As a new generation of high-net-worth individuals comes of age in an increasingly uncertain world, they and their advisors are looking beyond established destinations such as London, Frankfurt, Zurich and Luxembourg for domiciling wealth. Dolfin and Alter Domus, in partnership with Finance Malta, invited some 60 wealth management professionals to an event entitled ‘Global Wealth Structures: London Meet Malta’ at our Mayfair HQ on 26 September.
Malta, as Dolfin CEO Denis Nagy told delegates in his welcoming address, is not only a wonderful island to experience, but one of the best places in the world in which to do business. Denis then handed over to Ivan Grech, Head of Business Development at Finance Malta, who outlined some of the many opportunities the island offers for investors.
“Malta is the fastest-growing country in Europe for economic growth,” Ivan said, “And it has the second-lowest unemployment rate. As a destination for financial services, its growth has been exponential, but the economy remains diverse, with high-end manufacturing, gaming and tourism all contributing.”
Island of opportunity
Ivan went on to outline the factors underpinning Malta’s success: it has a single regulator, which is accessible to businesses; it has an educated workforce, with all students receiving a stipend to support them through tertiary education; it offers an excellent standard of living, with healthcare and lifestyle factors ranking highly; and its financial sector is young, nimble and agile.
“Malta might be young, nimble and agile, but I am not,” joked FT journalist Yuri Bender, who moderated a panel discussion on which the speakers were Dolfin’s Head of Sales Georgios Ercan; Przemyslaw Koger, Director and Head of Relationship Management Malta at Alter Domus; Jamie Mathieson, partner at New Quadrant Partners; and Ashley King-Christopher, partner at Charles Russell Speechlys.
The panel first addressed the question of family offices, and how their investment priorities have changed since the financial crisis of 2007–8.
“Many clients tell me that since 2008, they are talking more and more about succession: how to preserve the wealth they have for the next generation,” Georgios said. “There is a demand for performance, efficiency and security.”
Malta, as Przemyslaw pointed out, is ideally suited for smaller funds that have in the region of €10–100m in assets under management. In particular, it offers the Notified Alternative Investment Fund framework, under which professional investors can establish a fund in a matter of days. Such funds are inexpensive to set up and can run for a long time and, while they are suited to investors with an above-average appetite for risk, they are still regulated.
Safe haven in an uncertain world
From the point of view of a family office, Malta is appealing for other reasons too, Jamie believes. “There is the weather, the quality of staff available, and the investment opportunities that exist. Crucially, Malta has a clean bill of health from a compliance point of view. It offers transparency in a way that a PO Box address in the Caribbean does not.”
In a post-Brexit world, many HNWIs and family offices will be seeking alternatives to London and assessing the benefits of the various citizenship-by-investment schemes on offer, Ashley said. “A lot of my clients don’t feel they will be welcome here after Brexit, and are asking where they belong now. The world is becoming increasingly dangerous and a trade war between China and US will create winners and losers and the need for a safe haven, while in the Middle East many people want to avoid Sharia law on inheritance.”
“Most clients are comfortable with London,” Jamie observed. “They know how things work here and they want to keep a foothold in the UK. But they want an option that will suit a more globetrotting, nimble next generation. All options are on the table, and for clients who are looking for alternatives in an uncertain world, Malta looks positive.”
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