Education has always been treasured around the world. The current global trends have also enabled various study options to be implemented in many countries around the world.  Students now have greater access to educational opportunities and this has resulted in a rapid increase in qualified professionals, however, the job opportunities rarely match in terms of [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Be a Professional in Banking and Finance – Join IBSL after A/Ls


Education has always been treasured around the world. The current global trends have also enabled various study options to be implemented in many countries around the world.  Students now have greater access to educational opportunities and this has resulted in a rapid increase in qualified professionals, however, the job opportunities rarely match in terms of numbers. Thus an individual has to ensure they stand apart from the crowd and opt to combine a professional qualification along with the academic qualifications.

The Institute of Bankers of Sri-Lanka offers a professional qualification that also enables students to gain an academic qualification simultaneously, right here in Sri Lanka. Following is an interview with Mr. S.H.A.M. Abeyratne, Director General of the Institute of Bankers of Sri-Lanka.  IBSL is a long-standing institute that offers a recognised professional qualification in banking and finance. How did the institute start and how has it grown and expanded over the years?

The Institute of Bankers of Sri-Lanka is a professional body that was set up in 1964 by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the institute was incorporated by a Parliament Act in 1979. The main purpose behind the setting up of this institute was to provide an education in Banking and Finance for banking and non-banking personnel. This institute is governed by a governing board comprising a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka as the Chairman and an Assistant Governor of Central Bank as Vice chairman.

The institutes’ studies also have opened to those who are interested in pursuing a career in banking and finance. It was with this objective in mind that, in the year 2000, IBSL decided to cater to school leavers and undergraduates at universities. So we were able to widen the scope of IBSL and provide not only a professional qualification but also an academic qualification. At the IBSL we cater to students through teaching methods in all three languages, that is, English, Sinhala and Tamil. We help our members to acquire both academic and professional qualifications, thus ensuring they stand-out from the masses when it comes to employment prospects and their career path.
You have said that IBSL can help your members to stand out from the rest, if they complete your qualification. Can you elaborate more on that?

Yes. If you look at the composition of the membership at IBSL, we have 2 major categories. One is the employees of Banking and Finance institutions in Sri Lanka. Other is school leavers and university students. When we look at the first category of Bankers, IBSL is the only professional body for Bankers. So it is very important for them to join hands with IBSL to improve their skills, knowledge and competencies to become a professional in banking and finance.

We as the professional body for Bankers offer wide range of Certificate and Diploma programmes, which are designed to enhance the knowledge of Bankers. Our flagship programme is the Diploma in Banking and Finance (DBF), completion of which can get the Associateship of the institute.  Every bank including the state banks in Sri Lanka recognise this for their promotions and confirmation of its employees to permanent staff.

Apart from DBF we have certain diploma programmes which are especially designed to improve specialised areas of Banking. Those diplomas include Diploma in Credit Management, Diploma in International Trade, Diploma in Treasury and Risk Management, Diploma in Islamic Banking etc. Bank or Finance company employees who directly involve in credit management; international trade etc. in their respective bank or finance company can follow these specialised courses. Even Diploma in Treasury and Risk Management course has been recognised by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka for officers who handle their Bank’s primary dealing/ treasury activities.

I would also like to mention here that we have a joint diploma with Frankfurt School of Finance & Management (FSFM) in Germany for Microfinance. There is a huge demand for this diploma from microfinance institutions as the quality and standards are set by the FSFM, Germany. Even the banks and finance companies who now promote SME’s are sending their employees to follow this course.

Apart from those programmes if a Bank or a finance company needs a special programme tailor made to them, we are quite happy to respond favourably. For a example we did a International Trade programme with HSBC Data Processing Ltd, we did Internal Audit programme for Samurdhi Banks, and there’re so many other banks who train their employees with our expertise.

So you can see IBSL offers wide ranges of programmes using demand approach. Acquiring of IBSL’s qualifications immensely help to uplift the professionalism in the Banking and Financial Sector.  You mentioned that IBSL improves a student’s employment prospects once they complete their education. How does IBSL aim to address the rift between the education and employment?

Yes, as I mentioned, it is very important for students to stand apart from the rest. The Sri Lankan economy is now at a rapidly developing stage, and taking a look at the statistics we see that 60% of GDP is from the service sector. The banking and finance sector accounts for 10% of the GDP, thus it is a rapidly growing sector for job opportunities. There are approximately 50,000 individuals in banking service with around 3000-4000 job opportunities opening up annually. Thus the competition is intense.

Our students gain a vast amount of practical knowledge and are taught by experts and leading lecturers in the field of banking and finance. Thus employers would prefer to select candidates with the IBSL qualification. Our students are updated with the latest information. Our students receive a wide scope of knowledge in areas such as management, marketing, sales, customer service, accounts, general law principles, corporate governance, and information management in addition to the banking and finance subjects. Thus students are fully equipped with a wide knowledge and are able to be productive individuals in the work environment. Thus their employment prospects are considerably higher.

What is the study routes offered to students and how can they also gain access to an academic qualification?  The first stage we offer is the Certificate in Banking and Finance, which is suitable for post Ordinary Level students as well, provided that they meet the admission criteria. The certificate course is one year in duration and covers the same variety of topics such as marketing, management, general law principles etc. Upon completion of the certificate level, the next stage is the Diploma in Banking and Finance which offers a more in-depth focus in to the subjects and the sub-components.

The Diploma is also one-year in duration. Upon completion of the Diploma stage students can gain access to the final year of the Bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Management from Northumbria University, United Kingdom. Students are able to complete the bachelor’s degree in Sri-Lanka at the Northumbria University campus.

It seems that IBSL is the guiding light for Banking and Financial Sector in Sri Lanka. Can you tell us about your future plans?  Future plans of IBSL include the construction of a modern building for classes, and we also plan on introducing a distance learning package. We are also currently in the process of seeking degree awarding status from the University Grants Commission. The future is set to be bright for IBSL and we welcome bankers and students to join us and gain knowledge, a career and be competent in the future with a qualification recognised both locally and internationally.

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