last three years, far outpacing growth at conventional banks. Total Islamic financial assets now surpass $1.6 trillion. This expansion is due to both supply and demand factors. Islamic banks are well capitalised, having generally avoided the pre-2008 excesses of the global financial system, and therefore have the capacity to increase financing. Additionally, their relatively lowly leveraged home markets suffered less and bounced back well since the global crisis.    

While the Islamic banking industry can be pleased with this growth, we cannot be complacent. We should now ask ourselves: will this growth peak as our traditional customers fulfil their financing needs, or can we extend the appeal of Islamic banking to new customers who may never have considered it – including non-Muslims?


Is the average consumer educated on the differences and/or benefits of Islamic banking?

We conducted a survey entitled Banking as it should Be, which showed that customers respond very positively when the principles of Islamic finance are explained to them. We also see that there is a real hunger for more ethical and straight-forward banking. In the post-financial crisis world, where banks are rebuilding trust, the principles of fairness, transparency and simplicity, which lie at the heart of Islamic banking, create a universal appeal to all customers.

How does ADIB maintain its customer loyalty?

ADIB’s ethical approach makes it a natural fit for anyone seeking trustworthy and transparent banking services. We tailor make solutions for our clients, putting their needs front of mind and allow them to bank in the way that they want to.  When the customer is in need, we seek to reduce the financial burden on them by helping them manage the structure of their finances without adding extra charges. We maintain customer loyalty because our primary focus is on customer service. We ensure that staffs at all levels are putting service excellence in the centre of everything they do, with no exceptions, and we strive to make our services as easily accessible as possible. There are no hidden fees or “fine print” in ADIB’s products and services. Our dedication to our customers and their happiness is why we’re consistently ranked as the top bank for customer service in the UAE. Our customer base is constantly growing.

You are a prominent figure in the Islamic finance industry – what are some of the significant changes you have witnessed?

Islamic banks are seeing increased penetration from the non-Muslim population due to the principles behind it, and the fact that Islamic banks offer products and services not very different from those of conventional banks.

Islamic banks are also investing heavily in digital platforms as the need for such services increase. The industry is also witnessing a higher calibre of human resources in various areas. 

What are some of the changes you hope to see?

More widespread use and understanding of Islamic banking. I hope Islamic banking becomes as commonplace as conventional banking, 

I also hope to see consumers that understand what we have to offer to them. Most importantly, a deeper understanding across the industry of what ethical banking entails, and how we can make it an industry priority.

How can Islamic banking – both corporate and retail, be made more accessible to the non-Muslim consumer?

In our Banking as it Should Be survey, nearly half (48%) of respondents who have a favourable view of Islamic banks say this is due to perceived alignment of Islamic banks with their religious values. Respondents also have a favourable view of Islamic banks’ product offerings such as no, or low interest rates and good customer service.  For others, they responded very positively when the principles of Islamic finance are explained to them. It is our job then to show people and potential customers that Islamic banking aligns with the values not just of Muslims, but of a much wider group of people. 

The survey showed that non-Muslims are choosing Islamic banking for the value proposition. They appreciate its operational transparency, its values, and the features and standards that are aimed at protecting customers’ best interests.  In the UK for example, the percentage of people likely to bank with an Islamic financial institution jumped from 7 percent to 28 percent when respondents were asked to judge the institution based on its stated values, without being made aware that the institution they were evaluating was Islamic. 

The survey demonstrates that if a bank can show its customers that it delivers the services that work best for the consumer, they will bank with them.  The survey shows that the top 5 qualities customers are looking for are:

  * Communicating using customer-friendly language 

  * Keeping customers’ interest in mind 

  * Following through with promises

  * Acting in an ethical manner towards the customer 

  * Transparency in all dealings

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