Rethinking and reforming the financial services industry was the underlying theme of the Malta Institute of Accountants (MIA) Biennial Conference 2023, addressing the key areas that underpin the required reforms towards upgrading the competitiveness and reputation of the Maltese jurisdiction.

Stakeholders from regulators and authorities, together with industry professionals looked at how the financial services strategy seeks to address existing bottlenecks and identify where the economic opportunities of the near future lie.

MIA’s CEO Maria Cauchi Delia opened the well-attended conference, highlighting that the financial services strategy focuses on essential reforms and includes specific proposals which would leverage Malta’s unique advantages and enhance its position as a global financial hub.

“The key lies in strengthening and updating existing resources while exploring new opportunities for specialised financial products. Achieving this requires a robust legislative framework and clear regulatory guidelines to establish a solid foundation for the future,” said Ms Cauchi Delia.

MIA’s president David Delicata called on stakeholders to strive hard towards improving Malta’s reputation:

“If we really want to promote Malta as a jurisdiction of quality, our country must continue implementing reforms related to the rule of law, governance, media freedom and others, and more importantly, make sure that such reforms are not solely seen as boxes to be ticked.”

“The attractiveness of our nation starts first and foremost from here”, said Mr Delicata. He also dwelled on MIA’s role in developing and implementing this strategy.

Malta Financial Services Advisory Council’s (MFSAC) chairperson Joseph Zammit Tabona emphasised that it was time to commence the actual implementation of the strategy.

He explained how MFSAC has presented a clear plan outlining the prioritisation of a set of reforms that can be completed within a span of 18 months.

To ensure successful execution, some 20 working groups are to be formed in order to closely monitor the strategy’s objectives. Additionally, a project management office will be set-up to oversee the entire implementation process.

The dedicated working groups will each focus on a specific subject-area in order to facilitate and expedite the process.

Mr Tabona also insisted that the success of the strategy relies on the input of practitioners and service providers.

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana insisted that a new economic model for Malta will need to focus on technology and capital intensive industries, as otherwise it will be very hard to sustain the current level of growth.

The Finance Minister continued that Malta needs structural changes, not mere reforms. He also noted that there will be other challenges in the months ahead, particularly in terms of tax.

Mr Caruana explained that Europe is moving ahead at a very fast pace and will consolidate further economic and financial policies, which will have a significant impact on Malta.

Jerome Caruana Cilia, the Opposition’s Spokesperson for Finance, described this decade as crucial, requiring important decisions to be made regarding the country’s path forward. This applies to various sectors such as climate change, environment, foreign policy, and specifically, financial services.

During the event, high-profile stakeholders from the public and private sector addressed various elements of the strategy, including taxation, sustainability, national payments infrastructure, asset management, capital markets, insurance and pensions as well as fintech.

Representatives from different regulators whose activity impacts the future of the industry, including the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, the Malta Business Registry, the Malta Financial Service Authority as well as the Commissioner for Revenue also addressed the conference.

The conference also featured a number of international speakers, including the president of Accountancy Europe, Mark Vaessen.

MIA’s vice-president Mark Bugeja, closed off the conference by saying that the industry and the profession will continue to grow and flourish but all stakeholders need to play a role in making it happen,

The Biennial Conference 2023 was supported by Epic, BNF Bank, the Malta Stock Exchange, Shireburn Software Limited and Finance Incorporated Limited.

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