It represents the Italian banks, that are among the most stable. This is clearly shown by the most significant measures, such as risk-weighted capital, which has on average risen well above the threshold laid down by the European Central Bank

Antonio Patuelli

Antonio Patuelli

It represents a sector in constant evolution, with the indispensable task of supporting businesses and individuals through the provision of credit. «Watering the horses», to use a phrase coined by Guido Carli, former governor of the Bank of Italy. This is the ABI, the Italian Banking Association, which at the end of January represented 871 entities, including 13 trade associations, 166 financial intermediaries, 97 companies performing essential lending activities, and above all 602 banks operating in Italy and abroad. Founded during the First World War and refounded during the second, the ABI is to Italian credit institutions what Confindustria is to Italian industry. It promotes initiatives to support the orderly, stable and efficient growth of banking and financial firms within a competitive framework consistent with Italian, EU and international law. And above all, it has the delicate task of representing our financial and lending industries on all international platforms.

A historic and stable association, as Italian banks are, a fact borne out by the continued strengthening of certain important measures. The first of these is the CET1 ratio, a measurement of a bank’s core equity capital compared with its total risk-weighted assets. During the economic crisis, Italy’s banks managed –not without some effort– to raise this important measure to an overall average of 11.8%, well over the minimum threshold fixed by the European Central Bank. At the same time, Italian institutions made a meaningful contribution to the real economy, providing €1.410 billion in loans to households, an increase of 6% compared to 2008. Similarly, last year also showed a marked upturn in new financing to companies, with a growth trend of around 13% in the first eleven months of 2015.

Results that Italy has achieved, most importantly, by relying solely on its own strengths. It’s no coincidence that Antonio Patuelli, from Emilia Romagna, class of 1951, president of the Cassa di Risparmio di Ravenna bank and, since January 2013, also of the ABI, frequently recalls how Italian institutions did not receive a single Euro in grants in the years when the economic crisis was most acute, unlike the banks of other EU countries. Italian banking assets have in fact been strengthened by the market, namely the respective partners, big and small, who since 2007 have contributed more than €48 billion to support significant increases in capital.

The ABI’s business objective is «to promote knowledge and awareness of social values and behaviours inspired by the principles of sound, healthy entrepreneurship, as well as the creation of a free and competitive market». Other business objectives include setting up talks and debates around finance and banking, promoting regulatory change on a national and international level, developing consistent approaches to labour relations and employment policies within the banking industry, developing codes of conduct and collaborating with economic and social institutions as well as public authorities and organisations in Italy and abroad.

The association is also involved in the cultural sphere, where, among other things, it has created the Fondazione per l’educazione finanziaria e al risparmio (Foundation for Financial Education and Saving). The organisation works in the public interest to promote conscious and proactive economic citizenship through education that develops and disseminates financial and economic understanding.