Carlo Messina: Intesa Sanpaolo is one of the most sustainable banks in Europe

The image accompanying the News on Carlo Messina's interview with CNBC portrays a close-up of Carlo Messina, CEO of Intesa Sanpaolo

Speaking recently with CNBC, CEO Carlo Messina gave an upbeat view of Intesa Sanpaolo’s outlook:

“I think that we are probably today the most sustainable European bank. If you look at our wealth management and protection business, we are comparable with UBS in terms of performance… Our commissions are growing at double-digit speed and we'll increase the speed in the next quarters. So we are leveraging on €1.3 trillion of Italian wealth and I think that being a Zero NPL Bank, our sustainability for the future can allow us to remain one of the strong net income generators and cash dividend payers in the market.”

Messina said he expects the European Central Bank to begin cutting interest rates in June. This will benefit Intesa Sanpaolo’s business model that is heavily geared toward wealth management:

“In an environment of reduction of Euribor there will probably be a flight to quality towards Intesa Sanpaolo in comparison with other banks that are relying more on net interest income.”

Technology and the wealth management business model will be the medium-term performance drivers for the European banking sector, said Messina.

“If you want to make something that can completely transform the mindset… you have to be ready to do something special, not ordinary, otherwise you will remain as you are,” he said.  

That’s why Intesa Sanpaolo is accelerating its plan to move the Group’s core IT systems from the traditional banking technology to advanced cloud-based technology.

“Our target was to have what we call ‘isythech’, our cloud-based core banking system. We decided to try usage on [our digital bank] isybank but now we decided to try it directly on Intesa Sanpaolo, to have the best technological approach in our bank.”

Carlo Messina said that one of the biggest challenges for a CEO is managing the impact of artificial intelligence on the workforce: “For a CEO, the point with AI is to have the right approach with the people in your organization.”

Messina explained: “Artificial Intelligence will create jobs in the medium term, but in the short term it can be a threat. So you have to invent new jobs in order to maintain people within your organization and to prepare them for the next phase of jobs that will emerge with AI. This is the most important part.”

Addressing the changing nature of work will also be one of the key responsibilities of the newly-created Chief Transformation Officer role.

“We appointed a Chief Transformation Officer with the main goal of defining the new business model of the bank – artificial intelligence, wealth management and so on – but also the implications of AI on our people, and what we have to do to be ready to maintain them within the organization, with different jobs.”

The interview with CNBC was aired on May 8, 2024.