Nicol La Ciura

A New Face for a New Direction

MeDirect is Malta’s third largest banking group, serving more than 50,000 customers and holding over €1 billion worth of assets on their behalf. Nicol La Ciura, the newly appointed Group Head of Wealth Products, talks to MONEY about what lies ahead.

While Nicol is not a new face within the bank, she is one of the few female executives in the Maltese financial services industry.

She joined the bank – then Mediterranean Bank – towards the end of 2011 as Head of Business Development, and played a key role in the setting up of MeDirect’s investment platform, which is a one-stop shop for clients who want to view, administer and trade their investment portfolio.

As a woman operating in a predominately male-oriented industry, Nicol immediately realised the importance of building a professional reputation on solid foundations. She obtained a first degree in economics from the prestigious Bocconi University in Milan and subsequently a master’s degree in finance from the world-renowned London Business School.

Before joining MeDirect, she worked at Deloitte in Milan as a consultant to financial institutions, and then moved onto Barclays Capital in London, where she was vice-president of structured capital markets. The positions she held at these world-class institutions garnered her first-hand knowledge about what investors seek, particularly in terms of investment services which are transparent, direct and understandable.

“The investment scenario changed with the crisis of 2008, which saw millions of people lose their investments, savings and pensions. In the aftermath of the crisis, both investors and regulators became more exigent about transparency and required sound information about investments,” Nicol explains, adding that her move to MeDirect took place within this context.

“I was especially drawn to the MeDirect philosophy of enabling clients to take investment decisions to suit their individual needs, based on reliable information and unbiased expertise.”

MeDirect believes in empowering customers and giving them control over their savings and investments, whilst also offering expert advice to those clients who require this service. Indeed, MeDirect’s online bank in Belgium was the first financial company in continental Europe to launch an online financial advisory service, so called robo-advisory. The bank’s ethos is about providing a variety of clearly explained products to ensure that customers fully understand the nature of their investments.

“Malta is at the heart of MeDirect’s strategic growth, and I see huge potential to build on our current market offering – that of a uniquely pan-European institution, which provides its clients with both traditional and innovative investment solutions,” Nicol explains.

She also outlines some of the projects she will be undertaking in her new role: “My team and I will be fully integrating our wealth management arm, Charts Investment Services Ltd, into MeDirect’s broader banking operations. This will complement our digital investment service offering with face-to-face personalised advice provided through our branch network and supported by the expertise of Charts, which has an established track record in wealth management dating back to 1985.”

Nicol also looks forward to heading some interesting projects currently in the pipeline: “We will further enhance our customer experience and simplify clients’ investment decision-making by expanding the suite of investment tools and research available on our website.”