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Icma: Digital messaging

The Icma held its 44th AGM in Milan in May – a packed event at which the industry’s great and good wrestled with the many challenges facing the market. Before the meeting, however, the organizers must have wrestled with one aspect of the venue, the stock exchange in Milan’s Piazza Affari. It is home to both the Borsa Italiana and a 36-foot sculpture by Italy’s most famous contemporary artist, Maurizio Cattelan, the meaning of which is hard to misinterpret. The giant hand, with middle finger extended, has been a feature of the square since 2010, when it was originally meant to be on display for just 10 days. But the Milanese seem to have taken it to heart, and it has remained, dubbed by the locals ‘il dito’ (the finger).

Many in the financial community, however, have been less enthusiastic. Borsa Italiana chief executive Raffaele Jerusalmi moved offices so that he didn’t have to look at it. Assogestioni, an Italian asset managers’ group, is understood to have moved a recent conference to a business school rather than be faced with il dito at the event.

Who knows whether or not Icma delegates might have been similarly offended? Or would they have seen the sculpture as an accurate reflection of their concerns: a message from the banks to the regulators perhaps? Or from investors to eurozone FIG issuers of senior unsecured bonds?

However, the situation did not arise, thanks to the decision to site the conference’s exhibition space in the square surrounding the sculpture. As a result only the very tip of the finger was visible above the complex of white marquees and the finger failed to make its point – visibly at least.