The Malta Institute of Accountants held the annual joint conference with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) at the Excelsior Hotel, Floriana.

During the conference, 12 experts, thought leaders and practitioners guided sessions on crucial themes in the accountancy profession today, discussing the anti-money laundering Moneyval report, barriers to growth for Maltese SMEs, IFRS standards and leadership qualities related to emotional intelligence.

“The MIA-ACCA joint conference is a very important event in our calendar,” said MIA president Fabio Axisa in his opening address, explaining his mission to improve the quality of accountants in Malta.

“MIA key objectives include ensuring that businesses and the public sector in Malta are in a position to recruit and engage accountancy professionals, who elevate effective management and decision making.”

One of the main sessions in the conference assessed the outcomes of the Fifth Round Mutual Evaluation Report by Moneyval. Manfred Galdes, Alfred Zammit, Diane Bugeja, Aidan Clifford and Lucienne Pace Ross discussed the implications for professionals and offered practical recommendations based on the report. Various stakeholders from different sectors are working on a 58-point action plan to address the key issues identified by Moneyval and, during the conference it was revealed that at least 75 per cent of recommendations found in the latest Moneyval report are already in execution.

The advisory services manager for ACCA in Ireland, Aidan Clifford, gave an overview of current international financial reporting standards to update professionals on the most recent accounting requirements. Clifford covered crucial areas including pension plans, interim reporting, government grants and capitalisation of assets to provide participants with a full picture of new standards.

In another session, participants were presented with the results from a survey of Maltese SMEs focusing on difficulties encountered during the scale-up phase. The findings were compared with global trends by Lilly Aaron and then analysed in a panel discussion with the participation of Dean Gera, Marthese Micallef and David Pace.

The survey discovered that recruitment processes and finding the necessary skill sets are the top concerns for employers seeking growth. Aaron also revealed that companies in Malta tended to rely broadly on financial metrics to measure growth, although high-growth businesses were more likely to also use non-financial indicators.

Natalie Kenely delivered an inspiring talk on the role of emotional intelligence at the workplace and how to develop the needed skills. She cited research that shows a positive correlation between employee happiness and job performance and discussed communication techniques that improve managerial soft skills. The theme was introduced by a special activity led by Joseph Farrugia and Karl Grech.

The event was also addressed by ACCA member engagement manager Lefki Panteli who noted the “increasing levels of activity” in Malta and praised the standards of operation upheld by professionals. Panteli expressed her satisfaction at the growing numbers of participants in the annual conference.

This was the sixth edition of the MIA-ACCA joint conference, providing participants with insight and expert knowledge. The event was supported by Infocredit Group and Buddy HR and Payroll Solutions.

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