Malta Chamber “on an uninterrupted path of renewal”, says Director-General

Over its 172-year history, The Malta Chamber matured in its mission and values, as the island became independent and set its commercial engines in full-gear to attract investment and ensure economic growth. Today, The Malta Chamber, with offices housed within the historic Exchange Buildings in Valletta, boasts hundreds of members and continues to work intently on fulfilling its mission of providing a voice to the local private sector.

And it aims to continue doing so. To this end, this year, The Malta Chamber launched a rebranding exercise – in conjunction with PR agency BPC International – aiming to bring it into the new decade of the millennium. This was a new vision which saw the entity transformed, ready to continue in its role as an indispensable partner to the thousands of business leaders on the island.

HSBC Europe webinars on Covid-19 response made available to local clients

HSBC Malta is providing all business clients access to insights from HSBC Europe on how to respond to COVID-19 through a series of webinars.

Called HSBC Europe: Navigating the new Norm. this series includes insight by international banking experts, who share their experiences and observations on the pandemic and sustainability.

“In light of the rapidly evolving situation, we strive to continue maintaining the best quality banking service,” says Joyce Grech, Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC Malta.

“Through these webinars we are also making HSBC’s international expertise available to the local business community and providing insights into the current and potential future implications of COVID-19. In particular, these webinars are providing thought leadership on areas such as supply chain disruption and risk management.” 

For more information on these webinars, visit here.

HSBC Malta acts to mitigate effect of socially distanced queues

HSBC Malta, together with support from Local Councils, has secured the necessary permits to begin setting up temporary structures to provide shade from the sun, and where this is not possible, the bank will be providing customers with sun umbrellas whilst queueing outside branches. These measures are aimed at assisting the elderly and more vulnerable members of our community who, due to the impact of social distancing requirements, are at times obliged to queue outside. The bank will also be providing anti-bacterial wipes to all those customers who make use of the umbrellas.

Crawford Prentice, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking at HSBC Malta, said: “The number of people that can be allowed into our branches remains restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and, unfortunately, this means that at times some customers will have to wait outside. We understand how uncomfortable this can be in the heat of summer, especially for the elderly and vulnerable, and have therefore been working hard to get the permits we need to set up temporary shading and to ensure we can provide shade with umbrellas. Significant progress has been made and some tents have already been erected.”

This is not the first effort by the bank to mitigate queues, the bank has also launched a targeted programme where HSBC employees wearing a red ‘Here to Help’ t-shirt are deployed within the self-service area of each of its branches and their goal is to actively assist and educate customers in the use ATMs and deposit machines. This initiative is proving to be popular with customers and is contributing towards making banking easier and more convenient, whilst offering alternatives to traditional branch banking.

In addition to this initiative, HSBC is continuously encouraging customers to use alternative digital banking methods and since the start of the pandemic the bank has increased its educational efforts, producing a number of information videos aimed at encouraging digital banking. The bank has produced easy to follow educational videos which may be seen at to highlight the ease of using ATMs for cash withdrawals and deposits as well as cheque deposits. The campaign also explains how customers can register for Internet banking in order to manage their finances online as well as make any payment of utility bills, insurance and other occasional expenses directly from the comfort of their home.

“HSBC appreciates that change can be difficult but in the current circumstances it really does make sense for people to use digital channels as well as ATMs and deposit machines. By doing this, customers can avoid the heat and help keep the community safe. While we will continue to provide every possible assistance to customers who visit our branches, I would strongly encourage anyone who may need help or advice on how to use our digital channels to speak to any staff member, especially those wearing a ‘Here to Help’ t-shirt.” concluded Crawford Prentice.

BOV registers €13.8 million profit for the first six months of 2020

Bank of Valletta Group has reported a profit before tax of €13.8 million for the first six months of 2020 (compared to €54.3 million in 2019), representing an annual pre-tax return on equity of 2.6 per cent.

The bank noted that the reduction in profit is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted all its business lines, as well as with de-risking initiatives which intensified over the past months.

The results for the period under review also include impacts from a number of other areas, including increased depreciation on new IT investments, staff costs as the bank invested more in risk and compliance resources, and expected reduction in foreign exchange and commission income resulting from the de-risking initiatives which have been carried out over the last 12 months. Total costs for the first half of the year increased by €8.2 million to €89.5 million.

Net interest income, which remains the main revenue driver for the group, amounted to €72.3 million, €5.3 million less than the income registered for the same period in 2019.

The persistently low to negative interest rate environment, coupled with a conservative risk appetite, limited investment opportunities and increased levels of liquidity which attract negative interest, resulted in lower earnings on the Bank’s investment portfolio.

Demand for credit was primarily related to liquidity shortages brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the period, the demand for home loans was subdued when compared to previous years and this is mostly attributed to changed consumer behaviour influenced by the pandemic situation.

Commission and trading profits closed at €37.0 million, 19 per cent lower than the first six months of 2019.

The economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 had an adverse effect on commissions earned, especially those relating to the card and payment business and investment related products. Income from foreign exchange transactions was also negatively impacted.

In its statement, BOV said it remains highly liquid, with cash and short-term funds increasing by €178.3 million (4.3 per cent) during the first six months of 2020. Customer deposits increased by over €500 million since the start of the financial year and reached €11.1 billion at the end of June 2020.

Net loans and advances increased by €91 million since December 2019, an annualised growth rate of 4 per cent, and stand at €4.7 billion at 30 June 2020.