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Young Generation Holds our Future

Vince Cook, CEO, NBF

The UAE government has put youth empowerment high on its agenda to ensure the young generation is well equipped to contribute to the national development drive. The country’s leadership has worked with partners across the public and private sectors to empower this segment and prepare them to contribute to the welfare of the community through a continued focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. The focus has been on instilling leadership qualities in young Emiratis and extending them opportunities to play a pivotal role in the decision-making process at all levels. As a result of this progressive vision, the Emirati youth have become global role models in leadership, excellence, and national responsibility

At the Mohamed bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations, the Crown Prince has called on UAE youth to help lay the groundwork for the country's present and future. The UAE’s leadership is confident in the youth’s abilities to drive the country’s future further towards success and prosperity.

The banking sector represents a cornerstone of achieving these ambitious aspirations; this is principally expected to be achieved by making funds readily available for strategic projects as well as supporting the young entrepreneurs amongst our customers. The industry will continue to work to ensure the country sits among the leading global economies and we are eagerly looking forward to the new initiatives aimed at supporting the SME sector planned for 2019. As outlined in the National Employment Strategy 2031, support for Emirati employment in the banking sector is also an important pillar for growth and economic development.

A decade after the global financial crisis, the past couple of years have seen their own set of challenging macroeconomic conditions as well as an ever-evolving and increasingly complex regulatory environment. From where we stand, there is no better time or bigger need for transformation and innovation. In today’s market, greater inclusion of the young generation of leaders will lead to better business today and tomorrow.

One of the greatest hurdles that has traditionally prevented young Emiratis from joining the banking sector lies in the limited access to attractive employment opportunities. This issue has been actively addressed by the Central Bank which has revamped its Emiratisation strategy to enforce a more qualitative points system in the beginning of 2018 to help raise the importance of more meaningful nationalisation in the sector.

Of course, just meeting the required points should not be the end goal for the banking and finance industry. Instead, there is a broader need to streamline our efforts and focus on providing Emiratis with real opportunities to kick-start their careers and to develop them in meaningful ways. This is where financial institutions, like National Bank of Fujairah, continue to unlock opportunities to create a sustainable pipeline of Emirati leaders in the banking sector. An example is the NBF Management Trainee Programme, our annual, year-long hands-on training programme for young Emirati professionals.

Integrating young talent in the industry is a top priority but not the only one. Providing a platform to ensure their voice is heard and acted upon to ensure they contribute to the future of the organisation is also key. Our experience shows that leaning in can pay off in terms of innovation and creativity across departments. A great example is NBF Ajyal, a bespoke banking service developed by young Emiratis to provide other young Emiratis financial guidance and support when they are at the beginning of their career – building greater financial literacy and ultimately shaping well rounded independent future leaders.

This sense of independence can further spur the spirit of entrepreneurship which is already high among young UAE nationals. In this segment, the banking industry is expected to provide support beyond funding and go the extra mile by adding value through knowledge and exposure to new and emerging ideas. A case in point is NBF GenNext, an annual initiative targeted at the next generation of family business leaders which focuses on exploring financial management principles that are critical to business success alongside broader management competencies and leadership skills. Also, through propositions like NBF Elham, we support the unique banking requirements of Emirati female business leaders and entrepreneurs as part of the overarching national mandate to empower women.

As we head into 2019, the banking industry should make hiring, training and developing Emiratis into the leaders of our organisations’ future a pillar in our growth strategies. Approached in the right way and with real dedication, long term growth is assured.

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