The second edition of the GRC Summit 2024 officially announced

The Malta Stock Exchange has officially announced the second edition of the Governance, Risk,
Compliance and ESG Week Summit 2024 (GRC Summit 2024).

Held between the 5 and 8 March 2024, the summit aims to bring corporate executives, regulators and
financial industry practitioners together to present, discuss and debate governance, risk and
compliance matters.

The 4-day event will address a variety of topics including ESG trends and reporting, harnessing tech
(AI in particular), good governance, AML compliance, DORA and cybersecurity, and the future of
gaming regulation, amongst others.

“The 2024 summit will see a mix between keynotes and panel discussions on a variety of industry
hot-topics, as well as networking events giving room for all delegates to continue discussing the
insights shared through the event,” said Joseph Portelli, MSE’s Chairman.

Furthermore, PwC Malta has been confirmed as a Diamond Sponsor of the upcoming summit. This
following the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the firm and the
Malta Stock Exchange (MSE).

“We are pleased to partner with the second edition of the GRC Summit in 2024 as Diamond Sponsors.
The New Equation – PwC’s global strategy, captures our commitment to build trust, at a time when it is
both more fragile and more complicated to earn, and deliver sustained outcomes which make a
difference. In line with this, we believe that this event reflects our efforts to promote good governance,
transparency, and compliance, among other important subjects. We look forward to having both our
international and local experts participating in the summit and discussing these incredibly important
topics,” said David Valenzia, PwC Malta’s Territory Senior Partner.

“We believe that with the support of sponsors like PwC Malta, the GRC Summit 2024 is truly on its way
to becoming one of Europe’s go-to RegTech, ESG, Governance, Risk and Compliance gatherings,”
Portelli concluded.

Several members of PwC Malta’s pool of expert staff will participate as panellists and moderators in a
number of discussions in order to share the PwC Malta perspective.

Learn more about the GRC Summit 2024 and book your ticket from here.

BOV driving financial literacy & financial planning for customers

The world of investments is not simple to navigate, but this is an area that Bank of Valletta has been actively nurturing, primarily by enhancing financial literacy and helping customers get to grips with financial planning. This was highlighted by Mark Agius, Head of BOV’s Asset Management during his intervention at the BOVAM Seminar held a few weeks ago to BOV Group authorised sales representatives. The seminar was the tail-end of a number of informative sessions held across the Island for customers and non- customers alike.

The focus of BOV Asset Management during 2023 was to increase knowledge and communication across all areas of the BOV Group. This led to the organisation of quarterly seminars where staff members from BOV Asset Management could network and discuss best practices with BOV representatives who work at the front line, with a view to enhance the support offered to customers in improving financial literacy and financial planning.

In his intervention, Mark Agius emphasised the focus that the Bank has been giving to learning and development. “Acknowledging the need for ongoing learning, to remain ahead of the curve, saw us delivering over 70 training sessions and carry out over 100 branch visits. The team focused on financial literacy programmes for customers, through a series of educational sessions that were held across BOV Branches and Investment Centres.

Other speakers included Investment Managers and Investment Specialists from BOV Asset Management, who gave an overview of both international and local markets. Speaking about the local scenario, reference was made to the ESG framework and related regulations. Focus was made on the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation that imposes mandatory ESG disclosure obligations for asset managers and other financial market participants.

The seminar was brought to a close by Chief Personal and Wealth Officer Simon Azzopardi. Thanking the participants for their active participation, he emphasised the importance of collaboration across functions to bring to customers the extensive specialised resources held across the BOV Group. “At Bank of Valletta, we invest heavily in ensuring our people are experts in what they do. Ongoing learning, while keeping abreast with market developments is key for our front-liners and financial advisors, who have the backing of our research team to ensure that all advice given is informed and well-timed. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that customers make the right choices that match their expectations at every stage of their lifecycle.”

BNF Bank looks back at a year’s commitment to social impact

As the BNF team launches itself with renewed energy into this new year’s commitments, it takes a retrospective glance at the many community projects and initiatives that left a significant imprint on several groups and organisations. Under the umbrella of Environmental and Social Governance and with a combination of centrally organised events and voluntary work on the part of employees and their families, the team proudly looks back at some of the highlights and the support it has given local organisations, promoting compassion, inclusion and engagement.

Staff members gave their time, energy and resources during an event at RMJ’s Horse Rescue’s sanctuary in Siggiewi – a local organisation devoted to providing a second chance at life for horses rescued from neglect or those with special needs, by rehabilitating them and eventually rehoming them. BNF staff together with their children spent a delightful day and supported the team of RMJ by interacting with the horses and feeding them.

Other staff members generously donated their pre-loved items for Inspire’s thrift shop, further contributing to the organisation’s mission of empowerment and self-sustainability.

With the aim of fostering a culture of environmental responsibility, BNF supported Maltese NGO ACT to increase awareness about the importance of indigenous flora. This collaboration aligns with BNF’s broader dedication to sustainability initiatives. The partnership featured a successful hands-on educational workshop held with the Bank’s corporate team. The opportunity was then extended to all staff members who showed interest to volunteer.

Across the Bank’s employee base, regular monthly staple initiatives see the team pitch in funds for various causes, including Hospice and the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation via a monthly automatic payroll donation. Every month, this initiative is topped up via the #YourCause initiative where employees recommend groups and causes for a monthly fund collection supported by Management.
Karl Dingli, Head of Human Resources, Property and Administration at BNF Bank said: “These events demonstrate our core values of compassion, teamwork and involvement in the community. We take much pride in supporting local organisations that promote welfare, inclusion and social impact. And our employees regularly take on the Bank’s social commitments with energy and dedication, spurring us further to continue to seek opportunities to serve and support the local community. We are now already busy brainstorming and pooling ideas, so that we can take our drive and energy forward, to continue making positive change happen.”

BOV Supporting Climate Alignment in the Shipping Industry

“As a partner of the Malta Maritime Forum since its inception, Bank of Valletta’s relationship with the shipping industry has been vital for the operation of international trade and commerce, which is so important for Malta due to its insularity”. This was stated by Kenneth Farrugia, CEO at Bank of Valletta during the recently held Malta Maritime Forum progress meeting.

“At BOV we recognise the long tradition of maritime services in Malta and seek to play our part by using our expertise to assist our clients to succeed in their shipping related businesses. Our blend of knowledge, skills and expertise allows us to provide tailor-made financing solutions, designed to protect the interest of our customers and create value that drives them to success’.

BOV is increasingly looking at ways to finance more sustainable and environmentally friendly shipping practices, such as low-emission vessels, retrofitting projects and supporting the development of new technologies.”

Kenneth Farrugia continued by saying, “We are currently embarking on a multi-year program of initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. As a leading financial institution, we continue to be actively involved in supporting the transition to a net-zero sustainable future and look forward to supporting our clients with innovative financing products focused on the reduction of emissions’.

In a brief address, Malta Maritime Forum Chairman, Godwin Xerri said that the Malta Maritime Forum represented one of the mainstays of the Maltese economy and was proud to collaborate with one of the main players in the island’s economy – Bank of Valletta. “The Forum actively leverages the support and expertise made available through our cooperation with the Bank to strengthen the availability of maritime-related data and statistics at the local level as well as to increase the exposure of maritime services offered by Malta-based companies abroad. Through the sharing of knowledge and best practice, the Forum looks forward to consolidating relations between the Bank and maritime operators thereby ensuring due recognition for their valuable contribution to Malta’s economy.”

Core Skills Training for 2024 by EMCS Academy

EMCS Academy is excited to introduce its Prospectus for 2024.

Following an exhaustive Training Needs Analysis carried out in 2023, in conjunction with The Malta Chamber and spanning diverse industries, EMCS Academy is offering a selection of courses, workshops and webinars that are paramount for the growth of both employers and employees.

Whether you’re seeking accredited or non-accredited programs, a short webinar or workshop, EMCS Academy covers crucial areas like time management, negotiation skills, customer experience and leadership, amongst others.

Dive into the opportunities that await and secure your spot today by visiting this link.

Your journey to enhanced skills and professional growth begins here.

PwC Malta announces the appointment of 3 new Partners

PwC Malta has recently announced the appointment of Michael Formosa, Chris Mifsud Bonnici and
Andrew Schembri as Partners within the Assurance, Tax and Advisory service lines respectively. These
admissions have taken effect as of 1 January 2024. All of the appointed individuals bring with them
years of professional experience and expertise gathered from participating in and leading both local
and international projects.

“I am really proud to welcome three valued professionals to our growing team of partners. The more
our firm grows, and business becomes more complex, the more important it becomes to empower hard
working individuals to continue taking the lead. I truly believe that Michael, Chris and Andrew will
contribute greatly to the success of PwC Malta. They are fully equipped to support our clients with
addressing global and local challenges while ensuring that they do so with integrity, objectivity,
professional confidence, and due care to build trust within the firm and in society and solve important
problems,” remarked David Valenzia, Territory Senior Partner at PwC Malta.

Furthermore, during the 2023 PwC Annual Conference held on 22 December, the outstanding career
of Joseph Camilleri was celebrated in view of his retirement from the firm. He joined the firm back in
1981 as a student trainee Chartered Accountant. His career was marked by excellence and dedication,
and he joined the Partnership in 1994. In 2019, he became the head of PwC Malta’s Advisory practice
that provides deals, consulting and digital services to an extensive portfolio of public and private sector

“It has been a pleasure being on this journey at PwC Malta with an excellent professional like Joe.
Throughout his career he has led, mentored and contributed greatly in building the strong local
presence of PwC Malta. In the name of all Partners and staff at PwC Malta, I wish him a wonderful,
well-deserved retirement,” concluded David.

Meet the new Partners

Michael is the latest partner within the Assurance line of service at PwC Malta. He joined the firm in
2007, after obtaining a Bachelor of Honours Accountancy degree from the University of Malta.
Throughout the 16 years of audit experience at PwC Malta he serviced a variety of high-profile clients,
including a number of listed entities, within the Banking, Insurance, Telecommunications, Real-estate
and Local family industries. He has also led a number of advisory engagements for public institutions.
Michael complemented his audit experience at the Banking & Capital Markets unit at PwC New York
and participated in a number of international PwC network quality assurance assignments.

Chris joins the Partnership as part of the Tax Service line, where he helps drive the firm’s governance,
risk and compliance offering. He has a keen interest in regulatory trends and innovation, and is
focusing on digital finance and ESG/sustainable finance related initiatives. He is experienced in
advising asset management and other regulated businesses on tax, structuring and regulatory matters.
He joined PwC Malta in 2013 after three years with PwC Legal LLP in London and is a dual Maltese
and English qualified lawyer. He specialised in International Commercial Law at Kings’ College,
London and is an associate of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

Andrew is a new partner within the Digital Services team at PwC Malta, with experience in digital
consulting and a specialised focus in Information Security Management. He joined the Advisory line of
service at PwC Malta in 2011 following the completion of a Bachelor of Accountancy (Hons.) degree
from the University of Malta. Throughout his career, Andrew has demonstrated a deep understanding
of the intersection between technology and risk management, especially as it relates to businesses
operating in regulated industries such as Banking, Gaming, Insurance and Telecommunications.
Between 2018 and 2021, he also spent 2.5 years working with PwC US in the San Francisco Bay Area
where he had the opportunity to work with leading global technology, e-commerce and semiconductor

Atlas Insurance PCC obtains UK Branch and Life Reinsurance Licenses

Atlas Insurance PCC, a leading insurer in Malta and Protected Cell Company (PCC) in the EU, proudly announces two significant milestones. The company has successfully obtained authorisation for its UK branch and extended its non-life insurance and reinsurance licenses to encompass life reinsurance.
Having been active in the UK market since 2010, the UK branch authorisation ensures continuity for existing cells to continue writing UK risks post-Brexit and reaffirms Atlas Insurance PCC’s commitment to its UK partners.

The PCC’s UK branch uniquely enables companies and insurance intermediaries with UK risks or customers to set up their own protected cells offering insurance directly to their customers or insuring their own UK risks, reducing the barriers to entry to retaining insurance risk and accessing the lower-cost reinsurance market.

Cells hosted by Atlas Insurance PCC can write non-life insurance risks directly across both the European Economic Area (EEA) and UK markets and reinsure both life and non-life risks, marking a significant expansion in the range of services offered.

With the license extension to include life reinsurance, Atlas is responding directly to customer demand, showcasing its dedication to meeting client needs and expanding its range of services. Atlas has licenced its first cell reinsuring consumer products with non-life and life benefits. The licence opens up other opportunities, such as in employee benefits programmes that reinsure group life business for the cell owners’ groups.

Atlas Insurance PCC has always been at the forefront of innovation in EU-based insurance protected cells. It holds the distinction of being the world’s first traditional insurer to convert to a protected cell company.
“Our UK branch marks our first physical branch outside Malta, an exciting milestone as we begin celebrating our centenary,” said Matthew von Brockdorff, CEO of Atlas. “These advancements are a testament to our commitment to innovation and responding to emerging needs of our international customers and partners.”

Michael Whitfield, Head of UK Branch for Atlas, shared “The authorisation of our UK branch reinforces our unique position as both a traditional insurer in Malta and a host for cells writing consumer and captive insurance in the EU and UK. This expansion demonstrates our team’s dedication and expertise in navigating complex regulatory environments.”

Ian-Edward Stafrace, Chief Strategy Officer at Atlas and head of its international business, added, “Our extended reach into the UK market and the inclusion of life reinsurance in our portfolio positions us to serve our clients even better. As an independent PCC host, we are also extending the win-win opportunities for global insurance and captive management companies and consultancies and their customers, whether for retail insurance or captive risk financing.”

Atlas Insurance PCC’s commitment to innovation and excellence has solidified its reputation as a leader in the insurance industry. With its recent expansions and the continued drive to serve its clients better, the company is poised for even greater success in the future.

The Malta Chamber and BNF Bank p.l.c Renew Bronze Collaboration Agreement

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and BNF Bank p.l.c have renewed their Bronze Collaboration Agreement with the aim of supporting The Malta Chamber’s Entrepreneurship and Family Business Committee.

With the support and capabilities provided by BNF Bank, this committee is poised to enhance its strength, fostering robust discussions in policy domains pertinent to family businesses. The overarching goal is to enhance the business landscape, ensuring the efficient distribution of crucial information to key stakeholders. Collaboratively, both entities will establish frameworks to address issues unique to family businesses, develop tangible recommendations for the annual national budget concerning family enterprises, and raise awareness about the advantages associated with a thriving presence of family businesses within the country.

“Cognisant of the important legacy in the sphere of Malta’s commercial development, family businesses have always been at the core of The Malta Chamber’s mission. It is with pride and honour that we renew our partnership with BNF Bank. Over the years, our collaboration has been dedicated to fostering the prosperity of family businesses in our economy by delivering essential resources through workshops and seminars,” noted Chris Vassallo Cesareo, The Malta Chamber President, ahead of the signing.

“For the Bank, renewing our support for The Malta Chamber is also a continuation of our support to family businesses. In this regard, we are very much aligned with The Malta Chamber, in providing guidance for family businesses as they navigate changing regulation, succession planning, economic challenges and business opportunities. We firmly believe that family businesses are the country’s backbone, and supporting them means supporting our country’s continued development,” said BNF Bank plc Chief Executive Officer David Power.

The Bronze Collaboration Agreement was signed by Christopher Vassallo Cesareo, Nick Xuereb and Dr Marthese Portelli as President, Deputy President and CEO of The Malta Chamber, respectively, and George Debono and Melvin Pellicano, CCO and Head of Business Development at BNF Bank, respectively.

The Malta Chamber urges Government to focus on systematic measures against inflation and revoke price fixing

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry reiterates its steadfast stance that the control and reduction of inflation should be the topmost priority to safeguard the competitiveness of the Maltese economy. Fiscal policies that fuel inflation by stimulating demand, coupled with a lack of preparedness for the impact of EU policies impacting transportation costs are exacerbating the situation.

As businesses continue to battle to mitigate their rising costs and stay competitive whilst consumers become more selective in their choice of purchase in view of the rising cost of living, government is planning to intervene by means of price fixing on food as a means to mitigate inflation. The Malta Chamber firmly asserts its position against such direct intervention in the market, not only as a matter of principle but also because such intervention will only stifle competition to the detriment of all. Rather than protecting the consumer, such interventions direct the consumer to purchase a highly restrictive basket of food items selected by Government. This approach, which seems more cosmetic than effective, is essentially masking and not addressing the situation. The extent to which it can be successful in reducing the prices of such items is dubious because several retail businesses already apply substantial discounts to basic items as a matter of normal business. Also, this will make other items which may be superior in quality and nutritional value relatively more expensive, thereby encouraging people to shift their consumption towards inferior products.

The approach chosen by Government to try to control inflation of food prices is regressive and reminiscent of decades ago when consumer protection came at the expense of consumer choice, and Government controlled the market instead of promoting competition through proper monitoring and regulation, and instead of allowing the market to develop and operators to openly compete according to consumer preferences.

Unwise attempts and ineffectiveness

The Malta Chamber argues that price fixing is not a viable solution to the complex issue of inflation. Such a move will not yield the desired systematic control of increasing costs because it does not address the root causes of inflation.

The inflation in imported food prices that we have seen in Malta, apart from the growing logistical costs being an island economy and spiralling wage growth as a result of the tight labour market, is similar to what has been registered in other European countries where it was fuelled largely by higher energy costs and, even more importantly in the case of food items, by dramatic increases in basic food ingredients resulting from the war in Ukraine and poor crop yields in many parts of the world due to climate change and extreme weather events. The local subsidisation of energy and wheat does not shield us from these global impacts on imported food prices.

While some countries have toyed with similar ideas, these have been highly questionable. Such interventions fail to address the core issues and merely act as smokescreens, deflecting attention from the real economic challenges at stake.

Collaboration Solution and Government Engagement

While the local market is relatively small, there is a large variety of brands imported by a number of companies that are well equipped to handle the distribution of food items in a cost-effective way, apart from the ever-growing number of retail outlets. There is active competition between brands and retail outlets, and the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) keeps a close eye on concentration to ensure that the market functions well. There are things that Government could have done to improve transparency for the consumer without meddling into price setting through the proper channels for addressing market-related issues. Responsibility for such matters lies within the remit of the MCCAA. The Malta Chamber urges MCCAA to fulfill its role effectively and transparently and ensure that market abuse, if any, is identified and addressed promptly.

The way Government negotiated the scheme is of particular concern. Market operators were contacted individually by Government and prodded into complying. The Malta Chamber immediately expressed its concerns to Government. The Malta Chamber is always open to discussing effective solutions and supportive of sensible policies. The fact that Government did not seek to find a more effective remedy with the legitimate representatives of business, or within the national forum for social dialogue, which is MCESD, is highly disappointing. The Malta Chamber insists that a unified approach will yield more effective and sustainable solutions and calls on the government to revoke this decision and start the discussion at MCESD level.

The Malta Chamber concludes by reaffirming its commitment to supporting the authorities in addressing any identified market abuse, thereby ensuring a level playing field and fully functioning competitive environment for the benefit of both the business community and consumers at large. The Malta Chamber calls for a united front in tackling such economic and social challenges and highlights the importance of collaboration between Government and the business community to foster sustainable economic growth along with the related social considerations.