How has Malta’s economic growth of the past two years affected the demand for business advisory services?
In recent years our sector has enjoyed year-on-year growth, for various reasons. First, a number of companies are growing and their needs are becoming more sophisticated. Secondly, we have also seen more companies relocate to Malta. Thirdly, the robust increase in economic activity in the digital, construction and tourism sectors has increased the demand for our services.
We offer not only audit and tax advisory services but a full suite of business advisory services. New legislation, particularly in the financial services sector, as well as new or revised accounting standards have continued to increase demand.
Overall, I would say that the rate of our growth even exceeds the country’s economic growth.
In which areas has EY enjoyed the biggest growth?
We have enjoyed growth across the board – from traditional auditing and tax compliance services to transaction advisory, financial services advisory as well as general business advisory.
Two leading key growth areas are client support to keep up with new complex regulations largely in the financial services sector and helping clients make the most of the new opportunities which digital and other technological advances are offering.
We work very closely with other EY offices in Europe, the US and beyond. This helps us leverage not only our local people which are now in excess of 300 but also the quarter of a million people EY employs worldwide. Next month, for instance we will have EY’s global blockchain leader as our guest, as well as our global artificial intelligence leader and one of our leading advisers on Brexit. These all represent opportunities for us.
Does this growth translate into further human resources needs?
The short and big answer is yes. Despite the exponential growth in automation and use of technology in everything we do, this is still all driven by people. This means that growth in demand for our services translates instantly into a need for more people.
We offer a flexible, young, dynamic and diverse working environment
Up to a few years ago our firm employed less than a 100 people, a third of today’s staff complement, and I believe that we will be experiencing the same growth rate in the coming years. We have invested heavily in our University internship and ACCA traineeship programme over the last three years, an effort which will bear fruit largely from next year onwards. In the meantime, we are constantly on the lookout for good people who might be interested in various positions.
What current positions are you seeking to fill?
There are various. We are looking for people in audit, seniors and assistants as well as more experienced people. For these positions it is generally hard to local candidates on top of our graduate recruitment. We are also looking for positions at various levels in a wide range of fields – tax advisory, accounting, compliance, business modelling, due diligence, IT security, digital advisory and more.
What skills do these positions require?
Obviously, it depends. So far, most of our recruits would be University accountancy graduates or ACCA and ACA trainees and graduates. But we are changing with the times, getting increasingly better at spotting the right people with diverse skills and backgrounds. Depending on the position we would be looking for, lawyers, engineers, bankers, IT graduates and mathematicians might be likely candidates. This has been the norm overseas for a number of years.
What are the main elements of attractiveness that EY offers to potential employees?
I think that on this count we distinguish ourselves positively on various counts. We offer a flexible, young, dynamic and diverse working environment. Our people have the opportunity to work alongside top local and international professionals on some leading engagements. Our Maltese clients include the island’s leading international and local firms operating in a cross-section of sectors. Ours is truly a learning and career development environment.
We have also invested heavily in our cutting-edge premises and IT systems and will be doing more in future. In fact, we are currently working on a 1,500-square-metre extension, including a fully-fledged training facility. We also offer plenty of opportunities to work abroad for short stints on various projects. At any point, we would normally have our people working on projects in the UK, central Europe and the US and recently even in the Far East. In our experience, today’s young people demand exposure to such dynamic environments and gaining work experience in different cultures.
Is the local education system preparing the right resources for your HR needs?
Our academic system is strong as is manifest from the performance of our homegrown graduates who get consistently good reviews when they are engaged with international EY teams. At the same time, I would say that there are so many areas in which we could do so much more but cannot because we simply do not find enough local people.
Secondly, I think that while our educational system performs well on an academic level, it could be better when it comes to developing people more holistically – speaking up, communicating, presenting – indeed doing justice to their academic ability. We do support our people in this respect but it would be great to do more from an early age, instilling greater belief and confidence in oneself. I would also add that probably the standard of written English may be declining. This is a pity given that for so long it was one of our biggest selling points. This a challenge we will be discussing at our forthcoming Malta Attractiveness event.
Does EY’s global status also help you source HR from abroad? Does EY’s Malta staff also have the opportunity to specialise abroad?
Yes to both. Of course there is a challenge in selling Malta abroad. We do have a number of people who joined us from EY in the Philippines and we have a constant influx of people working on local projects coming from our UK, Italian, Greek and German offices. I think in itself this fosters a culture of diversity. I would add that most, if not all of our people who spent one to three years working in an office outside Malta then come back. Again I think this is extremely beneficial both for the firm and the individual.