IS PERHAPS THE MOST RENOWNED NAME IN BANKING AMONG THE MALTESE AND, FOLLOWING
A LONG ABSENCE, IT RE-ESTABLISHED ITS BANKING SERVICES ON THE ISLANDS
JUST TWO YEARS AGO. MORE RECENTLY, BARCLAYS SET UP AN INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENTS
FACILITY THROUGH WHICH IT NOW SELLS ITS OWN FUNDS. DAVID
LINDSAY SPEAKS TO BARCLAYS MALTA GROUP REPRESENTATIVE AND GENERAL
MANAGER, RICHARD WALLACE, ON ITS NEW INVESTMENT
ARM AND HOW IT HAS PROVIDED ITS MALTESE CLIENTS WITH A SEAMLESS SERVICE
A seamless financial service
Whats the distinction between the Barclays Representative Office
and the newly set-up Barclays International Investments?
The representative office in Malta is involved purely in banking and
not in investments. It essentially handles the affairs of Maltese residents
who bank with Barclays, primarily in Jersey and the Isle of Man.
Meanwhile, Barclays International Investments has been licensed by the
Malta Financial Services Centre to sell investment products through
Barclays offshore funds division.
What local market conditions enticed Barclays to set up the new
Well, we have to go back to about 1880 when Barclays first had a presence
in Malta through the offices of Thomas Smith. Following a long and successful
history of banking on Maltese shores, by the 1970s Barclays had
established itself as the leading bank in Malta, so we had a huge customer
base. We were also the employer of choice on the Islands, with those
looking for work going either to the government or to Barclays.
In 1995 we had appointed Globe Financial Management to sell Barclays
international funds products. However, in 1999 we made the decision
to set up our own presence here for two reasons.
Firstly, we had a large number of clients banking at Barclays who found
themselves unable to resolve their banking issues through Globe, as
Globe is not a licensed banker.
Then at the end of last year we came to a concrete decision that there
was really no point in having a third party selling our international
funds for us. We now sell the entire Barclays package ourselves through
Barclays International Investments.
By doing this, Barclays is now offering a seamless service in Malta.
One can both invest and bank with Barclays with one integrated service.
How has the take-up to your products been on the Malta Stock Exchange?
Formerly Globe was very successful in selling our products and I personally
find that the Maltese generally save a good deal of money and that they
like investing in funds.
Barclays is obviously a very big name with a huge range of funds and
from Barclays earlier association with Malta, it has earned a rather
strong reputation in Malta.
Standing behind Barclays is the International Funds Group, a division
of Barclays Global Investors, which is the largest fund management division
in the world. In fact, worked out on a mathematical basis, BGI handles
approximately five pounds for every person on Earth. So we have a very
Are you looking to capitalise on the potential privatisation of
pensions in Malta?
No were not but that is not to say that in the future we wont
look at the possibility. However, the pensions issue is still in its
How do you view the market at present and the level of competition
Some very big names have come into the Maltese market recently. Theres
UBS, Lloyds TSB plus, of course, you also have all the local funds.
So of course the market is very competitive. What we have to our advantage,
apart from the strong funds that we sell, is the name of Barclays, which
is renowned in Malta and which gives us an advantage from the outset.
I also think that having our own direct presence in Malta so that we
can directly manage our own funds, instead of selling them through third
parties, is another factor that gives us a market advantage.
Drawing on my experience from working in Barclays international
banking division, I can say that one of the best things about the way
that Barclays sells its investments is that we insist that all our advisors
are trained to rigorous standards. Accordingly, we know that the quality
of advice given and the controls we have in place ensure that clients
are given the best advice. I believe that this is one of the main reasons
why Barclays remains a market leader.
How is Maltas status as an international financial centre
viewed in other countries?
I think, in a way, the Malta Financial Services Centre is seen as the
symbol, if you like, of what Malta is to the financial services industry,
and this perception is extremely positive.
In fact, all the financial reports have praised Maltas robust
Over the last two years, have you seen a sway in the Maltese mentality
I suppose in that two-year period there has been a downturn on the stock
exchange in terms of equities trading. Although investment advisors
say that investments can go up as well as down, I think its the
down bit that people find hard to handle.
But I do get the general feeling that the Maltese like saving money,
they have done for years, and thats why we have so many Maltese
investors banking with us.
Actually, given the comparatively small population, a lot of the major
investment players are present on the island.
I think there has been a trend to look ahead toward the future and thats
why clients prefer the kind of investment advice that we give. We always
make sure that we give a balanced approach and a balanced answer to
what they are looking for. Whether its the short-term game or
a five-year plan that a client is looking for, we ensure that clients
achieve their financial goals.
If people really dont want to take any risk at all, then we also
offer totally risk-free products.
Does Barclays hold any plans to expand its Maltese business?
We dont have any plans of expanding on the type of operation that
we conduct at the moment. However, I personally hope that we will be
successful enough here to increase the number of people that we have
working for us. However, we have no plans to extend into any other areas.