Insurance Daily | April 2022

Albeit with highs and lows, the financial sector and the insurance sector have been inevitably coexisting. However, recent events have underlined a substantial difference between the two sectors: the speed at which events occur and their reaction time.

Let’s consider the acquisition of UBI by Intesa Sanpaolo: it was a rapid textbook operation led by the banker Francesco Canzonieri (then working for Mediobanca), who made of discretion and privacy his rules of life.

Naturally, Francesco Canzonieri could rely on the covering fire of Intesa Sanpaolo, Mediobanca and UnipolSai. However, he was the one who led the operation and the market rewarded him by offering support when, as the champion that he is, he launched his new entrepreneurial initiative, Nextalia, bringing together partners of the stature of Intesa Sanpaolo, UnipolSai Assicurazioni, Coldiretti, Confindustria and Micheli.

Another example: the siege of Generali at the hands of two old-timers, Leonardo Del Vecchio, self-made man and patron of EssilorLuxottica, and Gaetano Caltagirone, one of the men with the most liquid assets in Italy (enough to be called Caltariccone by some), set against the unfaltering and omnipresent Mediobanca.

The latest episode saw the introduction of a new team, in contrast with the current CEO Philippe Donnet, led by the very experienced banker Claudio Costamagna and by Luciano Cirinà, with a desire for revenge generated from a life as eternal defensive midfielder in Gruppo Assicurativo. The episode brought to life a script that we could all have done without.

They say that dirty clothes should be washed quickly and possibly at home, especially when the family is one of our (few) treasures.

The frustrations felt by those who would like to lead, but do not have the numbers and by those who aspire to the papal throne but have already lost their cardinalate tend to mix within a sector, the insurance sector in Italy, which seems to have left a great future behind.

The opposition between agency networks and companies (which characterizes if not all companies, at least the leading ones, spiced up year after year with a growing number of closing agencies) is the picture that merciless observers may draw with almost no fear of contradiction.

The level of adaptability of the traditional insurance distribution system sometimes resembles that of dinosaurs. And the meteors falling on earth can be well represented by banks and financial networks, which are relentlessly acquiring new market shares.

The fight to conquer Generali cannot possibly limit itself to our Country or to the insurance field. The weight of asset management and financial consultancy is growing and one of the reasons of the fight seem to be the – real or presumed – international inferiority of the Trieste Group.

Having said that, we need not forget our Italian roots and our relationship with insurance: Italians have always been averse to protection and do not trust insurance companies. If it were not so, today way more than 10% of Italians would be adequately covered from basic risks (home, health, and life).

For their part, some Italian companies are, with due exceptions, stuck to the usual circles, once veritable centers of power and today characterized by embarrassing and, at times, grotesque autoreferentiality.

All this while, outside, the world moves at unprecedented speed. Let’s hope that during the next assembly on 29 April the best will win. And that the desire to restart will prevail, creating alliances and leaving behind, once and for all, internal and fratricidal fights.

Nicola Ronchetti