Authorisations manages and coordinates the processing of all applications for authorisation under the various sectorial legislation. Persons and firms carrying out the following activities need an authorisation issued by the MFSA to be able to operate within the Maltese jurisdiction: Credit Institutions, Financial Institutions, Insurance and Reinsurance Undertakings, Insurance Intermediaries, Investment Firms, Collective Investment Schemes, Trustees, Company Service Providers, Retirement Scheme Administrators.
The Authorisations team is responsible for the processing of applications, changes in control and appointment of approved persons, requests for changes in documentation, waiver/exemption applications as well as passporting notifications under the relevant EU/EEA Directives.
In fulfilling its statutory obligations, the MFSA adopts a risk-based process which aims to ensure that only applicants who are fit and proper to operate in the financial services sector in Malta. The Authorisations team is also responsible to ensure that only entities who demonstrate compliance with the respective regulatory framework are authorised to operate in Malta.
Angele Galea St John heads the Authorisations function at MFSA.
Banking Supervision is responsible for the oversight of all licenced banking activities in Malta which includes non-bank financial institutions (e.g. payment institutions). This oversight includes off-site and on-site examinations of all licenced institutions applying a risk-based approach. The ultimate objective is to ensure that these licensed institutions comply with all regulations and licence conditions, whilst having the necessary corporate governance and control structures in place.
Supervision of both Significant Institutions, which is carried out together with the European Central Banks through the Single Supervisory Mechanism, and that of Less Significant Institutions through the SREP procedures, is executed by the banking Supervision team.
Banking Supervision is also responsible for policy advice and development both within the MFSA and to external stakeholders, to consistently and effectively apply local legislation and transpose EU legislation and guidelines issued by the European Banking Authority.
Catherine Galea heads the Banking Supervision team within the Authority.
The Communications function has a pivotal role to play in supporting the MFSA’s strategic priority of engaging directly and regularly with all key stakeholders. Acting as the central point of contact, the Communications function drives the Authority’s internal and external communications, and is responsible for managing public and media relations.
As designated brand guardians, the Communications team handles the MFSA’s reputation and image on digital and offline platforms, including the Authority’s website and social media presence, as well as corporate publications. As part of its remit, the Communications function oversees the organisation of the MFSA’s events, which range from briefings, workshops and seminars for licence holders and financial services practitioners, to the MFSA’s participation at fairs and conventions, both locally and overseas.
In keeping with the Authority’s commitment to focus on increased consumer education and awareness, the Communications team devises and implements consumer education campaigns to safeguard consumers’ interests, and also handles, on a daily basis, the various queries received.
The Communications team at the MFSA is led by Christine Apap.
MFSA’s Conduct Supervision oversees the way in which firms, namely those providing services in the areas of banking, insurance, investments, company service providers and trustees & other fiduciaries, design their products and services as well as the manner in which these same firms manage their relationship with consumers.
Firms which place conduct at the top of their agenda promote and support the fair, strong, efficient and transparent provision of services and increase consumer confidence. In turn, the level of trust that consumers have in financial services will also have an impact on the growth of the financial services sector.
Conduct Supervision ensures that consumers of financial services are treated fairly, honestly and professionally by regulated entities. The ultimate objectives of this function is to set up a regulatory framework that secures appropriate consumer protection in financial services. The team also enacts a pre-emptive supervisory regime which addresses potential or emerging risks for financial services consumers, together with an operational regime to strengthen the responsibilities of regulated persons in treating customers fairly.
Michelle Mizzi Buontempo is the Head of Conduct Supervision at MFSA.
Data Management and Business Intelligence
The Data Management and Business Intelligence (BI) function is a newly set up team within the Authority, through which the MFSA’s data will be treated as an important asset for enabling risk-based supervision. The aim of this function is to enable timely and effective decision-making across the Authority, in line with the overall business strategy.
The team is responsible for driving data governance, data quality management and integrity, as well as the data architecture across the whole organisation, whilst working closely with business stakeholders, process owners and the Technology team. As part of its remit, the function is also responsible for automating and managing data-related supervisory work flows, as well as managing a centralised data warehouse and BI analytics platform to provide ongoing insights, analyses and dashboards for end users.
The Data Management and Business Intelligence team at MFSA is led by Daniela Bagnaschi.
The Enforcement function is responsible for conducting investigations and enforcing the regulatory framework vis-à-vis persons or entities supervised by the MFSA. This necessitates close collaboration with the other functions within the Authority in order to carry out its work efficiently and effectively. The Enforcement function is also responsible for investigating persons or entities, whether licensed or otherwise, who are suspected of undertaking licensable activities falling within the regulatory and supervisory functions of the MFSA, without the necessary licence or authorisation.
Upon conclusion of its investigations, the Enforcement function makes recommendations for enforcement action to be taken by the Authority. Enforcement action may include, amongst others, the imposition of administrative penalties, the suspension or cancellation of licences/authorisations, the issue of directives requiring that any person having functions in relation to the holder of a licence be prohibited from carrying out licensable activities, and the issue and publication of reprimands and warnings.
The Enforcement team also issues guidance to the public on how to detect investment scams and other market malpractices that could be detrimental to consumers of financial services, as well as notices and warnings to alert the public of the risks involved in transacting with certain entities.
Edward Grech heads the Enforcement function within the MFSA.
The Finance team is responsible for all corporate finance affairs. This includes the preparation of financial budgets and forecasts, treasury, financial planning and control, book keeping, payroll and all statutory accounting.
The team is also responsible for the collection of licence fees, payments to suppliers together with timely submission of financial statistics and information required by the Ministry of Finance, Board of Governors and other Government entities.
The Finance function also liaises with the Statutory Auditors regarding the annual audit of the Authority’s Financial Statements drawn up in compliance with International Financial Reporting Standards.
Simon Bonett heads the Finance function within the Authority.
The Financial Stability team carries out risk monitoring and macro-prudential oversight of the financial services sector.
The function is also responsible for the recommendation of regulatory measures to address systemic and other potential risks impacting the sector, as well as the implementation of policy initiatives to meet regulatory and financial stability objectives.
As a function, it interfaces with the micro-prudential supervisory functions of the Authority at the operational level, ensuring that all relevant information is shared and actioned across all areas of regulation and sector-specific supervision.
Joseph J. Agius heads the Financial Stability Function with the Authority.
FinTech and Innovation
With FinTech being at the forefront of its Vision 2021 agenda, the MFSA has set up a FinTech and Innovation function within the Strategy, Policy and Innovation Directorate.
In an attempt to gain first mover advantage and establish Malta as a leader in this sector, the MFSA has been one of the first regulators in the world to introduce a regulatory framework for virtual assets. The Virtual Financial Assets Framework was created to provide legal certainty to crypto assets and new technologies being used in financial services, whilst at the same time ensuring investor protection, market integrity and financial stability. The framework establishes three types of authorisations; those of VFA Agents, Whitepapers, and VFA Service Providers. The FinTech & Innovation function is responsible for receiving applications, granting authorisations and supervising licence holders within this regulatory framework.
The MFSA’s FinTech Strategy, which also falls within the remit of this function, aims at establishing Malta as an international FinTech hub, supporting and enabling financial service providers to infuse technology in product and service offerings. To achieve the objectives identified in the Strategy, the Function is working towards the setting up of an Innovation Hub and a Regulatory Sandbox, which will provide the necessary ecosystem to enable FinTech start-ups and scale-ups, technology firms and established financial service providers to develop viable FinTech solutions. This will drive innovation and enhance access to financial products, increase competition, deliver better customer experiences, and ultimately, contribute to the long-term success of the Maltese financial services sector.
Herman Ciappara heads the FinTech and Innovation function within the Authority.
Insurance and Pensions Supervision
Insurance and Pensions Supervision is responsible for the prudential oversight of authorised re-insurance undertakings, insurance intermediaries, retirement schemes, retirement funds and retirement plan service providers, including business carried out in an EU Member State or EEA State, either through establishment or under the freedom to provide services.
Supervision is carried out on a prospective and risk-based approach, comprising the continuous verification of the proper operation of the business of insurance and its compliance with insurance legislation, through a combination of off-site and on-site supervision.
Through its supervisory work, the team aims to protect policyholders and beneficiaries in accordance with the regulatory obligations namely emanating from the Insurance Business Act, the Insurance Distribution Act and the Retirement Pensions Act, whilst safeguarding the stability of the financial system.
Ray Schembri heads the Insurance and Pensions Supervision team.
Established through the provisions of Article 12D of the MFSA (Cap 330), the MFSA’s Internal Audit function is an independent and consulting activity designed to add value and improve the operations and control environment of the Authority. It designs its audit engagements to provide independent and objective assurances to the Board of Governors through the Audit Committee.
The Internal Audit function supports the Authority to accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of the internal risk management, control, and governance processes. It keeps the Audit Committee informed on emerging trends and standards in internal auditing and prevention of fraud by providing consultancy and advice as appropriate for the better functioning of the Authority. Internal Audit further assists the MFSA to identify, analyse, respond, gather information and monitor strategic risks that could actually or potentially impact the ability of the Authority in achieving its mission and objectives.
The Internal Audit Charter defines in general terms the purpose, scope of work, accountability, responsibility and authority of the Internal Audit function with the MFSA. It establishes the position of Internal Audit, authorising access to records, personnel and physical properties relevant to the performance of an audit engagement and defines the type and scope of the internal audit activities.
The Head of Internal Audit at MFSA is John Sammut.
People and Culture
Placing employees and other stakeholders at the very heart of the Authority’s mission, the People and Culture function reflects the drive being undertaken to bring about change and organisational growth within MFSA. People and Culture provides the Authority with the human resource capabilities that are essential for the fulfilment of its mission. It attracts and retains the best possible talent while striving to ensure that the Authority becomes an employer of choice for suitably qualified and experienced professionals. It also serves the training and development needs of the employees with the Authority, supporting them in the progression of their career paths.
It is also responsible for identifying training needs in the financial services sector and for developing, creating and implementing training programmes in conjunction with the relevant professional training bodies and academic institutions. The team implements other staff related provisions, including the MFSA Ethics Framework, the MFSA Anti-Fraud Policy and Occupational Health & Safety.
All the projects and initiatives undertaken by the team, such as policy development, recruitment, training and performance management, are driven by the five MFSA values, of integrity, trustworthiness, dependability, independence and excellence.
Calvin Cassar heads People and Culture at MFSA.
Programme Management (PMO) and Quality Assurance
The Programme Management & Quality Assurance office is responsible for the setting up and ongoing management of a single, centralised framework, designed to ensure the implementation and delivery of key organisational projects and other change initiatives within the Authority.
Programme Management define best practice within the Authority with the aim of standardising quality assurance and change management activities, thus introducing economies of repetition in the execution of projects.
The Programme Management team is key towards ensuring the completion of projects, within budget, established timeframes and quality. Whilst providing support to key business operations and IT projects to a successful conclusion, the function seeks to create a foundation for consistent project success throughout the organisation through the development of a strong and pervasive Programme Management discipline within the organisation’s project teams.
Kevin Fitzgerald is the Head of Project Management and Quality Assurance.
The Technology function at MFSA leverages cutting-edge technology, industry standards and methodologies to provide reliable services to the rest of the organisation and the entities interacting with the Authority through digital means. The team provides operational support to the other functions of the Authority and is responsible for managing the Authority’s resources, efficiently supporting the overall business strategy.
It is responsible for technology design, development, integration and delivery of all the information and communications infrastructure, platforms and services, and works with several technology vendors and partners. It also ensures the protection of data based on the principles of data privacy, while mitigating against cyber threats using advanced protection mechanisms.
Technology is also assigned with the responsibility of providing information security analysis to the Regulatory functions. Officials from the Technology team participate in several European committees, expert groups and industry fora.
The Technology team at MFSA is led by Reuben Vella.
Resolution is responsible for drafting resolution plans for banks and certain investment services firms, advising the Resolution Committee on whether an institution should go into liquidation or resolution, and the application of resolution tools as necessary. The Resolution team interacts on an on-going basis with European institutions and local Authorities to carry out its work.
In order to retain its operational independence from the supervisory function, the Act contemplates the creation of a Resolution Committee and its underlying structures. The Resolution Committee shall have all the powers assigned to it by the Resolution Authority under the MFSA Act. The Resolution functions are carried out as contemplated by the Act and as provided for by the Resolution Committee.
Furthermore, these structures administer the requirements emanating from the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD), Single Resolution Mechanism Regulation (SRMR), the Recovery and Resolution Regulations (RRR) and the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) on the transfer and mutualisation of contributions to the Single Resolution Fund.
Aldo Giordano heads the Resolution function within the Authority.
Introduced as a separate function within the Authority in 2019, Risk Management is not only responsible for the analysis of risks but also the development of plans to mitigate such risks within the MFSA.
The Risk Management team is responsible for keeping the risk control framework under review, providing the strategic input and direction with regards to the Authority’s risk appetite, ensuring that the defined risk appetite is compliant with the requirements set out by the European Supervisory Authorities.
The Risk Management team is also responsible for ensuring that the internal processes and procedures of the MFSA comply with European Standards whilst offering recommendations on how these can be improved from a risk and quality perspective.
Franco Borg is Head of Risk Management at MFSA.