Investire | March 2022

The Russia-Ukraine conflict generated a stock market crash. A few days after the invasion of Ukraine, I took a look at deep-discount bonds and told myself, now is the time to invest.

The essentials of Italian banks, financial networks and fintech companies reveal a well-known and very healthy situation.

Of course, no attentive investor should follow their patriotic spirit. However, in this case the temptation is strong. Let’s see for what reasons.

Italy can count on family savings: in fact, the almost two thousand billion euros preserved as liquid assets in current accounts are only the tip of the iceberg.

Let us think about the Italians’ real estate and illiquid assets or about the fact that less than one Italian out of four has insured their home.

Almost all banks and financial networks ended 2021 with the best results of all time.

While traditional (and well-managed) banks ended the year with record results, mostly thanks to cost reductions resulting for the most part from the closing of branches and the early retirement of senior figures, their obsolete service model weighs on their future prospects.

Leading banks have announced the launch of digital banks, cutting-edge Apps, agreements with leading IT and fintech companies. However, this change of direction will not be easy for companies with tens of thousands of employees, and it will most certainly not take place in the short term.

A recent episode made me realize how much work still needs to be done in the banking world in terms of staff culture.

A bank director who never answered his phone and who was at fault on a long due procedure, answered drily to my complaints: “It is not my fault: in this branch we have only five employees, where we used to have fifteen”.

I got chills thinking that this man, taking shots at his bank, mortgaged, so to speak, his future.

The field of financial consultancy shows almost always a very different scenario: branches are being opened and the majority of financial advisors are motivated, available and kind.

Of course, generalization is unwise, there are financial networks and financial networks.

But we can say without hesitation that their service model is successful. In fact, the huge digital leap taken by Italians, unforeseen before March 2020, left the past behind.

The fil rouge between innovation and the future is digital banking. However, it would be trivial and belittling to think that this was it. Digital banking is a necessary ingredient, but not sufficient, and it needs to be amalgamated with the human factor – that of the financial advisor – in different doses depending on the type of client.

For example, a private professional over fifty with a few million euros in assets and his twenty-year-old son currently penniless, but a potential successful startupper should be assisted by the same bank, with different human intensity: maximum intensity for the father and minimum intensity for the son, and maybe the opposite for digital accessibility.

This is the future; financial networks have realized this before others and many of them are putting this into practice: why then not investing in those who have a future?

Nicola Ronchetti