- CREDITI FISCALI
The Banca IFIS Group continues to grow relentlessly, breaking new records in terms of profitability, capitalisation and liquidity.
2013 was another excellent year, in which the Bank made significant progress also on a key indicator of the health of an Italian lender: credit quality. This was not luck, but the result of thorough long-term planning: impaired assets – net of those purchased by the NPL area – more than halved in twelve months as a proportion of total loans, and were under 50% of equity. Net non-performing and substandard loans returned to normal pre-crisis levels. We believe that the Bank’s future depends also on the ability to generate healthy loans; to constantly and promptly assist companies and households; and to take risks, which is our business, but in a sensible manner.
Banca IFIS knows how to acknowledge the good work of the parties it finances and must continue to select them on that basis, confirming its commitment towards virtuous companies. The Bank supports growth, it does not create it. The Bank supports virtuous businesses, it does not make decisions on behalf of the entrepreneurs. Finally, the Bank chooses whether to act or not based on the principle that it will help those who deserve it and reject those who do not. This is Banca IFIS’s role, and this approach is leading it to become one of the first five players in Italy.
The Bank is presenting itself as a brand new player. We have moved well past factoring, and now offer companies, especially SMEs, our solutions to finance their working capital, which has been scarce for years now. Unfortunately for Italy, this state of affairs is not going to change quickly. At Banca IFIS we are anxious to do everything we can – which is considerable – to bridge the gap between credit demand and supply. We want to do it right away. The growth registered in 2013 is not by chance, and paves the way to grow further in size, as already planned.
Banca IFIS is operating in new ways also in other sectors, and is continuing to innovate while growing relentlessly. In the sector of distressed retail loans, which we like to describe as our way of helping struggling households, the Bank has started to confirm the debtor/customer’s willingness to meet its obligations sustainably and in good time. In this case too, Banca IFIS makes its liquidity and equity available to the system, a necessary condition for achieving any result. We have acquired and are now managing just under half a million positions and counting: the deterioration of positions held by consumer lenders is the tragic result of six years of crisis. Households desperately need to be helped, comforted and accompanied in a process which does not permanently shut them out of credit markets. Banca IFIS does not just recover NPL loans bought on the wholesale market from consumer credit firms: it deals with these problematic customers, and wants to do so transparently, rigorously, with a reasonable level of profitability, and ensuring the sustainability without which any action is meaningless. Growth in 2013 was good, but the expectations for the future, given also an economic situation which is not improving as much as it should, are very significant. The Bank’s approach, aimed at optimising relations with households, will be appreciated by scores of consumer lenders who are now fully aware of the need for a respectful and open approach with the customers they transferred for being in default.
Also in the tax receivables sector, we facilitate and accelerate the liquidation of positions which would otherwise be compromised or very slow to turn around. The Bank knows what it has to do: rapidly provide funds to insolvency proceedings selling their receivables, thus allowing them to quickly repay their debts. In this segment too, the demand for professional support and expertise from the market is high and growing, and Banca IFIS will meet it adequately, in a context where, among other things, competition is rare and not very professional.
Funding from rendimax and contomax reached almost 4 billion Euro, showing incredible momentum for a product that is very popular among savers. The revised terms and conditions, always consistent with the trend in interest rates on the market, did not affect account openings, which continue to be positive. The volume of retail funding brought the ratio of funding to “core” loans to 179,4%, an outstanding achievement and a driver for future growth.
We ended 2013 with a significant portfolio of Italian government bonds, totalling 8,4 billion Euro, which currently has a positive and very significant mark-to-market value. The trend in interest rates on Italian government bonds makes purchasing them no longer attractive. For Italy’s sake, the hope is that the high yields seen in 2011 – 2013 will just be a bump on the road to consolidating Italy’s presence in the Eurozone. As for Banca IFIS, the outstanding portfolio, although particularly short-term, guarantees good returns for at least the next three years. We have to more than offset the diminishing profitability of the portfolio – which will not be renewed at maturity, given the current rates – with savings on the funding side and, above all, higher margins in the sectors where the Group operates.
We have made a lot of progress in recent years. We have clear ideas on how to proceed. But as we look to the future, we must not focus only on equity, liquidity, or the capacity to generate profits: these elements will still be some of the Bank’s strengths. We must pay utmost attention to our people. Train each of them in the culture of credit risk and control; improve information flows; know how to grow and evolve according to the Bank’s needs, with intelligence and passion. A new bank stands out also for the relationship with its people, professional staff contributing to a Project they are an integral part of.
We deeply believe that there cannot be such a thing as a bank operating without considering the situation it acts on. We believe that banking means striking a balance between the interests of the people who use the bank’s services and the ambition to achieve the right level of remuneration. A bank which merely profits from a system that reluctantly allows it to do so, just as a bank which fails to keep its business on track when faced with adverse market conditions, are, for different reasons, doomed to fail. Our work is inspired by the principle of bringing objective improvements to all stakeholders. We are determined to continue making an impact on the real economy. We know we play an important role and have the responsibility to do so to the best of our ability, in the interest of our customers, our shareholders, our people, and all those who work alongside us.