Let’s explore which institutions have reached the most prominent places in the Italian banking system
Italy is the country where traditional banking services are still much more popular than the digital experience. Although 96% of all adult citizens own a bank account, their use of financial services differs greatly from the majority of Europe.
In 2019, only 36% of the population used online banking, while more than half (56.5%) of all retail transactions in the country involved cash. Therefore, traditional banking institutions play a crucial role in the daily routine of the average Italian.
At the same time, throughout the last decade both the number of operating banks has decreased from 740 to 474, and the overall number of bank branches decreased from 33.6 thousand to 23.5 thousand. Hence, Italians are now picky about their financial service providers seeking those that still have a wide physical presence combined with high-quality customer service.
The banks will be rated by their market cap (as per Statista) in descending order.
- Intesa Sanpaolo (€35B)
- UniCredit (€17B)
- Fineco bank (€7.9B)
- Mediobanca (€6.5B)
- Banca Mediolanum (€4.9B)
- Banca Generali (€2.9B)
- Banco BPM (€2.7B)
- BPER Banca (€2.1B)
- Credito Emiliano (€1.4B)
- Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (€1B)
Last year, Intesa Sanpaolo became the first Italian bank recognised as Western Europe’s best bank. It also got the ‘Bank of the Year in Italy’ award from The Banker, the specialist publication of the Financial Times Group. One of the most solid and profitable banks in Europe provides wealth management, consumer banking, corporate and investment banking, asset management and insurance services to over 14.6 million customers. It’s the most widespread bank in Italy with a network of 5,300 bricks-and-mortar branches and more than 7,400 ATMs nationwide. Intesa Sanpaolo banking group also has subsidiary banks in Central Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. In Q1 2021, the bank reported net income of €1,516 million and 22.2% growth of the gross income. The robust profit growth is possible due to the ambitious Digital Sales Boost Program that received the Efma-Accenture Banking Innovation Award in 2021.
UniCredit S.p.A. is an international banking group headquartered in Milan. It offers corporate & investment banking, commercial banking and wealth management operations across Western, Central and Eastern Europe. The group has over 40 million customers, direct presence in 17 countries as well as representative offices in 50 other markets. In Q1 2021, the Group delivered revenues of €4.7 billion, net profit of €0.9 billion, and the lowest cost/income ratio in more than a decade at 51.5%. At present, the bank is undergoing significant policy changes. It’s new chief executive Andrea Orcel has announced a stark reversal in strategy to that pursued by his predecessor. The focus now will be on sustainable returns above the cost of equity across the cycle and M&A deals.
Fineco bank is among the 5 top brands in Italy that provide an excellent customer experience. Almost all of its 1.3 million clients (94%) are satisfied with the quality of the bank’s services. The institution offers banking, brokerage and investment services to retail clients from within a single multi-currency account. Its brokerage services were recognised as the best for global trading 2021 by ADVFN International Financial Awards. As of Q1 2021, the bank made €3.3 billion of net sales, and €94.74 million of net profit adjusted. There are more than 400 Fineco Centers throughout Italy with 2600 consultants ready to help. In addition, with Fineco you can use UniCredit branches and thousands of advanced ATMs for withdrawing and depositing cash and checks. Although the bank left the UniCredit group in 2019, the two institutions keep on friendly terms with close cooperation. Fineco customers can benefit from that cooperation.
Mediobanca is an international banking group with offices in Europe and the US. It specialises in investment services, corporate, private and retail banking, private equity and VC, insurance, wealth management, and alternative asset management. With 75 years of experience, Mediobanca is one of the pioneers in the Italian banking industry. In Q1 2021, its revenues grew to €2B, and net profit – to €604M.
Banca Mediolanum operates in Italy, Spain and Germany. It provides banking services, and the asset management segment offers savings and investments, as well as various insurance policies and pension plans. The bank has more than two million customers and 4,300 financial advisors, called “Family Bankers.” The customers can also make withdrawals and deposits at 18,000 affiliated branches of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group and the Italian Post Offices. Currently, the bank has started a “Next” project providing post-graduate education to their future Banker Consultants. The bank’s senior staff members are mentoring skillful students and form expert teams specialising in savings, credit, financial safety, and generational changes. In the first quarter of 2021, the bank earned a net income of €133.4 million while managing almost €98B in assets. In May 2021, total net inflows equaled €842 million.
The bank focuses on private banking and wealth management for high-net-worth individuals. Its net banking income in Q1 2021 rose by 40% YTD to €240 million. Total net inflows amounted to €617 million in May, whereas net inflows of managed solutions stood at €342 million that month. The bank has 46 branches and 170 offices in Italy with 2,084 private bankers and a team of 962 employees. Banca Generali has €77.5 bn of assets under management, € 6.6 bn of which is under advanced advisory.
This bank is seemingly a new name on the market but it was created when two large institutions merged. Banco Popolare and Banca Popolare di Milano transformed into Banco BPM S.p.A. in 2017. Banco BPM offers its 4 million customers a range of services from private banking, investment banking, and asset management, to bank assurance. Those are available at over 1700 branches across the country. In Q1 2021, the bank had core revenues of €968m (+5.9% Y/Y) which was the best result since Q4 2018. Pre-tax profit rose by 150% Y/Y to €259 million.
The bank is very attentive to customers’ needs. When you visit their website, the multi-channel customer support contacts are the first information that greets you, instead of being hidden somewhere in numerous menus. In Q1 2021 the integration of the UBI Banca business unit (consisting of 455 bank branches and 132 operational units) acquired from Intesa Sanpaolo Group in BPER Banca was completed. BPER Banca’s customer base reached 4.1mln clients (+50% YTD), whereas net profit increased to €400.3 million. Core income increased to €671.6 million.
Credito Emiliano S.p.A. attracts deposits and offers commercial, retail, and investment banking and financial services. The bank offers short and medium- to long-term loans and finance leasing and factoring, fund management, security trading and placement services. Credito Emiliano also provides corporate finance and private banking services and insurance products. The bank is based in Reggio Emilia, Emilia-Romagna. It has a long corporate history, dating back to 1910 when it was Founded as Banca Agricola Commerciale di Reggio Emilia. The bank has over 400 branches in Italy. In Q1 2021, the bank reported a consolidated net profit of €62 million (+52.3% vs 1Q20) after the disbursement of €14.8 million contribution to the funds to support distressed banks and €6 million of integration costs related to the merger of Cassa di Risparmio di Cento which was finalised this June. Credito Emiliano added more than 23,000 new clients in the last quarter bringing the customer assets amount to €81.6B, of which AUM was +22.9% YoY at €30.5B.
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena S.p.A., known as MPS or simply “il Monte”, is the world’s oldest bank in continuous operation. MPS traces its history to a mount of piety (institutional pawnbroker operating on charitable terms) founded in 1472 and was transformed to its present form in 1624. More than 1,500 branches and 200 specialist centres, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena caters to financial needs of 4,5 million customers. “Il Monte” offers traditional retail and commercial banking services and focuses on households and SMEs. The insurance-pension sector is covered by a strategic partnership with AXA while asset management activities are based on investment products of independent third parties. MPS also has a neobank subsidiary called Banca Widiba (Wise-Dialog-Bank). This customisable online platform uses Robo 4 Advisor systems to help clients make informed financial choices. The bank reported great financial results in the first quarter of 2021. Pre-provision profit reached €283 million (against €151 million in 4Q20). Net operating profit increased to €203 million (whereas Q4 2020 brought only €26 million). This result was a record one for the last three years. Net profit for the quarter was €119 million.