Asset management in Malta – why our island has huge potential

When I set up AUM Asset Management in Malta, there were questions around the chosen locality. After all, why not set up in a well-established jurisdiction, such as Ireland or Luxembourg?

At the time, I wanted to get an edge within the EU. But over the last five years, I’ve learned that Malta has the potential to compete at a global level. And we have a strong part to play in making this happen.

Showing investors the viability of asset management in Malta

We work hard to show the investment world how Malta is a viable investment platform. And we’ve already had much success in promoting opportunities for alternative fund investments in particular, although we also offer physical assets too.

In some ways, my working relationship with and belief in Malta is serendipitous. I was looking for asset management companies available for acquisition and was pointed towards this company in Malta. Most of my asset management career was based in Switzerland, which is outside of the EU. So, Malta piqued my interest for this reason only initially, and guided my decision to buy the business.

Malta was relatively new to me but it didn’t take me long to get to know it. It also didn’t take me long to decide to turn this EU foothold into the regulated and respected asset management firm of today.

Malta works as an investment platform in Europe

The first product launch for AUM was an asset allocation fund because I felt this would work in Malta – and it did. Since then I’ve discovered how many positive attributes of the island. Not only is it a beautiful place to live, but Malta offers strong support in terms of financial regulation and boasts well-maintained risk and corporate management services.

All of these reasons combined to make Malta a base where we could develop something really strong. I’m extremely proud of our Maltese team, following a few years of steady growth. We are a fully Maltese company and integrated into the island and we think we have an important role to play here.

For many global investors, Malta may seem like a small platform. But our ambition is to propel Malta forward as an attractive asset management region. Of course, I can’t say what the future holds for taxation law or how the long-term effects of COVID-19 will change investor behaviour, but either way Malta has many strengths.

Overcoming challenges to set up the firm

Setting up the business and maintaining operations in Malta were occasionally challenging, but no more than other similar regions. The island is a thriving business hub complete with a university, an extremely talented and engaged workforce and well-equipped service providers. In a wider sense, Malta has a history of being the place small fund managers come to start out. And we’re building on this to ensure that it becomes a global player.

We know there’s a lot of competition throughout the EU, but we think that Malta can still compete. The island’s past success in supporting smaller fund managers backs this up.

Asset management companies exist for one reason, and that is to bring the best investment strategies to investors. When you’re working within the jurisdictions that are flooded with restrictions and rigid processes, it’s difficult to penetrate the market. And while Malta has its share of restrictions and processes, it’s a newer market for asset managers and is a great choice to launch a firm. But we still need to attract enough investors to Malta and show why it is a strong region for asset management.

Internationally, the banking industry is facing a time of great challenge and upheaval. At a local level, banks are constantly adapting to meet the complexity of the evolving operational and regulatory landscapes. Malta needs some new, fundamentally credible banks to set up here. This will have the knock-on effect of boosting financial services and the burgeoning asset management industry in Malta.

Malta offers impressive and highly skilled workforce

I’ve been particularly impressed with the University of Malta and the high standard of graduates. I’ve hired people all over Europe, and Maltese students are up there with the best. They’re ready to work and are extremely motivated for the opportunities asset management firms can offer them.

We particularly look for investors from the rest of the world. European investors are generally satisfied with their existing jurisdictions, and it makes little sense to try and lure them to Malta. But we have a unique offering to the rest of the world. AUM benefits from the stability and regulatory oversight of the EU, but welcome investors from all over the world too.

Malta could – and should – be the doorway to investment opportunities from regions like Africa, China and India. And this is how AUM Asset Management adds value. There is a need for the state to put more infrastructure in place to cultivate a business environment that attracts the best and brightest to Malta. But I truly believe this can happen. Watch this space.