IFSP Conference 2021: Press Release Conference Day Two
The 2021 IFSP Conference drew to a close today, 5 March 2021, after carrying on the overall conference theme of Malta at the crossroads. Hon Dr Mario De Marco, Opposition Spokesperson for Finance, addressed participants on the way forward for financial services in Malta.
While praising efforts made by practitioners and various institutions to improve Malta’s legislation and enforcement to meet the MONEYVAL challenge, he highlighted the need for Malta’s reputation to be restored. “Malta is indeed at a crossroads,” he said, with one path leading to further prosperity, and the other to “the destruction of what has been built over the past three decades.” He told conference participants the Opposition would be open to cooperation in order to put Malta’s financial framework and economy on to a firm footing.
The second day’s proceedings really kicked off with a discussion on the newly minted CSP Rulebook, in which Nick Captur (IFSP Council member and chair, Directors’ working group), Emily Benson (MFSA), Alexia Farrugia (Actaco Financial) and Etienne Borg Cardona (Capital Advisory) discussed the implications of the MFSA’s new CSP Rulebook, which while published for consultation has yet to be issued in-its final form.
The CSP Rulebook is the tool through which a range of services including the registration of companies, the provision of registered office services and of directors or company secretaries is to be regulated. Malta is seeking to raise standards for the services practitioners offer in this space, improving on the 2013 CSP framework which thus far, in most if not all other European countries, is still not subject to such oversight. The industry is truly striking out in a new direction here, in an initiative which is fully supported by the industry and which should contribute to the re-establishment of trust in the jurisdiction.
Given the nature of the IFSP membership base, most of whom provide CSP services, it should be no surprise that this first session of Day Two generated a lot of interest, with highly active participation of the audience.
The second session of Day Two tackled an equally forward looking area: Sustainable Finance. Malcolm Falzon (Partner at Camilleri Preziosi), Simone Russo (Amagis Capital), Chris Meilak (EY) and Ryan Borg (MFSA) looked at what is becoming an area of great interest. This involves aligning investment decisions with broader environmental and societal goals. As Malcolm Falzon put it, with sustainable finance it is not just environmental benefits that are achievable, but a range of benefits that traditional financial instruments are incapable of tapping into. Furthermore, Dr Falzon pointed out, social bonds are now being looked upon at EU level as a means with which to rebuild economies following the COVID19 pandemic.
The third session returned to the theme set by the first of the day’s sessions, raising standards across the jurisdiction. Rosanne Bonnici (partner at Fenech and Fenech) and Etienne Borg Cardona (Capital Advisory) discussed the importance of good corporate governance through a half hour conversation that held the audience’s attention. Both practicing non-executive directors, albeit in different spheres, brought their experience to bear on the dilemmas and choices that a director faces, shedding light on the way to best tackle difficult situations while emphasising the importance that anyone taking on a role as director needs to be well prepared.
The day’s proceedings – and the conference as a whole – closed with a discussion on taxation and the future trends that are likely to have an impact on business in Malta. Neville Gatt (IFSP Council member, partner at PWC), Conrad Cassar Torregiani (Deloitte), Andre Zarb (IFSP Council member, and partner at KPMG), Robert Attard (IFSP Council member and partner at EY) and Stephen Attard (IFSP Council Member and partner at Ganado Advocates), all leaders in tax practice in Malta discussed the main international trends in taxation, and the impact these are likely to have on the country.
On this note, the conference closed with the clear message: Malta’s reputation needs to be restored, through a general raising of standards across the board, be it the private and public sectors, both as far as the services provided go as well as the quality of regulation. This will not just help the jurisdiction pass external evaluations but will also be of benefit to the country as a whole. The world is changing, and Malta needs to change with it.