Building the right workforce
Speaking to Banker Middle East, Matthew Cowan, Regional Director of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment Middle East discusses the importance of the development of qualified talent in the financial sector.
Describe the current development of the financial sector in the region?
The Middle East is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and has built a strong position as a financial centre over the past few decades, as well as establishing itself as a trading hub, connecting east and west through maritime routes.
The availability and value of oil in the region created a large amount of wealth throughout the oil boom, but as it can be a turbulent industry, this can cause markets and the economy to fluctuate.
As the region now diversifies its economy away from oil dependence, and focuses on the growth of other sectors, the demand for wealth management in the Middle East is growing at a rapid pace. It is paramount that wealth and asset management in the region stays one step ahead of market trends and are prepared for any changes in the economic landscape, squeezing margins in some areas and opening up opportunities in others. This emphasises the need for integrity and professionalism in the industry.
How important is a qualified talent pool as the engine of growth for the industry?
A qualified talent pool is a measure of competence for employers and reassurance for clients. Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) qualified professionals are committed to maintaining and enhancing their skills annually through continuing professional development (CPD) to keep their skills relevant and up to date in the fast moving world of financial services.
Underpinning qualifications and CPD all CISI professionals uphold the highest standards of integrity by agreeing to abide by our code of conduct.
How would you define qualified professionals?
We define professionalism as the effective combination of knowledge, skills and behaviour. Knowledge is acquired via professional qualifications and skills are maintained through annual CPD. The behaviour aspect of professionalism relates to integrity and its importance cannot be underestimated in maintaining confidence in financial services markets.
So as knowledge, skills and behaviour are key to professionalism for employees, it is equally important for employers to show a commitment to their staff by providing them with opportunities to constantly develop their skills in this dynamic industry. Ensuring the workforce is up to date with regular training and development programmes allows firms throughout the regions to improve accountability and raise standards across the profession.
What do you think is lacking in banking and finance professionals across the region?
The GCC countries and the UAE, in particular have made great strides in establishing a knowledge-based economy and society. As part of its Vision 2021 the UAE aims to develop an intensive and diversified knowledge economy. The overall objective of this plan is to enrich the wealth of natural and financial resources, invest in technology and infrastructure and demonstrate visionary leadership.
Continuing professional development for staff should be an integral part of a financial services business’s plans. This is particularly important if advisers are to continue to meet the future challenges and demands of the investment market and lend support towards achieving Vision 2021.
CISI’s qualifications, e-learning modules, CPD courses for practitioners and workshops on integrity and ethics assist to promote professionalism and trust in financial services. These programmes are aimed at raising standards in the sector and best practise across the region to ensure the market is fully equipped for economic demands.
We have seen an increase in interest in CPD in the Middle East as more countries acknowledge the benefit of a well-educated and professionally qualified financial services team. Since CISI first began working in the Middle East in 2007 a growing number of individuals have joined this global professional body as members showing their commitment to raising standards in the region. We have seen growth in partnerships with regulatory authorities in UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Palestine and Lebanon.