Francis J. Vassallo & Associates Group CEO Adriana Camilleri Vassallo on remaining true to the firm’s original mission statement.
After 25 years of business, Francis J. Vassallo & Associates Limited (FJVA) has evolved from a small corporate service provider to a group of companies servicing clients all over the world.
The company was founded by Francis J. Vassallo, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Malta, together with his daughter Adriana Camilleri Vassallo back in 1998. His decades of experience helped him assess and foresee the future of the financial services industry in Malta and the potential for its growth.
Years before that, while working at Chase Manhattan Bank in the US, Vassallo managed private banking for high net-worth individuals, in which clients entrusted him with their investments and saw fruitful growth in their assets.
It was with this international mindset that, after his tenure as Governor ended, Vassallo and his daughter founded ‘Francis J. Vassallo and Associates Limited’, and the father-daughter duo, never looked back.
Reflecting on a quarter of a century of business, Vassallo said, FJVA has grown from a modest two-person operation to a tax and corporate service provider firm with a contingent of 80 professionals servicing clients from all over the world.
After all, Vassallo had played a pivotal role in the setting up of Malta as a financial services jurisdiction, being among the early authors of its founding framework.
Briefcase and suitcase in hand, Vassallo says he travelled the globe convincing clients to come on board – touting Malta’s reputation as a trustworthy financial jurisdiction.
“25 years ago, Malta was the pick of the year. Our reputation as a jurisdiction was outstanding and everyone wanted to come here,” he said.
“Malta’s reputation has recently been bruised following Malta’s greylisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). I am confident however that through collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to transparency, we can overcome the challenges presented as a result of the past greylisting and in time regain some ground that was lost over the last few years.”
Meanwhile, as Vassallo has spent much of the past 25 years being responsible for onboarding clients, his daughter Adriana oversaw the business’s operations whilst his son Steffan managed the regulatory business before moving to Luxembourg to oversee the successful partnership which Vassallo set up in Luxembourg.
In his words, “Adriana is the backbone of the company. She has navigated the journey with me from the beginning.”
On the other hand, Vassallo emphasizes that the company wouldn’t have reached this important milestone without the commitment and dedication of partners, Ruth Agius Scicluna Buttigieg, Kurt Risiott, Karl Buttigieg, and Luis Alguero, all of whom he considers to be part of his family.
Originally set up as a corporate services provider, FJVA evolved over the years into a tax advisory firm that branched out, via FJV Fiduciary Limited and FJV Management Limited, into trusts, foundations, and regulatory advisory services, amongst others, also now taking the benefit of its international experience to assist local businesses through FJV Services Limited. Despite its growth, the company has always managed to remain true to its original mission statement, now CEO and co-founder Adriana Camilleri Vassallo says.
“We have been on an incredible journey these past 25 years and as we look to continue growing into the future, I’m proud to say that our mission statement today remains the same as it was the day we first started,” she said.
So, what are the building blocks of FJVA’s mission statement? Camilleri Vassallo says FJVA was set up based on four pillars which the CEO believes underpin its daily operations. These are: providing tailored and efficient solutions, maintaining an ethical approach, a focus on relationship manage-ment, and mutual growth and success.
Discussing the company’s values, Camilleri Vassallo said FJVA is a solutions-driven company, adding value to customers, not by simply selling them financial structures, but by offering them ideas, advice, and solutions that add value.
“This is what we do, and it is something I have to say we do very well,” she said. The next pillar upon which the company is based is its ethics. This, Camilleri Vassallo said, is very close to her heart and is at the core of everything FJVA does. “Ethics isn’t only something we hold on to as partners, but it echoes throughout the rest of the company across all our staff and stakeholders,” she said. “It is also important to us that our customers fit in with our own ethical principles and ethical approach to business.”
The third pillar upon which the firm is built is relationship building. Camilleri Vassallo says business is all about building relationships based on trust. The financial services industry, she said, is dependent on mutual trust between the client and the service provider.
“At FJVA we advocate leading by example and setting the tone from the top. We live by our mission statement – it’s not just words on a plaque.”
The fourth and final pillar is mutual growth and success.
“This doesn’t just mean the growth and success of the company, but it extends to the partners, our staff, and of course our clients,” she added. “I am proud that, in our 25 years of operation, we have never had to revisit our mission statement.”
Francis J. Vassallo & Associates Group recently celebrated its silver anniversary with an event for its staff and partners. Both Vassallo and Camilleri Vassallo thanked all those who have contributed over the years to FJVA reaching this important milestone. “We look forward to navigating the next leg of the journey together with our Partners, management, staff, and of course our clients.”
This article has been adapted from the Times of Malta article. Featured Image: Bernard Polidano