Apex Fund Services has been operating in Malta since 2008 and has seen, first hand, how quickly the island has evolved into one of Europe's leading onshore fund jurisdictions.
Following the chaos of the financial crash, start-up managers chose Malta because it represented a cost effective option. This worked to Apex's advantage but as Paulianne Nwoko, Managing Director of Apex Fund Services (Malta), points out: "Over the years, Malta has evolved into an established financial jurisdiction with a deep pool of professionals spanning all aspects of the funds industry; law firms, audit firms, fund administrators, and, to a lesser extent, custodians.
"We've been growing consistently both in AuA and staff numbers year-on-year, such that Apex is now considered one of the largest fund administrators on the island today, administering approximately EUR2.5 billion in assets with over 70 staff."
In addition to a pool of locally qualified accounting and finance graduates, Malta continues to attract talent from across the EU and Apex has around 13 nationalities working in its local office.
Malta offers a range of legal structures from SICAVs to INVCOs, unit trusts and limited partnerships, together with double taxation treaties in place with 68 other major jurisdictions.
"The fund is not taxable unless it is investing more than a certain percentage of assets in Malta; which is very unlikely. There are no capital gains on shares and no witholding tax applicable to Maltese funds.
"Malta also operates a full imputation system on company taxation. This means that provided the Company's shareholders are not resident in Malta, they have the right to claim back 6/7ths of the tax paid on the distributed profits, resulting in an effective tax rate of approx. 5% out of the 35 per cent standard corporate tax rate," explains Nwoko.
From a personal tax perspective, for those living and working in Malta they are able to benefit from the Highly Qualified Persons income tax scheme, which Malta introduced three years ago.
"This was implemented in order to attract highly qualified and skilled people to Malta. They are taxed at a flat 15 per cent on their income, which is very attractive for people relocating from cities like London where the tax rate is much higher," says Nwoko.
Indeed, there are signs that the numbers of operations and back-office staff of fund managers are increasing in Malta, just as the island is experiencing a clustering effect of newly registered AIFMs. This is creating a community of hedge fund professionals and further underscores how far Malta has come as a financial jurisdiction.
"One of the major advantages that Apex has is strong client relationships as we ensure that for every client the agreed upon deliverables are unfailingly met. Continuing to expand upon the suite of products and solutions that we offer as a group is important, but of more importance and central to our founding philosophy is understanding our clients' needs and delivering on our promises.
"Our clients in Malta appreciate that they are not partnering with a small local administrator but an international top 20 fund administrator with a global AuA of USD45 billion, en route to becoming one of the top 10 global fund administrators within the next two years.
"From Malta, we can offer the full spectrum of administration services that promoters of both local and international funds require," concludes Nwoko