Independent accounting and audit firm Brian Tonna & Co rebranded to Nexia BT in 2010 after joining the Nexia International network – a group of firms spanning over 100 countries. Today, it provides a wide range of services, from tax advice to yacht and aircraft ownership assistance, to both local and international entities. Brian Tonna, founder and managing partner of the firm, met with The Report Company to discuss Nexia BT’s current activities and where he sees the opportunities in Malta.
The Report Company: How does Nexia BT position itself in the Maltese financial services sector?
Brian Tonna: We joined Nexia International in 2007 and immediately realised the potential of the brand in the local market. We invested heavily in promoting the name in Malta and today we are glad to see that the Nexia brand is highly regarded on many levels. In line with the international positioning of the brand we aim to be the top mid-tier firm in Malta by providing local expertise with a global reach.
TRC: Nexia BT is member of Nexia International, a worldwide network of independent auditors, business advisors and consultants. What does this alliance represent for the firm and its clients?
BT: The membership with Nexia International provides us with a wide pool of resources in over 100 countries. The personal approach, top quality service and approachability of our partners provides comfort to our clients that wherever they go, wherever they set up their business, they can find a reliable Nexia partner to help them.
TRC: How would you describe the firm’s client base and how do you aim to attract further international clients?
BT: Our clients vary from the small local entrepreneur to listed companies, high net worth individuals and large international group structures. We have always strived to service all our clients with the same level of service, whether they are small or large. We have invested heavily in attracting international clients by building a solid brand and by contributing to seminars, conferences and international delegations in various countries. Through our dedicated and valued service, we aim to keep attracting international clients to our shores. We believe in teamwork with our colleagues and it is by professionally promoting Malta across the globe that we will ensure that the international client sees in Malta a solid and dependable platform from where to do business.
TRC: What can you tell us about the firm’s turnkey concept?
BT: We believe in collaboration and sharing expertise. If all the practitioners in Malta pull the same rope we will be able to attract more and larger clients to our shores. We are a small country with a lot of technical knowledge, expertise and drive. The ‘Turnkey BT’ concept aims to bring together this knowledge to offer to our clients a comprehensive service that covers legal, financial and technical support for the success of their venture in Malta. By working with different firms in the industry, we aim to project manage assignments entrusted to us.
“We invested heavily in attracting international clients by building a solid brand, contributing to seminars, conferences and international delegations in various countries.”Tweet This
TRC: However, what reforms do you consider are necessary for Malta to improve its investment environment?
BT: The world is continuously changing. Requirements become more onerous, and the demand for excellent service is always on the increase. Reforms and improvements are hence always needed. We are lucky to be a small country and the practitioners have a common interest to see Malta’s attractiveness take priority. It is with this vision that practitioners provide valid input to the government to enact changes and make improvements to our legislative and regulatory framework that will keep Malta at the cutting edge in the industry.
TRC: What are Nexia BT’s international expectations?
BT: With internationalisation comes the need for expert knowledge of the markets. We need to continue investing in our existing staff to embrace the demands of the international client as well as getting new expertise to cater for new markets. With proper research and careful planning we look to attract more work from Asia, America and Russia and the CIS countries.
TRC: How would you appraise the potential impact of the Individual Investor Programme on Malta?
BT: I am confident that the government will ensure that only respectable applicants, who are keen to create a bond with Malta and help further promote Malta, will be accepted as Maltese citizens. This is expected to favourably impact Malta not only from a financial perspective but also from an added input of entrepreneurial spirit, ideas, expertise, as well as the general promotion of the island.
TRC: Which are the major sectors of interest for the firm?
BT: We focus on audit, tax and advisory services. These services cover most of the business sectors. Besides the traditional tax advice to company structures, private wealth management structures and related audit and corporate compliance services, our specialist advisory department is heavily involved in valuations, business projects and implementation as well as internal audit and other ad-hoc assignments both on a private as well as on a public level.
“We are lucky to be a small country and the practitioners have a common interest to see Malta’s attractiveness take priority.”Tweet This
TRC: What opportunities do you foresee in Malta’s aviation sector?
BT: Malta is still relatively young in this sector but has moved steadily ahead. As more international players recognise the opportunities that we are offering they will be more keen to set up in Malta, and they will bring with them expertise, knowledge and ultimately more clients.
With improved VIP facilities, we foresee more high net worth individuals having a base in Malta, using our airport as a hub. In addition, we also see specialist niches being developed, like aircraft finance and training facilities. Malta already has a strong, skilled workforce in high-end manufacturing and combined with its attractive tax incentives we also foresee important aviation-related manufacturers eyeing Malta for potential setups.
TRC: How would you like the Nexia BT brand to be perceived?
BT: We have been providing good service to our clients for many years and we need to get the word out further. We are investing in making our brand known in areas linked with international travellers, students and the general public. We support student organisations as we recognise that the students of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Our employees are our image. We invest heavily in their training and wellbeing. Wherever our employees go, they are proud to belong to our firm.
Ultimately, our existing clients are our best marketing tool. They are a testimony to our quality of service and approachability. This is our multi-faceted strategy: the combination of support of the young people with the continued quality service we provide to our clients.
TRC: What are your plans for future expansion?
BT: We are always open to new markets, including China. We have built a strong foundation and are always on the lookout for new exciting opportunities for the firm and its employees. This is what keeps the Nexia BT brand alive and evolving; our continued drive to perform to the highest standards while keeping the traditional approachability that has made our firm grow over the years.