Investire | January 2022

2021 ended with a bang for the field of financial consultancy and asset management, with figures that speak for themselves: €760 billion in assets out of a total of €2.560 billion in assets under management. Overall, this is a field in which financial advisors have always come out on top.

5 million Italians have chosen to resort to the assistance of a financial advisor; 11 million Italians have subscribed to a mutual fund scheme.

However, the market is far from being mature and its potential is still huge: enough to say that only 1 Italian out of 4 manages their savings and that only 1 out of 10 is adequately protected from risks.

What to expect then from 2022? In Italy, the field of financial consultancy has sailed on stormy waters, overcoming the instability of the markets as well as the pandemic.

However, there are some challenges that must be faced with the humility of a marathon runner rather than with the cockiness of a 100-meter runner. Or else, the risk is to get sidetracked by the long series of victories accumulated over the last decade.

One such challenge is the generational change, which has been underway for a while: over the next 10 years, the so-called boomers, today 50-60 years old, are going to inherit a fortune worth about €2.000 billion from the earlier generation.

During the shift from one generation to the other, 50% of clients change their bank and contact person. The true challenge then is intercepting new clients and not losing any.

Now more than ever the personal and relational skills characteristic of the figure of the financial advisor as maieuta must be enriched with two invaluable ingredients. 

The first and most accessible ingredient is linked to the ability to operate effectively online and to investments on digital initiatives.

Up to now, financial networks have had a competitive advantage over banks. However, such competitive advantage is currently shrinking.

Indeed, Intesa Sanpaolo has 13,5 million clients and 7 million among them use its App. Orcel’s UniCredit has recently announced its intention to turn into a digital bank by 2024, with €2,8 billion of investments on digital initiatives.

The CEO of BNL BNP Paribas, Elena Goitini, has announced open season on the best fintechs as well as their intention to improve the efficiency of their essential services by outsourcing them to leading companies.

The second ingredient is trust, infrequent among Italian savers especially when it comes to their future and banks.

If they wish to survive, banks must regain their clients’ trust, starting with transparency and fair prices, but also by improving the efficiency of certain processes and by managing the assets of their clients in a profitable way.

If banks quickly catch up with digital innovation and regain their clients’ trust, then the match with financial networks might reopen. And over 5 million Italians will be the winners.

Nicola Ronchetti