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Emirates NBD

Author: ICAEW

Published: 18 Oct 2021

Emirates NBD
When partnering with ICAEW, the ACA qualification became an integral driving force of Emirates NBD's professional development strategy.

Company profile

Emirates NBD was created with the merger between Emirates Bank International (EBI) and the National Bank of Dubai (NBD) in 2007. They offer services across corporate, retail, private, Islamic and investment banking. The group has more than 10,000 staff within the UAE. Emirates NBD is known as a leading bank in the region. They have recently been recognised for their pioneering efforts in employee volunteering and corporate social responsibility by IMPACT2030, the corporate volunteering arm of the United Nations.

Choosing the ACA

The bank chose to offer ACA training to staff in 2012, as part of the organisation's professional development strategy. The initial driving force came when Emirates NBD Group Chief Human Resource Officer, Husam Al Sayed, wanted the ACA to play a key role in helping to develop and nurture the future leaders of the bank. Emirates NBD's Group CFO, Patrick Sullivan, who is the senior sponsor of the ACA programme also takes an active role, regularly engaging with the students and mentoring them.

The ACA qualification was chosen as the most suitable professional qualification and the best way to train employees to prepare them for senior positions. Fatima Bu Ali, QPRT and Asset Liability Management Manager comments how the ACA is the foundation for understanding all of the standards needed within the finance and accounting departments at Emirates NBD. The majority of trainees work within either the finance or internal audit departments, therefore knowing both the IFRS standard and auditing standard is vital. The ACA programme for trainees provides them with first-hand, practical work experience across different departments, with Emirates NBD also offering the opportunity for trainees to complete a one-year secondment at the Big Four.

Value of the ACA

Fatima comments that within the UAE, the ACA is regarded as a prestigious qualification, with trainees being recognised as hard-working individuals. The ACA provides trainees with the knowledge needed for their day-to-day work, and also key skills including critical thinking, team work, self discipline and time management. For Emirates NBD these skills are identified as paramount for managing a team and handling more responsibilities. When comparing the ACA to other qualifications available to trainees, Emirates NBD note that the associated knowledge and skills are not emphasised in other qualifications. The company sees the value in investing time and money into their trainees through the ACA.


Emirates NBD offer both ICAEW CFAB and the ACA qualifications, with trainees usually taking the route of all stages to both qualifications. The ICAEW CFAB is seen as the foundation to the ACA, therefore trainees are encouraged to attempt all exams to ensure all knowledge gaps are closed.

Trainees join Emirates NBD finance or audit departments as graduates from different universities, primarily based at the Head Office. Emirates NBD currently have 20 trainees studying both ICAEW CFAB and the ACA, with eight pursuing the ACA Professional and Advanced Level exams, while the rest are doing the ICAEW CFAB qualification.

Throughout the studying process, the trainees are supported in their progress and development by Asim Rasheed Group Financial Controller and Patrick Sullivan, the Group Chief Financial Officer. Trainees are regularly assessed on their progress in line with the online training file plans.

Reliable support

The local ICAEW team in UAE is always available and gives consistent, reliable support to Emirates NBD, to ensure the smooth running of the ACA training. Support offered includes meeting with new students to explain the whole programme, holding sessions for students to help with exam techniques or organising social and networking events.

Other ICAEW resources which are put to good use include the online training webinars and podcasts, particularly those which accompany the ethics modules.

These webinars build on what the students have learnt using different scenarios with ethical dilemmas. They are great for exercising their minds in terms of what is right and wrong and then applying this in the workplace.

Fatima Bu Ali, QPRT and Asset Liability Management Manager

Skills gained

For Emirates NBD, the most important skills that the ACA has helped to improve are critical thinking and leadership skills. Across different departments, the range of exam modules supports the differing functions. The finance department benefits from the corporate reporting, financial management and business strategy; whereas the auditing department also see the merits of the auditing module alongside these. Throughout the training accounting, financial and strategic skills are all gained, all of which are important for adapting in the dynamic market.

Impact of the ACA

By offering the ACA qualification, it allowed Emirates NBD to recruit and retain top talent of UAE nationals who were keen to learn and better their qualifications in line with the growth of the organisation. Emirates NBD aim to make it easier for trainees to achieve their goals by offering continuous support.

By offering the ACA, many trainees have seen dramatic improvements to their analytical capabilities.

Fatima Bu Ali, QPRT and Asset Liability Management Manager

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