Ray Calleja, Head of Consumer Banking at Mediterranean Bank spoke to Malta Today about the Bank’s rapid growth, diversification into investment services and what customers can expect next.
We began operating from our Head Office in Valletta towards the end of 2009, offering savings and fixed term accounts at very attractive interest rates. Since then we’ve grown our branch network, which currently comprises branches in Sliema, Mosta, Paola, Qormi, and Victoria, Gozo and is supported by a dedicated team at our Contact Centre, who handle customer enquiries received over the phone or through our internet banking service. We also launched various innovative products including the Now Account, the Me3 and Me12 Savings Accounts which proved to be very popular with our retail customers who now number over 23,000.
Although our range of savings products remains competitive, the prevailing low interest scenario has prompted us to focus on offering good, transparent and diversified investment products. Since 2012 we have on-boarded almost 7,000 retail investment customers in Malta only. These have contributed to the rapid growth of our assets under custody, where we aim to reach €1 billion by year end at an aggregated banking group level. We have also become one of the Island’s leading stockbrokers. In addition to participating in most of the local bond and equity issues along with our sister company Charts, we introduced the concept of Model Portfolios in 2014.
Model Portfolios are investments in mutual funds with a medium to long-term outlook which offer clients the opportunity of building a diversified investment portfolio starting from just €5,000. The funds are selected based on the ratings attributed to them by Morningstar, a global and independent investment research company. Model Portfolios are available in two versions. The accumulator version reinvests returns in order to increase capital whilst the income version pays out regular dividends. Investors can also choose different investment profiles depending on their attitude towards risk and their preference of equity versus fixed income funds.
Customers who wish to manage their savings accounts and investment portfolios directly can do so through our online platform which enables them to trade on the local and international markets at comparatively low trading fees. To this extent, our website offers state-of-the art tools to browse, analyse and compare a number of different investment options. Customers can also opt to seek the assistance of our personnel by visiting any of our branches. Our in-branch teams are led by Investment Advisors licensed by the Malta Financial Services Authority and keep abreast with developments in the economic and financial markets by attending regular training, seminars and conferences, both locally and overseas.
We also support clients with more sophisticated investment needs by providing advisory and discretionary management services through our sister company Charts. Charts team of investment professionals have been in the market for a very long time and can leverage on a deep knowledge of local companies and fine expertise on financial markets. With Charts moving together with Mediterranean Bank at The Centre in Tigné Point, we will be able to further consolidate our provision of financial services to range from payments to currency exchange, from basic savings accounts to sophisticated wealth management services, and make sure that our clients have a unique platform where they can monitor and operate their portfolio.
Ensuring we comply with regulations is second nature to us especially since becoming Malta’s third largest bank and coming under the direct supervision of the European Central Bank. We have taken our increased regulatory obligations as an opportunity to further strengthen our internal processes, corporate governance and compliance to consumer protection directives.
As a further step towards consolidating our business, MedBank is currently relocating to new headquarters at The Centre in Tigné Point, with both Charts and our Sliema branch starting to operate from there as from November 20th.
Leo Azzopardi, Senior Manager – Wealth Products, also spoke to Malta Today
As we continue to strengthen and improve the synergies between our two investment channels – the MedBank branch network and Charts – we plan to introduce a discretionary management service for our Model Portfolios. As part of this service, we will review the Model Portfolios on an ongoing basis to track their performance and regularly adjust them to make sure that our clients financial goals are on track. We are also planning to introduce new products such as regular contribution savings plans and will continue to enhance our eWealth platform in order to provide added functionalities to our customers.