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WarbaBank

KUWAIT, KUWAIT - Finance

Shaheen Hamad Al Ghanem

CEO, Warba Bank

Bio

Shaheen Hamad Al Ghanem holds an MBA from Maastricht University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Kuwait University. He has extensive experience of more than 34 years in banking and investment, starting his career in the oil sector from 1988-1999 before moving to the financial and investment sector, where he served as assistant CFO in the International Investor Company in 1999. He moved to Kuwait Finance House in 2001 where he held several positions in various departments, the last of which was general manager of the international banking department in 2012 and acting chief investment officer in 2013. Al Ghanem joined Warba Bank in 2014 as deputy CEO for investment and treasury and assumed the position of CEO in 2016.

"Warba Bank is committed to fostering a positive impact on society."
Warba Bank aims to enhance Islamic finance products and services through innovative digital solutions and balanced growth strategies encompassing physical and digital banking experiences.
Warba Bank was listed among the “50 Most Valuable Banks 2023” by Forbes Middle East. What elements were instrumental in securing this recognition for the bank?

Launching the first of their kind services in Kuwait to offer the clients exceptional simple and digital financial experience, the resilience of our business model, our focus on Islamic digital banking services for individuals, offering shariah-compliant services through 18 branches in Kuwait, and having large number of shareholders—all these influenced our market value and made Warba Bank close to all members of society, encouraging further expansion.

Can you discuss the bank’s approach to integrating ESG practices into its operations?

Warba Bank is committed to fostering a positive impact on society, exemplified by its comprehensive embrace of sustainability across various issues. The bank is dedicated to serving diverse clients from all segments. Aligned with the UN’s SDGs and Kuwait National Development Goal, Warba Bank has seamlessly integrated sustainability into its overarching strategy. Additionally, the bank actively engages in CSR initiatives that directly contribute to societal well-being. In its pursuit of sustainability, Warba Bank addresses critical issues such as climate change, the decarbonization of economic activities, and financial inclusion. These concerns form the cornerstone of the bank’s new sustainability strategy. To adhere to international standards, Warba Bank currently reports on various benchmarks, including disclosures from the Global Reporting Initiative, recommendations from the Central Bank of Kuwait, and standards set by Boursa Kuwait and the Capital Markets Authority. In a proactive move, Warba Bank is conducting a thorough assessment of the environmental impact of its current operations to establish a baseline that will serve as a crucial reference point for achieving the bank’s decarbonization target. To ensure the seamless integration of sustainability practices, the bank has instituted a specialized Sustainable Development unit. Overall, Warba Bank is steadfast in its commitment to sustainability, embodying responsible banking practices and contributing positively to societal and environmental well-being.

Warba Bank actively participated in the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group in 2023. What were the key takeaways from these meetings for the company?

Discussions ranged from the prospects for a world economy weighed down by debt, inflation and conflict to the growing wealth gap between rich and poor countries and floundering efforts to tackle climate change. Global inflation is falling. Central bankers have signaled their readiness to end interest rate hikes if events allow. The biggest structural issue is to bring inflation down. The IMF warned in its Global Financial Stability Report that high interest rates will put some borrowers in more precarious positions.

What are the bank’s strategies for enhancing its products and services in Islamic finance?

Warba Bank is committed to reinforcing its role in Islamic banking, focusing on developing innovative products and enhancing services to attract and retain the upper affluent and private banking segment. Central to this strategy is the investment in advanced digital services, which is aligned with the bank’s vision of creating unique value in banking and beyond. This approach is not only about banking; it’s about unlocking opportunities for people and businesses. We strive to deliver exceptional experiences, extending beyond traditional banking, while nurturing top talent and creating sustainable value for shareholders and society.

What are the future expansion plans for the bank?

The bank focuses on a balanced growth strategy between enhancing our physical branch network through being more present in residential areas and advancing our digital offerings. By investing in innovative digital services, we aim to cater to the evolving needs of our customers who prefer online banking solutions, while also acknowledging the importance of physical branches for those who value face-to-face interactions. Our vision of creating unique value in banking and beyond drives our expansion plans. We are dedicated to unlocking opportunities for people and businesses, not just through traditional banking but by offering a blend of digital and physical banking experiences.

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