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CSB Group Celebrates its 25th AnniversaryMEDIA ROOM
December 14, 2012
CSB Group celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, marking an important milestone for the Group, as it also establishes its first representative offices overseas with a view towards promoting its corporate brand and service offering on the international plane. Noel Grima met CSB Group CEO Michael J. Zammit.
Can you give an outline of the company's history?
The Group’s inception came about in 1987 when Tony Zammit, now chairman, founded CSB Group after 20 years’ experience in a family-run business which was at the time established in the trading and packaging industry. His experience in both the domestic and international markets, and the rapid development of the international market, led him to believe that the financial and commercial services industry was where Malta's future lay.
The Group commenced its operations from a two-roomed office in Old Bakery Street, in Valletta providing its initial service lines, namely those of credit management and recruitment services. Having gained a wealth of commercial experience throughout his previous business involvements, Mr Zammit consequently ventured into providing an array of specialised business and commercial services promoting, supporting and protecting larger and smaller organisations within the business community – locally and internationally.
Five years down the line, Tony’s son Michael joined CSB after deciding not to continue to pursue his studies and began learning all aspects of the Group’s service offering, largely through a hands-on approach at every level of activity. This eventually led Michael to develop a wider vision for the Group, namely that of developing CSB Group as a one-stop-shop for foreigners interested in setting up shop and/or relocating to Malta.
Corporate and fiduciary
In 2000, they together ventured into the corporate and fiduciary sphere. The father-and-son synergy, commitment and dedication drove the Group to establish itself as a leading corporate and fiduciary services provider, servicing international private clients, financial institutions, trust and corporate service providers and professional service firms. By 2003, Michael took on the role of CEO of the Group, taking overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the Group, while developing and expanding its various business interests.
Having a strong commercial background, an established track record of sales and revenue growth, and having gained experience in professional company management over the past 12 years, Michael plays an active part in the general servicing of CSB’s portfolio of high net-worth clients, with a particular focus on eBusinesses, Financial Services, General Trading, Yachting, Aviation and Luxury Real Estate. Michael is a member of the Malta Institute of Financial Services Practitioners (IFSP) and the Institute’s respective Sub-Committee for Marketing and Promotion; the Malta Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise; the International Fiscal Association (IFA) and of the International Tax Planning Association (ITPA). He is also certified by the IFSP in Malta as a Trust Law and Administration practitioner and represents the Group on the Malta Remote Gaming Council and Finance Malta.
In 2006, Michael’s cousin Andrew Zammit, a practicing lawyer, joined the Group to develop further the Group’s corporate and regulatory consultancy. Andrew is also managing partner of CSB Advocates, a full-service law firm affiliated with the Group and which previously traded as Zammit & Associates – Advocates.
The Group constantly endeavours to keep abreast with international commercial developments and attracted the first foreign payment gateway to Malta way back in 2000. A year earlier, in 1999, when the internet was still in its infancy in Malta, the Group launched the first local job site under the brand name VacancyCentre.com, and in 2003, CSB was one of the very first names in Malta to support the iGaming industry which it still services to date – only with a much wider iGaming portfolio of clients, some of which being leading iGaming companies/gaming platform providers.
More recently the Group has been actively involved in the licensing of the first electronic money institution (EMI) in Malta and also the first internet-based forex trading business in Malta with the MFSA.
What lay behind the company's move to Swatar?
2008 was the year which saw the transition from Vincenti Buildings in Valletta to the Tower Business Centre in Swatar. "It feels like yesterday that we made this move – being the first tenants to move to the business centre. This was when we realised the speed at which we were growing, which led us to acquire an area of 1,900 square metres with two floors of parking area that caters for 60 cars. Given the design/layout of the property and the increasing demand from our clients for office space led to the next step which was our investment in a Business Centre – hence being able to offer clients instant office space – definitely the first of its kind in Malta,” he added.
How is CSB celebrating its 25th anniversary?
"As we continue to grow, earlier this year we acquired additional office space of 420 square metres for future expansion with the idea of introducing a new business service line within the Tower Business Centre, complementary to the rest of our current service offering. We thus continue to invest heavily in our IT systems including a full off site disaster recovery, as well as human resources – who are our greatest investment and the Group’s back bone.”
"Our brand is something we are very proud of. We have in fact launched our new corporate website earlier this year, enhancing the expansion of the Group’s strategy to become the leading Relocation and Commercial Services provider in Malta. The new website has a number of improved functions including a Quick Links search function for improved navigation and the opportunity to interact via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and share news via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) where viewers of the website are able to access and share news simply on their portal too. CEO Mr J. Zammit believes that the new website revitalises the Group’s online presence. "Online communication is a fundamental part of our commitment to maintain open lines of communication with our global clients and stakeholders. The upgraded website offers a clean, new look, streamlined navigation, additional useful resources and essential information. Uncluttered and innovative in design, the site now also includes more detailed information on our various areas of service."
An international vision
"This year was very fruitful for CSB Group," Mr Zammit continued. "2012 marked the setting up of CSB Group London. As a Group with an international vision, it is crucial for us to secure a presence in strategic locations.” He also said that the Group was also seeking to set up a number of additional representative offices outside Malta whereby Malta will continue to be promoted as the financial services centre of choice.
In keeping with the strengthening of the Group’s brand recognition, the Group’s associated law firm Zammit & Associates – Advocates changed its name to CSB Advocates with effect from 1 October, with a view towards consolidating its brand identity with that of the CSB Group. Commenting, Mr Zammit said: “It is important for us that our clients better perceive the fact that CSB Advocates and the CSB Group are seamlessly connected in the complementarity of their respective service offering. Through this complementarity, we endeavour to provide better communication between the respective business units, efficiency of implementation of structures and accurate co-ordination of transactions.”
The company looks forward to the future, what are its plans?
With a quarter of a century of history and expertise, the Group is global in scope and has developed a comprehensive portfolio of services for clients worldwide. With a current staff complement of 50, it is envisaged that 2013 will lead to an increased headcount of 60, as the Group develops further into being Relocation specialists besides that of remaining to be one of the leading corporate services providers in Malta, and recruitment and HR specialists. Servicing renowned household names across the Aviation, Marine, iGaming and Financial Services industries, CSB Group’s service portfolio includes Corporate and Trust, Advisory, Legal, Tax, Accounting, Recruitment and HR, Credit Risk, Relocation and Real Estate services.