Khaled Ghassan Yousef, a channels business analyst for consumer banking at Arab Bank PLC, recently completed the CIMA Diploma in Islamic finance.
In this interview, he describes his reasons for choosing the diploma, how the content of the course has helped him overcome career challenges, and how global recognition of the qualification has assisted his career.
What does your role involve?
I currently manage the development of all banking channels at Arab Bank plc, analysing business requirements, and coordinating with IT, operations, private and corporate departments with regard to the development process. I am also a project delivery manager for several banking projects.
Why did you decide to enrol in the CIMA Diploma in Islamic finance?
First of all to gain recognition from an international accounting body that gives certification regarding Islamic banking and finance. An edge is needed to be recognised from others in the economy today. I also needed to know about other aspects of Islamic banking and finance in detail, such as Islamic insurance (takaful), and ICM and derivatives.
Why did you choose CIMA for your Islamic finance course?
I considered other providers, but I choose the CIMA diploma because I could study it here in Jordan, and I felt it offered more breadth and depth in all areas of Islamic finance (eg fiqh moamalat, banking products, ICM and accounting).
Additionally, CIMA gives you a wider view on other Islamic banking experiences, such as the Malaysian Islamic markets and banking, or the Middle East and UK. Some other courses, by contrast, only focus on the Middle East experience, or on Malaysian banking.
'I felt CIMA offered more depth than other Islamic finance qualifications'
What attracted you to working in the Islamic finance sector?
I work at a traditional bank with an Islamic bank as a subsidiary called the Arab Islamic International Bank (like HSBC and Amanah). The attraction of studying and working within the Islamic finance sector was partly from religious reasons, but also because it is a booming industry that you can benefit financially from.
I also wanted to strengthen my experience regarding Islamic finance and the economy due to the fact that my current studies focus on the Islamic economy and banking.
What kind of challenges did you face in your work before you studied Islamic finance, and how has the diploma helped overcome them?
I was lacking knowledge about ICM or takaful products and operations, and also other countries’ experience in Islamic banking, because I came from a traditional banking background which operates in a totally different way.
By taking the diploma, I learned about other aspects of Islamic banking and finance in much more detail, and I was introduced to other countries’ experience with Islamic banking.
How does the diploma assist you in your career?
The diploma has assisted me with my work with other Shar’iah scholars with their research, and also Islamic banking professionals in developing new products or discussing the validity of their existing ones.
'The international qualification has made me a certified Islamic finance professional'
Why is it important to your employers that you have this qualification?
Now that I am certified in Islamic banking and finance and recognised by an international body, it has given me the experience and knowledge to help with our Islamic bank products and related operations with the parent bank.
What most impressed you about the diploma?
The diploma in Islamic finance provided a large amount of detailed knowledge about Islamic finance products (something that you need years to acquire normally but I gained in a matter of months). In addition it was simple to understand and you could take the exam at a centre nearby.
What are the greatest benefits of having an Islamic finance qualification?
For me, the advantages include gaining a globally recognised qualification in Islamic banking and finance from an international accounting body, and also the knowledge and experience needed to help scholars and Islamic banking professionals in developing a better future for the Islamic economy overall.
Did you find the course convenient? How long did it take you to complete?
Yes it was very convenient, as it allowed me to continue my work and university studies at the same time. It took me about three months to finish.
How do you use the knowledge on a day to day basis in your job?
I gained the experience and knowledge to help scholars and Islamic banking professionals in developing Islamic finance products, and am now able to answer people's questions on the subject much more quickly. It also assisted with my studies and the choosing of my PhD thesis.