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Retail Banker International
Fineco: the bank of the future?
FinecoBank is an Italian and international reality. From brokerage start-up to online bank, it has a record
of innovation and is becoming an example of modernity. In December 2013 it was again voted best website
of the year. Valentina Romeo interviews Fineco’s Paolo Di Grazia, head of the Direct Bank
• Total Assets €42.3bn
• Investment and brokerage total
• Total customers 883,000
• Current account customers 698,000
• Credit card customers 595,000
• Employees 954
• Total loans €376m
• Financial shops 302
network of 2,400 personal financial adviineco is the largest online brokerage
sors, and, again, it was the first bank in the
firm in Italy holding over 880,000
customer accounts. Part of Uni- country to offer such a dedicated service.
Di Grazia says: “The bank gives the posCredit group since 2007, it has not
only established itself as a fully integrat- sibility to buy and invest in the best available funds and investment houses worlded multimarket platform, but it has also
wide, so it has a really open model. “
set a definite course into the online and
By now, there are around 60 different
mobile banking world.
“Across the Italian and European scenar- investment houses available in FinecoBank
io, FinecoBank is first of all a new bank, and also thousands of funds to invest in.
because we only started 10 years ago. On “With such an open business model, having
someone to guide you through this enorthe other hand, the title tells you we are
mous offering was simply fundamental,
new from other points of view, and it is not
just a claim. It is a total new way of run- “Di Grazia says.
ning the bank and the investment services,”
Paolo Di Grazia, head of the Direct Bank, Dominating through uniqueness
FinecoBank tells RBI.
“Fineco is a direct bank and this is its
He continues: “We are the first direct
uniqueness, because it takes the best from
bank in Italy, launched in December
online banks- its big operational efficiency
1998 as a brokerage-only service. Since
and practicality- and, on the other hand, it
2000, we have officially transformed into
is still close to the client as the traditional
a bank adding a lot of brand new servic- banking model. But that has improved. Clies and products.”
ents used to go to branches, but now finanFineco was the first bank in Italy to
cial advisors go directly to clients and it is
issue a high interest deposit account, a unique model in Europe,” Di Grazia says.
which then quickly became a full current
Over the past year, the bank has opened
account. Di Grazia explains: “FinecoBank
another 80 new Fineco centres across the
is the only bank in Europe to offer a com- largest cities in Italy. These centres are spepletely integrated model and all in one
cialised in financial planning and represent
single account, and allows you to use the
the only physical contact with clients.
digital online platforms for anything that
Fineco, in fact, doesn’t have local
branches or ATMs, but utilises UniCred“This goes from banking operations to
it’s branches for cash and check deposit
credit cards, stock purchases, cheques and
bill payments. Of course, you can do this
As in many medium and large scale entervia both the online and mobile channels.”
prises such as Fineco (it has over €42bn
In its three-stage business development, total assets, as of September 2013), data
the bank has also integrated an online
mining and business intelligence also rep-
Fineco scores web success
In It aly in 2013, F ine c o w on t he
Website of the year 2013 award as ‘Best
website’ and ‘Most Popular website’ in
the Finance categor y. The title ‘Best
Website of the Year’ is provided to the
Italian website with the highest average
score on content, navigation, design
and recommendation likelihood. The
10 y January 2014
RBI 697.indd 10
title ‘Most Popular Website’ is provided
to the website with the highest number
of votes. Other than Fineco, the awards
featured brands such as Amazon, ebay,
YouTube and Google as The Website
of t he Year aw ard is an init iat ive
by online marke t re search agenc y
MetrixLab and Emerce.
Retail Banker International
resent an important concept for the bank.
Aiming to understand consumers’ habits and needs, Fineco has recently developed a new service platform applied to its
With this tool called Moneymap, everything customers do with their current
accounts is represented in a digital map,
which keeps all their purchases strictly under control.
“Everything you do is automatically
registered through an algorithm so it can
recognise the type of purchase you have
undertaken, and it classifies it in the correct category box. It could be taxes, bills
or other expenses dealing with the current
account and card and then it is mapped
and classified,” Di Grazia says.
He adds: “The second and most relevant
aspect is that this mapping service also
automatically proposes some provisional
budgets to clients. It is an intelligent service because it studies purchase behaviours
and proposes budgets for the following
months and year.”
However intelligent and technology
advanced, Di Grazia says MoneyMap is
just the beginning of a new series of innovations within the group.
According to him, among its numerous
products and services, Fineco is the only
bank in Italy- and one of a small number in
Europe- to offer a multi-currency service
for its accounts.
“The multi-currency service platform is
not only used to invest in a specific currency (UK Pound Sterling, Euros, US dollars
and Swiss francs) but also to make payments. If I want to transfer some money in
GBP or US dollars I can easily do it and in
the real- time foreign exchange,” he says.
“If there is something similar to this ser-
RBI 697.indd 11
vice outside Italy, I am sure it is not this
versatile,” Di Grazia says proudly.
App, mobile and social media
Fineco gives a lot of attention to the mobile
channel especially because it is evolving
really fast. The bank has just activated its
apps for Windows 8 mobile phones, after
also enabling Apple iOS and Android systems. “The interface design and the usability of all our digital channels are a must for
us, we are manic about it,” Di Grazia says.
However, the favourite channel for Fineco’s clients is always the website. Despite
this, more than 20% of the daily access to
the bank is via mobile, with also a surprising 40% of users being women. “Up until
three years ago, mobile access was close
to 1%. As smartphone sales in Italy are
to surpass PCs and laptops, it won’t take
too long for mobile banking access to beat
online,” he adds.
If Fineco aims at mastering the mobile
and online offer, it is clear its social media
strategy has a distinctive trait as well.
The bank is active on all the main social
networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,
Google + and Pinterest) with Twitter currently being the most engaging tool; Fineco
has more than 6,000 followers, the largest
number in the whole Italian banking sector.
However, Fineco does not look for big
volumes in terms of number of followers,
as its social media strategy is based on efficiency and quality of the content.
“We decided to let users be free to share
their comments on our social media chan-
nels. On Facebook we offer some discussion topics and anyone is free to share
opinions. We don’t campaign to reach a
target of “likes”. Who likes our page and
discussions is definitely someone who loves
the bank. Our followers are authentic,”
Di Grazia says.
Reaching the ideal model
Many Internet banks in Europe struggle
to evolve, especially because they compete
on prices, offering very high interest rates
and everything at zero coss. According to
Di Grazia, this business model approach
is not sustainable anymore. “‘Pure’ online
banks in Italy and Europe have a difficult
journey ahead, and therefore they need to
evolve in some way.
“Fineco evolved from an online-only
bank to a direct bank offering all those value-added services that clients are willing
to pay,” Di Grazia says. “Nowadays, our
competitors are not online banks, but traditional banks. Still, 90% of Italians’ savings are in traditional banks. Most of our
clients come from there. However, I really
don’t see any other players in Europe with
the same business model as ours.”
Fineco is not only an Italian product
though. Similar to it, but lacking of its
financial advisors’ network, is German
DAB (Direkt Anlage Bank), another online
direct bank part of UniCredit. Di Grazia
says the focus will remain the Italian, German, and Austrian markets, where there’s
a massive growth potential and still a
lot of work to do. <
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