Islamic Finance is now a vital and thriving market

Question: 1. I'm a student who has just finished my O/Ls. I'm interested in Islamic banking and finance/ACCA for my higher studies.

However I have decided to do Arts for my A/Ls which include Islamic Civilization. Please let me know what subjects I should offer for my A/Ls including Islamic Civilization which will enable me to gain entrance for my higher studies in the above mentioned sectors.

F. Imtiaz. Via Email


Dear Imtiaz,

I am happy that you have selected one of the fastest growing specializations in the global marketplace; however the route option of getting into the Arts stream should be reviewed.

To justify my point let me share with you the core of Islamic finance. Islamic finance is one of the fastest-growing segments of today's banking industry. Formerly deemed a marginal industry by some, Islamic finance is now recognized as a vital and thriving market. While the size of Islamic finance and banking activities, estimated to range from $500bn to $1,000bn, is still a fraction of conventional banking, the impressive growth rates of 10-15% seen in recent years emphasize the potential market for such activities.

Although the prohibition of interest can indeed be viewed as the nucleus of Islamic doctrine relating to finance, there are a number of other supporting principles which provide guidance for an Islamic financial system:

  • advocating risk sharing
  • promotion of entrepreneurship
  • discouraging speculative behaviour
  • preservation of property rights.

These are evident through consideration of the Islamic financial system and conventional banking.

You selecting the arts stream would mean you having a knowledge gap in terms of the technical competencies you require as opposed to the soft competencies which you would get by following Islamic civilization for example.

My advice to you would be to focus on the commerce stream and build your knowledge in the core areas required for ACCA and then specialize with Islamic finance through the ACCA route, you can fill the marginal knowledge gaps as you move on.

Q: Dear sir,

I am 25 years old and employed at a reputed private bank in Sri Lanka. I passed my A/Ls in the Biology stream in 2004 and joined the bank soon after.

I have completed BCS (British Computer Society), am part qualified in the Diploma in Banking (awaiting the results of the final 3 papers) and have 6 years experience in branch banking as a banking assistant.

I wish to progress in banking/management field(s) with the hope of employment at a managerial position in the shortest possible duration of time.. Therefore, I wish to continue my studies in line with that expectation.

Sir, my problem is this: I am contemplating whether to,

1) complete a degree in Business Management at the Institute of Bankers, awarded by a British university (of which I will only have to complete the final year, as the first 2 years will be exempted for holders of the Diploma in Banking)


2) follow CIM / CIMA

Sir, please be kind enough to advice regarding the above mentioned problem, and any other options I have.

H. Marasinghe Via Email

Dear Marasinghe,

As working life gets longer it is becoming increasingly common for people to have two or three distinct careers. It's important to identify what realistic career options you may have, or are you one them who have never really known which career is right for you? If I read your question right you are looking for direction or may be want specific assessment help.

One good thing I see in you is that you have invested in your career but not leveraged the value of your qualification, as I see it you have lost around two years of your success route by sticking on as banking assistant.

I have a few areas of advice for you:

  • Go with the completion of your degree in business management , this way you could leverage your investment as well as get further exemptions from CIM or CIMA
  • I see great clutter and duplication in your career focus on getting qualifications, when you say CIM or CIMA , hence you need to focus on building your CV with the required experience , as I see it try to move up in your current bank or you may need to move on to a different bank however remain in the financial services industry
  • You may also want to consider a shift in industry to leverage you BCS qualification, in that case seeking to work for an ICT company.
  • The need for the CIM or CIMA qualification may arise when you get in as a head of business unit, for example if you get sales or marketing in a bank you may want to consider CIM or if you get in general management you may want to consider CIMA
  • The final option is for you to get your CV built up and push for specialized MBA at 30.

I also see a large problem in terms of your attitude, your work ethic or likeability of the current position, hence I recommend the following process:

  • Complete a Behavioural psychometric, this will help you understand your profile and options
  • Identify your career drivers or which factors motivate you
  • Do a self assessment , example a SWOT analysis
  • Action Planning, to ensure time focus.

Wishing you the best.

Q: Dear Sir,

We are students just after O/Ls. Presently we are following the AAT(SL) Foundation course. One of our relatives say doing AAT is wasting time and it is better to do CIMA. Our AAT lecturers say AAT is good for A/L studies. Now we are confused with this matter.

Would you please explain us the best path.

Thank You!

From, S & S

A: Dear S and S

AAT is a lower level qualification than CIMA Professional levels, which is not to say it's not valuable. Doing AAT before CIMA could be worthwhile. Some do AAT first, then do their degree.

However, the CIMA certificate is not part of the CIMA professional qualification and is also an introductory qualification. In your position, I would probably do the CIMA Certificate first, and then work my way through the CIMA Professional qualification (rather than doing the AAT and then CIMA Professional).

AAT Technician is equivalent to the Certificate level, sort of. It's like Certificate plus a bit more. You'll have covered bits of the CIMA professional exam material in the AAT Technician, but not enough to let you bypass them. AAT is broader in some ways and includes some Tax at a lower level.

It's all down to personal preference and the focus of your future career.

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