Byline: Khalil Ahmed
PAGE: Kindly tell us something about yourself and your organization:
Irfan Siddiqui: I am the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of Meezan Bank. My educational background includes a Foundation Course in Accountancy from Sunderland, UK and I am a Fellow Chartered Accountant from Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales. I have served on a number of senior management positions including Chief Executive Officer at Al-Meezan Investment Bank Limited, as a General Manager at Pakistan Kuwait Investment Company, Manager Finance and Operation at Abu Dhabi Investment Company and Senior Business Analyst at Exxon Chemical (Pakistan) Ltd.
The idea of setting up an Islamic bank came to my mind in 1995 due to my faith reasons. Alhamdulillah, I was able to establish Al Meezan Investment Bank in 1997. For the first five years we functioned with a workforce of 30 people, then in 2002, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) issued Meezan with Pakistan's first Islamic commercial banking license, and concurrently we took over the operations of Societe Generale (SG) in Pakistan. Converting SG's four-branch conventional banking operations into a Shariah-compliant one, which was an achievement and we operated as Pakistan's only Islamic commercial bank for the next two years. Today, we have a nationwide network of over 700 commercial banking branches in more than 190 cities pan Pakistan.
In 17 years of operations, we are not only the largest Islamic bank in Pakistan but rank among the largest commercial banks in the country and have been recognized as the 'Best Bank 2018' by Pakistan Banking Awards. Pakistan Banking Awards are recognized as the most credible and prestigious awards in the banking industry of Pakistan.
Meezan Bank is currently the 7th largest bank (in terms of Deposits and Branch Network) in Pakistan. This milestone highlights how Islamic banking is successfully attracting more customers and gaining market share. All branches of Meezan Bank offer a comprehensive and broad range of Islamic financial products as well as real-time online banking facilities to customers.
PAGE: How do you see the Islamic banking sector today and five years from now?
Irfan Siddiqui: I believe that the growth of Islamic banking sector is undeniable. Islamic banking growth over the next few years will come from new channels as well as newer markets. There is increasing penetration of branchless banking across the globe. Newer markets...