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A Life Journey
12 Apr 2016

Our aim is to accompany people on their life journey. And for every stage, we have the right product, Edward Grech, Chief Officer, Consumer Finance at Bank of Valletta, says.

The Maltese stone has always been strong – it has weathered centuries and, despite the years, maintains the beauty of our towns and villages. Beyond the literal meaning, the Maltese stone is also proverbially strong, in the sense that it is considered to be one of the strongest and safest investments. This is especially true in recent years, when the real estate sector has been performing strongly.

“In Malta, property has always been one of the main investments,” Edward Grech, Chief Officer, Consumer Finance at Bank of Valletta, says. “Home ownership is one of the main aspirations and is the principal investment that most Maltese families will make in their lifetime.”

This strength is translated into consistently strong demand for home loans.

“In the last two years, the government has introduced an initiative whereby first-time buyers are exempted from duty on the first €150,000 of a property’s value. This measure has been extended and will continue to apply until the end of this year. This has given the first-time buyers’ market a boost and, in turn, has increased the demand for home loans. That said, even before this incentive was introduced, the demand for home loans was already strong.”

Mr Grech explains that there is also a strong demand for loans to invest in a second home. “The buy to let market is also experiencing growth. This is because the return on investment in buy-to-let property is more attractive than the investment rates on savings products.”

Moreover, Maltese homeowners will do their utmost to keep their property, also because of the common mentality that parents will want to leave something for their children in order to help them kick-start their adult life.

“In fact, more than 97 per cent of loans are repaid. It is only a small number that default on their repayments,” Mr Grech explains.

 
Another aspiration is personal transport. “The car scrappage scheme launched by the government adds to the attraction of car ownership and makes this aspiration more sustainable. For this reason, we have added the BOV ECO Personal Loan to our offerings to help our clients invest in environmentally-friendly equipment, including electric or hybrid cars and vehicles with low CO2 emissions. This facility constitutes another means how we support the community.”

The third main aspiration is education. People are recognising that education, both for themselves and for their children, is a precious investment. “Our BOV Education Loan is available to parents and legal guardians wishing to enrol their children for educational courses in any registered education institution. We also have the BOV Club scheme and the BOV Graduates Package, through which we offer students various benefits, incentives and advantageous terms,” Mr Grech says.

The Maltese economy is performing well, with the financial services sector achieving year on year growth and making a significant contribution to the GDP. “We are a nation of savers. Moreover, most people are intelligent investors and consider the options before investing their money. 

“Our investment centres are gaining in popularity. We have also launched eTrader+ powered by Saxo Bank. This is an online trading platform resulting from a collaborative agreement with Saxo Bank. Through this platform, we are offering an alternative channel to active and seasoned traders who want direct access to trade online.

“Bank of Valletta retains its commitment to harness technological innovation and translate them into customer-driven services. We are constantly adapting to an always-connected lifestyle with our online and mobile banking products. This does not in any way mean that the Bank is giving less value to its physical presence. In fact, Bank of Valletta is present through 37 branches across Malta and Gozo. Our front line is our primary strength. As the largest bank in Malta, we have the responsibility to reach out to our clients.”

Bank of Valletta’s goal is to accompany people on their life journey.

It is by accompanying our clients on their life journey that we gain their trust,” Mr Grech adds. “In fact, BOV’s client retention is very high, and in many cases, families have been banking with us for generations. That shows that we are offering the right financial solutions at the right time. Our commitment is to continue evolving to remain the Bank of choice for our clients.”

Published - Times of Malta - Doing Business in Malta - 12th April 2016
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