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Digital Finance: Chartering the technological and regulatory transformation

5 Nov 2022 09:00 | Malta Institute of Accountants (Administrator)

The rapid progression of technology as a disruptive force is impacting societies across the globe in new and unanticipated ways. In such a context, the finance function takes on the responsibility of leading this change within its organisation, while adapting itself to new tools and processes which transform the way it goes about its business. This reality was at the centre of a physical CPE event organised by the MIA Digital Committee on 5th October 2022 - The future of the finance function: the digital agenda and technology assurance.

The event, which attracted the participation of several professionals from different economic sectors, focused on the impact of digital transformation on the finance function as well as the regulatory aspect and its implications on the technology landscape.

Introducing the first topic, Damian Heath, member of the MIA Digital Committee, noted how the key issues associated with a company’s digital transformation can be essentially grouped in two core elements: a change in skillset and a change in mindset. While learning new technological skills sits at the foundation of this transformation, a change in approach and behaviour is required for its successful implementation, with people recognising further how data, Artificial Intelligence and new technologies can actually be a source of improved efficiency and growth for any organisation.

Mr Heath’s analysis facilitated an engaging debate by a thought-provoking panel discussion made up of Stephen Muscat (Chairperson of the MIA Professional Accountants in Business Group and Chief Financial Officer Liquigas Malta), Albert Bonello (Chief Financial Officer AX Group) and Jason Attard (Head of Data Office Bank of Valletta). Participants focused on the importance of having data available and knowing how to use it, this being a necessary tool to help businesses uncover valuable insights within their financials, identify process improvements that actually increase efficiency, and better manage risk.

The second part of the session, moderated by another member of the MIA Digital Committee Andrew Schembri, focused on the emerging regulatory framework being developed to reflect the new technological realities. MFSA’s Beatriz Brunelli Zimmermann gave a run-through on the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA). She explained that given the increasing reliance of financial entities on ICT systems and technologies which are sometimes outsourced, technological and cyber risks have increased significantly. In this context, DORA strengthens digital operational resilience by setting proportional requirements to financial entities in the areas of governance, risk management, incident reporting, testing and ICT third-party risk. In addition, DORA also regulates critical ICT third party providers – such as cloud service providers – known to greatly support the financial services sector. Therefore, the Regulation contributes towards greater market confidence and assurance overall.

This was followed with a presentation by Ing. Efrem Borg, Chief Technologist at the Malta Digital Innovation Authority, who introduced the forthcoming Technology Assurance Assessment Framework (TAAF) which is intended to serve as a technological trust utility for regulated and unregulated markets operating technologies in various risk levels across a multitude of sectors.

The pair were then joined by Bernard Fenech, Chief Information Officer at Oney Insurance, who shared valuable insights on how regulatory assurance can serve as a vehicle for delivering shareholder value by building trust, both internally and externally throughout the whole supply chain.

Gordon Micallef, the Chairperson of the MIA Digital Committee, concluded the event remarking on the ongoing need for finance functions to evolve and remain relevant to the digital developments discussed in the two panels.


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