Investire | July August 2023

ETFs, BTP Valore (i.e., long-term treasury bonds), popular investors and online trading – the temptation to DIY, bypassing financial advisors, is currently quite strong. Indeed, the army of savers ready to invest their savings firsthand shows no sign of surrender.

This has been confirmed by FINER Finance Mirror’s ongoing monitoring involving 10.400 Italians every year.

Among the reasons are the sense of satisfaction in managing one’s assets firsthand (79%), the lack of trust in intermediaries (52%), and the belief that operating without them results in saving money (34%).

The number of Italians managing their investments firsthand has been growing over the past three years by 7%, increasing from 2,2 million people in 2020 to 2,35 million people in 2022.

The changing habits of Italian people, who tend to make more and more use of online banking, have contributed to such growth.

In Italy, 21 million bank account holders have access to online services (+ 1 million as compared to 2020). Among them, 3,8 have a securities account (+200.000 as compared to 2020); and 2,3 of them (that is 11% of online account holders) manage their portfolios firsthand online.

Among them, active traders – that is account holders with one executed order a week – are about 250.000, while heavy traders – that is account holders with more than one executed order a week and intraday activity – amount to 15.000.

As for the offer, the market of online brokers in Italy remains quire condensed with 255 brokers, of which the first five represent 80% of the market (Fineco, IW Bank, Banco BPM, Sella and Directa Sim).

These figures are quite low, considering that the number of clients supported by a financial advisor in Italy has been growing and has currently exceeded four million eight hundred, with steady yearly growth.

The most insightful element is that only 29% of Italians who managed their savings firsthand, that is without relying on the assistance of a financial professional, claims to have gained any profit.

Would it be possible, then, to persuade Italians to seek the assistance of a financial advisor or bank manager? The first aspect to be taken into consideration is that, leaving aside the element of trust, two thirds (75%) of Italians with an average annual balance of two thousand euros have not been contacted by their banks over the past twelve months.

The second aspect is connected to the sense that communications on the part of the bank are scarcely personalized; in other words, most people (66%) share the suspicion of receiving homologated offers, of being treated as numbers rather than as people.

Undoubtedly, for a bank with millions of clients preparing as many offers is humanly impossible; however, the information available to banks could certainly allow customer profiling, which would in turn help managers to appear more focused and proactive.

The use of Artificial Intelligence by advanced banks has been building advantage in this sense and will undoubtedly better the quantity and quality of the relationships between people.

Here lies perhaps the apparent paradox – where people fail, the algorithm will succeed, as long as it contributes to opening the door to dialogue between people without replacing them.

Nicola Ronchetti