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Accenture: sustainability is the new pillar of banking transformation

The Accenture Banking Conference highlighted how a focus on sustainability will need to go hand-in-hand with digitization, further driving the industry’s transformation. Accenture’s thesis is that only a small number of companies, defined by Accenture as Twin Transformers, are already capable of linking digital transformation and sustainable transition.

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Not only digitization, but also great attention to sustainability, in a “Twin Transformer” perspective: these are the trends that will characterize the banking system in the coming years, according to what emerged from the recent Accenture Banking Conference. As Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture Italy, highlighted at the opening of the event, banks that manage to combine digitalization and sustainability obtain better economic results. A double lever that, however, is still used in a combined way only by a minority of Italian companies. Technology and sustainability are still often considered as two independent drivers: 50% of the largest European companies discuss both sustainability and technology issues during earnings calls, but only 5% consider the two drivers together. Accenture’s thesis is that only a small number of companies, defined by Accenture as Twin Transformers, are already capable of linking digital transformation and sustainable transition. These very players, Accenture points out, will be 2.53 times more likely than others to recover more quickly from the COVID-19 crisis and be among the “leaders of tomorrow.”

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Sustainability as an integral part of banking

All this is also of close interest to the world of banking, which for several years has been going through a moment of intense transformation that must be accelerated. The process is currently characterized by two main phenomena, which concern the need for aggregation and the management of regulatory compliance (the cost of which today absorbs between 3-5% of net profit). Moreover, the sector still has room to increase investment in research and development, which at the moment does not reach 2% of total Italian R&D investment, and therefore has a significantly lower overall incidence than other production sectors. Other trends also appear inevitable: among these, the adoption of models focused on the development of skills and the elaboration of new services and high-value products, which will often be the only way to win and maintain customer trust. Banks will obviously have to look even more closely at digitalization, with consequent enhancement and protection of data. In this sense, it will be crucial to attract new skills to banks, such as data scientists, who will be increasingly present in the banking sector. Correct data analysis will be fundamental for the definition of processes capable of producing correct risk assessments, also from a financial and ESG point of view. Sustainability, in fact, is destined to become a business prerequisite and a lever of differentiation, enabled by clear and measurable incentives for all stakeholders. In this way, banks will be able to play an important role in conveying to the productive fabric of the country the substantial sums made available by the NRP to overcome the Covid-19 crisis.

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Banking operators ready for the Twin Transformer


The need for a turnaround in the Twin Transformer sense seems to have been adequately understood by some of the main operators in the finance and banking world who took part in the Accenture event. Stefano Barrese, Head of the Banca dei Territori Division of Intesa Sanpaolo, highlighted how “the bank must increasingly be a platform for the provision of services, which can also be supported by specialist structures. Sustainability has been fundamental for 10 years now. Today the planet is at stake and banks must encourage investments of this kind. We must try to encourage companies to invest in the right way, along the lines of what is written in the PNNR (digital, green)”. Elena Goitini, Managing Director, BNL and Head of the BNP Paribas Group for Italy, takes the same line: “I really think that the Twin transformation is becoming an obligatory choice that can no longer be postponed. The keyword for everything is accompaniment, or rather the ability of banks to succeed in accompanying customers in virtuous changes will be the one that really makes the difference”.

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Much debated, of course, was the subject of ESG ratings, which appear destined to profoundly change the investments of banks: “I believe that all companies will become ESG compliant – stated Massimo Doris, CEO of BancaMediolanum – for our planet and our health, also thanks to pressure from above”. Paolo Bertoluzzo, CEO of Nexi, also highlighted the explosion during the pandemic of the ESG phenomenon. A change that has also been triggered by the choices of a fund manager like Black Rock: ESG criteria have been included in the actively chosen investments managed, i.e. almost 3000 billion dollars out of a total of 9000. The reason for this is simple, as Giovanni Sandri, CEO of Blackrock Italia, says: “Climate risk has now become a business risk. At the same time, the sustainable transformation of the economy entails enormous opportunities. We are talking about 50,000 billion or more billions foreseen for the transition to a zero emission economy in the next 30 years. For investors, this is a huge opportunity.”

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(Featured image by cegoh via Pixabay)

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First published in PAGAMENTIdigitali, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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J. Frank Sigerson is a business and financial journalist primarily covering crypto, cannabis, crowdfunding, technology, and marketing. He also writes about the movers and shakers in the stock market, especially in biotech, healthcare, mining, and blockchain. In the past, he has shared his thoughts on IT and design, social media, pop culture, food and wine, TV, film, and music. His works have been published in Investing.com, Equities.com, Seeking Alpha, Mogul, Small Cap Network, CNN, Technology.org, among others.