International Subsidiary Banks Division: exporting quality banking
Since his appointment in January 2020, Marco Rottigni has steered his division to success through challenging times. Now he’s looking to a future of high-quality growth
Intesa Sanpaolo’s International Subsidiary Banks Division (ISBD) has seen extraordinary success over the past three years, in spite of the global financial turbulence caused by Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine.
Total assets for the division have grown by almost 24% since 2019, and it enjoyed €504m net profit in 2022, a significant increase on 2021. The ISBD now contributes 14% to the wider group’s profits.
“I am absolutely confident that these are results we can improve over time,” says Marco Rottigni, head of the ISBD. “Because it lies in our ability and the value that this division expresses.”
Rottigni took the leadership role on 1 January 2020 – so it’s fair to say his tenure has seen many challenges, including a global pandemic and war.
Rottigni puts the success during these uncertain times down to the hard work of the increasingly diverse, 21,000-strong team working across the division, and the fact that their diversity and difference is valued.
“Within the division, over 43% of people with managerial responsibilities are women,” says Rottigni. “This, I think, is a guarantee for the future over time. We value diversity generally – and this is the enriching element.” The 300 staff working in the division’s head office come from 21 countries and speak 19 languages. “We have, let's say, in our genome the imprimatur of being different and accepting ourselves in the diversity that we express – diversity that becomes richness and value, of course.”
Rottigni also credits the success of the division to a culture of collaboration within the wider Intesa Sanpaolo Group. In particular, the ISBD Division plans to further expand its Investment Banking and Global Markets activities by exploiting the capabilities distinctive capabilities of the IMI Corporate & Investment Banking Division, launch the International Corporate Advisory for SMEs in synergy with Banca dei Territori and develop a model of service to private clients in collaboration with Intesa Sanpaolo Private Banking and Eurizon.
For Rottigni, this teamwork makes everyone stronger. “The adaptability of this division is strong – I think it's precisely determined by the cultural differences there are. There’s a real sense of internationalisation that runs through all the people,” he says.
"The adaptability of this division is strong – I think it's precisely determined by the cultural differences there are. There’s a real sense of internationalisation that runs through all the people"
Marco Rottigni, Chief of the International Subsidiary Banks Division, Intesa Sanpaolo
To Rottigni, the ISBD – which spans 12 countries – has a twofold task. First, to promote the economic and commercial activities of Italy within other territories. Second, to develop the economies in which the bank operates.
In this respect, thanks to its strategic positioning, the ISBD acts as a "bridge with Italy" for SMEs with an international profile. Furthermore, the evolution of the global economic and geopolitical landscape, brought about by Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, impacts the structure of value chains and international logistics.
It also opens up valuable opportunities for the Euro-Mediterranean region – notably the Central and South-Eastern Europe and MENA countries – allowing the ISBD to benefit from its privileged footprint in the area.
Many ISBD banks are revered in their home territories, winning awards and ranking highly – a sign that Italian banking innovation has been exported successfully. For example, Banca Intesa Beograd in Serbia has for the seventh year running been named best bank in the country.
“Let's say we are the best banks now – not because of an extraordinary one-year effect, but because of continuity,” says Rottigni. “This strength, stemming from our belonging to one of the leading European Banking groups, translates into our support of the growth of local real economies, business and households alike, prizing our strong commitment to corporate social responsibility.”
The war in Ukraine
But operation across territories is no easy feat. Part of ISBD’s portfolio is Pravex Bank, Ukraine, where 850 staff have kept branches open for customers throughout the conflict.
“I must acknowledge and send heartfelt thanks to our people in that country who work under conditions certainly that are uncomfortable, but have never failed to contribute continuity,” says Rottigni.
“This is something that makes me particularly proud – of how, in the early days of this tragedy, our neighbouring banks to the borders of Ukraine gave support.
“Even in a dark time – that continues to remain dark in many respects – the fact that there was such natural solidarity makes me think that this is a special place to work.”
Building on the success of the past three years and looking to the future, Rottigni will focus on a combination of risk management and business development as he drives towards high-quality growth. “The magic formula is offering a bank that has the power to combine the day-by-day activity of commercial banking with the more extraordinary activities – the ones that will take us into the future,” he says.
Rottigni feels this growth will only be compounded by continuing the wider group’s commitment to ESG principles, a heavy emphasis in the Intesa Sanpaolo Group’s most recent business plan.
“The data testify to this ability of ours to not only be income generators, but to be generators of a healthy income that also follows the principles of ethics,” says Rottigni.
“I am referring to competitive positioning, for example, within the big world that is ESG in general: to be promoters in those countries of harmonious development, sustainable over time, and compatible, of course, with our host environment.”
Adaptability and future success is possible in ISBD only because of the culture of the wider Intesa Sanpaolo brand as a whole: a commitment to high-quality, innovative, impact banking.
As Rottigni puts it: “Anything can be built within a community of purpose that has a strong brand identity.”