The Table Group: creating cultural competitive advantages
Rick Van Arnam, Principle Consultant at The Table Group, describes how he has helped Quontic Bank to unify its culture and focus its corporate vision.
“People today want to make a difference. They want to know that the company they're working for has a unique purpose to which they can contribute,” states Rick Van Arnam, Principle Consultant with The Table Group. In 1997, this is exactly what the company set out to do: help executives and teams cohere, define their corporate vision, establish a unified identity, and encourage innovation through outstanding culture. Van Arnam, an independent contractor working exclusively for The Table Group, enjoyed a 30-year career in the US Army before retiring as a Colonel. With a diverse set of skills under his belt, he found that The Table Group presented him with an interesting new challenge: “In addition to the consulting arm, the company is actually more of an idea factory around all things related to organisational health. It’s improving the world of work.”
Helping leaders across several industries, The Table Group’s consultants engage with them to master four core disciplines: build a cohesive leadership team, create organisational clarity, over-communicate that clarity and reinforce clarity through simpler and less bureaucratic systems and processes. Markedly a culture-focused approach instead of technological, Van Arnam says that there is a good reason for this: “During the 2008 recession, we discovered that companies were investing a lot of time and effort in the ‘smart side’ of the business. However, everybody actually has access to a lot of the same technology. Therefore, if you're going to win, you're going to have to do more; you need to transform the organisation itself and operate differently.” In his view, it is people that make the difference and The Table Group promotes an approach which minimises politics and confusion while increasing accountability and honing in on what a company holds to be truly important.
One company which has truly taken this advice to heart is Quontic Bank. Having known Patrick Sells, CIO, for a decade, Van Arnam states that the company is uniquely positioned as an organisation attempting a method of operating which breaks away from industry preconceptions. “We helped Quontic Bank answer six simple but critically important questions: ‘Why do we exist?’ ‘How are we going to behave?’ ‘What do we do?’ ‘How are we going to succeed?’ ‘What's most important right now?’ and finally ‘What are our roles and responsibilities?’” It was by honestly and rigorously finding answers to these that Quontic Bank was able to meet the correct cadences in its actions, resulting in purposeful meetings, discussion of the right topics and ultimately arriving at the right decisions.
Van Arnam believes that Quontic Bank’s wholehearted receptiveness to The Table Group’s ideas has distinguished it as one of its closest collaborations. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to uproot global economies and reshape market conditions, he feels confident that the two companies will continue to enjoy a fruitful and enduring collaboration. “Quontic’s emphasis on culture is going to be really important,” he concludes. “I think it’s going to help them attract talent on the heels of what has been a war on talent. Continually revisiting the six critical questions, maintaining core values and onboarding people the correct way will help position it to meet the upcoming challenges.”
Islamic fintech Waheb plans UK expansion: Hires expert GM
Wahed Inc has hired a leading industry expert to take Islamic finance forward in the UK marketplace.
Umer Suleman has been appointed as General Manager of UK operations for Wahed Inc.. His role will include overseeing Wahed Invest’s nationwide growth strategy and strengthening the firm’s position as a leading provider of ethically focused investment services.
Suleman’s track record includes over 15 years of regulatory, risk, and strategy consultancy roles, as well as advisory positions across a variety of businesses and sectors including positions at UKIFC, Daiwa Capital Management, and Ernst & Young (EY).
He also spent seven years at HSBC as Head of KYC Risk globally within their Global Banking and Markets business, Head of Business and Conduct Risk for MENA within Retail Banking, and headed up the CCO function for Digital (GLCM) within the UK with a global remit.
Wahed and the growing role of Islamic finance
The startup fintech was founded in 2017 and is an American company based in New York City. Since its inception, it has grown from strength to strength and in July 2019, launched the first exchange-traded fund in the US that was compliant with Sharia law.
Islamic finance typically refers to the way businesses and individuals raise capital in accordance with Sharia, or Islamic law. It also refers to the types of investments that are permissible under Islam.
Wahed currently operates in 130 countries and has offices in Washington D.C, New York, London and Dubai. It has also developed an easily accessible digital platform that balances ethical finance with modern investments, attracting over 200,000 active clients from around the world with features such as free portfolio recommendations and no hidden fees.
Wahed UK expansion plans
According to reports, the UK is highly receptive to services in the Islamic finance sector and is also one of the fastest-growing markets globally. It has a three million-strong Muslim population and one of the most developed Islamic finance sectors outside of the traditional Muslim regions, with global population figures projected to double over the next forty years.
It is hoped Suleman’s leadership of Wahed will address the underbanked needs of the Muslim community while also serving the increasing number of retail investors currently seeking ethical alternatives to wealth creation.
Speaking about the new role, Wahed CEO, Junaid Wahedna, explained “Mr. Suleman’s appointment reaffirms our commitment to providing innovative and outstanding ethically driven financial services to a market that, historically, has been underserved.
“We’re delighted to welcome Umer to the team and firmly believe that with him at the helm, our operations in the UK will continue to go from strength to strength and provide customers seeking ethical investments with accessible, trustworthy and innovative solutions.”
The appointment follows on from Wahed’s recent investment round and its acquisition of the UK-based fintech Niyah.
These events will support the company in its plans to build an Islamic marketplace that meets growing demand for socially conscious investors – and not just those of Islamic faith.
The fintech firm also plans to utilise the UK’s position as a leading hub for Islamic finance as a springboard into other European cities, and believes it has a central role to play in providing Shariah-compliant services that address inclusion and inequality.
The Islamic finance industry is currently valued at around US$2.4trn and is expected to grow steadily by 10-12% over 2021 and 2022, having experienced rapid growth in recent years.
THREE reasons why Islamic finance is a growing sector
- The UK Muslim population is growing - and has been traditionally underserved by incumbent banks. The Muslim population is growing twice as fast the world’s non-Muslim population and Islamic finance address this group’s needfor Shariah compliant financial products.
- It encourages financial inclusion. According to the World Bank, financial inclusion is defined as individuals and businesses having access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.
- It supports Sharia compliant products. Transactions that work with industries forbidden in Islam (gambling, usury and speculation) are forbidden. Islamic banking only works with businesses that adhere to their ethical and moral standards.
Image credit: Wahed Inc team