SJIBL set to emerge as preferred Shariah-based bank, says MD

Tech innovations to help create a supportive ecosystem for digitisation

| Updated: October 20, 2017 21:37:06

Farman R Chowdhury Farman R Chowdhury

Shahjalal Islami Bank Limited (SJIBL) is now working to emerge as a preferred Shariah-based bank by providing optimum services to its clients, the top executive of the bank has said.
"We want to see the SJIBL becoming the most preferred Islamic bank of the country in near future," said Farman R. Chowdhury, Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the private commercial bank sharing his future plans in an exclusive interview with the Financial Express (FE) recently.
The bank's strategic focus is on increasing market share, strengthening client relationships, leveraging existing strengths and building new capabilities to stay ahead in the evolving environment, the CEO disclosed.
"We are confident that the bank has the comprehensive approach to further strengthen customer relationships, to benefit from growth opportunities and deliver consistent performance over the long term," Mr. Chowdhury noted.
The SJIBL has already undertaken a long-term strategy to expand the scale and scope of 'fee-based investment' for ensuring sustainable profit growth.
Another key strategy of the SJIBL is to maintain profitability growth through improving operational efficiency by enhancing productivity, according to the CEO.
The bank's recent history shows a consistent growth trajectory, marked by achievements in business, compliance and operational improvement, he added.
Meanwhile, net profit of the Shahjalal Islami Bank increased by nearly 21 per cent to Tk 1.56 billion in 2016 from Tk 1.29 billion in the previous year. It was Tk 0.75 billion in 2014.
"We've able to achieve the profitable growth in 2016 despite numerous challenges the banking industry faced due to extreme competition, absence of quality investment opportunities, shrinking spread and overall slowdown of trade and commerce. I would like to reiterate our focus on delivering high-quality sustainable earning growth and moving with clear plans in 2017 and beyond," the CEO said.
He said the bank is now in the process of upgrading its existing major branches in vital locations to ensure that the latest banking facilities are in place and that the clients' needs are being met seamlessly. New branches will be opened in several locations.
The SJIBL is also enhancing the use of alternative delivery channels through increasing different technology-driven channels and motivating customers towards e-banking, the CEO added.
"Such innovations will certainly help us to create a supportive ecosystem for the digitisation of the financial system," the CEO added.
Currently, the SJIBL is providing services to its customers with its network of 103 branches, one off-shore banking unit and 64 own ATM booths all over the country.
The SJIBL has already shifted to its newly constructed Head Office building, which is in the process of having the status of gold category 'LEED Certified Green Building' and will be able to save energy upto 20 per cent.
"This is a green initiative by the bank and first of its kind in the banking industry of Bangladesh," Chowdhury explained.
He also said the SJIBL has continued its comprehensive approach to investment risk management and its proactive remedial efforts. "As a result, asset quality outlook remains in improving trend."
"Our bank's rating upgraded by the CRAB, the rating agency, improved risk management function and high capital asset ratio enable us to approach time ahead with confidence. Of particular note this year is the expansion of our customer base to a commendable level; this attests to confidence in the market and the strength of our bank," the CEO noted.
The SJIBL has already set priorities for 2017 to implement its growth strategy with particular emphasis on improving deposit mix, reducing cost of fund, maintaining quality of assets and strengthening overall risk management process. Terming default loans as major problem for the banking industry, the CEO said it is unlikely that the asset quality situation will improve immediately.
There is a twin-effect of classified loans in the banking system, according to the senior banker.
"The banks will have to keep the interest earned from classified loans to their interest-suspense account instead of taking it into profit account. Besides, the banks will have to ensure required provisioning against total classified loans from their profits," he explained. Regarding human resource development, the CEO said all the bank employees are being trained regularly to accustom themselves with new banking regulations, to new products and services as well as the importance of customer service.
The SJIBL has already established a full-fledged training academy aiming to improve skills; knowledge and productivity of the employees to continue its growth and success.
"Around 2,000 employees have already been trained from the academy," he said, adding that the SJIBL is providing performance rewards, promotions and incentives on a regular basis to keep the employees motivated.
Prior to joining the SJIBL, Mr. Farman R. Chowdhury was the managing director of ONE Bank Limited. He started his banking career with American Express Bank as a Management Trainee in 1986 and gradually reached up to the position of Director (Marketing) in 1995.

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