Every year, thousands of businesses choose to set up in Malta – and often that means moving everything from bank accounts to corporate structures over to the island.
As a result, these companies need to be able to work with organisations they can trust on the ground; organisations that can guide them as to the best and most effective ways to do things here in Malta.
One such organisation is Integritas Group, which was founded in 2011 and built on the sturdy foundations of over 30 years’ experience in Swiss private banking and EU trusts, and with an international network of partners.
Today, the Group has grown from a team of just two to 25, and it provides a range of multidisciplinary services including Citizenship by Investment (CBI), Residence by Investment (RBI), ordinary residence, trusteeship and fiduciary services to clients around the world, with a special interest in assets and business in the EU. The company also recently introduced blockchain advisory services.
Integritas Founder and Managing Director Frédéric Villa gained substantial experience in the sector while working with prime banking institutions in the Swiss private banking sector in the ‘90s. In 1996, he joined Banca Commerciale Italiana in Zurich and then moved to Swiss Bank Corporation in Lugano in 1998, which later became UBS.
In 2005, he moved here to Malta to set up Mediterranean Bank, where he obtained the required Banking and Investment Services Category 2 and 4 licences, and managed the bank as CEO until September 2009. He then chose to found Integritas Group, enthused by the potential that he knew Malta had as a destination for foreign investment.
“When I was still with the bank, I saw how attractive Malta was to clients eager to set up here to benefit from the highly-efficient tax structure and solid business environment,” Mr Villa explains. “So it was logical that, when I exited the bank, I set up my own structure to be able to facilitate this, using the network I had built at the time.”
Thanks to his combination of knowledge on Swiss private banking, wealth management and the fact that Malta was continuing to grow at a rapid pace, Mr Villa found that there was a lot of interest when it came to setting up in Malta. “There are a number of benefits to opening a business here,” he continues. “Among them, the highly-qualified workforce, the reasonable costs for infrastructure, the approachable regulator and the fact it is an EU member state, with strong connections to non-EU countries.”
Mr Villa explains that Integritas stands for integrity, with clients knowing that the company will carry out its work in an honest and trustworthy way. “There are never any hidden agendas,” he says. “We make it our business to ensure the client is happy, of course, but it’s not about initial success but long-term relationships that deliver time and time again. We have clients that have been with us since the beginning, and we are happy to be able to continue to serve them.”
With offices in Geneva, Dubai and Algiers, Integritas certainly brings international knowledge to the realm of doing business in Malta. “We have extensive international awareness, but are based right here on the island too, so we have a complete view. We have also grown to become of a size that is of value to the client; with a team of 25 we are strong and stable, but still very personable, and we have an excellent network of likeminded and professional partners worldwide.
Talking through the typical experience clients have when working with Integritas, Mr Villa explains that most relationships start when a company or individual is looking to set up in Malta. “Often I am introduced to new clients by one of our international partners or existing clients, and I then meet with them to discuss their objectives for the company, and the activities they will undertake. I am interested in knowing whether the company will fit the Maltese structure, and whether we need to include any other jurisdictions within that structure. What follows is that we go through the details of the set-up, and help to decide everything about who is going to administer the set-up, and who will provide the services,” he says.
Mr Villa explains that Integritas can handle the full suite of services that a company needs, including secretarial, administration, invoicing, payments, directorship and payroll, and can even provide office space within its building. “Of course, once everything is sorted and operational, we stay with the client for everything they may need, be it administration, accounting, audit or management. We are there to understand the evolution of the business, and to act accordingly. We know ours is a system that works well, and one that ensures our clients can operative effectively within the Maltese framework, and beyond.”
Now, Mr Villa says that he and his team are clearly focused on growing Integritas further in the years to come. “Our structure is rock-solid, our team is professional and committed, and we are able to service nearly any size of client, regardless of their needs. We’re currently optimising that service to become even stronger, by bringing ever-more expertise into the company. Our clients know how seriously we take this work and just how robust our set-up is, and that is reflected in the type of business that we have achieved in recent years,” Mr Villa concludes.
This interview originally appeared in The Commercial Courier