PIONEERING FINANCIAL SERVICES

Saudi Arabia 2020 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

SIJIL seeks to improve the ecosystem of financial leasing, contract enforceability, and transparency.

Abdullah Al Ruwais
BIOGRAPHY
In 2018, Abdullah Al Ruwais was appointed the first CEO of SIJIL, a closed joint stock company of 43 financial institutions licensed to offer financial leasing products and services. He is a seasoned veteran in KSA’s financial services sector, with 17 years of experience. He started his career at SAMA and progressed further across commercial banks, most recently as VP and head of cards at Bank Al Jazira, prior to his recent appointment. Al Ruwais holds a bachelor’s in computer and information systems from King Saud University and is a recipient of several executive education certificates.

Can you elaborate on SIJIL's main activities and the rationale behind its inception?

The primary role of SIJIL with the support of SAMA and ecosystem stakeholders is to address most of the challenges in the financial leasing market by enhancing enforceability and ensuring transparency. The current mandate focuses on serving the financial leasing contracts across its lifecycle, from digitizing the contract registration to contract closure or enforcement in the event of default. The company will maintain records of the contract progress and reflect all amend-ments, enabling it to eventually provide a wide set on inquiry and analytical services to financial institutions. SIJIL was incepted to solve the issues and limitations in the financial leasing ecosystem such as the misuse of ownership rights, the lack of repossession policies and procedures, unclear enforcement mechanisms, and a lack of data and transparency.

What companies and organizations do you tailor your financial lease registration services to, and what types of leased assets are the most common?

SIJIL designed its services for all banks and fi¬nancing companies that provide financial leasing products. The most common products are vehi¬cles, representing more than 80% of existing con-tracts. We also focus on real estate as well as ma¬chinery, heavy equipment, medical equipment, and other assets.

What are the main trends in the leasing market, and how does the Saudi market compare regionally?

The Saudi leasing market is underpenetrated in comparison to its regional counterparts and ma-ture markets. Forecasted growth for the coming five years is 5%. In 2019 alone, the annual growth in residential loans exceeded 110%, where Ijarah real estate financing represented around 30% of total loans, which provided a conformation of the market's potential to promptly recover and grow.

Where does SIJIL fit into the plans to increase home ownership and make home financing more accessible?

SIJIL is an enabler of the Housing Vision Realization Program. The services we provide con¬tribute to developing innovative housing finance products, giving lessors access to verifiable data to facilitate decision making in product develop¬ments. Furthermore, increasing the level of secu¬rity and assurance for the financial transactions will attract further investment. We will soon offer opportunities for securitization and transfer of rights in the local and international debt markets subject to regulatory approvals, which will help new market players like the Saudi Real Estate Re-finance Company (SRC) and other investors to expand their coverage.

What are your strategic priorities and ambitions for the coming year?

SIJIL aims to become a pioneer within the financial industry in the use of innovation and technology. SIJIL's strategy is in line with Vision 2030, National Trans¬formation Program (NTP), Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP), ISKAN program, and the challenges faced by the financial lease ecosystem. Our goal is to provide automated registry services that reduce human errors and the unwanted consequences. Also, SIJIL's services will help limit the flow of lawsuits to courts and allow asset repossession through a non-judicial approach, further reducing the burden on courts. All these will help debt collector companies, lessors, and refinancing companies save substantial amounts per asset repossession cycle. Moving forward, SIJIL will offer a set of unprecedented value-added services which will boost the financial leasing market and provide access to data and analytics about the market. We look forward to working closely with SAMA, the Ministry of Justice, financial institutions, and the wider ecosystem to realize this vision. In the end, we seek to become the source of information for general inquiries, reports, and financial analysis for the financial leasing market.