The future of banking in a personless system where all transactions are only online and with your personal advisor. We sat down with Vincenzo Del Giudice, a personal advisor at Widiba Bank, a new kind of bank
Vincenzo Del Giudice is a consultant and personal advisor, one of the first 300 consultants certified in Europe now working at Widiba Bank. Widiba, “a no ordinary bank” as they state on their website, is a young bank born in 2015 that does not have any till services. Everything is done simply online or over the phone with your personal advisor. A personal advisor like Del Giudice would be ready to offer you advice and assistance with investments or other issues.
I had the pleasure to interview Del Giudice and discuss the future of the banking system and why a personless banking atmostphere would be advantageous.
A personless system
As Del Giudice told me, a system like the one at Widiba’s is based on two platforms: “…the one online and the one with me. The maintenance costs are decreased since many other banking expenses are not present anymore. This digitalized system allows transactions to remain transparent for the bank, our clients, and us advisors, and most importantly they are quick. A section on the system allows for our clients to select the services they require and get a real-time estimate of how much that would cost, including the selection of their personal advisors.”
“From my previous experiences,” explains Del Giudice, “I’ve brought rationality, listening abilities, and communication to this position. Today everything works over the phone or through other technological tools, so even if we want to work with our clients face-to-face, our presence is what matters with our clients.” He proceeded to explain that a personless system does not eliminate the direct communication process that the banking system has relied on so far, actually quite the opposite. “I am the one and only direct contact for my clients, which means that we establish a direct professional relationship. When required I go to meet them in the comfort of their offices or they can come visit mine. This gives us the space to discuss important financial decisions privately.”
To the other young advisors entering this new banking world where technology is the leader, del Giudice advises them to ask their clients questions, be present, and learn from their experiences.
When it comes to the online banking platform it is, “…easy even for the least technological client,” emphasized our interviewee. “Security on the platform allows for corfirmation of every payment through their phones and they are directly notified of any transaction. If necessary, as with other banks, they can withdraw a payment, for instance, simply by calling us.”
As Del Giudice explained to me, the private advisors are like consultants, with a mandate under the bank, according to European law ISO-WISO UNI ISO 22222, which gives them the authority to work as a consultant. Consultants are sent to yearly mandatory forming courses and are required to renew their certificate annually.
Instead, the MiFID from 2007 demands clients to fill out a questionnaire for their bigger financial transactions that protects them from wrong investments, but also protects the banks and the advisors involved.
“I am all for technology because if it’s used well, it can offer faster and safer transactions both for us inside the bank and for our clients. In the past, a bank employee could wrongly use a client’s money who would only find out months later when their bank statement would not arrive or arrive late. Now, with these technological advantages and systems, as advisors we are protected as much as our clients are. There is mutual trust in this professional relationship.”
When questioned if he thought technology could eliminate the job of a personal advisor or consultant, del Giudice replied, “Not at all. People will always be part of the banking system. We are certified to complete particular transactions and people will always be necessary to maintain a correct equilibrium between a fair and operative bank and its clients.”nce
The future and the Italian economy
Italy has been known to often turn a cheek to the banks, especially the older ones or the more politicized. “Many mistakes have been made in the past. Several politicized banks who were too open to loan out money too quickly, especially for those people in high places. “He suggested that there should be an external commission to control those in higher positions within the banks to check that the money went where it should. But it is personally hard to imagine an impartial external commission, that would be built by the State itself, when politics and banks are involved.
“The crisis is not only an Italian problem, we can look at German banks, as Deutsche Bank that has a 60 billion debt. In Italy within three to four years we will see some important changes. For now being in the European Union permits us to be protected. We’re the third largest country for exporting and when it things will not go as well as now, we will need support from our EU friends.”
One then must wonder about the younger ones who wish to engage in a similar career. Del Giudice offers a straightforward and tough reply, “…do not. Choose another path. Choose another career in the financial world, but the jobs in the bank and the ones of the personal advisors are jobs that engage within a particular environment that I do not advise. I am passionate about my work, but many are not. Therefore, if one chooses to take this path, he or she must remember that working hard is important, regardless of how others value it.”