Maltese Financial Sector Continues to Grow in Tough Times

MEDIA ROOM

As reported by The Malta Independent on Sunday, the Maltese financial sector is continuing to grow despite the prevailing tough economic times, FinanceMalta chairman Kenneth Farrugia observed at the organisation’s recent second annual general meeting.

Addressing the AGM, Mr Farrugia said, “Despite the financial turmoil and economic crisis faced by the international financial community, Malta’s banking sector has proven to be relatively resilient.

“Equally important, the Malta Financial Services Authority’s 2008 annual report clearly reveals highly encouraging financial sector growth statistics for 2008 showing practically year on year growth in all the core sectors of the financial services industry.”

But, on the other hand, he stressed that notwithstanding the sector’s achievements, it was imperative to further strengthen the level of promotional initiatives being organised in order to ensure that Malta continues to enjoy sustainable growth.

FinanceMalta’s annual report lists a comprehensive range of initiatives organised by FinanceMalta which, among others, included an introduction on Malta’s financial services industry to Malta’s Ambassadors and Consuls, as well as similar addresses to business delegations from Brazil and the Czech Republic; the setting up of an exhibition stand at the Malta Insurance Rendezvous and the organisation of FinanceMalta’s second annual conference last May.

In addition, a conference titled “Financial Services in Malta: Where Opportunities Become Realities” was organised in London at the end of March and was hosted by Financial Times Global Events and sponsored by FinanceMalta and the MFSA.

Some 120 delegates from a broad cross-section of leading banks, asset managers, regulatory bodies, accountancy firms and other representatives of the UK financial community attended this event.

The conference was a resounding success and, apart from the event being fully booked weeks ahead of the event date, around 50 people remained on the waiting list. Equally important was the seniority of the delegates, the quality of the institutions they represented and the ensuing interest they expressed in what Malta had to offer.

The conference also served to enhance FinanceMalta’s relations with the Financial Times Global Events, which prompted the publication of an interview with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, the Economy and Investment, which was covered in the July edition of The Banker magazine.

FinanceMalta has also marketed Malta as a financial centre in Warsaw, Milan, in Monaco at the GAIM Hedge Fund Conference, in Luxembourg at the 12th European Captive Rendezvous, as well as in Geneva at the Transcontinental Trusts Conference.

As part of its promotional initiatives, FinanceMalta has, this year, updated and published 15,000 copies – 3,000 more than last year – of its Investment Guide and Business Directory. Copies of the publication have been distributed to the organisation’s members and contacts, as well as to ambassadors, consuls, prospective investors and five-star hotels.

FinanceMalta has also issued a series of media articles and advertorials in reputable international publications such as the HFM Week, Cell Company Handbook, Captive Review, Financial Times, and The Banker.

But beyond the organisation of promotional initiatives, Mr Farrugia explained that industry must constantly focus on three core critical success factors, which were pivotal for the growth of the industry.

These relate to the presence and availability of sufficiently qualified human resources, the importance of sustaining Malta’s responsiveness and flexibility when processing and servicing business applications, and that of ensuring a proper framework in place to expedite any updates or changes to our legal and regulatory framework in order to ensure that this sustains our competitiveness going forward.

In his concluding address, Mr Farrugia highlighted the constant need for Malta’s financial services industry and its various stakeholders to be seen as innovators in an already crowded and homogenous marketplace. Consequently, he was pleased to note that the industry, government and the regulator are working hard together driven by a common vision to ensure the presence of an appropriate set-up that encourages new ways of thinking, perspectives and proposals: ones which are in the main driven by market opportunities ensuring in the process that effective solutions are duly identified and acted upon in an expedient manner.