We believe that sustainability is the only path to growth: this is why we are committed to implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
Letter to stakeholders
In 2020, Italy and the rest of the world suffered a setback of a nature and severity no one could have imagined. Italy has paid, and continues to pay, a considerable price in human lives as a result of the pandemic. Our first thought goes to the victims and their families, together with our gratitude for all those who are on the front lines in the fight against the virus — above all doctors and other health personnel.
The pandemic is having significant consequences at the social and economic level: the deepest recession since World War II has reflected in a decline in global GDP of more than 4% according to the OECD. In Italy, the most recent indications call for a decline in gross domestic product (GDP) of around nine percentage points. From the outset, the reaction of the competent monetary authorities in Europe and worldwide has been proportional to the gravity of this historical challenge, succeeding in stemming financial instability through unconventional measures. At the European level, there was also a change of pace with the preparation of the Next Generation EU, which is the largest package of stimulus measures ever set aside by the EU, designed to repair the socio-economic damage brought by the crisis, thus laying the foundation for a sustainable recovery in the 2021-2027 period.
From the outbreak of the Covid emergency, Banca Generali has striven to bring its support and contributions to individuals and the system. Its first concern was to ensure that those who work for the Bank enjoyed optimal safety conditions and to maintain the continuity of the services offered to its customers. Remote working measures for almost all personnel were accompanied by thorough safety protocols for physical presence in branches, which always offered full service. Digital tools and channels were thus upgraded for branch and network personnel, providing immediate, effective responses in day-to-day operations. Out of an awareness of the social responsibility of our role in the system, there was also no lack of timely, extraordinary initiatives in response to the emergency. The Bank immediately took action by setting up a fund to support healthcare facilities under pressure in the most critical days of the emergency and held a fundraiser amongst its personnel for those with ties to our Company who have also been affected by this terrible pandemic. Concrete initiatives to support Italy’s economy also went hand-in-hand with the concerns for the health emergency. In just a few weeks from the outbreak of the crisis, lending to customers and SMEs was enhanced with support from government guarantees. Overall, loan issuance increased sharply on the previous year. In addition, we launched new tools such as the SME loan securitisation “ItaliaNonSiFerma” together with Credimi and important financial partners, including Assicurazioni Generali, and innovative solutions such as an alternative investment fund and an ELTIF alternative investment plan that meet the twofold goal of funnelling funds into the real economy and businesses, thereby fostering a greater level of diversification and protection of private investment. All of this was also made possible by the tax incentives provided by the Italian government.
Solidity, social responsibility and focus on sustainability criteria are distinctive elements of Banca Generali’s history, and even in such a dramatic, complex scenario as that seen in 2020 with the escalation of the pandemic, the Company was able to draw on its unshakable roots in the community to further strengthen its mission: to be trusted professionals, constantly by the Customers’ side, to build and help them reach their life goals.
Market conditions and severe volatility in the initial phases of the crisis thus intensified investors’ fears and spurred the search for wealth protection. Spiking cash account balances are a clear reflection of households’ reactions to economic and social uncertainty. While the savings rate is rising, so is demand for advice to protect wealth and enhance proper investment planning, considering that traditional risk-free bonds have near-zero or negative yields. From this perspective, the sound expertise offered by our Financial Advisors and the reputational excellence offered by our brand — and by the Generali Group — fostered new opportunities for the Bank, which accelerated its growth process.
Net inflows neared 6 billion euros in 2020, with a new record in terms of total assets, which reached 74.5 billion euros. It bears emphasising in particular that a significant share of net inflows was into ESG products, which far exceeded the goal of 10% of assets under management set for 2021. Total net profit reached 274.9 million euros, posting the best performance of all time, owing to healthy growth of recurring revenue items and attentive cost management. All indicators are well in line with the goals of the 2019-2021 three-year plan, which will thus enter its final year with excellent visibility of the established targets.
Banca Generali began this year of crisis in a situation of great capital solidity. Nonetheless, in 2020 the Company followed the recommendation issued on 27 March by the Bank of Italy, updated on 16 December 2020, refraining from paying dividends in light of the situation of uncertainty and economic emergency in Italy. The recommendations on the limitation of the payment of dividends were then effectively extended until the end of September 2021.