Adnan Ahmed Yousif on Sharia compliant banking | Al Baraka Bank | Video

World Finance interviews Adnan Ahmed Yousif, President and CEO of Al Baraka Banking Group, on the rise of Sharia compliant banking

January 24, 2014

Sharia compliant banking is establishing itself as a robust part of the banking sector, with the United Kingdom intending to borrow through the Sudak in the first quarter of 2014. Adnan Ahmed Yousif, President and CEO of Al Baraka Banking Group, talks about why this emerging industry is in such demand.

World Finance: Mr Yousif, perhaps you can tell us why you feel Islamic banking has prospered so much over the last few years.

Islamic banking has proved to be the right instrument

Adnan Ahmed Yousif: Concerning the Islamic banking, it is growing very fast and this has been already proved for the past five years now. Although we were facing a crisis in different markets, Islamic banking has proved to be the right instrument, or the right products, whereby it goes straight to the right economy. Therefore I believe that for the coming years, Islamic banking also will grow very fast and there is now a sign whereby many countries are looking to these instruments which have been submitted or proposed by the Islamic banking favourably, including the United Kingdom, where the Prime Minster has already announced the intention of Britain to borrow through the Sukuk in the first quarter of 2014.

World Finance: So what is the current size of the Islamic banking sector, and what has made it so successful internationally?

Adnan Ahmed Yousif: Two days ago, we had what we call an Islamic conference in Dubai and there was a big debate about the size of the banking. According to Ernst & Young research, it’s about $1.6trn, and maybe if you take it to the European or American market, that’s not that big. But when you take it to the Arab world it is sizeable, and if you talk about the Union of Arab Banks, all of the Arab banks’ balance sheets consolidated, they are close to about $2.8bn.

World Finance: So tell me, what do you see as the future of Islamic banking, and what opportunities does it offer to the international community?

Adnan Ahmed Yousif: Well I think that Islamic banking has opened the door now to Islamic institutions and non-Islamic institutions to use their products. We have several products which have been used, one of them, which is the major one, is the Sukuk, which I highlighted in the beginning of the interview. Also, there are certain products which, as I say, go straight to the economy. If you take for example, in America, the bulk of the amount of investment will go in the economy or would go in the stock markets, maybe just five percent out of that investment goes to the right economy, the rest is just going through certain products which does not add anything to the economy.

World Finance: Let’s talk about you, over the course of your career you’ve acquired vast experience in the financial sector, most notably spending 20 years at ABC. So how has your past experience prepared you for your current role as President and CEO of Al Baraka Banking Group?

I came with a lot of experience, and I tried to share this with my colleagues at Al Baraka

Adnan Ahmed Yousif: Well, I started with American Express for five years and then I moved with ABC for 20 years, and I think that we called ABC the city bank in the Arab world. When it was started, it was with a big size of capital, it was close to about $1bn in 1980, at that time it was huge, and if you compare it to Chaseman at that time it was about $2bn. And we have been operating in 34 countries at that time, and by spending almost 20 years in the bank, it has given me a lot of experience when I joined Al Baraka. As a matter of fact also, when I joined Al Baraka I was not new to most of the senior staff in Al Baraka, because they know me very well, since I used to travel and visit them and do business with them. Therefore what I got from Al Baraka from ABC in the 20 years, and also from American Express, has given me a good experience in running subsidiaries. Therefore I came with a lot of experience, and I tried to share this with my colleagues at Al Baraka.

World Finance: So what would you say has been your most challenging role so far?

Adnan Ahmed Yousif: Well I think that, running subsidiaries in fifteen countries, it is a challenge for any chief executive. I think that what’s ongoing now is the major one, is the capital adequacy or positive requirements, and the positive requirements, not just for Al Baraka, but all banks worldwide, this is one of the important challenges which is going to be facing banks in the coming two to three years.

World Finance: Finally then, what does the future hold for Al Baraka?

Adnan Ahmed Yousif: Well, the future is very good. We’re seeing our future is to be within five years close to about a $36bn balance sheet, and total branches of about 760, and total staff of about 15,000. Now we are a $20bn balance sheet, and 500 branches, and 10,000 staff. At the beginning of that, where we are, and where we are going to be.

World Finance: Mr Yousif thank you very much for your time.

Adnan Ahmed Yousif: Thank you very much for this.