TOGETHER, WE CAN

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In a conversation, Samiul Hashim, Company Secretary & Head of Legal Affairs, IPDC Finance, elaborates on his journey, the perks of becoming a legal professional and the inspiration behind being charitable

 

SAMIUL HASHIM
Barrister at Law & Advocate (Supreme Court)
Accredited Commercial Mediator
Company Secretary & Head of Legal Affairs
IPDC Finance

 

 

Being a qualified lawyer and a Barrister, what motivated you to join IPDC Finance Limited in 2012?
I was a practising lawyer before I joined IPDC. However, I was eager to dip my hands into knowing the people and practices who are directly involved in the booming economy of the Country which I believe has been helping me to grow professionally and personally. IPDC is the first private sector Financial Institution of Bangladesh, and it has the most equipped and learned Board and the youngest management of the market. So, when the opportunity came, I did not hesitate to join IPDC, and I was the youngest Head of Legal and Company Secretary in the market when I joined.

How do you handle your dual responsibilities as Head of Legal and Company Secretary? Does being a Barrister and qualified lawyer help?
Of course, it does. Having a legal background has been a blessing for me as it helped me to see the bigger picture before we handle any cases or issues or reporting or even formulating policies etc. When I started in IPDC I was constantly juggling between the two roles. However, it became much more efficient and convenient after building a very instrumental and capable team, probably the best in the market. Through empowering the right people and resources we so far achieved wonder as reflected in the lowest NPL that IPDC have and the continuous recovery/collection that are being done with harmonious collaboration between the recovery and legal team.

 

Financial Institutions face substantial legal risks when rebranding. Do you recall any during IPDC’s grandiose rebranding in 2016-17?
IPDC’s rebranding was done as part of strategic initiatives, which came out as a huge success. The legal risks were anticipated, and measures were taken accordingly to ensure a smooth transition for the rebranding. After obtaining the required approval for the name change from the regulatory bodies, we have provided the changes reflected in all public records. Applications were also filed to the respective bodies for matters related to trademark, copyright, licensing, and others. It has been smooth sailing due to the preparations that we took before beginning the rebranding process.

 

As a society or country, we can only move forward if we move together, and for that, we need to tend to the needs of our surroundings and its people. The government needs our help to take Bangladesh further. Together we can.
– Samiul Hashim

 

With financial inclusion being one of IPDC’s goals, are there any specific AML compliance challenges you expect to encounter? How do you plan to address these challenges?
IPDC has become one of the country’s top financial institutions for its envisaged strategic initiatives, meant to stay socially committed for the next 30 years. Financial inclusion is one of the crucial constituents. An array of services has been introduced, including affordable home loans beyond megacities, automated supply chain finance, women led MSMEs, retailers financing, and consumer white goods financing products like IPDC EZ.
As the institution desires to bond with the common person and bring joy in daily life with its extraordinary customer experience, it is vital to build and preserve a certain level of trust. Organically, IPDC ensures good governance and transparency. IPDC has the Board’s approved Manual on Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk-based Assessment Guideline, and Customer Acceptance Policy.
IPDC established a Central Compliance Unit (CCU) under the leadership of CAMLCO. We have also designated one high-level officer as Deputy Chief AML compliance officer in the CCU and Branch AML officer at the branch level. Due weightage is given to Know Your Customer (KYC), Customer Due Diligence (CDD), and any suspicious, unusual, or doubtful transactions to regulatory authorities. While dealing with the AML challenges, IPDC ensures the highest level of customer confidentiality. The Board of IPDC and its senior management are committed to dealing efficiently with this issue and working together with regulators.

How would you describe IPDC’s Board in a word? As the Company Secretary, do you have a lot of requests to accommodate?
Phenomenal. IPDC’s Board is represented by shareholders like BRAC, the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Ayesha Abed Foundation, and others. As part of the senior management, we feel privileged to have this Board of Directors. They have the know-how of the market and their intellectual capacity to guide the management in achieving strategic roadmap goals.
As a Company Secretary, I feel incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to know and learn from the expert individuals who sit on IPDC’s Board. My work as Company Secretary is easy as I work as a bridge between the Board and the management.

IPDC always brings new initiatives which are instantly replicated, sometimes inviting legal implications. How do you tackle those?
It is correct that IPDC always brings new initiatives which are instantly followed. However, before taking any new initiatives, the IPDC team runs feasibility testing of the industries in the present and future market conditions. After that, measures are taken accordingly to formulate our strategy, which helps us implement the new initiatives smoothly.
Secondly, I feel that copyright should be far more embraced in discussions as an enabler of creativity, an enabler of the diversity of what we publish, or an enabler of innovation. IPDC exercises the copyrights in terms of its brand and communication works. Recently, IPDC Finance has been awarded Intellectual Property Protection Award 2021 for its contribution to protect and present Bangla Folk music to the youth with IPDC Amader Gaan.

 

What is your approach to dealing with bureaucratic red tape? How flexible is IPDC Finance in this regard?
We, IPDC, proudly present ourselves as a customer service-oriented institution. Our primary objective while doing business is to ensure excellent service to our customers and other relevant stakeholders. We have formulated all our policies, guidelines, and processes to eliminate bureaucratic red tape. After ensuring legal and regulatory compliance, we remain accommodative in facilitating the needs of our customers and relevant stakeholders.

 

IPDC established a Central Compliance Unit (CCU) under the leadership of CAMLCO. We have also designated one high-level officer as Deputy Chief AML compliance officer in the CCU and Branch AML officer at the branch level.

 

How do you see the role of the corporate secretary evolving over the next decade?
The role of corporate secretary/company secretary is a crucial one for all institutions. The role has already progressed from a mere ‘note taker’ or ‘secretary’ to one which encompasses a much broader part of acting as ‘Board advisor’ and the key ‘Corporate Governance Professional’ within the Company or institution. Besides the company secretary’s statutory responsibilities, they are responsible for developing and implementing processes to promote and sustain good corporate governance. Over the next decade, the role will evolve into someone accountable for the Board’s development and organisational governance. They will also act as the process maker of committees besides achieving efficient communication with all relevant stakeholders and ensuring appropriate disclosure and reporting.

Your social media handles speak of your charitable efforts. What inspires you to be this generous?
Charity is something I have always prioritised. I always found peace while giving back to society and its people irrespective of class, religion, gender, or location. The more successful one is, I believe, the higher should be their standard of giving. As a society or country, we can only move forward if we move together, and for that, we need to tend to the needs of our surroundings and its people. The government needs our help to take Bangladesh further. Together we can.

 

Photograph: Courtesy of IPDC Finance

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