Institute of Financial Services (ifs) Malta President Kenneth B. Micallef opened the ifs’ annual seminar with an introductory address in which he stated that the financial sector and its practitioners have an obligation to society to ensure that the financial system is not used for any illicit purposes.
During the seminar on the topical theme of Regulatory Challenges Ahead, Mr Micallef said that regulation had already impacted the financial services industry greatly and that there was still more to come. However, while the plethora of legislation and regulation may seem overwhelming, it had to be kept in mind To this end, all trusted financial services professionals have a duty of care to many stakeholders and must always act with integrity and must always uphold the highest standards of professional conduct, honesty, and ethical behaviour.
This was followed by a presentation from Marianne Scicluna, Director General of the Malta Financial Services Authority, who gave an overview of the MFSA’s role in the ever-changing regulatory environment, and outlined how developments taking place in the regulatory framework would impact financial services.
From the expert line up of speakers, James Farrugia discussd the challenges of implenting MiFId II, Dr Malcolm Falzon tackled the new Insurance Distribution Directive and the Commissioner for Information and Data Protection, Saviour Cachia, spoke about the changing landscape of data protection.
In his intervention, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, said that despite the crticism against the country’s financial services sector, Malta should not adopt a siege mentality. It is important that all stakeholders work together to defend Malta and rebut criticism and show how transparent and compliant we are with all the legislation and regulation involved.
Opposition Leader Adrian Delia talked about the challenges and opportunities in financial services. Dr Delia stated that while regulation had increased and we have to safeguard Malta’s reputation, there were also opportunities to promote Malta as an attractive domicile and explore possibilities in such areas as FinTech and possibly even benefit from the Brexit. We also need to invest in our people.
The panel discussion, chaired by Vanessa MacDonald, dealt with the practical implications of regulatory changes on the consumer. The panel consisted of the expert speakers who spoke earlier together with Financial Arbiter, Reno Borg and the Vice President of the Malta Association of Compliance Officers, David Galea Souchet.
In the closing address, the Hon. Prof. Edward Scicluna, Minister for Finance, stated that Malta is currently undergoing a severe test on its financial institutions and issues like business transparency and its tax regime were attracting a lot of international media attention. In spite of all this, Malta’s financial institutions will survive as they become more efficient and compliant with the new rules and look towards new opportunities.
The President of ifs Malta expressed his satisfaction at the outcome of the seminar, stating that besides obtaining a better understanding of the technical issues involved of regulation coming our way, it was truly beneficial to attain a holistic view and first-hand knowledge and insight of this change by hearing the views from a political perspective together with the viewpoint of regulatory bodies and that of practitioners.