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You are here: Home > Suggested readings > Tombari-Greco - Fondazioni 3.0: Da banchieri a motori di un nuovo sviluppo - ISBN 9788830101326 - 3.5/5

Viewed 20 times | Published on 2020-06-06 19:43:04


Greco, Andrea; Tombari, Umberto
Fondazioni 3.0: Da banchieri a motori di un nuovo sviluppo
BookID 184588518
(see LibraryThing.com card)
Description (from Amazon)A trent'anni dalla legge Amato che le generò, le fondazioni di origine bancaria sono a un bivio storico: la prima generazione dei "fondatori" sta lasciando le cariche ai vertici, mentre diventa imperativo darsi una nuova e più moderna missione per il futuro per amplificare l'impatto sull'economia italiana. Questo libro cerca di spiegare cosa sono le fondazioni di origine bancaria, oggetto misterioso e spesso poco conosciuto ai non addetti ai lavori, e allo stesso tempo prova a immaginare il ruolo che questi "corpi intermedi" possono e dovrebbero svolgere nel futuro del paese. In questa prospettiva sono analizzati gli esiti del tortuoso percorso normativo che ha interessato le fondazioni, cercando le pratiche migliori da adottare in tutto il settore, che ha avanguardie solide e avanzate a fianco di enti che fanno più fatica a cogliere le sfide del presente.
My review: 3.5/5It is a short book (130 pages plus notes etc), but quite informative.

Excessively self-celebratory at times, this timely book has been published in 2020 as it is 30 years since the first law that created this economic (which in Italy means also political) actor, the non-profit yet private entity called "Fondazioni bancarie".

Anyway, the book isn't "timely" just because of its timing with the anniversary, but also for the current phase that the Italian society and economy are starting to live: a time when the risk is that the routine "bandwagon effect" will generate a gazillion of "legislative earmarks" absorbing whatever funds are injected by national authorities, European Union, and, indirectly, the European Central Bank (and any other source).

As it was reminded today by some newspapers, investments are still a touch-and-go in Italy (I wrote routinely since 2008 about the lack of a long-term mindset): in this phase, it would be critical to leverage on all the experience available to increase the impact of any investment.

Notably, to enable to have investment that, in the end, is using resources of future generations, but to use it in such a way that "seeds" benefits that will be realized not just now, but also in the future.

What are the Fondazioni Bancarie? To oversimplify: the way ownership in banks was converted so that banks themselves could be privatized, by creating vehicles that, while being non-profit, started with assets that gradually evolved from the shares of the original banks, to a more diversified portfolio.

Moreover: the book reminds indirectly how weak is Italy in attracting Foreign Direct Investment- and, therefore, the Fondazioni Bancarie (less than one hundred) over their life since 1990 funded and supported more than 100k projects, initiatives, and also incubators and new companies, as well as innovation.

A role that elsewhere is covered by the State, was taken over by private non-profit organization that, due to their origin, are actually strictly monitored and, at least in the Italian mindset, associated with the banking sector.

The curious point is that instead Fondazioni Bancarie are now led in many cases (at least for the largest one) by people whose prior career was e.g. in academia.

The 24th annual report (2018, latest available), showed that the 88 Fondazioni Bancarie have assets for almost 40bln EUR (39 649mln), with an average of 451mln EUR. Payroll? 1006 employees for an annual cost of 68.3mln EUR.

By their articles of incorporation, Fondazioni Bancarie have to have a social impact, and are often linked to a specific territory (albeit, also to scale up, often joint interventions are across the country).

While in the past were often considered as "cash dispensers of helicopter money" (up to few bln EUR each year), in some cases even digging into the assets to keep the "cash dispenser" at a steady pace, over the years gradually evolved into something else, and an interesting part of the book is the discussion of the future of Fondazioni Bancarie.

Merger&Acquisition, yes, but also maybe using their "aggregator" Acri as a "competence equalizer", i.e. a container of skills, experiences, capabilities that could be used to advise each one of the 88, small or large, as many otherwise would have neither the staff nor the resources to use their local presence and assets to deliver more than what was often done in the past: covering current expenditure.

Another interesting element is the development of its own managerial class, now that the "detachment" from banks is almost a completed reality, and their role as territorial investment entities, sometimes almost as venture capitalists and private equity where the (notoriously weak) Italian ecosystem isn't able to stomach the risk.

Curious but interesting a further element that now could be useful: Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (henceforth CdP), created in the XIX century as an investment entity to help build the new Italy (unified in 1861), under a different name, was "Istituita il 18 novembre 1850 dal Parlamento del Regno di Sardegna".

Yes, another anniversary: 170 years.

As reminded within the book, 83% of CdP belongs to a Government Ministry, but it is the quota held by Fondazioni Bancarie that justifies keeping outside the Italian State debt tally 425bln EUR, CdP's commitments to the Italian economy.

Half-jokingly, the authors remind of the "nuclear deterrent" represented by this quota- actually writing a reference to Dr. Strangelove, the movie, a definition of deterrence that is worth sharing in Italian: "La deterrenza è l'arte di creare nell'animo dell'eventuale nemico il terrore di attaccare".

Hence, when I was looking for books to take on loan (digitally) from the local public library during the lockdown, I could not pass this book: as Fondazioni Bancarie, CdP, and few other entities could actually become pivotal in building a Chinese Wall against the continuous attemps toward short-termism that is already showing off in commentary to the 55bln new funding provided by the Government Decree Decreto Rilancio.

Italy is a country notoriously weak on grooming its managers

There are few companies large enough to sustain formal management development (and of those few, many disbanded over the last few decades their own in-house schools).

Moreover, assignment of roles by appointment is still more common than selection by results and potential, and, once in place, careers are built by adding further layers of tributaries down: a self-referential and self-perpetuating approach that is showing its impacts not just today, but at least since the 1990s (when globalization and digitalization started marking the difference between relationship-based and information-based economies).

Therefore, a "coalition of the willing" should involve not just even "talent" parachuted from abroad (an Italian routine), but the appropriate blend of local knowledge, local resources, and talent- local or global doesn't matter.

And it would be a waste of human, financial, and relational resources not to involve the Fondazioni Bancarie and CdP with a more active role, and delegating such a role instead just to task forces of private and public experts parachuted on the task but with not a fraction of the knowledge and experience about the Italian socio-economic fabric that the above mentioned could bring to the table.

[Review released on 2020-06-06]
Outline material: Extract from the book: the legislative history of Fondazioni Bancarie in Italy