15 Reasons Why
19th May 2022
We have a vision for an efficient, sustainable and tech-enabled finance industry, and are firmly focused on elevating our financial services sector to the next level. Asset management, insurance, and private wealth have long been the dominant forces of our financial services centre, while sustainable finance and fintech in all its forms are playing increasingly important roles. But digital finance and ESG-innovation are more than emerging clusters – financial firms of all sizes and sectors are integrating them in their strategies as our finance industry transitions towards next-gen products and service delivery.
Located at the centre of the Mediterranean, between Europe and North Africa, Malta is the European Union’s smallest member state, yet it is deeply integrated in the world of finance.
From Malta, financial services companies can access the EU’s massive single market of over 500 million people. Companies can conduct business freely and sell their products in all EU member states and/or establish a business in another EU country provided that passporting and notification procedures are followed if required. In addition, Malta has a network of some 70 double-taxation treaties, covering most of the world’s high-growth markets, facilitating trade and international business.
Malta has embarked on a journey of digital transformation in the financial services sector, and we are today home to a growing pool of tech entrepreneurs. FinTech companies are able to test and experiment with their products and solutions in two different sandboxes. The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) offers a regulatory sandbox for FinTech operators wanting to develop and test financial products, while the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA) operates a sandbox specifically for companies developing solutions based on new technologies, such as Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence. With a continuous focus on enhancing the business and regulatory environment, the MFSA is currently fostering international links and partnerships to aid international testing and cross-border sandboxing.
Our digital infrastructure is well advanced and will ensure your business stays connected. We are one of the few countries in the world with 5G nationwide coverage while we are also meeting the EU’s target of 30 Mbps bandwidth nationwide. The island is internationally connected via five submarine fibre-optic links to mainland Europe, four linking Malta to Italy and one to France. In the world wide broadband speed table, Malta ranks 21st out of 224 countries. Companies can choose from a wide range of IT solutions providers to effectively manage their technology needs.
The international business community is strongly supported by an impressive selection of corporate service providers as well as accounting and auditing firms, ranging from small boutique practices to the global ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms. In addition, a large number of internationally-recognised law and consultancy firms operate on the island, providing new entrants with the right insight and guidance to make the most of the opportunities that Malta’s finance sector offers. Corporate service providers need to be registered with the Malta Financial Services Authority, ensuring a high level of trust in their offering.
Our highly qualified and multilingual workforce knows global business and is used to working in an international environment. Around one third of adults living in Malta have a degree, and subjects such as finance, accounting, law and IT are popular courses and attractive career paths. Most Maltese speak at least three languages: Maltese, English and either Italian, French or German. Our talent pool is also surprisingly diverse due to the many international workers that have relocated to the island over the past two decades.
Our relaxed lifestyle, balmy climate and UK-inspired educational system make Malta a popular expat destination for families with young children. We know that, at times, it may be difficult to find talent with specialised skills on the island. We are supporting companies looking abroad for the right candidates and have introduced tax incentives for highly qualified professionals taking up positions in Malta, which can sweeten your job offer to the most talented minds.
We have reformed many aspects of doing business in Malta in recent years. Our business regulations are transparent, and many processes have been streamlined to mitigate delays. All laws and regulations are published in English. Business First is our central contact point guiding entrepreneurs on the formalities of setting up and running a business in Malta. Many processes have been digitised and establishing a company is relatively quick. There are several types of business structures that can be established in Malta – some of them have been designed in direct response to sector needs. Our protected cell company legislation is a case in point. Originally introduced for the insurance sector, cell companies are now also popular in asset management, shipping and aviation.
We are an island, but we were never really cut off. In fact, our strategic position at the centre of the Mediterranean has established our role as an important hub for trade and exchange. Our geographic location enables easy access to markets in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. We have an extensive network of flight connections and major European economies, including the United Kingdom, Germany and France, can be reached in just two to three hours. Sicily is just a 90-minute catamaran ride away.
Malta is renowned for its excellent quality of life. Although traffic during rush hour can be heavy, the island’s small size mean commuting times are mostly negligible, which positively affects the work-life balance. Valletta, our capital city, is one of the warmest cities in Europe, and with more than 300 days of sun a year, a great portion of life in Malta happens outdoors. From dining al fresco to water sports and open-air concerts, Malta offers a never-ending stream of activities. It is also a country of contrasts, with a lot of urban sophistication but also rural settings ideal for hiking and walking. In Maltese society, family life is important, and expats with young children particularly enjoy living in Malta.
Malta has a well-developed social and economic infrastructure. The country has significantly invested in its infrastructure and built-environment in recent years, including roads, office spaces, residential accommodation and digital technologies. Malta’s pursuit of innovation means capital has been channelled towards digital transformation. Many economic sectors rely on state-of-the-art connectivity, and Malta boasts modern data centres and strong digital networks. We also have a wide range of commercial properties available, from co-working spaces and stylish newbuilds to century-old palazzos and charming townhouses.
For a small country, we have a surprisingly diverse and strong economy. Financial services, iGaming, tourism, aviation, maritime services and high-value manufacturing are among the sectors that form the basis of the economy. Our economy was expected to reach pre-pandemic levels of activity around mid-2022, although the global economic consequences of the war in Ukraine threaten this progress in Malta as elsewhere. However, our country is entering this new period of uncertainty from a strong position with solid macroeconomic fundamentals. Prior to the conflict, real GDP was forecasted to grow by 6.0% in 2022 and 5.0% in 2023,.
There are currently about 12,000 professionals working in financial services in Malta. While Malta both nurtures and attracts a very talented pool of financial services talent, more jobs are forecast to open each year, and many skills are in high demand. EEA citizens can live and work in Malta with no restrictions. Non-EU nationals require an employment permit; however, highly specialised professionals can benefit from a fast-track service. More importantly, Malta offers highly qualified foreign professionals a 15% income tax cap to attract the best and brightest to live and work on the island.
It’s no secret that the tax and regulatory environment of financial services industry is rapidly changing. We are moving with the times and overhauling many facets of our tax system. By 2025, we will move from our current imputation system to a classical system, and the Government is currently working on a set of measures and incentives that ensure Malta remains an attractive base for financial services companies.
Many clients comment on the high level of personal attention they receive from service providers in Malta. Professionals working in financial services are often multiskilled and particularly understand the needs of start-ups and smaller firms.
As outsourcing is a booming trend across financial services – from fund administration to wealth management – Malta is emerging as a reliable outsourcing partner for companies. Our sector has matured significantly in recent years, and outsourcing to Malta is no longer about cost cutting but about increasing competency and accessing a wide variety of value-added services. Malta is also ideally positioned as a co-location for firms wanting to set up a base to access the EU market alongside their existing operation.
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