Opening speech by Ms Juanita Bencini, IFSP President
Welcoming speech of the president
Hon Minister, distinguished guests, IFSP members and colleagues,
Welcome to the IFSP biennial conference entitled Shifting Landscapes in Financial Services.
The IFSP is here today because of the foresight of a bunch of people 27 years ago, who believed in the potential of a then fledgling financial services industry and what that could mean for the country. The year was 1988 and the Institute was then known as the Association of Nominees – a reflection of Malta’s position at that time as an offshore financial centre. As the country shed its offshore image and with the accession of Malta to the EU in 2004, the Institute changed its name and started growing considerably as a result also of the increasing number of financial services providers on the Island.
The Institute is truly a unique association. The uniqueness of the IFSP is that it brings together all professionals that have an interest in this industry and indirectly the firms within which they work. It is not defined by the academic profession of its members but brings together the various professions that make up Malta’s financial services industry today. It is defined by the industry that it services rather than by the profession of its members. As a result, discussion during Council and Committee meetings is lively and diverse. Each person round the table brings his or her personal experiences to bear on the debate and this enriches the conversation. This enables the Institute to look at issues concerning the financial services industry from different angles. As result of this the IFSP has, over the years, been able to offer to the Government of the day the services of the best brains on the island whenever an opportunity has arisen or a crisis loomed. This in my view is clear evidence of the strength and relevance of the IFSP.
It is for this reason that the IFSP President, irrespective of who she or he is, has today, a seat around the table of the Financial Services Working Group. The Financial Services Working Group or FSWG as it is commonly referred to, is a working group which meets under the auspices of the Hon Minister of Finance, Prof Edward Scicluna. It includes representatives of the wider financial services industry, and includes high-ranking individuals from the Ministry of Finance, the regulators and the Inland Revenue Department and is chaired by the Hon Dr Charles Mangion. The topics that are discussed are wide-ranging but all have a common quality – importance to the financial services industry.
Over these past few months the IFSP has contributed significantly to the discussion at the FSWG as the country faces the challenges being brought about by proposals for changes to taxation rules across Europe. The IFSP Tax Think Tank, which is made up of Neville Gatt, Andre Zarb and Conrad Cassar Torregiani has been monitoring closely the situation and working intensely with the Ministry and the Inland Revenue officials to provide technical input into the discussion taking place at the EU. IFSP’s input is not related solely to tax. The IFSP, through its Committees, maintains constant dialogue with other authorities, such as the FIAU, the MFSA, the ROC and Identity Malta. This is a role the IFSP intends to go on filling for as long as practitioners in the industry continue to offer their support.
The Institute of Financial Services Practitioners today boasts more than 420 members, and is continuously growing with new applications being received every month. This year we are embarking on a refresh of the IFSP brand. Most of you may have seen our new logo and this month will see work commencing on refreshing our website to make it more relevant and user-friendly for our members. In this way we are hoping to increase the level of communication with members, who are increasingly looking for means of communication with the Institute that is not constrained by office hours. The tagline or descriptor that Council believes aptly describes the IFSP – is The Voice of the Financial Services Industry in Malta. We think that this really articulates what the IFSP is all about – the voice of the financial services industry from different angles from taxation to anti money laundering to education. Our Institute thrives on the support that members provide and we consider that it is Council’s top priority that members feel that they are getting value out of their support to IFSP.
The theme of our conference today is Shifting Landscapes in Financial Services. The world of financial services has changed and is still changing and this not only in Malta. The recession has left its mark in the swathe of financial services regulation that we have seen come out of the EU. Some of it makes sense for us as a country – some doesn’t. It is therefore imperative that we are vocal in EU fora when regulation is not to the country’s benefit. Similarly we must critically analyse all other regulation and work closely with our financial services regulators, to see how this could facilitate the growth of the sector in Malta.
On behalf of my Council members, I reaffirm the IFSP’s willingness to remain a major contributor in the shaping of the financial services industry in Malta.
IFSP 2016 Conference
Shifting Financial Landscapes: Future trends for the financial services industry
21st January 2016