Malta has, over the years, established itself as a financial services hub in the Mediterranean owing to a number of determining factors, inclusive of, its strategic location, a highly professional and specialised workforce operating within an English speaking environment, an attractive jurisdiction for tax planning and corporate structures, the direct applicability of EU law and the transposition of EU financial services Directives into national law, the harnessing of financial services legislation in conformity with international standards, as well as, a serious, steady yet flexible fully fledged autonomous single regulator.
All these elements have contributed to rendering the Maltese jurisdiction an attractive and competitive alternative and placing it at the forefront on the European financial services platform. The Malta Financial Services Authority (the MFSA) is responsible for licensing, regulating, monitoring and supervising the full range of financial services providers operating in all the spheres of financial services activity, namely banking, insurance and investment.
At MA&A we advise and assist clients, on a regular basis, through the various stages involved in the setting up of their financial services operations, ensuring in due course ongoing compliance with the regulatory framework. Through our experience in and exposure to the financial services environment, both locally and internationally, particularly in the realms of insurance, banking, electronic banking and collective investment schemes, we are better able to liaise and negotiate with the MFSA in obtaining the necessary license required to operate in the relative financial services sector at issue.
MA&A offer a full spectrum of legal services in connection to financial services, particularly:
- Credit, electronic money and financial institutions;
- Investment services and financial markets;
- Collective investment schemes; and
- Insurance business and undertakings.
European Single Passport Regime
In this day and age, whilst competition is becoming increasingly fierce, horizons in the European financial services market have broadened, thereby witnessing increased European regulation of the financial services industry, as well as, convergence of different financial services sectors at a European level.
The international nature of the financial services sector illustrates how financial services transcend national borders. Against this realization, the EU has long embarked upon a process of harmonization of national Member State laws to coordinate areas where it found that substantial differences in national regulations and practices existed.
Indeed, in its Financial Services Action Plan of 1999-2005, the EU sought to develop state-of-the-art prudential rules to secure a functioning Single Market for wholesale financial services, as well as, open and secure retail financial services markets within the Community. Free movement of financial services has been prompted by the ideology underlying the European Single Passport license, whereby a financial services entity licensed and authorised to operate in one Member State, the home country, may establish a branch or otherwise provide services in another Member State, the host country, without the necessity of obtaining a second license from the regulatory authorities of the latter. A European passport entails home country control and supervision with mutual recognition by the host country of the rules and regulations operative in the entity’s country of origin.
Passporting rights emanate from a series of EU financial services Directives and are exercised across the EU in all spheres of financial services activity, hence, in the banking, insurance and investment markets. Malta, qua an EU Member State, enjoys and exploits such rights in the financial services market. Hence, Malta, with its positive legislative framework that is compliant with EU law and standards, and which embraces the passporting regime, as well as, the regulator’s responsive non-standardised approach to dealing with clients, have contributed to set the ground for Malta to possibly develop into one of Europe’s most dynamic and reputable financial services centre.
MA&A’s legal expertise and practice revolves extensively on cross-border financial services activities, as well as, issues concerning EU single passporting rights and regulatory compliance.