Transforming Technologies: Q&A With ADIB CEO Nasser Al-Awadhi

Nasser Al-Awadhi, CEO of ADIB, speaks to Global Finance about his new leadership position and future growth for the bank.

Global Finance: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) reshuffled its top leadership a few weeks after you stepped in. Why is this happening now and what is your new strategy?

Nasser Al-Awadhi: The recent changes were part of our standard succession plan, and we are delighted to have the finest experts in the top leadership positions on our team. We are further strengthening the team to deliver outstanding products and services and accelerate our growth and shareholder value. As a trusted financial partner, our goal is to solidify our strategic plan and accelerate the delivery of our growth plans to confirm the rebound in the group’s performance while building for the future. We are committed to providing the best to the customers through innovations rooted in Islamic finance.

GF: Where do you see growth opportunities for ADIB?

Al-Awadhi: The UAE economy has demonstrated its resilience in recent years. We believe that further government investment in diversification programs will allow ADIB to grow its corporate and retail banking businesses. The UAE banking sector remains robust and will continue to adapt and change through policy, mindset and technology innovation. New-age technologies are driving the way forward in finance, and the industry is increasingly adopting innovative technologies to become more inclusive. In line with the UAE government’s vision, our growth will primarily focus on digitization. Our Global Transaction Banking (GTB) team will continue to strengthen and make progress on the Wholesale Banking transformation journey, offering digitally enabled and innovative solutions to clients. Also, as part of our vision of becoming the world’s most innovative Islamic bank, ADIB has been continually investing in digital platforms to leverage the innovative potential of various digital tools beyond the traditional scope of banking.

GF: Are you contemplating potential mergers and acquisitions?

Al-Awadhi: We are continuously looking for opportunities. Once we identify one that is capital-accretive to us and our clients, we will pursue it. We anticipate growing organically and inorganically as part of the bank’s overall expansion strategy in the region.

GF: New technologies are transforming the financial sector. How are you working with new players such as fintechs and payment providers?

Al-Awadhi: Today, bank and fintech partnerships are leading the way to the future of financial services. We work hand in hand with our partners to provide a seamless banking experience. Our core digital strategy is to tap technology that eliminates customers’ pain points, simplify the experience and streamlines our processes.

We are continuously developing new solutions within our internal incubation program and Innovation Labs, as well as through partnerships with fintechs and startups. As a part of our modernization road map, we have also introduced cloud hosting services, advanced analytics usage, AI, robotics and open banking using APIs to partner with fintechs. Our expansion of the digital agenda has an array of benefits, including strengthened security, enhanced governance and increased transparency, ensuring that we continue our growth trajectory while managing the customers’ preferences.

GF: How do you see the future of banking?

Al-Awadhi: The future of banking will be driven by significant technological changes and will transform drastically. The digital transformation speeded up with evolving customer needs and the emergence of new players who are disrupting the conventional business models of the banks. These developments will continue to reshape the financial sector in the years to come. Banks need to embrace it while revisiting their processes, reevaluating their policies and repositioning themselves amid the evolving ecosystem. The industry needs to offer a more connected experience model offering distinctive, personalized and innovative products and services to its customers and create opportunities for more digital engagement, with extensive use of automation and modern technologies that will empower the customers.