Group pictures of the attendees for Waqf Fund’s Chief Risk Officers Grooming program.

The Waqf Fund launched the CRO Grooming Program in a series of new initiatives with the aim to groom, nurture and develop Bahraini Risk Management professionals within its member institutions. The program was strategically designed to combine a Leadership & Strategy development module delivered by a leading university in North America, while the technical training module was designed and delivered by KPMG in Bahrain from 14th to 25th May 2023.

The program provided the participants with a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge and skills leveraging off global, regional, and national best practices. A key part of the program was interactive discussions with international and regional subject matter experts, case studies and team exercises.

The 10-day intensive program covered a thematic approach towards a range of technical topics relevant to the role of the CRO in Islamic banking including the role and responsibilities of a CRO; making the risk function a strategic partner; Credit Risk; Liquidity Risk; Operational Risk; Emerging Risks and the future landscape; ESG Risks; Cyber and Digital Risk; ICAAP and Pillar 2; Market Insights from the Islamic Banking sector; and Scenario testing.

By offering training and development programs the Waqf Fund aims to help build the capacity of its member institutions and contribute to creating a skilled and knowledgeable Bahraini workforce, capable of meeting the evolving needs of the industry. Through the Waqf Fund programs the CBB works towards strengthening the competitiveness of the Islamic finance sector in the Kingdom, while contributing towards the growth and sustainability of the Islamic finance sector globally. The programs also work towards enhancing the national human capital within Bahrain in line with the Bahrain Economic Vision 2030, stated Mr. Khalid Hamad Al-Hamad, Chairman of the Waqf Fund.

Mahesh Balasubramanian, Partner and Head of Financial Services, at KPMG in Bahrain, stated - "As the Islamic banking industry grows and expands, so do the risks and challenges it faces. This program was purpose-built to provide Islamic banking professionals, and more specifically Risk professionals in Bahrain, with a comprehensive understanding of the role that Chief Risk Officers are supposed to play in today’s dynamic environment and the tools and training they need to fulfil their responsibilities effectively."

Jalil AlAali, Senior Partner and Risk Management Partner at KPMG in Bahrain, commented during the opening of the program: "With the ever-evolving regulatory environment and the increasing complexity of financial transactions, a robust understanding of risk management and compliance is essential to maintain the integrity and sustainability of the industry. Risk professionals need to prioritize risks, understand the materiality to the business, provide the necessary disclosures and remain updated through periodic training. Failing to do this can potentially result in reputational damage, financial losses and even legal consequences. Therefore, I believe that the CBB’s Waqf Fund initiative to groom and train CROs is a future-forward investment in the long-term success of the Islamic banking sector."

The cohort within the CRO Grooming Program brought together senior Bahraini risk professionals representing a number of Islamic Financial Institutions. The sessions featured various keynote and guest speakers including subject matter experts and past and current CROs from within the industry.