KUALA LUMPUR: The need to educate more staff on Islamic banking products and services is apparent as Malaysia moves towards becoming a hub for Islamic finance, said Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM) senior consultant in training and professional development Zanariah Zahari.
She said while the country retained a dual-banking system to cater to conventional and Islamic banking needs, employees with Islamic banking knowledge were not many as compared to conventional banking staff.
“There is a demand for staff who know the products. We have a lot of products but a lot of the people selling them do not fully understand them,” she said.
Zanariah said staff promoting Islamic finance had to be able to give customers the full details of the products and services so that they could decide what to sign up for under conventional or Islamic banking.
She noted that although there were many staff trained in conventional banking moving to Islamic banks, they would need more education on the Islamic services.
“We can refer to scholars on what is halal and what is not but it is very difficult to get good scholars who can also see the business side of their knowledge,” she said, adding that employees at all levels needed to know the products well enough as customers expected them to.
She added: “(Islamic banking) is very competitive now in Malaysia. Not only do the individual Islamic banks have to compete with their conventional sister banks but also full-fledge Islamic banks like Al Rajhi.”
Zanariah noted that Bank Negara had set up institutions like IBFIM and International Shari’ah Research Academy (ISRA) to train bank employees on Islamic finance and was also monitoring the industry to ensure all banks were sending their staff for training.
However, banks have also taken the initiative to educate their employees instead of relying only on the central bank.
On maintaining a dual-banking system, she said it was because the local market segments required both types of financial services.
“Also, we learn from countries like Pakistan and India where the full conversion to Islamic banking did not work out,” she said.