The reasons why some Islamic bankers climb the ladder of success faster than others

MAGAZINE 19.03.2021, 10:33 19.03.2021, 11:04

Success is a multifaceted achievement that varies in its form and accomplishment from individual to individual. However, every success story leaves behind footprints that allow us to understand its common patterns. I always have been on a quest to explore why some Islamic bankers climb the ladder of success faster than others. In this article, I will highlight the common personality traits of successful Islamic bankers that I have observed over the years.


A career in Islamic banking is broadly classified into three categories:

WHAT: dealing with the result produced by the bank i.e., products and services,

HOW: dealing with the process, procedures, and operations, as reflected in the mission statement of the bank,

WHY: the leadership role to support the vision of the bank i.e., purpose. “Why” is the raison d’etre behind “What” an Islamic bank does and why it exists in the first place.

The inspirational Islamic bankers always focus on the “Why” of their banks and the larger picture by strategically thinking, acting, and communicating from the inside out (Why, How, and What) of the Golden Circle as introduced by Simon Sinek. While the rest usually communicates the other way around (What, How, and Why) by focusing on What unique products their banks offer, How much profit they make, and How efficient they are as depicted in the below diagram.

The Why of Islamic banking is to “make the financial system a source of mercy for humanity”, a reflection of the prophetic cause of Muhammad who was sent as a mercy for the world. So, no matter what job you perform in the bank, you are contributing to make financial services a source of mercy by providing better, safer, and faster services that are also compliant with the Shariah.


Fintech is disrupting demand and the nature of existing jobs in the financial industry. Various functions will be replaced by a machine in the near future. To remain relevant in the era of disruptive technologies, successful

Islamic bankers are consistently upgrading their skills and continuing professional development (CPD). CPD stands for an ongoing self-made process for professional skills development through formal training or informal learning at the job.


Successful Islamic bankers strive to transform their mindset, heartset, healthset, and soulset. Personal development instils in them compassion, mindfulness, and gratitude that enables them to build their personal brand. The degrees brought them to the interview table, but personal growth keeps them climbing the ladder by building trust, integrity, and reputation which are the most valuable currencies in the financial services industry. They firmly believe that successes or failure is nothing more than a vehicle for their personal growth.


They invest their time and energy in building genuine and healthy relationships with professionals as progression does not happen in isolation. Your network is your net worth. According to, 40 percent of hires come from referrals. It is not only about “What” you know (qualification and experience) and “How” you can do it (expertise), rather it is about “Who” you know (networking).


An employee is an asset of a company. Businesses do not pay for the employees’ time, rather, the compensation is paid for the positive value created during that time. Successful Islamic bankers create value-driven impacts on the business of their banks. Your survival and retention in a specific position significantly depend on your ability of value creation other than your job description. The more you create value, the more you increase your bank’s ROI on retaining you.


In the context of Islamic banking business, an effective communication skill can be described as a two-fold process; first, comprehending the purpose and behaviour of a financial product, and second, eloquently articulating the Shari'ah, regulatory and risk requirement about the case in an engaging way without jeopardizing the Islamic law.


They benefit from the wisdom of their mentors in maintaining work-life balance and navigating a career. Every individual carries the seeds of greatness within himself, but you need someone to trace the identity. A mentor sees an unexplored treasure of talent and skills in your DNA and helps you to reach your deserved destination.


The above personality traits together point towards two key principles of success. First is the Law of Resonance which states that the universe does not give you what you want, it gives you what you demand with your actions. This is why Qurān says, “Allah will never change the condition of people until they change themselves”. Second, attaining success is not simply a matter of luck. Success is the product of a unique combination of skills, mindset, and efforts. Qurān refers to this principle as “A man shall not deserve but (the reward of) his own effort” in this world and the world hereafter.

Dr. Ehsanullah Agha

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