A picture of BIBD Headquarters in the capital. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Brunei’s flagship Islamic financial institution Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) has opened the new decade with yet another remarkable award win, further cementing its position as one of the leading Islamic financial services providers in the region.

BIBD’s outstanding local market foothold and performance in recent years have been merited with the “Best In Islamic Finance – Asia Pacific 2020” by International Investor Magazine, an online publication that provides insights, news and visual information on topics ranging from world markets, investing opportunities and industry analysis, among others.

The award-winning proves to be timely for the bank as January 13, 2020 marks its 27th anniversary of providing its services to the country.

Since the commencement of its transformative journey, BIBD has made great strides in the development of its capabilities, which included upgrades in its overall service delivery and branch design that depict the Islamic visual canvas of Brunei Darussalam.

This distinct identity sets BIBD apart from other financial institutions in the sultanate while establishing a service benchmark that is truly “Bruneian at Heart”.

Having celebrated the success of becoming the Sultanate’s First Choice Bank, BIBD has expressed its desire to keep breaking new grounds and become the region’s best in the area of Islamic finance.

The most recent award triumph has further motivated BIBD to deliver on its aspirations and forge ahead in the local and international arena.

The award was in line with Brunei’s national agenda of establishing itself as an Islamic financial hub and also supports the country’s vision of becoming a dynamic and developed economy by 2035.

BIBD’s Vision of “Serving Brunei through Islamic Solutions – to be the benchmark institution and point of reference through a responsible fusion of Islamic values, real economy and finance” was defined some three years ago.

The second BIBD Connects is situated at the heart of Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas. Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

In ensuring alignment with this Vision, BIBD started a three-year journey from 2016 to 2018 during which the bank launched a Mission Statement as “the first choice institution for employees, customers and stakeholders”.

The culmination of that strategic cycle has seen BIBD accomplished its lofty ambitions and indeed achieved the “first choice” position with employees, customers and stakeholders within Brunei Darussalam as evidenced by several achievements and empirical benchmarks.

“Having achieved our goal of becoming ‘the first choice bank’ we should not rest on our laurels and we need to keep the momentum going to keep reaching new heights,” said BIBD Managing Director Mubashar Khokhar.

“As we move into our next strategic cycle, it is only natural that our next mission statement remains aligned with our Vision yet challenges us to a higher level of accomplishment,” he said, adding that having achieved undisputed leadership within the context of the Brunei banking market, the next pragmatic move would be to challenge itself by benchmarking BIBD with the best Islamic banks in the region.

This aspiration does not necessarily mean that BIBD has immediate plans and ambitions for entry into other regional markets although this cannot be ruled out in the future.

The ambition rather means that the framework for comparison of BIBD’s performance is no longer against banks in the Sultanate only but also its performance against the best Islamic banks in the region.

While this is indeed highly ambitious and challenges the bank to the very core of its persona as an organisation, it is the next logical step in BIBD’s journey to realise its Vision.

In comparing BIBD against other top-performing Islamic banks in the Asia-Pacific region, it is crucial that the impact of size and scale are neutralised in order to achieve a “like-for-like” comparison.

Therefore, the basis for comparison cannot simply be revenues, profits, balance sheet size, etc. per se in USD terms. These indicators will need to be adapted to the size of the relevant market and the relative position of BIBD and other top regional Islamic banks in this context.

This performance analysis will be further sharpened by other leading indicators of performance including the cost to income ratio, return on equity, and return on assets.

There are a total of 15 indicators that will be used to evaluate BIBD’s performance against top Islamic banks in the region.

BIBD has already shortlisted 40 Islamic banks within Asia-Pacific that will establish the sphere for its benchmarking and comparison.

Through a process and interaction with leading regional industry journals, BIBD hopes to narrow down its benchmarking to the top five Islamic banks operating in the region.

The prospect of achieving this Mission in the next three years is very bright considering BIBD is the only Islamic bank in the world, among all types of banks, that is the undisputed leader in its domestic market.

Under the Islamic bank category, BIBD is already at the forefront in terms of products and services, better than its Islamic banking counterparts in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Pakistan.

Work has already commenced to instill greater customer convenience and innovation in BIBD’s systems and processes – with a Transformation Group set to drive BIBD forward in this mission.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

BIBD’s goals of providing excellent customer convenience, speed, innovation and digitalisation will bolster its competitiveness in relation to other top regional Islamic banks.

Brunei Darussalam has always prided itself on its commitment to Shariah values and the adoption of practices in all walks of life that upholds these values.

Within the banking and financial services sector, the unwavering commitment shown by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam to the introduction, nurturing, promotion, development and growth of Islamic banking within Brunei Darussalam is well-known and recognised globally.

The Brunei government and the Sultanate’s banking regulator, the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) have been univocal in sharing their ambition to put Brunei Darussalam at the forefront of Islamic banking and finance – as underscored in AMBD’s recently launched Financial Blueprint.

Against this backdrop, the propulsion of BIBD to becoming the Best Islamic Bank in Asia-Pacific will not only signal the realisation of Brunei government’s strategic objectives but will also reflect very positively on Brunei Darussalam’s economy and its position as an emerging Islamic financial hub.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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