July, 2018

How would you look back at your banking career?
Alhumdulillah, I look back at all aspects of my life with contentment. I am a firm believer in setting high aspirations, giving my best shot towards achieving them and thereafter letting destiny take its course – which I always accept without any reservations. Hence, I am grateful to the Almighty for the blessings. He has bestowed on me, both in my personal life and professional pursuits.

Would you rather be respected or feared?
Fear is an emotion that I try my best to neither experience nor evoke. I do not believe in negative reinforcement and therefore do not try to attain required results through ‘fear’. I find it to be an unhealthy and counterproductive stimulator, both at home and at the workplace.
Respect, on the other hand, is an emotion that drives more long-lasting and positive impact.
De facto leaders are those who assume leadership without any official authority; such command and its following can only be garnered through a genuine emotion such as ‘respect’.

How would you describe the banking network you are currently working for?
The Habib brand has a rich legacy of commerce and business dating back to 1921.
Habib Bank AG Zurich is a multi-national banking group that operates with a network in 8 countries across 4 continents. It is present in Canada, Hong Kong, Kenya, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and South Africa, with its head office in Switzerland and its largest operations under the banner of HabibMetro Bank in Pakistan.

Has the banking industry in Pakistan made good progress?
Pakistan’s banking industry has made significant progress and exhibited steady, solid growth over the last two decades. During the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, which many termed as the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s, Pakistan’s banking sector was one of those which remained most insulated against the meltdown. The industry’s growth trajectory is anchored in good practices and governance. As far as profitability goes, the balance sheets of the top commercial banks speak for the thriving performance of the industry.

Is Pakistani banking over-regulated?
I would say that it is ‘just-right-regulated’. It is because of the commendable regulatory efforts of the State Bank of Pakistan that the local banking sector did not absorb the negative impact of the financial crisis I referred to as much as other


financial sectors across the world. Pakistan’s financial industry is one of the best performing in the region and much of the stability and steady growth witnessed here can be credited to the exemplary regulatory efforts of the SBP.

Is this country under-banked or over-banked?
While we have a significant quantum of un-banked population, mobile and branchless banking, as well as micro-financing drives are doing wonders, bringing the un-banked population within the formal financial net.
The penetration of mobile phones and internet extends financial outreach into previously inaccessible areas. This is why we are seeing booming growth in financial literacy. However, there is still a long way to go before a desirable number of the population become fully engaged in formal financial services.

How much part does innovation play in banking?
Innovation is playing an increasing role in banking, as banks find it more important to continuously develop their product spectrums and ensure a steady growth in deposits and customers. This drive to innovate has picked up greater pace with the advent and popularity of digital banking products and cross-industry alliances such as those with telecom companies/providers.
In this day and age, the target audience is always one step ahead and it is a challenge for organizations to match their pace and remain equipped to serve their growing needs, requirements and desires.

What would you like to be done better in Pakistani banking?
I would like to see even more focus on learning and development. Banks have invested considerably in this area in the recent past; most of the banks now cater to a significant quantum of their learning requirements through state-of-the-art in-house facilities.
There remains a lot of scope in talent development through collaborations with other banks, educational institutions, technical skills, institutions and international human capital development organizations. Once we become even more engaged with the international financial industry in this regard, we can build our talent/skill reserves and retain a greater quantum of the same.
Moreover, with CPEC and the possibilities that it has opened up for Pakistan and its banking sector, the more human capital we hone, the lesser we will need to import in the future.

What is the future of this sector in Pakistan?
The banking sector is poised to perform even better in the coming few years. With country trade and economic productivity picking up, the future remains bright for the financial industry. Foreign banking players have also exhibited significant interest in entering the market, due to its lucrative prospects.

What are your pursuits other than banking?
I am an avid reader of prose and poetry. I am a passionate listener of music.
I also indulge in penning down my own thoughts occasionally; these comprise five books as well as articles for various publications that I write more regularly.

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