Malta has registered steady growth as a hub for investment services within Europe and today the country plays host to a variety of investment businesses such as investment advisors, fund managers, forex brokers, securities market makers and stock brokers. These businesses have been attracted to Maltese shores through a mixture of sound but business friendly regulation, a competitive cost and fiscal base, the availability of a qualified and English speaking workforce, and the island's excellent connections with international financial centres such as London, Zurich, Milan and Dublin. The jurisdiction's regulator, the MFSA, has played a key role in this growth, primarily thanks to its high levels of accessibility and responsiveness, as well as its openness to innovative proposals in the Investment Services Law sector.
Passporting Maltese Investment Services Licenses Throughout Europe
Under Maltese Investment Services Law, investment services providers domiciled in Malta enjoy a key competitive advantage; the ability to passport their services and set up branches throughout Europe, thanks to the simplified 'passporting procedure'. This means that Maltese investment services providers can use their Malta license to provide their services throughout the EU, without the need for further licenses. This is a very attractive option which can reduce costs as well as regulatory complexity.
Malta Investment Services: the Investment Services Categories
Malta's Investment Services Law provides for different categories of investment services which are calibrated in accordance with the level of sophistication of the business in question, with more complex businesses requiring higher levels of regulation, and vice versa. There are four categories of investment services license in Malta:
- Category 1: reception and transmission of orders, investment advice, placing of instruments without a firm commitment basis, cannot hold or control clients' money or assets
- Category 2: can provide any investment service as well as hold and control client moneys, but cannot operate a multilateral trading facility or underwrite or place instruments on a firm commitment basis
- Category 3: can provide any investment service and hold and control client moneys
- Category 4: can act as trustees or custodians of funds
Fund Management in Malta
Fund management companies are investment services providers under Maltese Investment Services Law, typically licensed as Category 2 investment services providers. Malta is an attractive domicile for fund managers: the same arguments that apply broadly to all investment services providers apply for fund managers, plus, the country is now a bona fide international centre for both hedge funds as well as UCITS.
Our Investment Services Law Practice
The firm's legal practice revolves around Malta's role as a European hub for financial services. Our expertise in all aspects of financial services renders us leading advisors-of-choice to Maltese and foreign clients making serious steps towards choosing Malta as their centre, HQ or branch of their financial activity. Our Investment Services Advisory Practice Group enjoys a breadth of industry expertise, enabling our professionals to provide an array of services ranging from licensing and compliance, corporate and personal tax, accounting, and project management of the entire set-up process for the client.
Malta Investment Services Lawyers
Our daily work is advising and assisting financial services operators in the setting up and in the ongoing aspects of their operation from a Maltese regulatory and legal perspective. We work hand in hand with the owners, directors and legal advisors of investment services companies, collective investment schemes, insurance companies, financial institutions and credit institutions in the establishment and maintenance of their licensed activity whilst at the same time working around the most appropriate and tax-efficient structure for that particular case.
Our Investment Services Law professionals are members of respected professional associations including the Malta Institute of Taxation, the Council of the Institute of Financial Services Practitioners (IFSP), various investment services subcommittees such institute, the Society for Trusts & Estates Practitioners, the Malta Institute of Accountants and the Chamber of Advocates. We are often requested to draft position papers and consultative documents to be presented to the Regulator on all aspects of Maltese Financial Services, we regularly speak at conferences and host specialist panels and we also regularly deliver investment services-related sessions in local and international fora.