Getting Started

About Financial Services

Introduction

The financial services sector is one of the success stories in Malta and our country enjoys a strong national and international reputation as a dynamic, highly skilled, stable, innovative and well managed place to operate a finance business. The industry employs some 8,500 people in Malta, about double the number at the start of the century. It is a growing industry in Malta and in order to keep expanding, it needs a constant flow of talented and motivated young people.
 
Malta has strong banking, insurance, fund and wealth management sectors that have attracted investment from the world’s leading financial institutions, blue-chip multinationals and high net worth individuals.   

Money is the fuel for financial services. Financial services are the engine that (through the money put into it) provides the products and services to businesses, governments, families and individuals. This process enables them to cater for everyday needs. Moreover it is the means through which they save, borrow, transfer, invest and cover personal and also property related risks through insurance.

These characteristics allow the finance sector to offer a lot of varied career possibilities at different levels of responsibility and skills.  

While a lot of jobs in finance require qualified university graduates, there are also opportunities for people with vocational qualifications and good exam grades from secondary schools.  

Financial services is a sector that recognises that people are its most valuable resource, and it aims to attract the best by offering great training and development opportunities, responsibility for those that show their potential, good reward packages, career progression opportunities and some of the best working environments . Further study can lead to recognised professional qualifications in a range of different areas. A number of financial services companies will sponsor studies and will also provide study leave.   

To succeed in financial services you’ll need to be focused, energetic, hard-working, willing to learn and have a positive attitude towards your work, your customers and your colleagues. If you’ve got those qualities and the right educational achievements you can succeed in this sector.  

What are the different areas of financial services? There are seven main areas within Financial Services: Banking, Insurance, Investments, Investments and Financial Advice, Trusts and Fiduciaries, Anti-money Laundering, and Credit Finance and Leasing. This list is not exhaustive as there are other related financial services areas such as tax advice, risk assessment, risk management and prevention of financial crime for accountants and lawyers and their technical support staff.   Here is an overview of some of the varied career options to give you a better idea of what’s what.

What is Financial Services?


Money is the fuel for financial services. Petrol or diesel is necessary for the successful running of, for example, all means of transport. Financial services is the engine that (through the money put into it) provides the products and services to businesses, governments, families and individuals. This process enables them to cater for everyday needs. Moreover it is the means through which they save, borrow, transfer, invest and cover personal and also property related risks through insurance.

These characteristics allow the finance sector to offer a lot of varied career possibilities at different levels of responsibility and skills.


The Core Structure of Financial Services

The core structure of financial services is made up of the market (the industry) , the agency that regulates it and others that are connected to it in some way or another. This core structure is the one that offers the majority of career possibilities.

To get an initial idea of what this core structure is, one can refer to set-ups related to a team sport such as, football, basketball or volleyball.

The stadium or pavilion is where games are played. It is the equivalent to the  market place where financial business takes place. In football basketball or volleyball, the competing teams are made up of players having different roles and duties. These players do their utmost to make the best use of the ball. Banking, investment services and insurance companies are the market players in finance. In other words, they are 'the industry’. Market players have different roles and many employees are involved in the undertaking of these roles. They compete among but, in certain circumstances are dependent on each other. Their aim is to make the best use of customers’ money so that they may be profitable while providing the best service.

Football, basketball or volleyball games are monitored by  teams of referees whose duties are to ensure that the game is played according to the rules. Whenever these rules are broken, a referee has the right to stop the game. These rules, in the financial sector, are established by governing bodies. Financial services is regulated and supervised by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) whose role is complemented by that of the Central Bank of Malta (CBM) through a process of co-operation. Like the referees in football, basketball or volleyball, the MFSA and the CBM ensure that business undertaken by banks, investment companies and insurance companies is in accordance with the law. The governing body that establishes and updates the law is the Government of Malta (specifically the Ministry of Finance) who utilises the expertise provided by the MFSA and the CBM.

In sporting terms, a game played according to the rules and properly refereed should result in the thrill and satisfaction experienced by the fans and other spectators usually watching from special places in view of their status. In financial services terms, a market that is properly regulated and supervised ensures that retail customers, corporate clients and other related parties such as shareholders get a fair deal within a secure environment.

What has been described above is the core structure of financial services. There is also a supporting structure without which the core structure cannot survive and operate properly. Careers are also available within this structure.


The Supporting Structure of Financial Services

Again one can refer to the sporting environment to get a clear view of this aspect of financial services.

Football,  basketball  and  volleyball are big  businesses  generating a lot of money. They all have the means to ensure that such money is earned from honest activity as against a criminal one. In the case of financial services this role is undertaken by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU). The job of this Unit is to act upon suspicious transaction reports indicating misuse of the financial services sector by criminals to hide the origin of the money they earn from criminal activities. Such activities are drug and human trafficking, tax evasion, blackmail and copyright theft among several others. Therefore the job of this Unit is to make sure that money, the fuel of financial services is not contaminated in any way.

An important element in team sport is the means through which, the assets employed (the players) move from one club to another. This mechanism is known as the transfer market. This market involves the players’ agents who arrange and agree payments of large amounts of money to buy or sell the best players. Financial services make use of the Malta Stock Exchange as the means through which financial assets are transferred from one holder to another. Every day, financial instruments such as bonds or shares that are put on the market by different issuers are traded by traders who are licensed to operate on the Exchange. Obviously for the best performing instruments there will be a high demand. The result will be that these will be the most expensive to buy and most worth selling for a profit.

Last but not least football, basketball and volleyball involve the employment of coaching, medical and administrative staff. Their duties range from identifying playing tactics, to ensuring that players remain fit and in good health. Other duties relate to the general technical and financial administration of clubs. In financial services, the equivalents of these are consultants (who could be accountants, auditors, lawyers and technical specialists) together with their assistants.
 

Summary

The above overview of financial services gives you a general idea of what the working environment is and of working opportunities that could be available. The next important step is for you to become familiar with what it takes to embark on a successful and fulfilling career.