The introduction of Mifid II two years ago, aimed at bringing greater transparency and competition to Europe's financial markets, has boosted the role of financial advisers by placing clients in the spotlight.
Enrico Scandurra di Epiro, head of investment solutions desk at BNL BNP Paribas, outlines in this interview how regulation, alongside tech revolution, and the enhancement of customer experience, are for him the three key elements driving the growth of advisory services in Italy.
Investment advisory seems to be an increasingly important financial service for the Italian market, why is that? Is regulation playing a key role on this growth?
The financial consultancy market in Italy has significantly grown in recent years, thanks above all, to the increasingly central role that the customer has assumed in the industry.
Regulatory, technological evolution, and emphasis on the customer experience represent the fundamental elements at the basis of the development of investment advisory in a constantly changing market.
The introduction of the Mifid II directive has further strengthened the central role of the client. In addition, the regulator's increased attention to cost transparency has stimulated the competition between intermediaries committed to increase the quality/price ratio, through value-added services.
What does BNL BNP Paribas' Investment Solutions desk specifically do?
The unit, led by myself, is part of the International Financial Services global division of BNPP's Group that includes among others BNP Paribas Cardif, BNP Paribas Asset Management, and BNP Paribas Real Estate. In addition our department has also an active collaboration with CIB Global Market.
Our mission is to provide innovative investment services to BNL's bank branches with reference to the Italian retail market. In particular, our team is made up of 35 investment specialists who interact with BNL's financial advisers, to define and share asset allocation proposals, risk/ reward optimisation, and market scenarios in line with the strategic view of BNP Paribas and to final clients by remote advisory via personalised web conference.
In addition we are continuously committed to train our financial advisers on investments and products in order to provide the best professionals available for our customers.
What are your main responsibilities as head of the unit?
As head of the department, my main responsibility is to lead and motivate a performing team of investment specialists with the ethos to provide high level and innovative investment services in an increasingly complex banking industry.
Motivation combined with a clear vision of the goals set, represent the key drivers when striving for excellence.
Excellence requires that the resources, committed to achieving their respective objectives, are put in a position to fully express their capabilities without any limitation and this requires an efficient delegation process.
Delegation is one of the most important skills for a manager's success and for the motivation of the collaborators: it allows you to free up a part of the time that can be used to deal with strategic issues and to develop the potential of collaborators.
You say your function is to provide "innovative investment services", are you referring to new digital tools or new methodologies?
The innovative investment services available to our customers concern both the use of digital tools and the use of new advisory methodologies thanks to the expertise and the presence of BNP Paribas Group in 72 locations.
With reference to digital tools, we have introduced the possibility for the client to interact via webcam with both the financial adviser and the investment specialist for an in-depth analysis of his/her investments and the evolution of financial markets. The customers can interact with us and analyse their investments, not only by coming to the bank branches, but also from the comfort of their home or from anywhere in the world.
Does your team advise on specific products? If that is the case, do you have an open architecture system or do you conversely advise on the firm's own products?
BNL is part of the BNP Paribas Group which internally includes the best excellence in terms of "product factories" (métiers in French), in particular the Investment Financial Services Division includes among others BNP Paribas Cardif, BNP Paribas Asset Management, BNP Paribas Real Estate, in addition to CIB Global Market.
With reference to the retail Italian market our goal is to offer our clients the best investment solutions of our métiers with the aim of maximising the risk-return ratio of our customers' portfolios, without focusing the attention on a specific product but rather on the entire portfolio efficiently.