Banks and other financial intermediaries

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The Bank of Italy supervises the following categories of intermediaries:

Banks and banking groups

In the Italian legal system banking includes both the activity of collecting savings and liquid funds from the public and that of granting loans.
Banks collect savings and liquid funds with the obligation of reimbursement either as deposits or in other forms.
In line with European law, in addition to banking, banks may carry out all other kinds of financial activities, except for those that are reserved for other entities.
Banks may be part of banking groups. A banking group consists of a parent company and the banking, financial and related companies that it controls. A parent company may be a bank or a financial company or a mixed financial holding company with headquarters in Italy.

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SIMs and SIM groups

SIMs (securities investment firms) are investment firms authorized to carry out investment services or activities pursuant to the Consolidated Law on Finance (TUF). Investment services and activities refer to the following functions, relating to financial instruments:
  • dealing on own account
  • execution of orders on behalf of customers
  • underwriting and/or placement on a firm commitment basis or with the provision of a guarantee to the issuer
  • placement not on a firm commitment basis nor with the provision of a guarantee to the issuer
  • portfolio management
  • reception and transmission of orders
  • investment advice
  • management of multilateral trading facilities.
SIMs are subject to supervision by the Bank of Italy and by Consob and are entered in a register held by Consob. In accordance with Article 11 of the TUF, SIM groups are entered in a register held by the Bank of Italy and are subject to consolidated supervision.

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SGRs, SICAVs and SICAFs

SGRs (asset management companies) are joint stock companies that may provide collective and individual asset management services
SGRs are authorized to:
  • manage investment funds set up by SGRs companies and SICAV or SICAF assets
  • provide portfolio management services
  • provide investment advice
  • receive and transmit orders, provided they are authorized to provide alternative investment fund (AIF) management services.
AIFs are funds that invest in financial instruments and real estate assets with a lower level of liquidity compared with other investment funds (undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities - UCITs).
SICAVs, or open-ended investment companies and SICAFs, or fixed capital investment companies, are collective investment undertakings with a corporate form introduced into Italian law by
Legislative Decree 84/1992 and by Legislative Decree 44/2014, respectively, and are currently regulated by the Consolidated Law on Finance (TUF). Investors in a SICAVs assets can redeem their investment at any time, whereas those who invest in a SICAFs assets are bound to keep their investment for the whole of a company's lifetime.
SGRs, SICAVs and SICAFs are subject to supervision by the Bank of Italy and Consob and entered in specific registers held by the Bank of Italy: the SGR Register (Section for Managers of UCITs and Mangers of AIFs); the SICAV Register (UCIT and AIF Sections); and the SICAF Register.

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Electronic money institutions - EMIs

These are companies other than banks that issue electronic money. They may also provide payment services under Article 1, Paragraph 1, Letter b) of Legislative Decree 11/2010. They may provide financing only in relation to payment services that are not connected with the issuance of electronic money.

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Payment institutions

Payment institutions are companies, other than banks and EMIs, which are authorized to provide payment services under Article 1, Paragraph 1, Letter b of Legislative Decree 11/2010.

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Financial conglomerates

Financial conglomerates are groups of firms, significantly active in insurance and banking or in investment services, which include at least one insurance company and one company operating either in the banking or the investment services sector, and that have a regulated entity at their head or operate mainly in the financial sector..

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Non-bank financial intermediaries

Financial intermediaries are entities other than banks allowed by Italian law to provide credit in a professional capacity on Italian territory. Their regulation is not harmonized at EU level and therefore, with the exception of those entities controlled by EU banks (see Article 18 of the Consolidated Law on Banking -TUB), mutual recognition at EU level is not permitted.

Based on the reform of Title V of the TUB, which came into effect on 11 July 2015, financial intermediaries are now authorized by the Bank of Italy to provide financing in any form – including the issue of guarantees – and are entered in a special register provided for by Article 106 of the TUB (as amended by Legislative Decree 141/2010, hereafter the 'new TUB'). Loan guarantee consortia (Confidi) with business volumes of €150 million or more, securitization servicers, that is to say entities that collect transferred loans and cash and payment services pursuant to Law 130/1999, and fiduciary companies pursuant to Article 199 of the Consolidated Law on Finance (TUF) are entered in the same register.

Financial intermediaries (including pawnbrokers), loan guarantee consortia and securitization servicers entered in the register pursuant to Article 106 of the new TUB are subject to a prudential supervisory regime equivalent to that of banks, the aim of which is to ensure financial stability and sound and prudent management. It is organized according to the principle of proportionality to take into account the operational, size-related and organizational complexity of the intermediaries and the nature of their activities.

The regulation of financial groups subject to consolidated supervision has been introduced for the first time. A financial group consists of one or more financial intermediaries, non-EU banks, financial companies and instrumental subsidiaries. The parent company of a financial group may be a financial intermediary or a financial company that directly or indirectly controls the other companies.

The reform repealed the previous system of control of financial intermediaries, which made a distinction, according to size, between those entered in the general register and subject to formal checks on registration requirements, and those entered in the special register and subject to prudential supervision. There was a suitable transition period for the changeover from the old to the new market structure, which ended on 12 May 2016. The requirements for the financial intermediaries affected by the reform were explained in a note to the financial intermediaries system.

As of 12 May 2016 financial intermediaries entered in the previous general and special registers may continue to provide financing to the public, as specified in the TUB and relative implementing rules (see Ministerial Decree 53/2015). However, in order to do so they must have applied for listing in the new register pursuant to Article 106 of the TUB within the time period indicated and begun, though not yet completed, the administrative procedures under Law 241/90. These entities are still subject to the rules and the implementing provisions (summarized here) of the old TUB, which have been repealed or replaced by Legislative Decree 141/2010, until they have been deleted from the old registers.

Legislative references for the reform can be found in Legislative Decree 141/2010, implementing Directive 48/2008/EC, Ministerial Decree 53/2015 and the Bank of Italy's Supervisory Instructions, Circular No. 288 of 3 April 2015.

Questions regarding the new legal framework should be sent to the following e-mail address: riforma.intermediari@bancaditalia.it. The Bank of Italy will publish the answers to the most frequently asked questions with explanatory notes, rather than by answering queries individually.

Requests for entry in the register in accordance with Article 106 of the TUB must be forwarded by certified e-mail to ram@pec.bancaditalia.it.

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Other entities: microcredit operators, small loan guarantee consortiums and professional gold traders

The Bank of Italy also manages the registers of entities not supervised for sound and prudent management but only subject to limited checks for compliance with legal requirements, in some cases only upon initial entry in the register: these are microcredit operators, small-loan guarantee consortiums and professional gold traders.

Note that the registers of financial agents and credit mediation companies are held by the Organismo di Agenti e Operatori (OAM).

Microcredit operators

The reform has identified a new category of financial intermediaries, known as microcredit operators. When these meet certain requirements, they apply for entry in a register held by the Bank of Italy until there are enough of them on the market to warrant the establishment of an official body to manage the register and exercise the associated powers of control.

Microcredit operators provide small loans for 'starting up or carrying on a business on own account or micro-enterprise' ('business microcredit') and for ‘individuals in conditions of particular economic and social vulnerability’(‘social microcredit’). It is a requirement that ancillary services be provided both during the loan examination and throughout the repayment period.

Ministerial Decree 176/2014 defines the technical characteristics of such loans, the purposes and the beneficiaries for each type of microfinance, as well as the requirements for operators to be entered in the register pursuant to Article 111 of the new TUB.

Provisions for entering microcredit operators in the register and managing the register were issued by the Bank of Italy on 3 June 2015. They govern the registration procedures and terms as well as data communication and reporting by microcredit operators regarding the loans granted and type of ancillary services provided.

The Bank of Italy has limited powers of control over microcredit operators. These powers are regulated by Article 113 of the new TUB and include the possibility to request information and documents, carry out inspections, prohibit new operations, force a reduction in assets and order deletion from the register under certain circumstances. There are no controls on sound and prudent management similar to those for banks and financial intermediaries, such as on the allocation of capital resources in relation to loans granted or the adequacy of the organizational framework for risk control.

Once a minimum number of operators have been registered, the law provides for the establishment of an ad hoc body to manage the register and exercise control, subject to Bank of Italy supervision.

According to Article 111 (5-bis) of the TUB, the term 'microcredit' applies only to loans with the characteristics listed in the TUB and in Ministerial Decree 176/2014, even when granted by banks or financial intermediaries.

Small loan guarantee consortiums (Article 155 (4) of the old TUB)

Loan guarantee consortia – consortiums and cooperatives providing collective credit guarantees – are entities whose only activity, according to Law 326/2003, is providing collective credit guarantees. This consists in 'the provision of mutual and business guarantees' to help groups of small and medium-sized businesses gain access to bank loans and loans from other financial operations, known as ‘collective guarantees’ (Article 13 (1) of Legislative Decree 269/2003, converted into Law 326/2003).

Consortiums with a turnover of under €150 million (classified as 'small' in this context ) are entered in the section of the general register pursuant to Article 155 (4) of the old TUB and may only grant 'collective' guarantees. They may not therefore provide other types of guarantee, especially not to the general public (on this point see the notes published on this website), and may not conduct any other type of business reserved to financial intermediaries on the Article 106 register.

Once the Bank of Italy has verified the requirements for initial registration in the section, it cannot make subsequent checks – either on-site inspections or document analysis – on the conduct of small consortiums. The consortiums under Article 155 (4) are expressly excluded from the provisions of Title V of the old TUB relating to financial intermediaries and their operations are not subject to the Bank of Italy's prudential supervision, although this is carried out for consortiums on the register according to Article 106 of the new TUB.

According to Legislative Decree 141/2010 the register of small-loan guarantee consortiums must be managed by an official body with both intervention and supervisory powers over the entities registered (see Articles 112 and 112-bis of the new TUB). The legal framework in place prior to Legislative Decree 141/2010 will apply until the establishment of the official body (for more information visit the webpage on small-loan guarantee consortiums).

On 18 March 2016, Ministerial Decree 228/2015 was published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale - Serie Generale - No. 65, setting out the rules applying to the official body keeping the register of small-loan guarantee consortiums. The Bank of Italy provides the Ministry of Economy and Finance with nominations for the body’s managing board, chosen according to specific criteria from a pool of candidates with the requisite professionalism, independence and integrity pursuant to Articles 3 and 4 of Ministerial Decree 228/2015.

The members of the managing board were appointed by the Minister of Economy and Finance on 9 November 2016 based on the recommendations of the Bank of Italy. They are currently in the process of setting up the official body and once this has been done, the small-loan guarantee consortiums will have nine months to apply for listing in the new register. If they fail to do so, they may continue operating for three more months, during which time they must either liquidate or modify their corporate purpose, eliminating all activities referenced in Article 10 of Legislative Decree 141/2010.

The information on this site is continually updated to take into account new developments.

Professional gold traders

Professional gold traders are persons or entities who, on their own account or on behalf of third parties, trade in gold at a professional level as defined in Article 1, paragraph 1, of Law7/2000.

For more detailed information visit the page on Professional gold traders.

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