From zero to €70bn: Ennio Doris has revolutionised the concept of banking in Italy, placing clients, their savings and their needs at the centre of everything
«There’s a fundamental rule in life...». Ennio Doris is like a river in full flow, a man who is used to overwhelming his conversation partner with his enthusiasm. Now aged 75, he’s just the same as he was decades ago when started to sell investment funds.
After a life stuffed full of satisfaction, the son of a humble family of Venetian cattle traders who went on to become president of Banca Mediolanum pauses for a moment and draws from his rich life experience. «Yes, there’s one fundamental rule. It’s often said you should follow your own vocation, but life doesn’t always allow you to do what you would like. However, just as when you look at a painting you can perceive the soul of the artist, or when you read a book you can see the hand of the writer, it’s also true that the registers of bank accounts can also reveal if they’re untidy or kept in good order. So the important thing is this: Whatever you do, do it as if it’s your life’s dream. When I was eight years old, I would go and clean my uncle’s stable –obviously this was far from being my dream– but I understood even then that you had to see there was a good person working there. Later when I was 18, I wanted to study mathematics at university but, in light of all the sacrifices my family made, I agreed to start working at a bank. I liked maths but not finance. Nevertheless, I invested all of myself into that job, with such passion that every client asked me to go and work for them. Look where it brought me».
Using the rankings from Forbes magazine, that attitude brought him to 19th spot among the richest people in Italy and 882nd in the whole planet. But Doris is modest when he says «I’ve always been lucky in life». He could have said: «I have been extremely good». «Even the illness I suffered at ten years old that nearly cost me my life was lucky. Without it, I would have gone to work rather than school. And I wouldn’t have been able to launch my global financial consultancy project, offering 360-degree solutions, if I hadn’t read Capital». The magazine that’s interviewing you now?
«Of course, precisely the one», says Doris with sincere gratitude. «Capital has pointed me in the right direction not once but twice in my life. The first was when I read that the tax adviser who could help solve a problem I had with the insurance company Ras was Victor Uckmar. The second time was when I left Uckmar’s office in Genoa and made a stop at Portofino, where I had never been before. Purely by accident, I met a man in the square at 18:00 that Thursday evening who was at yet unknown to the wider public. I recognised him however because he was on Capital’s front page: Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi had said to the magazine: “If someone has an idea, come to me. Don’t go to the Agnellis or the De Benedettis who won’t give you the time of day. Come to me. If it’s a good idea, we’ll work on it together.” Said and done. I told Berlusconi my idea and soon we became partners».
In this way, Doris was able to revolutionise the concept of a bank and today Mediolanum manages 70 billion euros. By now, he’s a well-known figure, having appeared in numerous Mediolanum adverts. «The banks aren’t made up of just counters and columns but people. I wanted my customers to be able to look the people in the eyes who they trusted, starting with me». The result prove him right. The «doctor of savings», as he defined, has only one obsession: Putting customers at the centre of everything. «Not just their needs but the customers themselves because the person is way more important than just their needs».