Adriana Camilleri Vassallo set up Francis J. Vassallo & Associates Ltd in 1998 together with her father, Francis J. Vassallo. The firm provides corporate, regulatory and tax services, corporate structures and restructuring, residency, citizenship and relocation, and family business support services, among others

What are the most recent trends you have observed in the financial services space in Malta?

Nowadays, clients are looking toward having more than just a service provider. They are seeking assistance which is holistic in nature, a service provider that is equipped with an ability to provide a wide range of solutions to clients in order to optimise various aspects of their business organisation. Moreover, clients have shown us that they prefer having one point of contact in Malta which is able to coordinate a diverse spectrum of requests. Clients are looking for straightforward, non-complex, cost-effective solutions that can be implemented expeditiously and without delay.

FJVA recently celebrated 25 years of operation. What is the difference between Malta’s attractiveness as a financial services hub 25 years ago when compared to today?

The financial services industry as a whole has transformed significantly over the past 25 years. The Maltese legal framework has evolved, regulations have been ramped up and the need for more technical human capital continues to become ever more crucial. All these elements require service providers to gear up, enhance the quality of their services, and to ultimately assist clients efficiently in order to ensure that the attractiveness of Malta remains prevalent. Setting up in Malta to merely obtain a fiscal benefit is seen as a pursuit of the past and the financial services industry is filtering out such business organisations. The Malta financial services industry entices businesses seeking to embody a qualitative level of substance and is witnessing a move towards solutions that assist in overcoming the various challenges associated with estate planning and wealth management.

What is one benefit and one challenge prospective investors should be on the lookout for when investing in Malta?

As a jurisdiction, Malta has opted for a pro-business approach to direct foreign investment. Malta has taken a proactive stance in providing various incentives to businesses, their respective employees and shareholders. A challenge that Malta currently faces is the limitation attributable to opening a local bank account with a Maltese banking institution. Nonetheless, we are well-placed to assist our clients through our network of local or foreign banks.

Can you elaborate about foundations, and why clients might opt for Malta as a jurisdiction for these structures?

Maltese private interest foundations may be used as a sophisticated tool in an array of different contexts. Foundations are enabled with separate legal personality, differing from the traditional ‘trust concept’ which, in principle, is a contractual relationship whereby a trustee would own trust assets for the benefit of a category or specific beneficiaries. A Maltese private interest foundation is an autonomous body of persons that would own assets outright, in its own name. Moreover, a Maltese private interest foundation incorporates features that are unique, such as the ability to form separate and distinct cells within the same private interest foundation. It also requires a licensed administrator to ensure transparency and good governance.

This feature was first carried in the Malta Invest 2024 edition. Malta Invest is the first-ever comprehensive international investment guide focusing on Malta as a destination. It is produced by Content House Group.


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