Human development in Islamic finance is as critical as other parts of the anatomy of Islamic finance. Training of personnel requires a comprehensive, systematic and goal-directed structure.
There have been many approaches towards developing human capital. Some take the form of seminars and conferences. Many seminars and conferences have been organised to cover either the wide range of issues or one dedicated issue or theme in one particular event.
Seminars and conferences are, relatively speaking, ideal for well-established personnel in Islamic finance. Beginners would normally find themselves lost, if not confused.
On the other hand, training has been designed in the form of workshops meant for either the open market or in-house participants Unlike seminars, workshops adopt a bottom-up approach in building the blocks of knowledge. Efforts in line with this are still lacking.
Furthermore, the availability of wellresourced documented materials or study guides for the participants are few and far between. A module of high quality content and a clear-cut learning outcome are very much lacking.
Existing workshop handouts are not adequate for self-learning and professional development if these are benchmarked with other professional training modules, such as CFA and ACCA. Some universities and colleges offer rigorous academic Islamic finance programmes with a view to preparing graduates for the industry. Such courses lead to either a diploma or a specialist Islamic finance MBA.
To date, a programme at doctorate level is not offered. An MBA and doctoral programme would be useful if theoretical constructs and propositions could relate and address existing problems and challenges as well as shape the future policy and direction of Islamic finance.
Nevertheless, by any standard, enrolment in these courses would be both challenging and rewarding, because the examination and, in some cases, dissertation would really prepare the students for substantive learning and to make a contribution in the respective field.
Islamic finance training lacks three dimensions. The first dimension is a programme that should lead to a certification by an accredited certifying Islamic finance body. It is a known fact that Shariah scholars, accountants and auditors must be certified to undertake Shariah financial activities and services.
The same should equally apply to financial planners, actuaries, investment bankers, fund managers and those in related fields. If certification proper is not available for reasons known by the profession, then best practices or standards need to be determined or formulated to be taught in courses or modules with or without an examination to advance human capital development. Training in this respect is almost absent or negligible. The support of the regulators and other supervisory bodies in instituting such training requirements is certainly pertinent for the development of such programmes. Certification does not work in isolation of a regulatory framework and reporting environment. The recent establishment of INCEIF in Malaysia is a ground breaking effort to certify the Islamic banking practitioners. It currently offers Chartered Islamic Finance Professional (CIFP).
The second dimension is continued professional education (CPE) in capital markets, banking or accountancy. This is already established in many developed markets.
The Islamic finance CPE is equally needed to fill the vacuum for continual professional development. Every practitioner in Islamic finance would need to accumulate his or her CPE points to maintain his or her license in their respective area of expertise. This category includes fund managers, compliance officers, members of investment committees and board of directors. Certification and CPE provide value enhancement and allow for systematic and consistent development of accepted practices. Furthermore, a topdown and regulated approach would complement training courses that are bottom-up and self-regulated.
The third dimension is the academic programme, which is customised for executives. Executive programmes, unlike academic programmes, would offer not only a hands-on syllabus but also, more importantly, flexible arrangements for attending classes, undertaking assignments and taking the assessment.
Assignments and group presentations are deemed more effective than written examinations as far as working students are concerned. The learning process rather than the learning outcome is a hallmark of life long learning in professional education
The success of Islamic finance training depends on regulators, the quality of the syllabus, the quality of resource people and the flexibility of the programme to suit the students. In terms of its viability and growth in congruence with national goals and industry objectives, recognition by the industry for employment and consultancy/investment opportunities, accreditation by governments and regulatory bodies is essential to motivate those to walk the extra mile towards certification.