The Financial Services sector is without question, one of the strongest pillars in Malta’s economy. Every year we are seeing and an increase in new company’s being setup as well as companies growing. According to EY’s Malta Attractiveness Survey 2016, a high majority of foreign investors believed that Malta is attractive to FDI (Foreign Direct Investment). In 2016, 87% of investors found Malta attractive, 53% believed that they will expand operations to Malta within a year's time whilst 79% of investors believed that they will be present in Malta within ten years time. However as companies set up and grow, so does the demand for specialised talent.
With the ever increasing need for more talent and with the limited local talent supply, why not consider EU Nationals or Third Country Nationals (TCNs)?
As a Senior Recruitment Advisor working with Malta’s leading recruitment agency, it is easily noticeable that in today’s market, the demand for talent heavily outweighs the local supply. Working within a specialist Finance and Legal portfolio of clients, it can be quite challenging to source candidate interest in funds, audit and client accounting roles. Year by year, these positions are becoming more challenging to recruit for and it could take a few months to secure the right individual for a given role. So the question one has to ask is, why is this the case? What are companies doing to keep up with growth plans? And how do we tackle the shortage?
At Konnekt we interact with various business owners, finance professionals and recruitment managers, the majority of which acknowledge the fact that there is a skills shortage in market. Yet employers are still hesitant to open up their doors to a much wider talent pool - the foreign employee market.
There are currently a number of gaps in the job market which requires recruiters and employers alike to be creative and think outside the box to fill the vacuum. Currently the struggle is across the board and as a result some of these positions could take months to fill, however this shouldn’t be the case. If vacant for a long period of time this could add stress on staff and could result in staff turnover. From a financial point of view, a vacant position also results in lost revenues.These are just a few reasons why firms should consider the foreign employee market as a solution. Currently there is a lot of interest from foreign nationals who wish to relocate and work in Malta. Economic situations in countries such as Greece and Italy have prompted nationals to look for job opportunities outside their shores. Due to security situations in South Africa, we are seeing a lot of interest from South Africans as well as from the northern European countries such as Poland. These are but a few, however, there are many other EU/TCN’s who would choose Malta as their ideal place to work.
According to Investopedia Academy, Malta ranks 10th in the world for best countries to settle down, work and plan for retirement. It also ranks 1st in a group of 92 for ease of fitting in. Malta also ranks very well when considering cost and standard of living as well as the overall safety of the country.
The Konnekt Finance & Legal Team interviews an average of 1,300 candidates a year and the trend in interests that we’ve noticed is, following years of work within the financial services, locals tend to seek industry exposure once they reach a supervisory or assistant managerial position. This trend is causing gaps within companies once they make the shift into industry.
Considering EU nationals as well as Third Country Nationals, would offer an employer the opportunity to select from a larger talent pool, to find the best fit employee to join their team. The process of recruiting EU nationals is simple and straightforward, however, with TCN’s the process requires some more administrative work. This being said, if the candidate were to qualify under the KEI (Key Employment Initiative) scheme, this process is fast tracked and the licence could be issued within 5 working days. This scheme applies to managerial roles which require relevant qualifications and adequate experience related to the job being offered. Applicants would also need to submit certain information to the Expatriates Unit within Identity Malta to confirm eligibility such as proof of an annual Gross salary of at least €30,000 per annum, certified copies of qualifications, warrants or the necessary work experience. Furthermore, the employer would need to submit a declaration that the applicant has the necessary credentials to perform the duties being assigned. Such a scheme has specifically been put in place to provide a solution to the local shortage of talent.
According to an article on the Times of Malta, posted on the 19th September 2017, the financial services sector is going to continue to grow. A survey of 43 professionals working in Malta’s financial services reveals the majority expect the sector to enjoy growth over the next 5 years. Currently the financial services sector contributes to just over 12% of Malta’s GDP however a survey done by Managing Partners Group indicated that professionals feel that the financial services sector could contribute up to 15% of Malta’s GDP by 2022. From the survey, the respondents felt that the position most likely to see growth is fund administration, followed by the asset management, asset servicing and corporate banking roles. In addition a number of individuals also believe that there will be a significant increase in financial services companies locating to Malta in the coming years. Due to such strong growth forecasts, we at Konnekt are of the opinion that if companies start to open up their doors to the wider talent pool, they will be able to continue to manage their growth in a more effective manner.
Luke Attard Montalto
Finance & Legal Recruitment Specialist