Member Spotlight – Affinity Group: 10 years in Malta
6th December 2021
Established in 2004 in the Isle of Man, Affinity is a leading Corporate Service Provider which offers bespoke, tailored advice in structuring in luxury asset sectors and niche, emerging sectors. Originally operating solely in the luxury asset sector, Affinity built a prestigious reputation in the yachting space, having assisted with registering some of the very first superyachts in the Isle of Man. Our success thereafter in the yachting sector drove our organic growth and entailed an expansion in 2011, whereby we opened an office in Malta.
“Opening an office in Malta was a monumental success and strengthened our position in the yachting sector. It offers our clients many new opportunities in another jurisdiction, a new regulatory and fiscal regime to benefit from, a different flag to sail under, and an attractive location in Europe.”
In 2019, Affinity went through an acquisition and the company was invigorated following the introduction of a young, dynamic and ambitious management team who have served the business for many years but stepped up into leading positions. The new leadership team harnessed this opportunity to drive innovation into our service offering, ranging from a complete rebranding to sector diversification.
We have made significant inroads into iGaming and fintech in recent years which resulted in a consistent influx of new business. Meanwhile, we have been maintaining our position in the luxury asset sector, and our continued success in the yachting space has fuelled another expansion: In 2021, we opened a new office in the Cayman Islands, Islands, with the intention to extend our tried and tested practices in another jurisdiction.
Whilst our office in Malta handles mainly yachting and aviation enquiries, growth in our emerging sectors has been substantial. In Malta, we now assist with incorporating iGaming structures and obtaining licences. In the iGaming sector, Malta holds a prestigious reputation and is internationally recognised as a first-tier jurisdiction. Malta also offers our clients a foot in the door to the European market, which is a contrast to our positioning in the Isle of Man.
Our position in niche and emerging sectors has diversified our business model and been a fundamental driver in our sustained organic growth. iGaming is one growth sector; FinTech another. Recently, our Isle of Man office assisted with major crypto acquisitions. As we hold a pro-active approach to industry trends and new developments, we are continuously exploring emerging sectors that open more opportunities for our clients. New sectors we are currently exploring are eSports and the medical cannabis sector in the Isle of Man.
We are also focused on developing our new office in the Cayman Islands. Once we have secured our position in the yachting space in Cayman as we did in Malta, we plan on exploring other sectors in Cayman in the future to add further value to our clients. Our vision is to grow our business organically while continuing to provide the same personal, discreet service to our clients who rely on us for expert advice that spans sectors and jurisdictions.
We believe that our brand development project has been an integral part of our recent success. We are proud of the brand image that we have created and have spent considerable time building a whole new website to reflect our strong company culture.
Over the last year we have invested more into our Corporate Social Responsibility and have supported various charity events. In early 2021, we sponsored a colour blast event in aid of the children’s charity, Rebecca House Hospice Isle of Man. Our team spent a day volunteering at the event whereby we had our own colour station, it was a fantastic day and the public had a great time all in aid of an important cause.
Later on in the year, two of our team members ran the London Marathon in aid of Hospice Isle of Man. We were so pleased to have another opportunity to positively impact the charity and we undertook many fundraising events at work. We are planning to do more charity focused events to give back to our local community. We are also looking into some charitable initiatives in Malta to be a part of.
On another note, we achieved multiple awards in 2021 despite the challenge of a pandemic. Our awards in 2021 include, Silver in the Citywealth IFC Trust Company of Year – Isle of Man and Silver in the Citywealth Magic Circle Trust Company of Year – Boutique. We also won Best Corporate Service Provider in the World Commerce Review Awards 2021.
Malta is a highly developed EU financial centre. It offers excellent possibilities for low-cost financing of investment transactions and international activities. The sector provides a range of services in corporate structuring, wealth management, insurance and investment funds. The jurisdiction holds a pro-active approach to industry developments and continuously adapt to create new practices and regulation. The growth of Malta’s FinTech sector and the encouragement of blockchain applications are two examples. In addition, Malta is globally recognised as a leading jurisdiction of choice within the maritime sector, with one of the most reputable ship registries in the world.
The jurisdiction boasts a secure legal, political and economic environment and an efficient fiscal regime, which are key factors that determine where to set up a new structure. The environment is supported by a well-regulated banking system, which occasionally has some challenges; however, we hold many relationships that provide alternatives if needs be. Malta has a pro-active Government and a strong single regulatory body in the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), which offers a favourable regulatory framework for financial instruments and other sectors. When setting up a new entity, robust regulation is essential to demonstrate transparency; however, it also offers the protection and security needed.
As a recognised corporate service provider, we tend to receive a lot of new business from word of mouth and referrals from loyal intermediaries. Our network of tends to be a mix of professionals, such as international law firms that approach us with a client looking for advice or wishing to incorporate a new entity. We also develop relationships with governments, regulators, auditors, banks and tax advisors with whom we work with regularly to support our services and portfolio of clients. We are also attending events throughout the year and are interested in meeting new intermediaries to grow our established and emerging sectors.
Andy Morgan, Group CEO of Affinity Group, has over 15 years’ experience working within the offshore business environment. He is responsible for overseeing the development of the Group across all jurisdictions.