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The accountant - autumn 2019

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  • 10 Dec 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The Accountant – The Future Professional Accountant in Business. Autumn 2019 (MIA Publication)
    The job of a manager has changed over the last few decades. Being a manager in the knowledge economy is less about telling people what to do, more about making sure that the talent you have in your team is leveraged optimally and that the team members complement each other with their unique skills and experience.

    That is why coaching skills have become increasingly important for managers.
    Let us have a look at a few of them here:
    • Listening
    • Empathy
    • Activating the Neutral Observer
    • Asking the Right Questions
    First and foremost, listening is about really taking an interest in what the other person is saying and trying to understand it. This is quite different from just waiting for your turn to speak, which is what most people unfortunately do when they are ‘listening’. They are already forming their reply in their head while the other person is still speaking. They often get so wrapped up in this that they do not even really hear what the other person is saying to them.
    When we really listen, we need to put our thoughts on ‘mute’ for a moment. We need to just take in what the other person is saying, try to understand their point of view: What are they trying to convey? What is the message here? Listen first. Trust that you will come up with an answer on the spot when it is your time to talk. Trust that you will remember important points and that you don’t need to repeat them over and over in your head.
    As already mentioned in the listening section, in order to really listen, we need to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. We need to try and see the situation from their point of view, so we can understand the point they are making.
    But empathy goes far beyond that. When we truly try to put ourselves in the other person’s position, we do so by leaving our own interest out of the picture as much as possible. We try to think of what they have experienced in their lives (or might have experienced) to get them to this point. We remember how hard it is at times to express ourselves properly, to put something into words, especially feelings of frustration.
    Empathy means checking my own assumptions by asking the other person before I make decisions that affect them. We need to be in communication to be truly empathetic, otherwise we are just making assumptions, ending up in a situation where we say something like: “I thought that you thought that I thought…” Not a good place to be.
    Activating the Neutral Observer
    Again, this is a natural follow-on from the section above. In order to be truly empathetic, we need to be able to go beyond our perceptions, to look at things in a way that is not affected by our own emotions. I call this ‘activating the neutral observer’. William Ury, in his excellent book on self-management Getting to Yes with Yourself, calls it ‘going to the balcony’.
    The idea is the same: instead of staying emotionally involved, we step out onto the balcony and take an observer’s perspective. We consider the situation from the viewpoint of what best serves the greater good. Rather than acting on personal motivation, we act on the motivation to do what is best for everyone involved in and is affected by the situation.
    Asking the right questions
    Finally, much of a coach’s work is about asking the right questions to allow the client to find their own answers and solutions to the challenge they are facing.
    Questions starting with ‘how’ and ‘what’ are generally most helpful. I usually discourage ‘why’ questions and recommend replacing them with ‘what are the reasons…’, as ‘why’ can lead us down a path of beliefs rather than actual reality.
    How to acquire and apply these skills
    Developing these skills is primarily a matter of practice. First, I need to become aware that I need to learn them, of course, then I need to get access to an introduction to them. But once I have taken these first two steps, the main part of the work is practice, practice, practice.
    It can be extremely helpful to get honest feedback from your reports along the way.
    My tip, though: focus on one thing at a time. Start with listening, for example. Just ask your reports and peers to give you feedback on your listening skills. Whenever they feel you are not really listening, ask them to draw your attention to it (afterwards in private, of course, not on the spot).
    That way you are not only getting help in discovering your blind spots, but you are also making it easier for your reports to notice your transformation into a better listener.
    If you catch yourself planning your response while the other person is speaking, remember to just listen. Turn your own thoughts down. Tune them out. Give your full attention to your report. If you are not sure what they are saying, ask clarifying questions. Do not jump to conclusions, refrain from making assumptions and just ask for clarification.
    Let me give you another example: asking the right questions. As you see, these skills are all intertwined. In order to listen well, you need to switch on the neutral observer and ask the right questions if something is not 100% clear.
    So, if your report seems distressed or frustrated about a proposal you have just put forward, try not to make assumptions about the cause, but rather ask: “What might be the potential downsides of this proposal for you? How might it affect your job? How might it affect your life?”
    If you would like to learn more coaching skills for managers, join my workshops at MIA in 2020. I look forward to seeing you there.

    Carolin Zeitler is a business coach and writer, she believes in businesses that are built to be sustainable and do good 

  • 10 Dec 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The Accountant – The Future Professional Accountant in Business. Autumn 2019 (MIA Publication)
    The skills gap
    It feels a bit cliché to state that we are living in an era of unprecedented digital disruption.  We read reports by numerous reputable organisations about the looming threat to thousands of jobs, we know that the Future of Work is already here and that available human capital is increasingly limited, keeping recruitment and retention among of CEOs’ top priorities.

    An IBM study entitled ‘The Skills Gap is Not a Myth, But Can Be Addressed with Real Solutions’, published on 6th September 2019, collates data from 5,670 global executives in 48 countries. According to the findings, in the next 3 years, around 120 million workers in the world’s largest economies may require retraining or upskilling in the wake of disruption caused by AI and intelligent automation. It is also reported that, whereas it took approximately three days to close an employee’s skills gap in 2014, today it will take almost ten times as long (36 days).  The increasing challenges in the current VUCA business landscape demand a shift in thinking when it comes to managing future workforce needs. 
    Meanwhile, new skillsets are emerging as priority areas. For instance, just three years ago, executives rated technical core competences for STEM and basic computer and software application skills as two of the most critical skills. By contrast, in 2018, while the digital and technical skills gap was still an area of concern, the most sought skills were behavioural in nature: flexibility, adaptability, time management skills and ability to prioritise. In fact, all 4000 professionals surveyed globally in the 2018 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report agreed that the number one priority for talent development is training for soft skills.
    What is so ‘soft’ about Soft skills?
    Recent thought leadership agrees that the term ‘soft’ (as opposed to ‘hard’, technical job or function-specific skills) undermines the importance of this skills family in the workforce.  In fact, ‘soft’ skills are instead increasingly being referred to as ‘core’ or ‘21st century’ skills. Whilst the hard, technical skills have an increasingly short lifespan (estimated at 5 years) because of continuous innovation and development, Core skills are timeless and are more easily transferrable across industries and functions. In fact, because they are necessary for futureproofing organisations, they are frequently sought after by employers and recruiters. These human skills collectively contribute to an adaptive and growth-wired mindset that enables a workforce to be retrained and upskilled for new careers as they evolve. 
    Thought leadership articles list different Soft or Core skills but most will include critical thinking, creativity, adaptability, Emotional Intelligence, communication, collaboration and interpersonal skills. These skills enable individuals to engage in, interact with and adapt to the continuously evolving business landscape. Whilst hard skills are teachable and easily measurable (the ability to code, for example), measuring the development of Soft or Core skills is more challenging. It is more difficult to assess these skills because they are nurtured over a longer time-dimension and require self-reflection, continuous coaching, mentoring and feedback.
    According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Survey 2018, the top ten Core skills trending for 2022 are:
    1.      Analytical thinking and innovation
    2.      Active learning and learning strategies
    3.      Creativity, originality and initiative
    4.      Technology design and programming
    5.      Critical thinking and analysis
    6.      Complex problem-solving
    7.      Leadership and social influence
    8.      Emotional intelligence
    9.      Reasoning, problem-solving and ideation
    10.  Systems analysis and evaluation
    The Learning & Development function has never been so important
    Around half of executives interviewed in the IBM survey admitted that despite being aware of its urgency they did not have a skills development strategy in place to bridge the skills gap. To bring it home (literally) the 2018 Foundation for Human Resources Development (FHRD) Pulse Survey carried out with PWC Malta reports that most Maltese companies surveyed (57%) equip employees with new skills through continuous professional development courses. 
    However, questioned about the actual amount of hourly training time provided to employees, 37% of organisations claimed that they provide their employees between 1 – 8 hours of training per year, followed by 29% of organisations that provide between 9-24 hours of training annually. Considering the current landscape, changes to the future of work, priority skillsets areas and need for upskilling and retraining initiatives, the amount of training provided to employees locally is alarmingly low. 
    Digital transformation encompasses a lot more than digital and requires the ‘human’ side for successful implementation. In this context, the importance of ‘Soft’ skills becomes obvious. Just how adaptable and prepared is your workforce for the digital future and new ways of working? Will employees take up digital solutions and collaborate with the new machines easily?  Will employees trust the new technologies that will replace manual processes? Has enough training on how to use the tools been provided? Does your organisation have the right expertise to implement new technologies? Is there follow-up and positive reinforcement for the small steps in the right direction?
    The role of HR
    In a business-as-unusual scenario organisations need the right mix of skills and adaptive mindset. These skills are underpinned by an organisational culture that is conducive to learning, growth and innovation and that is led by a modern, growth-mindset type of leadership.  Unless you have a Chief Learning Officer (unlikely) or Learning and Development Manager in-house, HR will have to stretch its remit a little further. Routine and administrative tasks may have already been automated, and HR should be focusing on upskilling to be able to deal with today’s diverse workforce (spanning up to 5 different generations and embracing more freelance and contract workers who form part of the growing gig economy), anticipating technological breakthroughs and their impact on the workforce (job displacement and the creation of new jobs, for example) and nurturing a ‘switched on’ learning organisation. Additionally, change management skills, use of data analytics for more effective decision-making, the ability to carry out strategic workforce planning and identify future skills gaps and being able to make a strong business case to the CEO for a L&D budget, are also important. Given the current scarcity of talent it is unlikely that candidates with the required skills will be available, so some serious L&D considerations need to be made to reskill and upskill existing employees to add value and drive an organisation’s strategy towards business goals.
    The key to developing 21st Century skills
    The more digital we become the more critical human skills will become to the success of an organisation. Apart from right skilling and diversifying capabilities for your organisation, Soft or Core skills development will improve employee engagement and retention rates. Any sound L&D programme will be learner-centric, will personalise your employees’ learning pathway, take into account learner preferences as well as professional and personal development goals in both hard (read technical) and soft (core or 21st century) skills. There are varying training modalities available to suit your workforce (think online tech-driven, trainer-lead and face-to-face, blended, micro learning, self-directed, or modular) but recent studies show that a L&D programme that is integrated into the flow of work and that allows a degree of autonomy, is likely to be more successful in terms of expected ROI.
    It is no longer business as usual. Leaders are expected to hone leadership skills including communication, collaboration, Emotional Intelligence, the ability to inspire and challenge the status quo, and making the necessary cultural changes to be able to nurture the right organisational capabilities such as innovation and adaptability. The question is how to futureproof your workforce? We need to have adaptive skillsets, the flexibility to adjust to new ways of working and a curious and growth mindset reinforced by a culture of learning. In short, we need to develop the not-so-soft Core skills of the 21st Century sort.

    Rachel Falzon (MBA) is a Management Consultant with a passion for developing people and challenging mindsets, change management and futureproofing organisations.
  • 10 Dec 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The Accountant – The Future Professional Accountant in Business. Autumn 2019 (MIA Publication)
    One of the major criticisms of the defunct revenue standards IAS 11 ‘Construction Contracts’ and IAS 18 ‘Revenue’ was the absence of guidance in dealing with contracts with variable terms for the consideration paid by the customer. ‘Variable consideration’ principles in IFRS 15 cover several situations, such as discounts, refunds, penalties, credits, rebates, price concessions, performance bonuses and incentives.

    IFRS 15 has the merits of giving comprehensive guidance to tackle all such situations – either with specific guidance or general principles that can be applied to varying situations.
    Variable consideration must be understood in the context of IFRS 15 before tackling specific situations. One needs to keep in mind that IFRS 15 prescribes a five-step process for every identified contract with a customer within the scope of the standard. It is during the third step that variable consideration matters come into play. Step 3 - ‘Determine the Transaction Price’ – requires the accountant to decide about the monetary amount that represents the total compensation that the company will receive for performing its obligations to the customer.
    IFRS 15 distinguishes between fixed and variable consideration. When contracts include a transaction price that is certain, the aspect of variable consideration can be ignored. However, numerous contracts have an element of uncertainty of consideration attached to them, which is where the IFRS 15 guidance for variable consideration becomes relevant.
    IFRS 15 states that if a contract includes variable consideration, an entity is obliged to estimate the amount of consideration to which it will be entitled.
    IFRS 15 prescribes two methods for estimating variable consideration, namely:
    • Expected value method (possibly more appropriate for contracts with more than two outcomes).
    • Most likely amount method (possibly more appropriate for contracts with two outcomes).
    Suppose a 2018 contract for a building project includes €1,000,000 fixed consideration and a further performance bonus:

    Under the expected value method, the variable consideration amounts to €28,000 as per below, whilst the transaction price is €1,028,000:
    50% of €50,000 = €25,000
    30% of €10,000 = €3,000
    20% of €0 = €0
    IFRS 15 recommends the most likely amount method for situations with two outcomes. However, it is not prohibited from applying it when there are more outcomes, such as in the case of this scenario, which has three outcomes. What IFRS 15 imposes is that the method chosen at the start is applied consistently throughout the lifetime of the contract.
    Under the most likely amount method, the variable consideration would amount to €50,000 (since the most likely scenario triggers a performance bonus of that amount), whilst the transaction price would amount to €1,050,000.
    The recognition of resulting variable consideration is always subject to a condition: for such revenue to be recognised, there must be a high probability that cumulative revenue recognised will not be reversed in a subsequent period. This is key for fair revenue recognition and is largely tied to the amount of confidence that management has in the estimate of variable consideration being made. Revenue reversals are undesirable when following IFRS 15:it is much more acceptable to delay revenue in situations of uncertainties, rather than to recognise revenue and then reverse that revenue in case the estimated amount does not materialise.
    Factors that may make management not sufficiently confident to recognise revenue from variable consideration are referred to as constraining estimates. These factors could possibly appear in the following situations:
    • The consideration is highly susceptible to factors outside the entity’s control, like third party actions.
    • The uncertainty will not be resolved soon. For instance, a performance bonus will be resolved in 5 years’ time.
    • The entity is inexperienced. For example, it launched a new product and is unsure of customers’ first response.
    • The contract has a large number and broad range of possible consideration amounts. An example of such circumstance would be an entity whose practice is the frequent, significant change in payment terms and conditions.
    An example of a constraining estimate is a new product is launched where customers have a 60-day right of return. In this case, since the product is new, the entity is unable to rely on historical information to set confidence about the number of goods that will not be returned. Therefore, management would need to be very prudent in relation to how many goods will not be returned. As an example, management might be confident that 40% of goods will not be returned but might not be so confident that 50% will not be returned. In this situation, nothing more than 40% should be recognised.
    This contrasts with a possible picture five years from the launch of the product. If over 5 years, average returns turn out to be consistently around 5%, the entity can recognise 95% in revenue, and there would not be a constraining estimate, since management confidence in such return rates is high.
    An estimate of expected returns should reflect the amount that the entity expects to refund customers with, using either the expected value method or the most likely amount method. In this case, management would need to determine the better predictor of the amount of consideration to which the entity shall be entitled.
    The obligation to estimate outcomes for contracts with customers where consideration is not entirely fixed can be challenging in practice. However, it can be argued that the provisions allow for a fairer recognition of revenue, especially if there is collaboration between an accountant with a strong understanding of IFRS 15, and a management team who know their business (and therefore their contracts with customers) well. Businesses finding it difficult to comply with IFRS 15 should work smarter by finding ways to devise contracts with customers that are more suitable to the new standard – a more complicated standard, perhaps, but one with more benefits for users of financial reports.
    Paul Zammit Paul is the technical leader at Zampa Debattista, currently specialising in financial reporting, including IFRS and GAPSME.

    John Debattista – John is one of the founding partners at Zampa Debattista. He heads the assurance and IFRS functions of the office.

  • 10 Dec 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The Accountant – The Future Professional Accountant in Business. Autumn 2019 (MIA Publication)
    On the eve of my tenth working anniversary at the Finance and Accounting unit of a trading company engaged in international trade, I have been approached by the Institute to share personal experiences on this journey. The scope of this article is, therefore, sharing my personal understanding, rather than providing a detailed study on what the role of a CFO within an international trading company offers.

    From a young age, I grew in a small family business; whereby the owner has a good personal touch in all aspects of the business and with rather centralised decision making. It is an environment where, even before analysing the management accounts, the owner would already have a good grasp on the performance of various aspects of the business. International trade might be present, but unless the business grows significantly this is generally limited in volume and frequency. Meanwhile, the contact by the owner with all employees is personal and an ongoing basis.
    Moving to a trading hub which is mainly engaged in international trade has been a completely different experience on various fronts.
    First of all, there are the external legislative, regulatory and political factors. These affect any business, but a trading hub actively engaged in international trade has more to deal with. One must keep abreast to local, European and international factors that are in continuous development. These include the economic environment of countries in which the entity is involved, currency devaluations, sanctions, as well as specific agendas or initiatives that various organisations could have, such as implications of proposals towards tax harmonisation, BEPS, the implications of Brexit, developments in VAT law in which the entity might be registered (such as the real time reporting implemented by certain European jurisdictions), the social and political situation in certain countries, including any civil wars or social unrest like those experienced in the Northern African region over the past years. Moreover, international trade within the same group of companies brings other challenges, such as the need of a structured approach towards transfer pricing, including adequate documentation of the transfer pricing policies, from both the perspective of the group as well as its local subsidiaries.
    The geographical distance involved in international trade is no valid reason for reducing ethical and legislative responsibilities related to anti-money laundering. Tight and sound due diligence procedures on the trading partner are essential whether by the company’s own processes or through consultants.
    International trade is also subject to customs and import regulations. Whilst trade within the EU is facilitated by the freedom of movement of goods, other customs authorities around the globe adopt varying requirements. different. This is apart from the additional ‘bureaucratic’ procedures or restrictions that might be imposed between countries. The slightest error, such as a contract not sent in original or which does not include an official company seal (that is, stamp), could mean that goods remain in the customs, not only affecting the duration of shipment with potential repercussions on lost customer satisfaction, but also potential damage in the goods themselves depending on the industry. . Other challenges, especially transactions which involve more than two entities, include defining who the exporter of records is in the exporting country; and who the importer in the receiving country is.
    The terms and conditions of trade for the sale of goods, known as the Incoterms® as published by the International Chamber of Commerce, is another important area. During my accountancy studies the concept was never mentioned and little literature is available on the accounting implications of such terms of trade – also proved when recently I consulted with a Big Four firm on this matter, and the only literature found was dated a couple of years back. However, terms of trade have a daily effect on the work of accountants who work on international trade. Incoterms ® define the place along the supply chain in which the responsibilities of the seller are exhausted, and the point at which responsibility is transferred to the customer. There are three main aspects: the responsibility to organise freight, who bears the cost for such freight and related insurance costs, and - perhaps even more important from an accounting perspective due to revenue recognition purposes - where the risk of the goods transfers. One can encounter a situation where transport documentation still refers to the seller of the goods when the risk of the goods would have been transferred to the customer days or weeks before. In the case of entities registered for VAT in multiple jurisdictions, Incoterms® might also affect which VAT registration is applicable to a particular transaction of goods.
    Other factors might be applicable to large multi-national entities (MNEs). The ultimate parent company might be required to prepare its financial statements in accordance with accounting standards that are not IFRSs, such as US GAAPs. Consequently, all subsidiaries of that Group would have to be prepared using other standards, apart from IFRS-compliant financial statements for statutory purposes. Other legislative requirements might affect the work of the accountant, for example requirements imposed by the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act where the group is listed on a US Stock Exchange. The geographical distance between the group departments based might also turn cross-function coordination into a challenge, especially in the case of conflicting goals and objectives and in the case of a decentralised management style like that of a matrix organisation. On the other hand, working in a large MNE gives access to high volumes of transactions, which enables IT automation, such as automatic processing of invoices, robotics in posting routine accounting transactions and automation in warehousing which reduces wastage and risk of errors.

    Noel Camilleri is the Finance Director of the trading hub of the largest generics pharmaceutical company worldwide, and the Managing Director of an Icelandic holding company which also owns Intellectual Property within the same Group. Previously he worked in a Big 4 firm, mostly involved in Internal Audit and Advisory engagements. Noel is a PAIB Committee Member within the MIA.  

  • 10 Dec 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The Accountant – The Future Professional Accountant in Business. Autumn 2019 (MIA Publication)
    ‘The hardest thing in the world to understand is income tax’ – Albert Einstein
    The remark by Albert Einstein flatters many us who work in the taxation field. This quote, I believe, is more than justified in relation to both direct and indirect tax.

    Although VAT legislation was first introduced in Malta in 1995, there are still many misconceptions, misinterpretations and difficulties in its application. This probably impinges on the harmonisation of the VAT legislation with other EU countries, classifying the law as dynamic in nature.
    I recently had the opportunity to meet a passionate and highly respected VAT official who although starting his career with the VAT Department by chance, moved up the ranks thanks to his keen interest in his work and, more importantly, in researching the legislation before meetings.
    The comment hit home because mistaken beliefs and the most common questions around VAT are generally the result of a lack of knowledge. However, legislation is always subject to interpretation, and enquires are usually justified.
    A frequent question is whether a VAT registration is always required in order to carry out a business. Until few years ago, through LN 524 of 2010, taxpayers carrying out an economic activity with a turnover of up to €7,000 were not required to obtain a VAT registration number. This threshold was later removed, but taxpayers still inquire about it. Currently, any person carrying out an economic activity is required to apply for a VAT registration number, unless of course, the activity undertaken qualifies as ‘exempt without credit’, in which case the VAT Department will not even allow a registration.
    Another frequent point directly linked to the above is the type of registration required. Taxpayers always know that VAT may be recouped but are unaware of the different registrations and the requirements under each one. There are 3 categories of registration:
    • Article 10, surely the most popular, where the taxpayer is allowed to recoup VAT incurred on the purchases/expenses which is then offset against the VAT charged on the taxable revenue generated;
    •  Article 11, where the taxpayer is defined as a small undertaking exempt from charging VAT; and
    • Article 12, which is suitable for non-taxable legal persons or taxable persons not registered under Article 10 carrying out intra-community acquisitions exceeding €10,000. Persons under this form of registration are required to pay Maltese VAT on acquisitions deemed to take place in Malta.
    Under both Article 10 and Article 12, the VAT registration number is attributed an MT prefix which allows the taxable person to make intra-community transactions. While under Article 10 returns are generally filed in quarterly, taxpayers registered under Article 11 submit an annual declaration. Article 12 registrations have perhaps more tricky reporting obligations because taxpayers must remember to submit a declaration every time an intra-community acquisition takes place or the place of supply of a service is deemed to be Malta. In my experience, taxpayers fail to comply with the latter as often there is little awareness of the liability of the payment of VAT in Malta when such transactions occur.
    During my professional career I have also come across taxpayers who, to avoid the cost of compliance and by underestimating their business growth, prefer to register under Article 11, thereby filing in an annual declaration. Unfortunately, the threshold limitation requiring a change in registration to Article 10 is often ignored. Unless a tax practitioner brings this to the attention of the taxpayer, it is the VAT Department that breaks the news, often leaving taxpayers confused.
    A frequent mistake I see under the widespread Article 10 registration is that all VAT input may be offset against VAT output. Taxpayers are often baffled by VAT legislation that outlines particular expenses for which VAT input cannot be claimed (Tenth Schedule). Confusion also arises because taxpayers fail to distinguish between VAT and Income Tax and, although VAT input cannot be claimed on such expenses, the same cost may still allowable as a deduction for income tax purposes as the expense has been incurred during the production of the income. A common expense causing confusion is hospitality and entertainment expenses, wherein VAT incurred cannot be recouped unless, of course, the taxpayer is in the hospitality or entertainment industry.
    As accountants, we are accustomed with the Accruals Concept and we deal with this concept on a daily basis. From a VAT perspective, however, this concept may be ‘manipulated’ by taxpayers. Many a time, there is resistance to pay VAT on sales invoices which remain unpaid during the VAT quarter being declared. However, taxpayers generally do not realise that a claim would have been made for VAT incurred on purchase invoices not yet paid. This one-sided argument often occurs when cash flow is sensitive. The VAT certificate issued by the Department clearly states the accounting basis to be followed and there should be no departure from the indicated basis. It is only in very specific cases that the cash basis is allowed.
    A favourite question is about the difference between tax invoice and fiscal receipt. A fiscal receipt is issued by a registered person to a non-registered person, for example when we purchase goods for our own personal use or when services are provided to a Government Department. On the other hand, a tax invoice is issued in B2B transactions. In both cases, the specifics of the law must be followed in the layout of the fiscal receipt or tax invoice.
    The complexity of the VAT legislation is under-estimated, as evidenced by the frequent and repetitive nature of the questions raised. Tax practitioners have the opportunity to become experts in the field and encourage the correct VAT reporting. After all, paying VAT may not be the wrong thing to do. 
     ‘A fine is a tax for doing something wrong. A tax is a fine for doing the right thing’ - Anonymous 

    Karen Spiteri Bailey graduated from the University of Malta with a B.A. Hons. (Accountancy) degree in 1991 .In 2007 she received her Diploma in Taxation issued by the Malta Institute of Taxation. Karen commenced her experience with PriceWaterhouse (Malta) . In January 1994, she took up the position of Financial Controller with one of the leading textile and carpet centres in Malta. Between January 2002 and December 2015 she was a Partner in Spiteri Bailey and Co., in charge of the Accounting and Taxation Department. In January 2016, Spiteri Bailey &Co., merged with RSM and currently is the Partner in the Outsourcing Department. She was appointed and formed part of the Board of Directors of the Malta Stock Exchange between 2006 and 2013 and also Chaired the Finance SubCommittee of the Exchange between 2010 and 2013. Karen was also a Board member of Malta Air Traffic Services Limited between 2004 and 2013. 
  • 10 Dec 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The Accountant – The Future Professional Accountant in Business. Autumn 2019 (MIA Publication)
    A company that requires additional financing for its strategic objectives has two ways of raising funds – increasing the company’s equity base or taking on debt. This article briefly discusses these two options from the perspective of what happens on the local capital market by public limited liability companies

    An increase in equity requires that a company issues additional ordinary shares. Company law in Malta preserves the concept of ‘pre-emption rights’ whereby existing shareholders are afforded the right of first refusal over new shares being issued by the company, safeguarding the shareholding structure of the existing shareholders is not altered. As such, existing shareholders would be offered a pro-rata entitlement in the participation of the new shares in issue, ensuring that their shareholding in the company is not diluted through an offering of the shares to third parties. The pro-rata offering of new shares to existing shareholders is known as a rights issue, a transaction in which the shareholders are given the right to participate in the issue of new shares. On the main market, we had recent experiences of these kind of corporate actions by Medserv plc, Bank of Valletta plc, FIMBank plc and a more recent one, of Trident Estates plc.
    There are instances where the existing shareholders acknowledge the need or importance to allow new shareholders in and existing shareholders agree to waive their pre-emption rights making available a share offer for subscription to new shareholders. On the capital market, this is typically seen in initial public offerings (IPOs) where new shares are offered to new incoming shareholders (this offer must satisfy the regulatory minimum of 25% of the aggregate issued share capital of the company for such IPO to be authorised to proceed with a listing on the main market).
    There are instances where the IPO is used as an exit strategy for existing shareholders and the offer of shares is done by the existing or founding shareholders and not the company. In this case the company does not benefit from fresh sources of finance from the offer but will have new shareholders through its listing on the stock exchange. Similar recent transactions are those of PG plc and BMIT Technologies plc, where the existing shareholders made a public offer of 25% and 49%, respectively, of the shares in the company and listed the respective companies on the stock exchange. While the sale of shares did not generate new funds for the companies, the listing status of the companies provides more visibility, governance structures and transparency on the management and finances of the company, making it easier for the company to tap other sources of finance, both through the capital market and other sources.
    When it comes to raising funds through debt, companies typically seek debt financing from banks, which generally attracts a rate of interest calculated as a margin over the applicable base rate. Such debt requires immediate servicing following drawdown (subject to some exceptions where companies may be allowed a moratorium on payment of capital, generally up to two years), meaning that companies are susceptible to rising interest rates for the duration of the loan and that they would probably have a strain on their cashflows when servicing principal and interest on a monthly basis. The latter benefits companies that generate significant cash through their operations, but it would not suit companies with projects having medium to long completion terms, as cashflows may be required for the purposes of the project.  
    The capital market, when tapped by companies for borrowing purposes (for example through bond issues), could offer the right structure to provide the required funding with a certain level of flexibility in terms of debt servicing. A bond would require the servicing of the interest (which is typically fixed for the duration of the bond) on an annual basis but not of the principal amount, and as such, the strains on cashflow that a company would otherwise have with bank financing is eased for a while. In fact, when planning a bond issue, the projections that a company is expected to prepare and present to the authority test and assess by when the company would be in a position to start generating sufficient cashflows to build up reserves to pay back the bonds. This will effectively assist the advisory team in designing a debt issue instrument with a term and structure that will take into consideration any cashflow constraints and particularities to adapt it to the requirements of the investors and the issuer alike.  
    I would like to conclude with this reference - “adapt [the instrument] to the requirements of the investors and the issuer alike”. I must admit that this has been the key behind the successful bond and equity issues that we have seen on the local capital market – a balance between satisfying the requirements of the company and those of the various stakeholders, including the investors. A company turning to the capital market as a source for additional finance is one of the reasons why companies take this major and important step in their lifecycle.

    Doreanne Caruana heads the Corporate Advisory Unit at Rizzo, Farrugia & Co (Stockbrokers) Ltd, having assisted several companies to list debt and equity instruments on the main market. 


    This article refers to admissibility to listing of securities on the Official List of the Malta Stock Exchange (MSE), which admissibility authorisation falls within the remit of the MFSA. Listing on the Official List is a listing on the Regulated or Main Market and listings on this market are comparable to international main market listings of the likes of the London Stock Exchange. Another venue for the trading of securities on a multilateral trading facility (MTF) is Prospects. The latter option does not provide a listing and the authorisation to trade the securities is provided by the MSE.
    In Malta, the authority responsible for the authorisation (or otherwise) of securities as admissible to listing on the main market of the Malta Stock Exchange and offered to the general public is the Listing Authority, which is composed of the Board of Governors of the Malta Financial Services Authority. A public offer would necessitate a prospectus to be drawn in line with European regulation and reports on the financial due diligence of the issuing company and its group to be presented to the Listing Authority in satisfaction of the local Listing Rules and Listing Policies.

  • 10 Dec 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The Accountant – The Future Professional Accountant in Business. Autumn 2019 (MIA Publication)
    Becoming conscious of unconscious bias 
    I am sure you have been on a recruitment panel seeking to recruit the next member to join your team. I would like to pose a question to you interviewers. Picture this scenario and ask yourself whether you have ever been in this situation: A job candidate enters the interviewing room and sits down in front of you. Within a few seconds, you know that they are not a good fit for the position. You have never met this person before and they have merely uttered two sentences. You do not have any factual evidence to sustain your quick decision, yet you know you’re right about your conclusion. Sounds familiar? We’ve all been there and we’ve all experienced it – it’s unconscious bias. As an occupational psychologist, I am very intrigued by the subject and will be delving into more detail in this piece.

    What is unconscious bias?
    Unconscious bias is pre-set social labels we have about particular groups of individuals. Even though these are formed outside our own conscious awareness (hence the term unconscious), they impact our judgment and interpretation of other people. It is believed that implicit biases can also be construed as primary and innate instincts that humans have developed for survival purposes (for example, fearing that a person across the street wearing a hoodie might be suspicious or even dangerous and taking steps for our own safety). Such presumptions can stem from as early as childhood and may continue to develop and be reinforced through outside influences, such as media and/or personal experiences. Unconscious bias can also be understood as shortcuts in our brains that aim to help us be quick and efficient in our decisions, although failing to allow us to see the bigger picture and analyze the detail.
    Why is unconscious bias detrimental?
    Experiencing unconscious bias is in itself unharmful. What is detrimental is the fact that we are prone to letting it affect our decision-making, often make incorrect deductions based on flawed information – whether during a job interview, watching an advert for a particular product or merely interacting in informal social environments.
    Who is affected by unconscious bias?
    The awful news is that we have all been bitten by this nasty “virus”. We all hold unconscious beliefs about various social groups and these biases stem from our tendency to categorize social worlds in order to facilitate interpretation: a means for the brain to facilitate decision-making and make us more efficient. Unfortunately, we cannot get immunized against unconscious bias, but by becoming aware of its existence, we can reduce its effects.
    What are the most common types of unconscious biases during the hiring process?
    Confirmation bias – this is when we actively look for minor details in the candidate’s behavior to support our original preconception. The problem with this bias is that we tend to stop gathering further information when we think we have confirmed our original unfounded prejudice. For example, interpreting the fact that the candidate turned up early for the interview as them being also great at meeting tight deadlines.
    Affinity/Mirroring bias – this is when we unconsciously favour people who have something in common with us or someone we are fond of. Interviewers often end up hiring copies of themselves (for example, candidates who attended the same school, grew up in the same town, or who remind them of someone they know and like). When this bias comes into play, we might also fall into the trap of replacing the person who resigned as opposed to filling the actual vacancy. All this prevents us from really hiring the best candidate and fail to fill the team skills gap. Resist hiring copies of you or your team members. As much as culture fit seems to be a buzz word, diversity is always good for the business.
    Horns/Cloven hoof effect – this bias occurs when we interpret one negative aspect we notice in a candidate and generalize it to their overall behavior. For instance, when interviewing someone we might be put off by the fact that they speak with an accent and automatically assume that they are unintelligent.
    Halo effect – on the contrary to the previous one, this bias revolves around something positive about the other person. It is when we see one good thing about a person and let that affect our opinion about everything else about that person does. For example, noticing on a CV that a candidate has obtained an outstanding grade in a school subject pushes us to assume that s/he will be an outstanding performer on the job.
    So how can we combat unconscious bias?
    1. Learn more about how biases work.
    Do not underestimate the power of research and knowledge. Finding out more on biases and spotting instances that can activate them can minimize their risk. You could watch related videos, like a satirical one by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which reveals how women face unconscious biases at work.
    2. Self-evaluation
    Identify your own biases. Despite good intentions, biases may interfere with our hiring processes. I invite you to take one of the quick Harvard’s Implicit Association Tests to discover your hidden racial, religious or sexual orientation biases. Believe me, you’ll be surprised!
    3. De-biasing the stages of the recruitment process
    Discard “noise” and focus on job-related characteristics when interviewing. Ask yourself whether certain characteristics really affect a candidate’s job performance or are simply irrelevant information. For instance, how candidates dress may matter for customer-facing roles, but not so much for back-office positions. Asking which school they attended may not be as demonstrative of their skills but more about their social class. Try evaluating candidates with a brain mapping psychological test instead, or present case studies to assess their on-the-job skills.
    4. Slow down
    Do not fall into the trap of making snap judgments. Most interviewers often come to a final decision about a candidate too early in an interview. Take your time and consult your notes afterward to form an opinion on candidates.
    • https://www.hudson.cn/en-gb/insights/infographics/4-typesof-unconscious-bias-in-the-workplace
    • https://qz.com/406976/heres-how-quickly-interviewersdecide-whether-or-not-to-hire-you/
    • https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2016/ may/25/hiring-mini-mes-unconcious-bias-discriminate
    • https://curt-rice.com/2013/10/01/what-the-worlds-bestorchestras-can-teach-us-about-gender-discrimination/
    • https://study.com/academy/lesson/implicit-bias-in-theworkplace-defi niti on-examples-impact.html
    • https://diversity.ucsf.edu/resources/unconscious-bias
    Kim Spiteri is a senior Human Resources practitioner and a qualified occupational psychologist with over ten years of well-rounded HR expertise. Her career started off aft er graduating with a Bachelor in Psychology (Hons) at the University of Malta. Aft er successfully completing her Masters of Science in Occupational Psychology at Birkbeck College University of London, she obtained her warrant and became a registered occupational psychologist in Malta. Kim has extensive experience in managing HR departments in large corporate international companies across various industries namely pharmaceuticals, aviation, food chains and semiconductors. Her work experience and psychology background enable her to strengthen her career in business partnering and change management.

  • 10 Dec 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The Accountant – The Future Professional Accountant in Business. Autumn 2019 (MIA Publication)
    We constantly speak about the ongoing digitisation of our legacy business processes, introducing new ways of how to do business in a smarter and faster way; increasing our return for the same time we spend working. New business processes are turned magically into a software project, increasing our dependency on digital mediums. But are we considering security in our tech-upgrades? Are we making sure that our new investment is properly vetted by a security professional who can, through experience and knowledge, provide feedback on the security features implemented or lacking?

    We often witness and hear reports about victims of compromised accounts. New and unusual incidents occur on a daily basis, both locally and abroad, some of which are reported to law enforcement agencies and other not, giving us something to talk about during our office breaks.
    Interestingly, rather than criminals using dictionary attacks (attempts to guess our passwords using gargantuan public keyword lists) to access our accounts, attack trends have changed to a more intelligent and efficient mechanism which involves the resetting of passwords via different recovery channels. One may argue that these security mechanisms are indeed safe, but experience has thought us an important lesson: security is as strong as its weakest link. Thanks to social engineering techniques (defined by Oxford Dictionary as “the use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes”), access can be granted in a very short time. Within the local scene, we are seeing an increase in cyber incidents targeting white collar personnel, especially c-level executives who because of their busy agenda many times fail to observe basic information security practices. Needless to say, the introduction of digital wallets (both FIAT and crypto-based), drastically increases the need to gear-up our defences in the digital sphere.
    What really astonishes everyone in this technical field is that although there is a considerable raise in international standards which require entities and individuals to keep their security levels up, the uptake of this pro-active attitude is still low. Most would decide that the cost of obtaining information security certification is too high to justify the need for a security upgrade. But cybercriminals do not only attack entities certified by such standards.
    The question which frequently comes-up in conferences, awareness sessions, and meetings is whether there are any quick and reliable methods of securing online accounts from perpetrators. If there is a quick fix that achieves an excellent return of investment. One of the replies I typically give is the use of two legacy security mechanisms combined together: Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and biometric technology.
    Both technologies have been with us for quite a while, especially MFA which was used even in pre-Roman times (access codes were split by having, for example, one part written in a restricted location and the other part known only to a high-ranking official). Reinventing the wheel is a last resort in information security, and by looking at how legacy threats were tackled in the past, one can easily see new ways to upgrade traditional defence mechanisms into cutting-edge techniques. Biometry (define by Oxford Dictionary as “the application of statistical analysis to biological data”) is on the other hand a more modern technology which enables the user’s naturally unique attributes to be distinguished amongst other users. Some examples include fingerprint, facial recognition, iris and retina scanning, voice, and heat imagery. Major investments were made during the past recent years on the technological advancements and accuracy of biometric sensor used in multiple devices, especially portable ones.
    Speaking about good practices, various International Information Security Standards require the adoption of MFA (ISO 27001 – A.9.1.1/A.10.1.1, PCI-DSS – 8.3.1, NERC – Multi-Factor Authentication, NIST SP 800-63B) and of biometric (ISO 27001 – A.9.4.2, PCI-DSS – 12.4.1, NERC – CIP-006-5, NIST – SP 800-76-2). Introducing these pro-active security measures together raises considerably the difficulty level for cybercriminals.
    It is vital that the multi-factor mechanism is spread on as many devices as possible. A practical example is to approve payments using both a traditional username and password on your laptop’s web-browser and then the secondary authentication is done using a push notification on your personal phone where a fingerprint input is requested. Or accessing your email account from a new device by requesting, apart from the appropriate credentials entered, a secondary authentication which is a code sent you via a messaging medium on your personal phone that can only be accessed with your biometric input. It is critical for any good security design that MFA is spread on different of mediums, both hardware and software variants.
    And for those who are thinking about systems that do not support at least MFA, I suggest upgrading to newer alternatives. One of the critical ingredients of any start-up software venture or new software project is that during all stages of the development cycle, such basic information security requirements are observed. Everyone has witnessed, unfortunately, new interesting IT ventures which kick off but do not manage to even close-off that financial year or the next.
    We need to be pro-active in our day-to-day management of data. Once stolen, unlike physical artefacts, data cannot be just returned and end of story. Even when successfully catching the culprit, you will still never be certain if the stolen digital asset was disclosed to a third-party. And with cross-boarding crime rates increasing, it is getting tougher serve justice when investigations spread over three to six jurisdictions instead than only your own.
    Some concluding suggestions following this read:
    • Create appropriately secure passwords. Invent mechanisms whereby you can generate easily new codes for each different system, making it easy for you to remember what the password of that system was.
    • Change your passwords routinely. Yes, passwords should have an expiry date.
    • Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA).
    • Secure your portable devices using both an input code as well as a biometric code (if your phone does not support biometric input and you are handling sensitive data on your phone, an upgrade is definitely recommended). Business laptops come with biometric sensors for a reason.
    • Handle email alerts of failed logins with appropriate attention.
    • Frequently consult with your information security person about new methods of data security. This field is constantly evolving and you should be evolving with it.

    Keith Cutajar is a Cyber-Security specialist, focusing in the fields of Cybercrime, Digital Forensics and Cyber-Terrorism. He is an IT Technical Expert in the Courts in Malta and consultant to a number of entities locally. Apart from being involved in a number of international assignments, Keith also is a visiting lecturer at various academic institutions, both locally and abroad.

  • 10 Dec 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The Accountant – The Future Professional Accountant in Business. Autumn 2019 (MIA Publication)
    Inventory valuation is the assigning of a monetary value to an entity’s inventory at the end of a reporting period. It is a key element of an enterprise’s financial statements, forms part of the current assets and cost of goods sold of a business.

    Fundamental Principles of Valuation of Inventories
    The fundamental principle in the valuation of inventory is that inventories are required to be measured at the lower of cost and net realisable value (NRV).
    The term ‘cost’ refers to the historical cost and is the sum of the purchase price net of trade discounts received along with all expenditures and charges incurred in bringing the inventories to their present location and condition. In the case of materials, the purchase price including transport and handling represent their cost; whereas in the case of work in progress being produced and finished goods produced, the cost represents the summation of direct material, direct wages and direct expenses including manufacturing and factory overheads. Any administrative or selling costs should not be included in the cost of inventory.
    The NRV is the estimated selling price in the ordinary course of business less the estimated costs of completion and the estimated costs necessary to make the sale. Estimates of NRV are based on the most reliable evidence at the time the estimates are made, of the amount the inventories are expected to realise, and a new assessment of NRV is made in each subsequent reporting period. The value of inventories which was previously written down below cost and where such circumstances no longer exist, or there is clear evidence of an increase in NRV due to a change economic circumstances, would need to be adjusted by reversing the write down amount so that the new carrying amount is in line with the fundamental principle. This reversal is limited to the amount of the original write down. NRV is likely to be less than cost, but not limited to, where there has been:
    • An increase in costs or a fall in selling price;
    • A physical deterioration in the condition of inventory; and / or obsolescence of products.
    Methods of Valuation of Inventories
    The three most popular methods of inventory valuation are first-in first-out (FIFO), last-in first-out (LIFO) and the weighted average cost methods. An entity shall use the same method for all inventories having a similar nature and use to that entity. Different methods may be justified for inventories with a different nature or use, such as operating segments inventory.
    Both the FIFO and the LIFO method are similar in their calculations. Under FIFO the pricing of the issue of the first lot is at the cost at which that lot was acquired, whereas LIFO assumes that inventory is valued at recent purchase prices.
    FIFO is a logical method where the entity utilises those inventories which were acquired, purchased or manufactured first. The inventory valuation is likely to approximate the current market values and purchases at the end of a reporting period have no effect on cost of goods sold or net income. The cost attached to the unit sold is always the oldest cost.
    LIFO represents and charges jobs with the current market prices. During conditions of rising prices this method shows the largest cost of goods sold of any of the costing methods, given that the newest costs charged to the cost of goods sold are also the highest costs. During such circumstances inventory will be undervalued.
    The weighted average method is calculated by taking into consideration both the prices and quantities acquired at such prices. In order to obtain the weighted average rate, the total value of materials in stock at the time of issue is divided by the total quantity of material in stock. This method is particularly useful where there is heavy fluctuation in prices of inventories as it tends to smoothen out fluctuation in prices by taking the average cost of different purchases at different times. When a company uses this method during periods of inflation its cost of goods sold is less than that obtained under LIFO but more than that obtained under FIFO. This method takes the middle road approach.
    Advantages and Disadvantages
    There are advantages and disadvantages with each method. No single method is the correct one: an entity must adopt the method which is most suitable to its business activity. These valuation methods are not applicable in all cases. Before making a decision, an organisation should also consider and analyse the following points:
    • The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) states that inventory valuation should be assigned using FIFO or the weighted average cost methods. IAS 2 prohibits the use of LIFO and lays out both the required accounting treatment for inventories while providing guidance on the cost formulas that are used to assign costs to inventory. On the contrary the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) allows the use of LIFO. The General Accounting Principles for Small and Medium entities (GAPSME) refers to FIFO, weighted average or a method reflecting generally accepted best practice.
    • Which method provides the most effective inventory figure for the end of reporting period balance sheet?
    • What method provides the most useful figures for sales and operation planning?
    • Which method provides the most useful types of cost of production and cost of sales figures for internal control management purposes?
    Issues with Over or Under Statement
    The proper valuation or measurement of inventory cannot be disregarded. Overstatements or understatements to the net profit of a company can be caused without accurate inventory valuation methods which will also impact the amount of tax payment. Financial ratios of an organisation can also be affected and have significant impact if such ratios are included in loan or finance sanction letters. The lender may include a restriction on the allowable proportions of current assets to current liabilities which an entity might not meet given that, many times, the largest component within the current assets is inventory.
    Most enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have strong capabilities for inventory valuation. Once an ERP system is properly configured together with the use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, the valuation of inventory is automatically produced and valuations can be shown at any point in time.
    When a suitable inventory valuation method is adopted and inventory control is efficient and effective, an entity can operate proactively by adjusting its logistics network with accurate financial systems and methodologies.

    Matthew Spiteri is a certified public accountant. He is an assistant manager at RSM Malta, leading a portfolio of clients in their accounting assignments operating in different fields.

  • 10 Dec 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The Accountant – The Future Professional Accountant in Business. Autumn 2019 (MIA Publication)
    The accounting profession is known for long working hours, hardly leaving any time for other pursuits. Nevertheless, I somehow manage to balance the demands of the profession with those of my passion: pyrotechnics.
    Pyrotechnics is a time-consuming activity with strict timetables and processes, in fact it is quite a rare interest among accounting professionals.

    I was practically born into the art of fire, although no one in my family really encouraged me to take it up. I first got involved without my parents’ knowledge as soon as I finished my O Levels, making paper tubes because I was not of legal age to produce fireworks.
    Today I am the holder of a Licence A in pyrotechnics at the 12th May Fireworks Factory in Ħaż-Żebbuġ which makes fireworks for the parish feast of Saint Philip. My certification is the highest grade in the field making me responsible for the supervision of other pyrotechnicians.
    Since becoming a father four years ago I spend much less time than I used to, but pyrotechnics remain a year-round activity. Preparations for the fireworks events start as soon the feast is over, the year before. It often means waking up earlier to visit the factory before going to the office and returning there at night after spending time with the family. With limited working hours available, the success of our factory depends on the teamwork between members.
    Everyone is expected to respect ti meframes and deadlines for jobs; failing to do so would increase risks exponentially. Many people believe that fireworks factories are dangerous, but that is only the case if you are not careful.
    Pyrotechnics is an art and the production of the Maltese traditional firework is no mean feat. It takes a lot of experience to create them; techniques are normally passed down from one pyrotechnician to another and many trade secrets are unfortunately lost when makers pass away.
    Life at the factory is not only about fireworks – we are like a family and the site is our home. We laugh together and we cry together, we help each other out like brothers and sisters. Sisters, yes, because there are women pyrotechnicians, too. My wife and I ourselves met at the factory and, although she left the art since the birth of our daughter, she still gives her support in other ways. This passion robs me of precious family time, especially in the period leading up to the feast, but I am thankful to my wife for her constant backing.
    Fireworks are a spectacular activity, but you do not get the satisfaction every time because they do not always produce the planned result. The work of an entire year goes up in a few minutes of flame and smoke. Our priority, however, is that there are no accidents and we are always perfecting our methods to reduce risks. Today, with sufficient data and less dangerous chemicals firework making is much safer than it used to be.
    Apart from my pyrotechnical skills, working at the factory also contributed to my personal development. I have always been a shy person but collaborating with different people helped me to overcome my limitations and become more confident
    Many people tend to look down on activities related to village feasts and consider them lowbrow interests. But band clubs, for example, are made up of a diversity of members: doctors, tile layers, lawyers, mechanics, architects, laborers, as well as accountants like us. This rich experience helped me in my profession because I grew up knowing how to treat people equally irrespective of their situation or background.

    Stephen Caruana is a Financial Controller with Topchoice by day and a pyrotechnics artist in his free time. He currently serves as the treasurer of the 12th May Fireworks Factory.
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