David Power, CEO, KFH Malaysia writes for Islamic Business & Finance about the strategy his firm is taking.
Kuwait Finance House began our journey in Kuwait to provide Islamic banking products and services based on a Waqf or social endowment. Today, we are listed on the Kuwaiti bourse and have grown to become the world’s second largest Islamic bank by assets with presence in Turkey, UAE, Bahrain, Germany and Malaysia.
This achievement is made possible by the unwavering support of our customers. The key to our success is in delivering superior customer experience by continuously innovating our products, service delivery and offerings. Being customer focused means having a deep understanding of customer needs as well as the relevant business and operating environment.
In 2005, we opened our doors in Malaysia, becoming the first full-fledged foreign Islamic bank to operate in one of the world’s largest Islamic banking markets. In a market with a dual financial system co-existing, differentiation is key. We became the first Islamic bank to offer home financing based on diminishing partnership, allowing customers the flexibility to re-draw their facility depending on their financial needs. We then partnered investors to participate in the re-development of Kuala Lumpur city centre and today Pavilion KL has become one of the iconic buildings in downtown KL. In recent years, KFH as a group has embarked on a digital transformation journey.
Kuwait and Bahrain have each launched their respective digital banking platforms and soon, Malaysia will have our own. Each has been customised and localised to the respective market yet unified in the superior delivery of the customer experience. By the end of 2018, the first among many exciting phases of seamless digital customer experience is expected to be publicly available. To compliment the experience, four key attributes under the bank’s “Creating Footsteps” initiative will form our core focus.
First, is to enhance our role in the marketplace, encouraging innovation across products, services and our delivery channels. Second, is to enhance and define our role in the communities that we operate in, looking for new ways and means to contribute more to the community which transcends beyond CSR initiatives. This includes the nurturing of young talent so that these young people are more prepared to join the workforce, supporting promising entrepreneurs to scale and expand their business presence by solutions aimed at better managing their financial needs and cashflow. Third, care for the environment. Beyond going green, this includes ensuring efficient transportation, affordable housing and growth in a sustainable and inclusive manner. Last but not least, a happy workplace results in higher productivity and efficiency gains, translating into a positive impact on the bottom line. Providing for a working environment that celebrates diversity, encourages inclusion and is gender balanced will be a key priority for KFH in the coming years.
This issue focuses on the initiatives embarked on by KFH Malaysia in the marketplace—how it strives to make a difference in the business community, demonstrating that business can be done with a heart. The Bank is active in the infrastructure financing front, supporting the third light rail transport system (LRT 3) and the second Mass Rapid Transit (MRT 2) projects through the provision of Islamic financing facilities. The LRT3 project aims to initially benefit 74,000 passengers daily and half a million residents across the proposed routes by enhancing connectivity and reducing current congestion and fuel emission produced by private transportation.
The project is expected to benefit the local communities through the promotion of real estate developments for various economic and communal activities around the proposed train stations. Furthermore, the project is expected to aid in the stimulation of the country’s economy and generate more than 2,000 jobs during the construction phase. Another area which KFH Malaysia intends to enhance and intensify its presence is in renewable and sustainable energy. We support clients involved in integrated renewable energy, green technology and environmental engineering solutions.
In the construction sector, affordable housing is also given focus and efforts are underway in developing innovative financing structures, which enable homes to be more affordable. Another initiative is supporting developments which inculcate sustainability, preservation of biodiversity and the surrounding natural ecosystem.
At the core of all these initiatives are the Shari’ah values of preserving the environment, supporting the community and working together to do our respective part for the common objective of leaving the world a better place.