MFSA’s digital transformation bolsters supervisory oversight

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The MFSA has embarked on a technological transformation programme through which it will bolster data governance and completely digitalise its business processes.

The programme will see the regulator invest €20 million in enhancing its technology framework and bolstering its data management systems over the 2020 to 2024 period.

The regulator's technological drive and data management approach cuts across the operation of all its directorates and functions and the investment covers infrastructure, cyber security, supervisory technology, business support systems, improved productivity of the Authority’s workforce and the latest collaboration tools for data-driven risk-based supervision. The programme seeks to achieve complete digitisation and digitalisation over the investment period.

MaltaToday spoke with the Authority's Chief Operations Officer Ivan Zammit, who underlined that the technology and data management transformation process will be essential in ensuring that the MFSA positions itself amongst its best European counterparts when it comes to supervisory oversight and effectiveness.

"The financial services sector has evolved dramatically in the past years and is a technology-driven, data-dependent, industry. Investment in technology is a critical success factor for the Authority to achieve its strategic objectives,”  he said.

MFSA Chief Operations Officer Ivan Zammit
MFSA Chief Operations Officer Ivan Zammit

"Technology allows us to increase the effectiveness of how we conduct supervision. It helps us make better use of data, streamline, and also automate processes where possible. Adding a layer of effective data management together with business analytics and business intelligence tools, achieves the necessary environment for the strategists, supervisors and enforcement experts across the organisation to significantly improve the effectiveness and speed of execution. This, at the end of the day, is of benefit to the overall financial system, licence holders and consumers. "

“The digitisation and digitalisation programme which the MFSA is going through will also mean less paperwork and improved service levels to the industry,” he said.

“All in all, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

Taking data management to the next level

The MFSA's technology strategy prioritises data governance and centralised data management, with a view towards supporting a data-driven approach towards supervision.

A new team has been created which is tasked with enhancing data governance, related processes and policies, data quality and integrity. This team, together with several other functions at the MFSA, are involved in streamlining supervisory business-processes, and enhancing supervisory insights for risk-based supervision.

This will place the MFSA on the course towards taking data harmonised risk-based supervision to the next level through continuous improvement over the next two to three years as the Authority executes its business plan.

Zammit said that the investment in technology at the Authority is also a reflection of what the financial services industry has been doing for a number of years, which needs to continue.

“The sector is very much enabled through technology. What drives business is people, process and technology – this is why the Authority is investing in human resources for capacity building, implementing technology and improving its processes,” he highlighted.

“This will ultimately result in a better overall package in terms of the MFSA’s performance, efficiency and effectiveness.”

Using technology to ensure business continuity through COVID-19

In the past year, the MFSA has also invested in technology and online collaboration tools for its staff to drive enterprise mobility , which Zammit said had made it possible for the regulator to continue operating as normal during the coronavirus crisis.

While the MFSA kept its doors open throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, most of its staff were able to safely work from home to avoid the risk of spreading the virus.

"From a management perspective, we were able to very quickly adapt our processes in a way which allowed us to work effectively utilising teleworking," Zammit said.

He underlined, however, that the adaptability of the regulator's employees was key to the success it had with remote working.

"The critical success factor was the adaptability of our employees. Technology was the underlying platform, but the fact that our staff were able to adapt and work under new conditions - making maximum use of the tools which were provided to them whilst maintaining all the necessary security measures - was essential," Zammit said.

"I think technology is playing a very key role here. But, equally important as an industry and in terms of the MFSA as the supervisor, we need to continuously adapt and evolve as we go alone."

"This is not just a local game. We are competing at a global level. To remain relevant and competitive, we must continue evolving. And COVID was a demonstration of how we can in fact adapt and continue delivering on our objectives, notwithstanding the challenges," he added.

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