Strategy for Malta’s financial services industry launched

The National Strategy for Financial Services, prepared by the Malta Financial Services Advisory Council (MFSAC), has been launched. The strategy was initiated by the government with the active contribution from both the industry and the regulators. It is the result of the work of over 100 professionals who worked together to elaborate concrete actions to address key opportunities and mitigate the weaknesses of the sector. This strategy is based on a detailed analysis of the financial services industry conducted by task forces composed of representatives from all the stakeholders involved. The MFSAC, chaired by Joseph Zammit Tabona, was set up by the government in January 2021. One of its five terms of reference is to prepare a long-term strategic plan for Malta’s financial services industry. The now-complete National Strategy for Financial Services will act as a cornerstone to reenergise this industry, building on a strong foundation to enabling Malta to position itself with a foundation of a reputable and successful international financial services jurisdiction that excels in innovation and responsiveness through a nimble and joined up regulatory framework and a robust technology foundation. The objective is also to further strengthen Malta’s position and performance in a professional and regulatory compliant manner, creating a digitally-enabled, easy-to-use financial system. This will drive growth for the industry and, as a result, spur growth in other areas related to this sector. The core principles supporting this vision are anchored around speed, standards, simplification, specialisation and sustainability, all critical for Malta to leap frog to the next generation service offering in this industry. The strategic priorities of the strategy are focused on streamlining Malta’s regulatory pro cesses and institutional archi tecture, building a national payments infrastructure, conso - li dating identity management, enabling financial services law reform and harmonisation, modernising Malta’s tax structure, and building up Malta’s talent pool in the financial services industry, among others. In total, the strategy includes more than 175 initiatives. During 2021, nine working groups were set up by the MFSAC Council, with the aim of identifying actions on five vertical pillars, namely banking and payments, insurance and pensions, capital markets, wealth management, and fintech and AI, and horizontal enablers such as addressing bureaucracy, taxation, HR and education and sustainable finance. The MFSAC working groups included the active participation of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and the Malta Business Registry (MBR), as well as the Malta Stock Exchange, the Commissioner for Revenue, FinanceMalta and private bodies such as the Malta Bankers’ Association, the Malta Institute of Accountants, the Malta Institute of Taxa tion and the Institute of Financial Services Practitioners. The context for the development of this strategy is that over the past 30 years, Malta has built a strong, performance-based financial services industry, attractive to a multitude of global players and providing a trusted and stable base for business. The country has also faced some significant challenges, such as the Financial Action Task Force greylisting in July 2021. While Malta retains strong fundamentals, the MFSAC sees the opportunity to target a new era of digitally-enabled financial services and to reassert Malta’s presence in a globally competitive marketplace and from a unique European perspective. The pandemic, the current geopolitical instability and the disruption that fintech and technology in general have introduced are transforming the way business is done, and the stra tegy aims at identifying concrete ways for the jurisdiction to maintain and further strengthen its position as an international financial centre. Zammit Tabona said: “The private sector, government and regulatory bodies all worked together to identify tangible and meaningful changes that will significantly improve Malta’s performance in this sector. “While not an easy change to implement, it will transform the industry and fully leverage the sector’s potential on the island. As we shift into implementation mode, working together becomes even more important.” George Vella, chairman of FinanceMalta, added that the inclusive process that led to the presentation of this strategy shows that all stakeholders are deeply committed to keep Malta at the forefront of financial services and that FinanceMalta “will continue to support the industry and is ready to contribute, as required, in all stages of the implementation of the strategy”. The strategy is available at publications/.