Sustainability, digitalisation and internationalisation were among the topics discussed during FinanceMalta’s 16th annual conference held at the Hilton Conference Centre in St Julian’s on Wednesday.
Themed ‘Leading Change Through Innovation’, the conference had over 400 registered participants, which comprised a broad representation of stakeholders in the local financial services sector and international professionals, including C-level and other executives, EU policymakers, Maltese government representatives, officials of global standard-setting organisations, investors, innovators, as well as renowned academics and researchers.
Minister for Finance and Employment Clyde Caruana and more than 40 leading local and international experts addressed the conference, discussing the most topical themes in a series of panel sessions and fireside chats throughout the day.
The event was chaired by talent advisory specialist and FM Search founder Francina Moisa and was opened by FinanceMalta’s chairman George Vella.
As he welcomed the delegates attending the conference, Vella focused on sustainability, digitalisation and internationalisation as the three main pillars for a successful strategy that takes the financial sector forward, underlining the commitment of FinanceMalta to support the industry in these areas.
Minister Caruana said that the financial services sector can bring about the significant leap forward that is needed in Malta. He emphasised the government’s intent to see through the implementation of the National Strategy for Financial Services that was launched by the Malta Financial Services Advisory Council (MFSAC) in March and said that specific deliverables in this regard will be mentioned in the upcoming budget.
The conference kicked off with a discussion on the crucial role played by the financial services industry to help the rechannelling of capital flows towards green projects in order to facilitate the attainment of ESG goals and net zero targets.
The discussion brought into perspective the progress being registered at local level as a result of the concerted effort of both private enterprises and regulators. This was followed by the sharing of insights into the market for green bonds and the first green bond that started trading on the Malta Stock Exchange.
Attention was also directed to the tax component in financial services
The green agenda in financial services was further explored in a discussion on the blue economy, which also presents Maltese investors with opportunities for international cooperation.
The conference also discussed the pivotal role of fintech as a main driver of innovation. In this regard, the delegates were briefed about the study being conducted by Mastercard in collaboration with FinanceMalta. The study is aimed at achieving a deeper understanding of the Maltese fintech ecosystem and the potential way forward.
The significant and multifaceted role of artificial intelligence (AI) in financial services, transforming how the industry operates and serves its customers, was the subject of a panel session that followed.
Delving further into the path forward in the financial services sector, the conference explored the role of the World Alliance of International Financial Centers (WAIFC), of which FinanceMalta became a full member in October 2022, in promoting financial centres through the continuous collaboration and sharing of knowledge at international level.
FinanceMalta is actively contributing to this dialogue, continuing to increase Malta’s exposure internationally and reaffirm the country as an innovator in financial services.
Attention was also directed to the tax component in financial services during a discussion on the modernisation of Malta’s taxation system, to ensure that taxation fits in with the profile of the jurisdiction while boosting its reputation and enhancing its efficiency. The productive discussion on the sector’s future prospects was later facilitated through an overview of the common elements in the strategic trajectory of Malta’s thriving aviation, maritime and financial services industries.
The Malta Financial Services Advisory Council (MFSAC) chairman, Joseph Zammit Tabona, shared a detailed account of the progress resistered in the implementation of the National Strategy for Financial Services since its launch in March. He explained that intensive efforts are being undertaken by a number of working groups that have increased from nine to 14. A draft master plan is currently being drawn up to identify the initiatives that would be implemented by December 2024. He also spoke about the important contribution of Malta’s regulators who have taken the strategy on board.
The session on the National Strategy for Financial Services also included contributions from Kenneth Farrugia, CEO of the Malta Financial Services Authority, and Geraldine Spiteri Lucas, CEO of the Malta Business Registry.
The event was supported by 20 sponsors, including Moneybase (Diamond Sponsor), Mastercard, Bank of Valletta, the Malta Stock Exchange and Systemic. The Expo Hall hosted 14 local and international exhibitors that showcased their products during the event.
Distinguished international speakers who participated in the conference included senior European Investment Bank (EIB) official to the Union for the Mediterranean (UFM) for sustainable finance and investments, Andrea Tinagli; World Alliance of International Financial Centers (WAIFC) managing director Jochen Biedermann; AI governance, fintech and digital transformation expert, and bestselling author, Clara Durodié; and Mastercard advisers cluster lead for Greece, Cyprus and Malta, Akis Tsekouras.
FinanceMalta is the non-profit public-private initiative that was set up to promote Malta as an international business and financial centre within, as well as outside of Malta. It brings together and harnesses the resources of the industry and government, to ensure Malta maintains a modern and effective legal, regulatory and fiscal framework in which the financial services sector can continue to grow and prosper.