Telum Media Talks To… Vineeta Tan, Editor at Islamic Finance News (IFN)

What is your role as Editor at Islamic Finance news (IFN)? Can you tell us more about IFN?

Besides being at the front line of fire in case of angry readers? Kidding, that doesn’t happen (often).

I’m basically responsible for the IFN stable of products which includes our flagship weekly newsletter and market-leading daily news alerts service. I am also overseeing the production of our sister publication IFN Education and its portal. So from editorial direction, content generation, that kinda thing.


Tell you more about IFN?

Absolutely! IFN is the world’s leading Islamic finance news provider offering insightful editorial coverage on the global Shariah compliant financing market. With its unrivalled access to the industry built over a decade of networking, IFN gives you first-hand knowledge and understanding of the Islamic finance markets and instruments from the specialist’s point of view. [end of plug]


How did you get your start in journalism?

Wished I had a more interesting story to share – but I suppose it really started (read: getting paid to write) when I wrote for an award-winning independent university newspaper in the US. Dabbled into a few different types of writing and fell into financial journalism along the way.


What does a day in IFN’s newsroom look like?

The mornings are pretty intense as we have a daily noon deadline to meet. Besides churning out the daily news alerts, we also simultaneously work on stories for the weekly newsletter. So it is pretty much ‘Go, go, go’ everyday.


What do you think is the greatest misconception about Islamic Finance?

That it isn’t “genuine”, that it is just in the labeling without any “real” proposition, that it is just conventional finance wrapped in a Shariah packaging. While there may be some weight in those statements, but they are certainly not an accurate reflection of the industry and I think this boils down to the level of understanding about the principles of Islamic finance (which is where we come in and hopefully in our own small way try to raise awareness on Shariah finance). One must also understand the youth of the industry and the operating environment it is born into – a profit-driven capitalistic financial system which isn’t anchored in the real economy. To remain true to Shariah principles while simultaneously meeting the profit expectations of consumers as they’ve enjoyed through conventional finance (which mind you, isn’t always ethical if at all) is a tough balancing act.


Without divulging secret plans, what are your plans for the publications you edit in 2016?

IFN is going through a truly exciting time. For the publication itself, we launched a dedicated segment for women in Islamic finance to address the lack of diversity in the industry and to give the due recognition for the amazing leaders in the industry, who so happen to be women. We are also constantly pushing the boundaries and innovating in our offering and diversifying our media channels.

We identified a few market gaps – particularly the chasm between the corporate world and Islamic finance and between Islamic finance students with the real Shariah finance working arena – and hence, REDmoney (the parent of IFN) rolled out new sister publications (IFN Corporate and IFN Education) to hopefully bridge those divides.


What do you think are the key issues and / or trends for Islamic Finance in Malaysia for 2016?

I think in line with the global financial markets, the local Islamic finance sector will go through some challenging times: tightening liquidity and smaller margins as oil prices remain stubbornly low, China’s growth moderate and some political concerns among others affecting investor sentiments. But hopefully, things will pick up in the second half once we get used to the new normal.


How do you stay connected to the worldwide Islamic finance? What journals do you read / what events do you attend?

I read IFN! Haha.

One thing we value most are the relationships we’ve built over the years with industry players from around the world – how can we cover the market without staying close to the ground and talking to those involved in the industry? A lot of our stories are generated from our conversations with market participants and the fact that we run at least 10 Islamic finance events worldwide every year, means our access to the markets is quite unparalleled. It is a conscious decision to set up our offices in the leading Islamic financial jurisdictions of the world: Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, to keep us better connected to the market.


If you weren’t a Journalist, what would you be doing?

A social worker or a documentary film-maker (still on the horizon!)


Favourite type of cuisine?

Thai food.. All day errr (every) day.


What super power would you want the most?

The super power to eradicate procrastination. That or omnilingualism.


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