Over 300 delegates attended the FinanceMalta 15th Annual Conference titled "Learning from the past: Looking to the Future". The event was held on 1 December 2022 at the InterContinental Arena Conference Centre and was the first fully in-person and face-to-face annual conference to be organised since the pandemic.
Over 30 speakers, contributors, experts and panellists from Malta and abroad contributed to the conference. Considered to be the largest local gathering for the financial services industry, the annual conference featured C-level executives, European Union policymakers, Maltese Government representatives, officials of global standard-setting organisations, renowned academics, researchers and more.
Pic 1 – FinanceMalta Chairman George Vella addressing the 15th Annual Conference
The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola addressed the conference, while Minister for Finance and Employment Hon. Clyde Caruana and a number of leading local and international experts discussed several themes throughout panel sessions and fireside chats. The event was chaired by leadership and innovation expert Deborah Webster and was opened by FinanceMalta's Chairman George Vella.
The theme of this year's conference reflected the significant challenges that the sector is going through. The conference focused on how all stakeholders can work collaboratively so that Malta can continue benefiting from the opportunities for growth in financial services, amidst an ever-changing economic and regulatory environment.
In his opening address, Mr Vella said: "The significance of today's event is that stakeholders in our industry are all under one roof to look at what we have learnt from the recent past, but also chart the future strategy in an ever-changing world. The launch of the Malta Financial Services Advisory Council (MFSAC) strategy for our industry is a positive step forward, which will put Malta back on the map."
"FinanceMalta sees a bright future for the island's financial services industry and believes that the sector's contribution to Malta's GDP should grow further. This is only possible through a concerted and co-ordinated effort, by integrating various other stakeholders in the way we do business," he added.
Mr Vella stressed that the industry should leverage opportunities that the EU can provide in areas such as private equity: "We need to innovate but not necessarily reinvent the wheel. We need to ensure that our ecosystem continues to internationalise itself, especially in the area of capital markets, whilst starting to progress on sustainable finance so as to attain our Sustainable Development Goals. The emphasis should be on longer-term and wider goals for Malta and the financial services sector."
The annual conference featured high-calibre international speakers including, amongst others, the former President of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Dr Marcus Pleyer, the Executive Director of the European Banking Authority (EBA) François-Louis Michaud; Futurist and Professor of Practice, Imperial College Business School, Prof. David Shrier, as well as the Director for Financial and Enterprise Affairs at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Prof. Carmine Di Noia.
Pic 2 – Former President of the FATF Dr Marcus Pleyer making a point during the event
The event was also a fitting occasion for FinanceMalta to launch its new brand identity and unveil its new logo. The rebranding aims at giving a fresh look to the organization, in order to reflect the innovation that the industry saw in recent years, mostly with the rise of fintech and its applications. The new look aims also at reinforcing the profile that the organization has established over its 15 years of operations, in which it promoted the jurisdiction as an innovative, robust and efficient international financial centre.
The first panel session was titled "A look at our lessons and achievements in 2022" and focussed on the need for sustainability when implementing actions and initiatives that are taken by the financial services industry and its players to grow the sector. Panellist stressed that Malta should retain what it has managed to achieve, whilst also focusing on those areas that need fine tuning, by increasing efficiencies and adopting the latest technologies.
Understanding the challenges and opportunities was the main theme of the second session. The strategy presented by MFSAC was debated and a discussion ensued on the way Malta's financial services industry should position itself in the European and global markets as an innovative jurisdiction, with a clear strategy and vision.
Banking in Malta in the context of European regulatory developments was the focus of the third panel session, which covered the key challenges that the banking sector is facing, including the ongoing implementation of new and updated regulations. The speakers focussed on sustainable banking, the resilience of the Maltese banking sector and the importance of reputation for the jurisdiction.
Pic 3 – A panel session featuring Marisa Xuereb, President, The Malta Chamber, Minister for Finance and Employment Hon. Clyde Caruana
In the afternoon, the focus shifted to Sustainable Finance. The experience and learning points of Luxembourg in this area were shared. Moreover, the importance of sustainable finance was discussed including Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations when making investment decisions. The speakers noted that Malta is still facing challenges in this area, like many other countries, and these stem from certain inertia in investing in sustainable and green financing.
Good Governance and the trust in the reliability of the financial system was debated in a panel session. The speakers agreed that trust and reputation are key for the growth of any financial services jurisdiction. In addition, the significance of Malta's grey listing and the lessons learnt were discussed also in terms of ensuring that the implemented reforms are sustained. The need for a risk and compliance culture was emphasised as well as the importance of ensuring that good governance is carried out in a practical manner to safeguard Malta's competitiveness.
The conference sought to unravel the topic of the Digital Revolution and Malta's position in such a phenomenon. The need for Malta to focus on a specific niche where it could excel and to ensure that the country has the capacity to deliver on its strategy, was debated. The discussion proceeded to the importance of sufficiently qualified staff to deliver in this area, as well as a good regulatory framework which provides clarity and ease of processes.
The closing session of FinanceMalta's 15th Annual Conference delved into how the sector can attract and develop talent, upskill and reskill the workforce, as well as retain existing talent.
The event came to an end with a fast-paced dynamic and thought-provoking session led by David Shrier, Futurist and Professor of Practice at the Imperial College Business School.
Pic 4 – The 15th FinanceMalta Annual Conference