The CEO of Banca Mediolanum, Massimo Doris, has highlighted the great effort of consolidation of the Spanish banking sector after the financial crisis but has criticized the high number of offices in relation to the inhabitants of the country.
“The Spanish banking system is much more advanced than the Italian one,” Doris said during a meeting with journalists in Madrid, although she said that in terms of the ratio of offices/inhabitants in Italy, it has become “better”.
As explained by the top executive of the Italian group, although the transalpine market is “free”, there are still “too many” banks. “A very small bank should not resist, as it was very difficult to compete,” he said.
For Doris, small banks have two fundamental problems to face and that affect their expenses and costs: regulation and the changing attitude of customers.
“The regulations change continually and that means a technological expense that, if you do not have a sufficient dimension, you can not comply with, in turn, customers change their attitude, asking for new services, for which investment is also required”, he asserted.
In Italy, there are more than a hundred banking entities, many that do not belong to any group. Doris believes that small banks should copy the “important” consolidation that has taken place in Spain and exit the market.
However, the manager has assured that the Italian bank is “much more advanced” than the Spanish in terms of the number of officers per capita. “In Spain, this ratio is very high,” he underlined.
Thus, although he does not believe that the offices should disappear, he believes that they should focus on counseling. “Technology is replacing the offices, but the consultants will resist,” he asserted.
For his part, the CEO of Banco Mediolanum, Vittorio Colussi, head of the Spanish entity, which operates as such registered with the Bank of Spain, has said that in the Iberian market there is no competition from the point of view of the consultancy, service on which your strategy is centered.
According to the manager, the consulting networks of banks such as Santander or BBVA are “very different or very specialized” in relation to theirs. Banco Mediolanum currently has a total of 913 consultants or ‘family bankers’, and plans to reach 1,000 this year and 3,000 / 3,500 in “a few years,” according to Colussi.
“In Spain, we are growing and, although we have a very long journey, we hope to reach the dimension of Italy (…) We have a large space to grow”, added Colussi. The entity has a total of 119,574 clients in the country.
Banco Mediolanum had assets under management, including deposits of securities and bank liabilities, as well as investment funds, pensions, SICAVs, and life insurance, of 4,727 million euros in March 2018, while in Italy this figure amounts to 74,899 million euros.
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Asked about the bank’s intention to enter new markets, Doris has revealed that for now, it is a strategy that “totally discards” and that are focused on growing where they already have a presence. In case of seeking to expand in the future, the manager has said that they will do so in “strong” countries, not like Portugal, which considers a “small” country.
Also, Doris has admitted that there is “a problem” with the business in Germany. “We are growing, but very slowly,” he added. In this regard, he indicated that the banking group is looking for an investment partner to help them boost the German business, selling a share of it.
“In Germany, we directly buy a banking license to start trading, and we made the mistake of starting immediately as a bank,” the executive acknowledged.
According to Doris, they should have started in the ‘economic engine of Europe’ operating as a network of consultants, to later start distributing investment products and, once a strong client base was achieved, act as a bank.
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In relation to the European directive on the markets of financial instruments, ‘MiFID II’, and although there is still a transposition of the same in Spanish regulation, Doris has stressed that this is a positive measure since it reinforces transparency of the sector.
“It has not been something dramatic for us since January 1st we are adapting to the new European Union (EU) norm, it is only formalizing what we have done up to now, we have not changed our behavior”, said the director.
On the other hand, the solvency level of Banco Mediolanum reached 34.3% in March 2018, while the non-performing loan ratio stood. The first is above the sector average, while the second, below.
Colussi has explained that when Mediolanum arrived in Spain he had to show a very high level of solvency in order to be able to give “tranquility” and to show that it was a “serious” bank. “In fact, during the crisis we were never a problem, the last concern of the Bank of Spain was us,” he stressed.
Regarding the levels of delinquency, the manager has pointed out that they remain “very low” because they did not offer loans, during the recession or now, to companies, which were the most disadvantaged agents came out of that episode.