Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 October, 2020 at 4:00 pm by Andre Camilleri

Malta has already begun to earn the trust of its international partners when it comes to the financial services sector, Prime Minister Robert Abela said in a video message which opened a three-day conference being hosted by FinanceMalta.

The conference, held between today and Thursday, titled ‘Innovation in Financial Services: Gearing up for the new post Covid-19 era, is being hosted by FinanceMalta with the participation of a number of stakeholders, both local and international.

Opening the conference, Abela said that good governance is a bedrock for financial services, something inevitable as this is an industry which is built on trust.

Abela said that Malta as an international financial centre has been a success. He noted that last year there were 17,850 limited liability financial companies registered in this sector – nearly 30% of all firms.  In 2019, there were nearly 4 companies everyday being registered. 

Since 2012, the value of the sector has increased by €325 million – equivalent to 52% – and it employs more than 15,000 employees, 60% of whom are women whilst paying an average wage which is 40% higher than the national average.

The above, Abela said, shows that the financial services sector is of great importance for nurturing Malta’s middle class and sustaining the nation’s balance of payments.

He said that companies in these sectors are facing three broad challenges; a decline in correspondent banking due to the fact that increased international regulation has made this less profitable; issues related to higher regulatory standards that international partners expect Malta to conform to; and issues relating to the tax regime that Malta operates.

“As a government we are working on all fronts to reach optimal solutions for these challenges”, Abela said.

He said that Malta has to up its game in terms of regulatory oversight, which is why the country is dramatically increasing budgets of its institutions and making changes.

With tax, Abela said Malta will remain firm by cooperating with other jurisdictions but continuing to make the point that taxation needs to be organised at a national level as best suited to the country’s circumstances.

“I believe that we have already began to earn the trust of our international partners”, Abela said, before noting that the European Commission has formally communicated its approval for the changes being enacted more than once.

“I am convinced that with the changes we are making, the future of our financial services sector will be bright”, Abela said.

Abela said that the days ahead will be challenging, particularly in view of the struggle against Covid-19, however he noted that with the help of Malta’s business community, key among them the financial services sector, he is convinced of the country’s continued success.

Opening the conference meanwhile, FinanceMalta’s chairman Rudolph Psaila said that the conference will address various topics relevant to the financial services industry both locally and internationally, with innovation being the key theme.

He said that agility and innovation will become the cornerstone behind developing the industry, exacerbated by the pandemic. He said that Malta’s small size is an advantage when it comes to adapting, and he said that regulatory innovation is what has attracted so many players to Maltese shores.

Reputation remains key to this sector, he said, and said that all stakeholders including the government need to do all they can to enhance Malta’s reputation.

Finally, Psaila said that FinanceMalta will be giving a financial contribution to Foodbank Lifeline and he said that he is proud to support this initiative.

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