From starting out in a role at a remote suburb to ascending to the position of CEO of amana, Muhammad Rasoul’s journey is truly inspiring. In this candid interview, Muhammad delves into his early fascination with technology, how he expanded a company’s global reach in one of his initial leadership roles, the factors that guided and inspired him along the way, and invaluable advice for newcomers to the industry.
amana is solidifying its standing as a foremost neo-broker in the Middle East. Catering to traders of all expertise levels, this all-in-one app provides access to over 5,500 tradable assets, coupled with comprehensive education for its users. Muhammad’s insights on assembling a top-tier team, charting his own career path, navigating challenges, and excelling in the industry are a treasure trove of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere.
Origins of a Trailblazer
We sat down in Muhammad’s spacious office, the twilight hues from the cityscape evident through the windows. Surrounded by shelves of books and photographs of his family, Muhammad settled into his chair, his passion and determination immediately apparent.
Looking forward, I probed, “Which career path led you to where you are today?”
With a reminiscent smile, he began, “My passion for technology has driven my journey. And it all started with a bizarre job interview in the middle of a forest.
Growing up in the 1980s, I was always drawn to technology. As a kid, I was fascinated by things like my local Bulletin Board Systems, CompuServe, Genie, and America Online, dialing in with a modem to read news, playing RPG games, and connecting with people through online message-based forums. As I matured, I realized that the traditional educational system wasn’t a good fit for me, so I gradually jumped at the chance to interview for an internship at a discount execution-only brokerage firm.”
Pausing for a moment to reflect, he added, “During the interview, the owner’s elementary internet connection malfunctioned, and I instinctively jumped in to fix it. Little did I know that this would change the course of my life as I was offered the job. Over the next 16 years, I helped grow the company from a small room and three people in the woods to an organization of 500 employees in seven different offices worldwide and top-line revenue of nearly 200 million USD. And the rest is history.”
The Catalyst for Leadership at amana
With genuine curiosity, I ventured, “What inspired you to take on a leadership role at amana and move to the UAE?”
Muhammad took a sip of water and responded, “After about 30 years in the industry, I decided to step back from the markets and focus on my studies. During this transition, I continued consulting, mostly strategy with Fintechs and brokers. During this period, the amana team approached me with an opportunity to join forces with them and help them with a transformational process.
In May 2021, I embarked on a journey to Dubai for strategic discussions with their board and top management. By the fall, I was offered the role of CEO at amana. Fast forward to the present, and we are on a transformative journey. Our mission is clear: revolutionizing how technology and customers interact within this region. We’re dedicated to expanding access to the financial markets and committed to innovation and industry transformation, striving to make them accessible to as many people as possible.
Leading the amana team, we’re working on reshaping the landscape of the financial industry, technology, and customer engagement in MENA.”
Navigating amana’s Growth Trajectory
The hustle and bustle of the office outside reminded me of amana’s rapid growth. “Your priorities must’ve changed over time?”
Nodding, he shared, “amana has experienced phenomenal growth in the past year, attracting over 125,000 traders and investors from 162 nationalities to our community. Our state-of-the-art trading app and our highly competitive range of products have drawn them in, encompassing everything from global and MENA stocks, commodities, cryptocurrencies, and currencies to ETFs, CFDs, and indices. We offer access to physical shares, leveraged assets, and fractional trading.
From the outset, our mission has been democratizing access to financial markets. Initially, we concentrated on the uber-retail demographic, mainly Gen Z and Millennials, successfully onboarding thousands of users monthly. We take pride in the substantial interest we’ve garnered from newcomers to the financial world. Furthermore, we’ve consistently provided our customers with top-notch educational resources to nurture their growth as traders and investors.”
“Today, our focus centers on expanding our customer community, reaching out to experienced traders and investors with a generous amount of market experience. We’re excited to introduce amanaWeb, a state-of-the-art browser-based extension of our mobile app. Now, our trading platforms cater to all traders and investors, offering a versatile, on-the-go, all-in-one trading app complemented by amanaWeb, providing in-depth charting and advanced tools for seasoned users who prefer the desktop environment,” Muhammad added.
Trials on the Leadership Journey
A genuine curiosity took over. “What have been some of the more challenging moments for you, as a leader that you had to overcome? Or for amana?”
Muhammad Rasoul exhaled deeply, “These key factors are the focus, which holds immense importance when attempting to transform or expand a business. While juggling numerous ideas is tempting, trying to address everything can ultimately lead to achieving nothing. Maintaining focus is paramount to ensure the company is cohesive and aligned.
We maintain the essential focus factor through effective communication within and between departments and managers. This open and continuous communication is the linchpin that keeps everybody aligned and concentrated on our shared objectives.”
Carving a Unique Path
Glancing around at the bustling employees, I asked, “What makes your company stand out from all the other businesses in your industry?”
Smiling confidently, Muhammad Rasoul stated, “At amana, we take pride in our unique mindset and approach within the industry. Our leadership is driven by distinct goals to reshape the trading and investing landscapes. We’re committed to creating a different world for traders and investors, one where quality education is paramount along with simplicity and transparency, making financial markets accessible to everyone. We refuse to simplify or “dumb down” important concepts because we recognize that quality education is the cornerstone of long-term Success.
With amana, you’re choosing a partner dedicated to your Success, delivering only top quality in our pricing, execution, and products. Our all-in-one account offers access to our app, web platform, and MetaTrader, ensuring that everything you need is conveniently located in one place.”
“And what does ‘success’ mean to you?”
Muhammad Rasoul added, “Success, for me, boils down to getting people across MENA to recognize amana as their go-to hub for trading and investing in the markets. It’s about establishing amana as the top-of-mind brand for traders and investors, creating that strong association.
Success doesn’t necessarily mean we must aim to be the biggest, but we seek to expand our business from its current state significantly. We focus on providing top-notch platforms and unparalleled access to the financial markets that our customers can leverage.”
Visions and Milestones
As we neared the end, I queried, “What are you most proud of? What are your future objectives that you’re working towards?”
Muhammad Rasoul eyes gleamed with passion, “I’m proud of our strides, especially during my first year as CEO. It was a time when our whole team came together, navigating a significant transition that eventually led to the successful launch of our amana app in September 2022. It truly showcases our passion, commitment, and dedication. This collaborative spirit and joint efforts fill me with pride, and I’m excited to keep building on this solid foundation.
While we’ve undeniably achieved a lot and demonstrated our commitment, I want to emphasize that as we gaze into the future, we can only afford to rest on our laurels and maintain the momentum we’ve built. A vast reservoir of untapped potential is waiting for us, and we’re more than capable of accomplishing even greater things.” Muhammad concluded.
Fostering Trust and Communication
I added, “And how do you build trust with your employees? What’s your work-environment philosophy?”
With a thoughtful pause, Muhammad Rasoul responded, “Building trust boils down to open and honest communication, a key ingredient in fostering strong connections with people, which includes recognizing and acknowledging their outstanding contributions and addressing situations where there might be room for improvement. Effective communication is at the heart of it all.
People must clearly understand our goals and the rationale behind our actions. Transparency about our objectives and the reasoning behind our decisions is paramount. Trust is built when employees know what we’re working towards and understand the “why” behind our actions.”
The Blueprint to Success, we asked Muhammad Rasoul
Before wrapping up, I nudged, “What advice would you give to starting entrepreneurs in the industry?”
Leaning back, Muhammad Rasoul mused, “My advice for beginner entrepreneurs would be universal and not industry-specific. It’s all about the effort you put in. You need to outwork everyone in your field, be committed, and have a strong work ethic. Sometimes, you have to put in the hours even when you’re not getting paid – that sets you apart from the competition.
Surrounding yourself with the right people is also crucial. Many successful businesses have thrived on existing ideas simply because they executed them better, worked harder, and collaborated with a better group of people. While a groundbreaking idea is helpful, the combination of hard work, a great team, and effective communication truly drives success.
Ultimately, it often comes down to being in the right place at the right time, but your dedication, determination, and a strong team make the real difference in becoming successful.”
Connect with Muhammad Rasoul on LinkedIn.