[WATCH] MFSA strengthening contact with stakeholders, highlights efforts to improve efficacy

Recent organisational changes at the Malta Financial Services Authority will make the agency more proactive and allow it to operate in a more in-depth and widened scope

MFSA CEO Joseph Cuschieri addressing the briefing session on recent organisational changes
MFSA CEO Joseph Cuschieri addressing the briefing session on recent organisational changes

In line with the MFSA’s Vision 2021 and its commitment to engage better with financial services practitioners, the MFSA organised a briefing session focusing on the Authority’s recent changes in the organisational structure, its supervisory priorities and service improvements in the authorisation process.

Introducing this briefing, MFSA Chairman, Professor John Mamo spoke about the rationale behind the recent organisational changes, explaining that “the MFSA’s drive to become more proactive will also affect firms, which need to be more vigilant in identifying risks of misconduct and in addressing these risks to avoid such occurrences.“

Mamo also said that the MFSA is committed to keep in close touch with the media and the public at large “to provide further transparency and knowledge of who we are and what we do.”

MFSA Chief Executive Officer Joseph Cuschieri gave practitioners a detailed overview of the new organisational structure which, he explained, was crucial for the Authority to operate in a more in-depth and widened scope particularly in areas where additional focus was needed, to increase efficiency and to create a higher level of accountability.

“I believe we have the right team with the right attitude to change the way the Authority handles its affairs”, he said. The CEO stated that this revised structure was discussed with various international institutions and experts including the IMF.

“Strengthening the authority’s overall governance of the sector is a critical objective for the MFSA in order to enhance market confidence and safeguard consumers’ interests. Our strategic plan will also focus on the accountability of all market players to preserve the integrity and stability of the financial market and promote an environment conducive to sustainable growth. The changes in the way the MFSA operates coupled with a significant investment in technology, knowledge management and people are crucial to ensure Malta’s positioning amongst Europe’s top-tier financial services jurisdictions.”

Cuschieri referred to various new features of the MFSA’s corporate structure, such as the creation of the Enforcement Decisions Committee which will be composed of external competent individuals who shall act independently from the Executive Committee. “This will create an impartial system which will prevent the authority from being judge, jury and executioner and will avoid having the decisions of the Authority challenged on that basis.”

He said that the MFSA will be publishing a corporate governance manual which clearly delineates the function of each Committee within the Authority.

At the same briefing, MFSA Chief Officer – Supervision, Marianne Scicluna, highlighted the MFSA’s supervisory priorities for 2019, which, based on the key directions of the European supervisory authorities, revolve around a risk-based approach.

Scicluna said that the MFSA was placing the customer at the centre of its operations. "The confidence and stability of the financial service industry can be placed at risk by unacceptable conduct such as market abuse, unreliable performance, unacceptable customer service and product mis-selling," she said. "Our role is to minimise these risks as much as possible."

She outlined the Authority’s supervisory priorities, which currently focus on five key elements: Governance, Risk and Compliance; Compliance with AML/CFT; Cross-Border Operations; Cyber Security and Retail Investor Protection. She also gave details on the MFSA’s efforts to combat money laundering, noting that “as the Country’s recent National Risk Assessment highlighted, money laundering and terrorist financing represent a threat to the stability, profitability and safety of the financial services industry and of the country as whole.”

Authorisations Head, Angele Galea St John went through a number of service improvements which the MFSA is delivering in its authorisation process, in a bid to become more efficient.

These include the digitalisation of key application forms, the reduction of documents needed to be submitted at application stage, fast tracking of applications and the appointment of a relationship manager for key licence holders.

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