He is the brother of a number of famous figures such as Tan Sri Muhammad Hashim Muhammad Ali (former Chief of the Armed Forces), Dato Ahmad Razali Muhammad Ali (former Chief Minister of Selangor), Abdul Aziz Muhammad Ali (former chairman of MARA), Datuk Jaffhar Muhammad Ali, Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, and Datin Shalleha Muhammad Ali. He is also the brother in-law of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
His wife Toh Puan Maimunah Abdul Latif died on 1996. He left two sons, Iskander bin Ismail Muhammad Ali, a merchant bank and Ahmad Kamal, an architect.
Ismail received his early education at the Malay School and Victoria Institution (VI), Kuala Lumpur from 1931 to 1938. He was active in Scouts, swimming, badminton and gardening. He is prefect of Shaw House. He is the second Malay student in the country won its competitive Queen Scholarship. He studied economics at Cambridge University (1938-1941). He was stranded in England as a result of the Second World War and continued to learn his law studies in 1943 at the Inns of Court in London, Middle Temple and became a lawyer after that.
Ismail returned to Malaya / Malaya after the war in 1946. Tun Ismail joined the Malayan Civil Service; Assistant Secretary of State Government (1948 ) - one of the first non-European officers recruited directly into the MCS. In 1920, the British Secretary of State accepts that services should be recognized throughout Malaya. Services Malayan Civil Service was formally adopted in January 1921 with the creation of 183 posts. Candidates for the position must be a " natural born British subjects of pure European descent on both sides ". The number of Malay officers in the MCS on 11 November 1946 during the Malayan Union is 21 out of the total strength of 230 officers MCS .
He has served as Assistant Secretary in the Economics Department of the Treasury; economic officials in Andhra Pradesh, India; Guard in the Department of Commerce Ministry of Commerce and Industry; at the Malaysian Embassy in Washington DC (1957-1960); Executive Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) in the United States . Upon his return to Malaya in 1960, he was appointed Deputy Governor of the Central Bank and the Governor of the National Bank ( July 26, 1962 ). He held the post for 18 years until July 26, 1980 .
He was influential on planning and directing the historic 'Dawn Raid' attack of buying Guthrie's shares in London Stock Exchange in September 1981.
Ismail involved in the Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Berhad ; Permodalan Nasional Berhad, Golden Hope Plantations Berhad and Sime Darby Berhad. He is Pro - Chancellor of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and the Board of Directors of the Victoria Institution, Kuala Lumpur.
Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia
Throughout his stint as the second Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, he has constantly improved the pristine of the country's banking system as well as to establish it as an emerging force and had helped garner respect from the world's over. He was the Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia; Malaysia's Central Bank, from 1962 to 1980, once a new record as longest-serving governor of a central bank in Asia .
Honours of Malaysia
- Malaysia : Commander of the Order of the Defender of the Realm (P.M.N.) (1964)
- Malaysia : Grand Commander of the Order of Loyalty to the Crown of Malaysia (S.S.M.) (1980)
Places named after him
In Kuala Lumpur, there is a building named Menara Tun Ismail Mohd Ali at Jalan Raja Laut which was named after him in 2003.
- "Gabenor | Bank Negara Malaysia | Central Bank of Malaysia". www.bnm.gov.my. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
- "mengimbau perjalanan lalu - Permodalan Nasional Berhad" (PDF).
- "Siti Hasmah pays tribute to brother, first local Bank Negara governor". The Star. 8 October 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
- "Tun Ismail bin Mohd Ali at VI Speech Day". www.viweb.school. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
- "Semakan Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat".
- "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1980" (PDF).
- P. Gunasegaram, " Tun Ismail Ali: Paragon of Trust and Integrity", Bank Negara Malaysia, 2018