AP Private | July August 2021

In 2003, I met the Italian manager of a small if renowned Swiss private bank. During the meeting, I argued in favor of the importance of the public image of a bank and of communication. “We would much rather pay than appear on the media”, answered the manager, “discretion is everything to us”.

This was one of my first meetings with a top manager of a private bank. Luckily enough, not everyone is of his same opinion.

Back in 1996, I regarded Vincenzo Maranghi and Enrico Cuccia as cult figures and Mediobanca as the sancta sanctorum of the Milan finance.

Challenging the incredulity and skepticism of my colleagues, I sent a letter to Mediobanca to gauge the interest of the bank in a market survey aimed at assessing the public image of the bank.

I remember my excitement upon receiving the yellow envelope containing Mediobanca’s answer written on a sheet of paper watermarked with an image of the bank.

In the letter, Maurizio Romiti – Central Manager of Mediobanca at the time – answered in two impeccable lines: Mediobanca was not interested in market research, but, if the opportunity were to arise, they would have gladly contacted me.

I kept that letter, typewritten and signed, as an oracle for years.

Today, the manager of the Swiss back has been replaced with a new Italian manager, perhaps more in step with the times. She uses LinkedIn and writes interesting posts, the brand of her bank is well known among potential HNW clients and has become an icon.

On the other hand, Mediobanca opened up to the world: they are organizing webinars and taking part to Salone del Risparmio; one of its top managers teaches Communication at LUISS university (Lorenza Pigozzi, Direttore Comunicazione e Relazioni Esterne), something quite unprecedented.

In the last few years, the world of private banking underwent a Copernican revolution. Social networks have changed the paradigms of communication, everything has become more fluid and accessible.

When it comes to choosing a private banker, 74% of millennials belonging to the Private and HNWI segments (with financial assets worth at least five million euros) google him/her; and when it comes to assessing the reputation of a bank or financial professional, they go on LinkedIn (69%), Facebook (56%) and Instagram (14%) with the aim of acquiring as much information as possible.

Times have changed. There are very few dinosaurs left, possibly on the verge of extinction, who do not consider social networks and online communication as one, and certainly not the only one, of the many means of communication available.

I like to think that if Enrico Cuccia, instead of 1907, was born a few years later, he would be today a LinkedIn influencer just like Larry Fink (BlackRock) and Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan).

Nicola Ronchetti