Italy's Fazio bemoans lack of professionalism

ITALY – The Governor of the Bank of Italy has called for “greater professionalism” among the Italian investment management community.

Speaking at a conference organised by the Italian banking association, ABI, Antonio Fazio said it is useless to be ethical without being professional, and tried to underline the “social role” played by investment managers and banks.

Fazio commented on the excesses of the 1990s, saying that Italy’s banks had fallen foul of the same attitudes as in the US and were now regretting their excessive optimism. “We have got through a difficult period, the system is still intact, but now we need to be prudent.” One way of avoiding errors, maintains Fazio, is to consider an acceptable return for every stock/share.”

Fazio drew attention to the fact that risk is minimal when money is placed on deposit in a bank, as there are tight controls. With regards to other type of investments, this is not the case and fund managers have to be ethical and professional, he said.

Alessandro Profumo, chief executive of the Unicredito banking group, added that trust is essential in the fund management business. “We must have the faith of our investors,” he said.

The issue of regulation and control in the Italian financial industry has often been questioned by foreign observers – due to fact that the market appears impenetrable to foreign players. Among the top ten players, in terms of assets under management, Deutsche Bank is the only non-Italian participant - at number nine.

Although Italy does have a financial ombudsman, talk is currently underway to re-launch the watchdog, and focus greater attention on professionalism and ethics.

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