Veritas – Italy doesn’t deserve its bad reputation

Your perspective on Italy’s asset management industry can change substantially whether you consider it from abroad or from its epicentre of Milan.

From northern Europe, Italy can seem a retrograde as well as quite mature market, where households still manage to save a substantial share of their income despite the crisis, but they allocate savings to liquidity.

Or even hide them under their mattress.

A common stereotype is that funds distribution still relies on the very troubled banking network, where advisers employed by one of the 10 dominant players with a strong presence across the territory try to sell to financially ignorant clients the bank’s products.

Yet, after two days in Milan, the judgement over Italy’s asset management space can be easily overturned.

“With Switzerland, Italy has the strongest flows in Europe and the market is very dynamic. Sparkling,” says the Italy’s country head of one of the leading international players in the country, overlooking the Duomo from its office.

“Italian networks of financial advisers have been very agile in driving retail clients’ appetite towards asset management products and their efforts are paying back, and the trend is self sustained by new forces introduced by the reform of the pension mechanisms,” he adds.

International management firms agree in defining Italy as a market with great potential.

“The stock of savings in the country is amazing. There is now growing appetite for quality. Clients have understood that advisory is a service which comes at a price. And when you pay you want to get the best,” the chief executive of an international asset manager adds.

In such a dynamic market, despite the sovereign debt crisis, firms are not in a wait and see mode. Investments are mainly allocated to marketing and educational activities.

Moreover, domestic players are crossing the border in search of opportunities in emerging markets. It’s the case of Azimut, which following the launch of joint ventures in China and Turkey to access the markets growth potential, is now looking at Brazil, where it has already shortlisted candidates to join forces in the market.

Italian firms are also investing in technology. Banca Generali is at the forefront of this trend, and it’s implementing a new platform across its network which allows clients to subscribe or redeem funds online.

Taking into account these trends, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Milan will host in April the annual gathering ‘Salone Del Risparmio’ organised by Assogestioni, one of the biggest European events in the asset management space, after Germany’s Fund Forum.

Expectations for the event are growing day by day, and more than 15,000 people are expected to visit the show, which has already lined up local and international managers as main sponsors for the event.

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