Fineco overtakes European online broking rivals
As the going gets tough for Europe’s online brokers, a new leader has emerged from Italy. Fineco’s success in attracting new business suggests that players in the European asset-gathering market must be wary of wedding themselves too strictly to a single business model. Fineco combines online broking with direct banking, branches and a network of financial planners. So far, it’s working well, but it takes two co-chief executives to run it.
With overflowing pride and characteristic swagger prime minister Bettino Craxi announced to the world in the mid-1980s that Italy had achieved the grande sorpasso. The country once considered the poor relative of Europe had overtaken the UK as the world's fifth-largest economy.
Fineco - the online trading and direct financial services unit of Brescia-based bancassurer Bipop-Carire - achieved a similarly historic feat earlier this year, though with much less fanfare.
In the first few months of this year Fineco overtook its formidable German rivals, Consors Discount Brokers and Comdirect Bank, to become European leader both by number of online trades executed and the number of direct financial services clients. Bipop-Carire is one of a new generation of Italian asset-gatherers that combines networks of financial advisers and direct channels to sell insurance, mutual fund and pension products. Fineco is a merger of the group's online broker and online bank.