There is no substitute for developing relationships face-to-face, building trust and getting a full understanding of the way in which a market operates. Only Axco has a team of international researchers, each a leading authority on their chosen markets, who travel to their countries. Here is what I learned when interviewing Axco's Malta specialist after a recent visit.

HAVE THERE BEEN ANY CHANGES SINCE YOU WERE LAST IN MALTA?

To be honest, little has changed since my last trip. The people I met with are extremely friendly and helpful. After a couple of days where the temperatures were colder than Reykjavik’s, the sunny and warm weather was a pleasant change from London’s winter chill. The Maltese economy is still very buoyant (enjoying the highest growth in the EU), fuelled by increases in public and private consumption, and has recently seen several investment projects including property - the skyline will certainly look different if all the proposed high-rises get the go-ahead.

WHAT TRENDS DO YOU FORESEE? 

The next set of market results will show the market in 2018 continued to be profitable, due mainly to increased motor rates, which have repaired most of the damage to the market done by a now departed player. Last year’s tragic tourist bus accident is expected the see a total claim around the EUR 6mn mark, one of the biggest the market has endured. There was some talk of a possible acquisition, but an official announcement is yet to be seen.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO HIGHLIGHT?

There is a worry that the insurance industry is facing a growing talent crisis and companies are struggling to recruit and retain employees in the face of competition from online gaming companies. Malta’s economy is running at close to full employment and the island-state has attracted an influx of foreign workers including around 30,000 EU and 12,000 non-EU nationals. The population looks set to grow even further in the future, putting even more strain on infrastructure.

WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND READERS DO IF THEY VISIT MALTA?

Malta is home to a number of extraordinary Neolithic temples and monuments and I particularly enjoy visiting the National Museum of Archaeology in Valetta. It houses a series of artefacts tracing the early history of the island and includes a wonderful collection of figurines known as the “Fat Ladies” of Malta that range in size up to 2.7m.