About Imtiaz

Imtiaz Ul Haq is a research economist working in international development and policy in the US. With experience as a researcher, lecturer, policy consultant, and entrepreneur, he has developed a reputation as an expert on financial sector development. His has published across multiple platforms and is widely cited by researchers and media. His work has directly influenced policymaking across the globe as well as shaped global industry standards. 


Imtiaz Ul Haq is currently an Economist with the Economic Policy Research team at the International Finance Corporate (IFC), part of the World Bank Group. Previously, he was a Research Fellow at Harvard University and an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He holds a PhD in Accounting & Finance and MSc in Finance from the University of Manchester (United Kingdom), and a BSc (Honors) in Economics from the Lahore University of Management Sciences (Pakistan). 

Imtiaz has worked extensively on a range of topics related to financial sector development with a heavy policy focus, including investor protection, financial inclusion, and climate finance. His expertise lies in understanding how policy influences behavior of various agents in financial markets such as consumers, investors and financial institutions. In his previous role at the World Bank, he advised policymakers across the globe on designing and implementing policies related to financial inclusion and innovation. 

Imtiaz is passionate about leveraging policy for impact and keen to explore how technology can amplify these benefits. He has previously founded and led a financial technology startup in South America. 

Imtiaz currently lives in Washington, D.C. He enjoys playing badminton, volunteering and trying out new food experiences.

Research Publications

It’s all in the name: Mutual fund name changes after SEC Rule 35d-1 

Journal of Banking and Finance 

Our research provides novel evidence that mutual funds in the US continue to adopt misleading names despite regulation to curb such name changes (SEC Rule 35d-1).  This is particularly alarming as our research finds that investors lose out as they are drawn to such funds despite their poor performance. Our findings highlight inefficiencies in the US mutual fund market and hold important implications for the stakeholders involved.  

Citations: 21 | Media mention: 1 |  Policy citations: 4 

International Research Journal of Finance and Economics 

This paper explores the extent of policy distortion and agricultural production for the cotton industry in the Indus Basin by employing a price risk scenario analysis. Our findings support a national comparative advantage for the cotton crop at export parity price.

 Citations: 2

Demand for money in Pakistan 

International Research Journal of Finance and Economics 

Our research revisits the demand function for money in an emerging market which has experienced the unusual phenomenon of rising inflation despite tight monetary policies by the central bank. Our results are suggestive of better management of the monetary policy in the country. 

 Citations: 8

Structural loopholes in Sustainability-Linked Bonds

World Bank Policy Research working paper series

Sustainability-linked bonds – one of the fastest-growing sustainable finance instruments – can help raise the funding needed for the private sector to meet their climate goals. However, our research is the first to uncover potential weak points in their effectiveness that could damage their reputation and leave them vulnerable to charges of greenwashing.  

 Citations: 19 | Media mentions: 4 | Blog | Policy Blog

World Bank Policy Research working paper series

Does issuer composition change as stock markets grow, and, if so, how? Using a novel dataset, this paper examines how the number, concentration, and sectoral diversity of issuers change as domestic stock markets grow, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries.

World Bank Policy Research working paper series

This paper adopts a novel approach to understand the role of non-financial information in investment decisions. It focuses on social and faith-based investments, and finds evidence that help to explain the resilience of such investments in face of a financial market crash.

Policy Publications

International Energy Agency and International Finance Corporation

This special report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) examines how to scale up private finance for clean energy transitions by quantifying the investments required in different regions and sectors to build modern, clean energy systems, including achieving universal access.  

 Media mentions: 15+

International Finance Corporation

Switching to greener technologies in construction and operation of buildings and materials, combined with more climate-friendly capital markets, could reduce the construction value chain’s carbon footprint 23 percent by 2035, while creating an $1.5 trillion investment opportunity in emerging markets.

 Media mentions:  10+

World Bank

Geospatial technology can be used to map financial access points and assess the distribution of financial services across space, allowing authorities to identify gaps in existing coverage clearly and with much higher precision than is otherwise possible. It can also help to prioritize gaps with respect to various policy objectives as well as design appropriate policy interventions at a subnational level. This note provides financial sector authorities and other stakeholders practical guidance for leveraging geospatial tools to inform financial inclusion policymaking. 

 Citations: 4 | Seminars: 2 | Downloads = 1043

World Bank

Governments are often the largest users of a country's payment systems, and hence can leverage their central role to promote government efficiency, public welfare and the broader economy. This report documents  the experience of several countries in leveraging a range of innovative tools to optimize government payments through digitization and extracts useful lessons for policymakers on this front.

   Citations: 2 | Seminars: 1 | Downloads = 762

World Bank

This report draws new insights on policy implementation from World Bank's experience in supporting  policymakers across the globe with national policies to promote financial inclusion. It leverages country case studies to highlight implementation experiences, identifying nine good practices for successful policy outcomes.

  Citations: 3 | Downloads = 1014

World Bank

This reports provides a framework for policymakers on designing optimal Key Facts Statements, which can promote disclosure and transparency in the market and hence ensure robust financial consumer protection and build trust in the national financial system.

 Citations: 1 | Downloads = 679

World Bank

This report presents key findings on account ownership, gender gap, financial behavior and knowledge of financial institutions and products in Ethiopia, based on the financial inclusion module of the national socioeconomic survey conducted in 2018/19. 

  Downloads = 671

Working Papers

Environmental Penalties and ESG Disclosure

Despite growing interest in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors, there is a lack of transparency around corporate ESG due to high informational asymmetries. In such an environment, what happens to firms’ ESG disclosure when new, unbiased ESG information becomes available from an independent external source? This study examines firms’ decision to disclose ESG information in response to the imposition of an environment administrative penalty.

This paper documents herding in investments by venture capital funds in the US. It finds that more money is allocated towards sectors that have experienced large exits recently, pushing up valuations despite evidence suggesting that such investments are not more likely to be profitable. 

Does the behavior of US mutual fund investors vary across the business cycle? This study finds that investors no longer chase recent winners during contractions, despite no change in fund performance consistency. Instead, investors are more concerned about controlling their risk exposure, especially to the market, during periods of economic downturn.

Does investor fund-selection ability explain the impressive growth of the UK mutual fund industry? Using three alternative measures of selection ability and two for performance measurement, this paper finds that fund-selection ability is explained away by the momentum factor due to investors naively chasing recent winners.

Conferences & Invited Talks


International Finance Corporation

This blog outlines structural loopholes in Sustainability-Linked Bond structures and measures to address them to make them more effective. 

International Finance Corporation

This blog offers practical guidance on promoting the development of the Sustainability-Linked Bond market. 

Harvard University

This blog outlines how cutting-edge economic tools can leverage novel satellite data to estimate economic activity more accurately, frequently and with more depth. This can be particularly helpful for policymaking in developing countries where data constraints are more severe.

World Bank

This blog illustrates how geospatial technology can be leveraged by financial regulators to better understand the distribution of financial access points, enabling them to identify weaknesses in national or local financial systems that may act as barriers for financial consumers.

World Bank

This blog discusses how Key Fact Statements can help consumers better understand financial products, and ultimately facilitate improved financial decision-making. The blog highlights the importance of such tools in environments where misadvertising of financial products is common and there is low trust in the financial system.

Spotlight and Media coverage

Get in touch at iulhaq[at]ifc.org