What key areas of opportunity or growth do you see in your sector and what are your expectations for Cyprus in 2019?
The professional services sector has adapted swiftly to the changing economic environment which was caused by international enhanced regulation, tax compliance and exchange of information.
We acknowledge that the emerging compliance requirements relating to our profession require increased control procedures and systems to be utilised in order to monitor and improve the quality of services offered; certainly, the audit profession has changed radically since five years ago. At the same time, in recent years we have seen a rapid increase in the demand of advisory and tax services, a trend that is expected to continue.
One of the major profession catalysts that cannot be ignored is technology, which has disrupted the form with which services are offered to clients. Technology sits at the forefront of these developments and has a key role in our efforts to enhance our service offering. The introduction of technology will definitely increase the efficiency and quality of professional services offered to businesses and the society in general.
In 2019, sectors such as Digital Innovation, Data & Analytics, Cyber Security and Fintech will help the profession grow further. In addition, new service offerings such as wealth management, funds and fund management and licensing will continue to grow. Particularly relating to Funds, Cyprus is positioning itself as an attractive alternative funds domicile; the local AIF framework offers a flexible vehicle for private equity, infrastructure and real estate fund managers offering clear opportunities for structuring through Cyprus.
The Cypriot economy is called upon to maintain the positive growth rates it presents, acknowledged by major credit rating agencies.
The major challenges faced by the Cyprus economy consist of the imminent reduction of NPEs in the banking sector and the need to speed up structural reforms in the public sector in order to simplify and facilitate foreign investments on the Island. Particular emphasis should be given to attract new forms of tourism (nautical, medical, sport) and careful planning to expand the touristic season all year round. Very promising steps have already been taken, such as the construction of marinas and the gradual operation of the multi-functional casino resort.
The successful introduction of the National Health System is another key factor that plays an important role in the development of the economy in 2019.
Cyprus needs to be prepared to serve the continuously changing needs of investors and entrepreneurs, securing all those competitive advantages it is providing as a financial and professional business centre, such as the stable and attractive tax system, its geographical location, the large double taxation agreement network that it has created, while keep increasing the large number of vessels registered in the Cypriot register and the associated services offered to this particular industry.