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Efma appoints new Middle East regional manager 02 May 2014

Fahim uz Zahim has been announced as the new Efma regional manager for Middle East. Uz Zahim spoke to Efma about his new role.

Congratulations on your appointment. What new responsibilities will you have as the Efma regional manager for the Middle East? Over the last 43 years, Efma has provided a platform to the European retail financial industry to help share experiences, promote best practice and collaborate through partnerships. Over the last couple of years, Efma has expanded globally to offer its services to banks in other regions. The retail financial services industry in the Middle East has undergone a significant transformation in the last decade as a result of rapid economic growth. Retail banks in the region are not just learning from the outside. They are also leading the journey towards innovation and greater efficiencies in some areas. I will ensure that retail banks and other companies in the financial services industry take full advantage of the services and platforms being offered by Efma. I will oversee the expansion of Efma’s network in the Middle East. My mandate includes expanding Efma’s activities in the region and the facilitating of the cross-pollination of ideas, experiences and learning. What are you looking to bring to your new role? Over the last decade I have worked with retail banks and other companies in the Middle East to instigate best practice, incorporate innovation in their organisational DNA and benchmark them with the best out there. I know the idiosyncrasies of the region and how retail banks within each country and across the region are different from one another. Such experience will enable me to help banks take full advantage Efma’s services and platforms based their needs, preferences and stage of development. What would you deem the most prominent trends the industry faces in the Middle East region today? The Middle East is going through a great transformation. The population in the region is young, mobile and has cross-border links. Banks in the Middle East need to adapt to this changing environment as they expand outside their home markets. The entry of non-financial players, especially telcos, has created greater competition for financial intermediation for banks. Regulators across the region have become more concerned about the transparency of bank charges and fees, over indebtedness of households and risk management practices within the banks. In this scenario, banks need to adapt themselves to the changed environment through mutual learning experiences.

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