23 March 2005

The Web

HSBC chooses Malta for European investment branch
By David Lindsay

On Monday HSBC Bank International Limited cut the ribbon and inaugurated its first European affiliate office, in Malta, which is to be known as HSBC International Financial Advisers (Malta) Limited.
The development marks an important step for Malta in its bid to place itself as a leading regional, European and international financial services centre.
The office has been set up to serve as a provider of investment services to expatriates and customers throughout the European Union through the EU’s passporting of financial services throughout the economic block. The passporting of financial services provides the freedom to provide services across the entire EU from any member state. HSBC has been the first so far to capitalise, from Malta, on the new legislation.
The Malta office’s role reflects that of similar offices set up in Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong – located strategically in areas where there are large concentrations of expatriates and which also serve as gateways to larger, regional hinterlands for financial services. At present, HSBC Bank International, headquartered in Jersey, services the needs of customers from over 200 countries.
Speaking to The Malta Financial and Business Times yesterday Neville Benbow, Senior Business Improvement Manager at HSBC Bank International Limited, had strong words of praise for Malta’s regulatory body, the Malta Financial Services Authority.
Asked why Malta had been chosen as a location from which to ply its services, Benbow, who was responsible for the initiative from the Jersey side, explains, “EU membership was one of Malta’s advantages when choosing a location for the affiliate office. Another large advantage was Malta’s forward thinking regulator and its sound regulatory framework. Investor confidence and trust is everything in this business. The whole process was extremely quick and our experience has been wholly satisfactory. This was a refreshing attitude, given that regulators have such an important role to play.
“HSBC also has an established presence and a strong position on the Maltese market, so Malta was a natural choice for us. The setting up of a European investment branch in Malta is a win-win situation for the HSBC Group and the Maltese economy, which will benefit from valuable revenue and job provision.”
The fact that HSBC has chosen Malta for the operation is also expected to go a long way toward boosting Malta’s attractiveness for other major players in the financial services field – a sector highly sought after as Malta realigns its economy to the realities of today’s global economic realities.
As a European investment services branch, the Malta office will be complimenting the operations of HSBC Bank Malta and not competing with it. The Malta office also differs from other HSBC Bank International offices in that it has been positioned as an affiliate office, while other branches, such as those in Singapore and Dubai, serve as representative offices.
Other overseas offices set up by HSBC Bank International have experienced phenomenal growth rates. The Hong Kong office, for example, kicked off operations three years ago and has seen staffing levels soar from a mere two personnel to today’s 25.
“I am incredibly confident that this office will have the same success rate and am extremely proud of the office set up in Malta, which, again, was a natural choice for us,” Benbow adds.
Speaking at Monday’s inauguration, HSBC Bank International Limited Head of Personal Financial Services Geoff Cook commented, "With its membership of the European Union and a forward looking regulator, Malta provides an effective gateway for international financial services providers. This new office represents a significant development in our ability to service the offshore investment needs of our international customers in Malta and across Europe.”
HSBC Bank Malta Chief Executive Shaun Wallis, who is also a director of the new company, added, "HSBC already has a well established presence in Malta through HSBC Bank Malta and we are delighted that our global offshore business has chosen to base its European Union investment operations in Malta.
“This move also represents an excellent opportunity for Malta to attract new business and reinforce its growing reputation as an international finance centre."

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