Daud Vicary Abdullah, former Global Head of Islamic Finance at Deloittes, took over as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), the international Islamic finance university on 1 August 2011.
Mr Vicary succeeds Agil Natt who retired on 31 July 2011 and who headed INCEIF since its establishment by BNM in 2005 to offer postgraduate Islamic Finance programmes, namely the Chartered Islamic Finance Professional (CIFP), Masters in Islamic Finance and PhD in Islamic Finance.
Daud Vicary discusses his initial thoughts about the human capital challenge in the Islamic finance industry and INCEIF’s strategy in meeting some of the challenges especially in the field of educating the next generations of Islamic bankers.
There is a need for closer alignment between the industry and the providers of human capital development. “The Islamic finance industry,” he maintains, “continues to grow and develop apace and a standard-setting body, such as ACIFP (Association of Chartered Islamic Finance Professional) which represents the industry, needs to move further into this space and create appropriate industry standards for human capital development. The delivery against these industry standards would need to be independently accredited. We are still in the early days of development as an industry, but would envisage ACIFP taking on a global role such as CIMA and ACCA have in the accounting profession, for example.”
The aim at INCEIF is to build on the infrastructure already in place. This, according to Daud Vicary, would be underpinned by three key objectives. The first is to maintain close relevance to the Islamic finance industry. “We have and will continue to keep our channel of communication open with the industry players through, among others, focus group discussions and engaging the industry in enhancing our syllabus to keep it current with industry needs,” he explains.
The second is to build on and to enhance quality. This is important because although Malaysia is one of the global front runners in Islamic Finance, “we are aware that others are playing catch-up. Therefore, we are always striving to improve, benchmarking ourselves against international standards not just on Islamic finance, but other encompassing aspects that make an organisation world class be it services and product offerings.”
The third is to develop a global reach from a strong base in Malaysia, whose brand of Islamic finance has already made its mark on the global scene. “As an education provider,” he stresses, “we want to ride on this and where possible, team up with strong partners in their respective countries. It is still early days but a number of current partnerships are already showing results.”
Islamic finance education providers have perhaps unfairly been criticised for not focussing enough on getting employment placements for their graduates. In this respect, INCEIF is already working on a number of new initiatives. These include, the development of industry focus groups, more frequent use of industry-led lectures where prominent market players share their experience at monthly lectures, and a thorough review of our flagship Chartered Islamic Finance Professional (CIFP) programme and content so as to continuously improve our industry relevance, through such things as case studies and simulations.
“We are also looking into the development of working partnerships with industry on research and placements for CIFP students. I also hope to leverage on my close personal ties with the industry around the world and am already receiving a number of offers and suggestions on industry contribution to both CIFP and research programmes,” he adds.
INCEIF’s future development strategy will be a balance between capacity building and curriculum development on the one hand and forging academic synergies and tie-ups with other institutions worldwide on the other hand. Both, explains Daud Vicary, need to be kept in balance in line with the three key objectives highlighted above. This will be challenging but INCEIF needs to move forward on both fronts in order to develop and reach the next level.
At the same time, the development of a research function and capability at INCEIF is a vital area for the new President of INCEIF. The importance of a good research function, according to Daud Vicary, is to draw more industry and public attention to the considerable work that has already been done; to enhance and develop the synergies with the Centre’s sister organisation ISRA (International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance); and to develop and collaborate further with industry, not only in the area of specific research as guided by them, but also in the broader field of Thought Leadership where INCEIF can play a significant role in helping to define the future of Islamic finance. “Our public lectures and discourse series are held every quarter to invite discussions among academia, industry practitioners and regulators on current issues affecting Islamic finance,” he stresses.
According to INCEIF, as at June 2011, enrolment of students reached 1,930 – comprising 1,755 Chartered Islamic Finance Professional (CIFP) students, 67 Masters in Islamic Finance and 108 PhD in Islamic Finance candidates. To date, INCEIF has produced 113 CIFP and Masters graduates, and hopes to award its first PhD’s at the end of the current academic year.