Banks: for ceo Carlo Messina, stability is the key word for growth for Italy and Intesa Sanpaolo

Technological drive and strong social focus: this is how the ceo achieved his best-ever first-half results challenging fintech with Isybank, the digital bank that will be able to manage up to five million customers

Ceo Carlo Messina

by Orsetta Pecci

Stability is the keyword for Carlo Messina, the ceo who in ten years has taken Intesa Sanpaolo to the podium as Europe’s leading bank. And who has just created in one year, with an investment of 1.8 billion, the most massive hiring of young people in decades. Isybank is Italy’s first digital bank and, in fact, the second largest in the country after Intesa itself, because it can handle five million customers. And by the end of 2023 he has already announced 7 billion in profits for the parent company after the best result ever achieved in the first half of the year. An important goal to which Messina has also led Intesa Sanpaolo after raising the salaries of its 100,000 employees. A choice, that of investing in the bank’s personnel, also made out of personal experience. Having himself begun his career in the bank as a first class employee, he is well aware of the need to support families at a time when inflation is on the rise again.

It is no coincidence, in fact, that Messina emphasises in all his public speeches that politics must not leave anyone behind and that every economic manoeuvre must start from helping the weakest, before illustrating what the bank has done directly to support the third sector, the voluntary sector and people in difficulty.

So, it is stability in the country’s government and social stability that are the ingredients (in addition to and alongside stability in the shareholding and management of a large financial institution like Intesa) that strengthen the economy and make it attractive to investment from abroad: “Compared to the pandemic and then the energy crisis, the Italian economy has demonstrated a capacity to react that few would have bet on. We should have,’ said Carlo Messina in an interview with Nicola Saldutti, head of the economic section of Corriere della Sera, Italy’s most important daily newspaper, ‘greater awareness of our country’s strengths and aspire to leadership in the European game. In recent years, to give just one example, investment in machinery and technology in Italy has grown by 25%, while the Germans invested ten times less, only 2.5%. Let us continue on this virtuous path, giving as a benchmark against which to compare ourselves who is at the top: Germany. This would be a winning approach if we want to play as a leader in Europe. Stability can enable us to achieve important results. And with the Meloni government, it seems to me that the conditions are there. Provided, however, that no one is left behind. That we bear in mind how many people in Italy today struggle to lead a dignified life. Considering that a country is made up of institutions, businesses, but also of families, of people. In the first six months of the year we pay 2.6 billion in taxes to the state. We guarantee foundations resources for their projects, and we carry out a broad programme against inequality in the country and favouring inclusion, so as not to leave anyone behind. We allocate 60 million in interventions to those in greatest difficulty, and then funding for young people, social housing. And we do this because we are the largest company in the country. And we must contribute to growth’.

Carlo Messina is difinitely a social banker, in the sense of profound attention to the needs not only of companies (during the pandemic he made a ceiling of 400 billion euro a year available to the productive sector) but also of people, because he is convinced that in the end stability and social cohesion depend largely on the stability of individuals and families. But it is not only this: he is the first industry CEO in Europe who has reacted with the move of the horse to the competition of the Fintechs, the invasion of the field in payments by digital giants such as Apple, Google or Amazon.

Here is how he explained his choices to Corriere della Sera: “Observing the big digital players,” Messina said, “we asked ourselves: how quickly will they enter our market? So two years ago, together with the Board and the first line a of our management, we decided: we had to make Intesa Sanpaolo a Fintech. So we invested 1.8 billion in the new cloud-native technology platform Isytech. Within a year, we launched Isybank, our fully digital, state-of-the-art bank. And recently Fideuram Direct, the digital Wealth Management platform. With a precise compass, one condition: keep all our people on board. Put technology and human capital side by side”.

Carlo Messina CEO Intesa Sanpaolo 

“For Isybank,” continued Intesa’s CEO, “we have built a sophisticated architecture, a technological infrastructure with which we can look to other markets. It used to be that to enter a country you had to make acquisitions. And even today, if you want to sit at the tables that count in that country, you have to do so. We aim to do industry, in an innovative way, which does not require acquisitions but the ability to push into new markets. We chose as partners the best in fintech, Thought Machine, a global champion in this field. Google has made cloud technology available to the entire Intesa Sanpaolo system. We brought new skills to the bank. In 12 months we created a digital bank. A platform of our own that will allow us to be faster, more flexible”.

Thanks to the strong technological connotation that he has imprinted on Intesa and the parallel and continuous push towards a social vocation, Messina is very confident about Italy’s growth and does not see a risk of recession: ‘In the 2022-2023 period,’ Messina said, ‘Italy grew by 5%, while Germany stopped at 1.6% and France is travelling at around 3%. This is because we have invested. Because the system has invested. From 2016 onwards, investments grew by 21%, while Germany only grew by 7.5%. And now you can see the results. The government? It was good that the public accounts held up, and that our international position was confirmed. After years of instability we have a legislature ahead of us. This is attracting international investors. Italy’s potential is enormous and if we are able to continue with investments and growth, the situation will change in a clear and lasting way’.

(Associated Medias) – All rights are reserved