The new window of
opportunity for conventional banks to offer Islamic banking services
may pose more of a challenge to local banks before they can truly reap
the benefits of such an opening.
In a bid
to promote growth of Islamic banking in Indonesia, Bank Indonesia,
since January 2006, has allowed conventional branches with syariah
banking units to offer syariah’s products and services
– office channeling. This frees banks from having to set up
syariah banking branches. However, issues such as integration with
conventional banking and lack of Islamic banking-specific human
resource need to be addressed. Eko B. Suharno, head of
syariah banking division, Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), underscores his
mission to restructure the conventional branches through office
channeling ”without confusing the customer by providing both
conventional and syariah services in one branch. We would like our
customers to think of it as simply offering new products and
services.” He is optimistic that this would enable customers
to familiarize with the syariah banking concept.
the Islamic banking industry booking growth in assets of more than $2
billion in 2005, which counts as a 25 – 30 percent growth,
the development of the syariah’s concept through market
familiarization is relatively slow due to lack of human resources.
addition to the basic financial knowledge, an Islamic banking employee
must be well-versed in syariah rules – ihsan and itqan and be
able to apply these rules to banking from the Islamic point of view.
Ironically, as the largest Muslim country in the world, Indonesian
Islamic banks seems to have a difficulty in recruiting people who
posses both qualifications.
This shortage is
evident from the survey finding by Bank Indonesia that 80 percent of
the employees in Islamic banks come from conventional banks. These
recruits are typically introduced to Islamic banking concept via short
training and workshops. With the rising demand, these employees are
required to apply the knowledge in the operations instantly.
the syariah corner now opened to conventional branches via office
channeling, the tendency and urgency of recruiting Islamic banking
employees from conventional banks would be even greater than ever. With
experience only in conventional banking and insufficient training and
knowledge in Islamic banking, issues of these employees dong business
via the proper syariah concept may surface.
issues may further complicate human resource management. Suharno
expresses his concerns, “What I am afraid of is that the
current conventional employees would see the new people (syariah
employees) as competitors in the business. This is a psychological
issue that might become a threat for the internal matter.” He
explains that the management must convince employees that the two
different departments within the bank are not competitors.
recognizes that the new window in developing Islamic banking via
conventional branches is going to be challenging, yet beneficial for
the industry, “It is going to be a challenge for us, (but) it
would definitely bring some good turn for syariah banks’
expansion.”– A.T. Gandasaputra