Bluerating | March 2023

Massimo Doris had the nerve to declare that the battle against incentives is a religious war. He said it publicly and clearly, in typical fashion. After all, the vast majority of the industries of financial consultancy, banking and asset management share his opinion, as revealed by many official positions.

Since the European Commissioner for Financial Services Mairead McGuinness dived headfirst on the very delicate issue of inducements, the debate has become more heated at all levels and not only in Italy.

This is far from being a bolt from the blue – in fact, at the end of their mandate, politicians frequently sought visibility, more or less deliberately, to secure the future of their careers.

Firing on banks and the world of finance to gain consensus and visibility is common practice among politicians, especially those with a strong populist vocation.

Politicians (who are, maybe more than bankers and financial professionals, the most mistreated category) aside, there are some considerations that must be shared.

First of all, the European Community is a block of flats in which very different nations for history, culture and financial maturity have chosen to coexist. It is, undoubtedly, the right and obvious choice, as evidenced by the virtual disappearance of Eurosceptics and by the effects of Brexit on the English. 

The mere fact that nations like Belgium, Ireland and the UK are equated to Germany, France and Italy on issues pertaining to finance and the capital market speaks volumes about the impossibility of finding a satisfactory solution for everyone.

As passionate observers of the market, we cannot help but notice that three main factions are currently taking shape: the Talibans, the vultures and the analytical minds.

The “Taliban” is a strict individual, little inclined to negotiate; they tend to be justicialist and religiously convinced to be on the side of reason.

There are “Talibans” within both factions – for and against incentives – albeit in different proportions: 85% of them stand against incentives.

Financial professionals standing against incentives and the financial products distribution system currently in force in our Country are seldom – with few exceptions – the protagonists of the current system, but tend to occupy market niches which struggle to take off.

The fiercest “Talibans” are likely to be perceived as “vultures”. The term, allegedly charged with negative connotations, is but the mirror of nature, where the lion, king of the forest, coexists with hyenas and vultures.

Luckily, in nature, as in politics, each ecosystem is based on the coexistence of different races, each with its own function.

So, “vultures” are welcome even when, sometimes shamelessly or rashly, they announce the death of Italian financial consultancy, which, numbers in hand, has more merits than flaws.

“Analytic minds,” numerically more present within the pro-incentives faction, have one merit, that is to analyze the market, possible scenarios, studying what happens in other countries.

They are advocates for comparisons based on numbers, they adhere to data and are ready for dialogue. They do not fear the coexistence of difference service models – with or without incentives – relying upon the free market.

Of course, it is not for us to support one or the other faction, sure that there will be room for everyone and, most of all, in the hope that the only real king, the market, will have final say.

Nicola Ronchetti