Western Europe: Wealth managers unlock Italian digital banking
Fineco share price shoots up; rivals set up similar businesses.
When it comes to capturing retail clients, ING has not yet enjoyed the same level of success in Italy as it has in Germany or Spain. Chief executive Ralph Hamers admitted this much to Euromoney in August, blaming Italy’s general openness to digital channels, though he predicted a shift would come that could allow online banks like his to put on exponential growth.
However, a surge in digital banking is already happening in Italy, according to locals, although in a different way to ING’s purer online approach. They point, for example, to the share performance of Finecobank, which describes itself as the “direct multichannel bank” of UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank.
Our sails are in the
Fineco’s shares almost doubled in the year following its IPO in July 2014. Its 2015 first half profit rose by almost a third, to €93 million, thanks to strong increases in revenues and a cost-to-income ratio below 45%. That contrasts to the group’s stagnant revenues, and stubbornly high cost-to-income (about 60%). UniCredit’s share price in late August was roughly similar to a year before, while shares in Italy’s second biggest bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, have risen almost 50%.