Over 100 representatives from the Islands business community joined the partners of Douglas based legal and fiduciary services provider Appleby, for its third Spring Seminar, “Debating Europe – Opportunities & Challenges for the Isle of Man” on Tuesday (30 April) evening with guest speaker Professor Joe Bannister, Chairman of the Malta Financial Services Authority (“MSFA”)
During his tenure at MFSA, Mr Bannister has managed reforms that have put Malta’s financial services sector in a strong position to capitalise on the country’s EU entry and has been a key figure in negotiating and working with the EU, OECD, FATF, IMF and the key supervisory organisations. He also represents the Authority on the Committee of European Securities Regulators.
On the 9th anniversary of Malta’s entry into the European Union (“EU”), Professor Joe Bannister took a reflective approach to his address, looking back over the challenges of preparing the jurisdiction for EU entry and reviewing its successes to date.
In spite of the current uncertainty surrounding the Eurozone, Professor Bannister explained that Malta’s decision to join has led to the creation of new sectors and opportunities which were unimaginable before EU membership. He stated that this, coupled with huge investment, the reduction of bureaucracy and the simplification of tax has resulted in a vibrant and diversified economy commenting that, “EU membership is a tool and we would not be where we are today without the opportunities provided by this tool and the Maltese Government’s effective use of it.”
Drawing similarities with the Isle of Man, Professor Bannister accepted that Malta is considered to be a country which, due to its preparedness, normally punches well above its weight. A characteristic that is not just to be proud of but, given its size, but is a necessity to be truly effective.
He also credits the regulatory structure of the MSFA as a hugely important factor in ensuring the delivery of its mission statement to “ensure high standards of conduct and management in financial services and promote the legitimate expectations of consumers.”
The Professor’s words certainly ring true among his global peers with the World Economic Forum placing Malta 15th for Financial Market Development, 12th for the Regulation of Stock Exchanges and 13th for the Soundness of the Banks out of a total of 144 countries and certainly addresses the emerging comparisons between the dangers posed by the banking systems of Cyprus and Malta.
When questioned, Mr Bannister accepted that the two jurisdictions face similarities due to their size and the growth of the respective financial sectors. However, the Professor explained that Malta’s key economic indicators together with the strength of its domestic banking system have set a solid foundation on which to grow. The professor also attributed the Cypriot banking systems exposure to Greece as another differentiating factor.
|Malta (2012)||European Union (2012)|
|GDP||US$ 11.260 billion||US$ 16.584 trillion|
|GDP per capita||US$ 27,022||US$ 32,999|
|GDP growth rate||2.17%||-0.2%|
|Unemployment||6.5%||10.9% (Feb 2013)|
|Government Gross Debt||70.9%||82.5%|
Speaking after the event, Sean Dowling, Managing Partner of Appleby Isle of Man commented: “As a small jurisdiction operating on a large, international business stage, the Isle of Man shares many similar characteristics to Malta and it was interesting to hear how the Professor and his team have overcome these challenges.”
He continued, “Professor Bannister is a compelling speaker and with his vast experience, sound business sense and personable manner he is the ideal speaker to address such a topic. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for taking the time to visit the Island and we look forward to welcoming him back in the near future.”
Further information on the Appleby Spring Seminar and copies of Professor Bannister’s presentation is available at www.applebyglobal.com.