Education & Community

Dato' Dr Abdul Halim Ismail



Dato’ Dr Abdul Halim Ismail was born on 28th January, 1939 in Kedah Darul Aman. He had his early education at the Simpang Empat Malay School and later continued his study at the Al-Maahad Al-Mahmud (Mahmud College). He was then transferred to the Sultan Abdul Hamid College (SAHC) to continue his Form Six education from 1960 till 1961. Dato’ Halim continued his studies at the University of Malaya and in 1965 graduated with Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. In 1966, he went to England and enrolled himself at the University of Oxford, where he obtained Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Economics.


Being brought up with mixed education, Dato’ Halim was influenced into a wishful thought of having a job where he could contribute for the betterment of religion just as well to fulfil his desire of being in a modern institution and modern industry. Thankfully, his career in Islamic banking and finance is rooted in a religious development sphere along with the fact that at that point of time this line of work is indeed in a modern institution and industry.


Upon his return from the United Kingdom in early 1970, Dato’ Halim joined the academic world at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), which was just established at the time. He taught economics in the Faculty of Arts, and was concurrently asked to organise the Faculty of Economics and Management for the University. The faculty was formally formed in 1974, and Dato’ Dr Abdul Halim was made its Dean.

Dato' and Datin with children

Throughout his stay at UKM, Dato’ Halim was somewhat restless. The life of an academician revolved mainly around teaching and conducting research, which he felt was not suited for him. What he really wanted to do was to apply his skills and knowledge into a more pragmatic, actionable career.

Thus, Dato’ Halim resigned from UKM in 1975 and joined the Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Berhad (BBMB), where he was made Head of the Planning and Development Department. Later, he was appointed to become the Bank’s Chief Economist. It was at BBMB that Dato’ Halim learnt about the conventional banking business. His desire for “taking action” had finally landed him on the path towards becoming one of the nation’s leading Islamic bankers.
Dato' with Datin and Grandson
With parents and brother on graduation from UM
The Government set up a National Steering Committee on Islamic Banking in 1981 to study and make recommendations on the establishment of an Islamic Bank in Malaysia. The Steering Committee submitted its report and recommendations to then Prime Minister, TunDr. Mahathir Mohamed in July 1982. The Government accepted the report and recommendations, and that got the ball rolling. Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad (BIMB) was formed on 1st March, 1983, and Dato’ Halim was appointed to be its first Managing Director. Thus began a new phase in his professional journey, as soon as the Bank was officially launched by the Prime Minister on 1st July, 1983.
Presented a top student prize in standard VIII from HRH Sultan

During his term at BIMB, Dato’ Halim along with his colleagues in management devoted a lot of their efforts to staff building and training, extending the range of facilities and services, growing of assets and liabilities, expanding branch network, and public information and relations. Since the newly established bank was still in its pioneering stages, one of the uppermost objectives in their minds was always its profitability and viability.
Sebagai-seorang-pelajar-dalam-Lower-Sixth-(Arts)-S-A-H-C-1960.jpgIn lower sixth (Arts) S.A.H.C., 1960
Banking and insurance businesses are closely associated. When BIMB began its Islamic banking business, it was keenly felt that Takaful (Islamic insurance) businesses were needed to complement it. Hence Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Berhad (STMB) was formed in 1984 as a subsidiary of BIMB, and Dato’ Halim was made the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company. From the outset, the company was involved in both General Takaful and Family Takaful. Together with the company’s management, in terms of its objective and corporate management, what had been done with BIMB was broadly replicated in STMB.
Dato' at Rhode's House, Oxford, 1969
After spending almost a decade growing together with BIMB, Dato’ Halim retired from all his posts in the Islamic banking and Takaful sector of BIMB Group to join BIMB Securities Sdn. Bhd. (BIMSEC), a newly-formed subsidiary of BIMB Group, where he assumed the post of Executive Chairman. BIMSEC is an Islamic stockbroking company dealing mainly in Islamic equities, and provides shariah-compliant stockbroking services, such as share-trading, margin financing, nominee services, among others.
In-the-flat-at-summertown-Oxford.jpg     In the flat at summertown, Oxford

Finally, after 27 years in Islamic banking and Finance, Dato’ Halim retired from all his posts in 2010. To him, Dato’ Halim is most satisfied and content with spending the entirety of his professional life in Islamic banking and finance. He takes this as an accomplishment because he started his career with BIMB, and ending it with Islamic stockholding (BIMSEC). Just four years later, Dato’ Halim became the first Malaysian to be awarded the prestigious Royal Award for Islamic Finance for his experience in Islamic finance and banking in Malaysia. Currently, Dato’ Halim is enjoying his retirement but remains committed in ensuring the healthy development of Islamic banking in Malaysia.
Board-of-Directors,-Syarikat-Takaful-Malaysia-Berhad,-1987.jpgBoard of Directors, Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Berhad, 1987
Personal Philosophy: “When I decide to undertake a task, I ask God for His guidance and blessings. I perform the task to the best of my ability, I look at the bright side of the outcome, and I plough on”.
Management-Committee-Bank-Islam-Malaysia-Berhad-1987.jpgManagement Committee Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad, 1987
Message to Young Malaysians: “Work hard and smartly with sincerity, dedication and seeking the pleasure of God; identify and anticipate new areas of development in your company suitable for your advancement and perhaps reorganize your specialization; always ask for the guidance and blessings of God”.  
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