A new management team to drive the business effectively and deliver its new strategic plan during H2 2021

2:45 min

Dear all,


I have spent the last few weeks speaking and listening to our people.

I have heard your concerns about the complexity of our business, the desire for more collaboration between colleagues, and the need for greater empowerment. I have felt your frustration about some of the decisions that have been made; confusion about where ultimate responsibility lies; and the resulting lack of accountability.

In my first communication with you, I promised you a less complex, simplified organisation. One that enhances, rather than impedes, the customer experience. One that empowers its employees to act within a clear set of principles. One that ensures roles and responsibilities are clear across our three lines of defence. One that allows everyone to make the most of the advantages we have, while contributing in true partnership to the overall business.


As with all key decisions, I believe the example must be set by the leadership team.  As such, today I am announcing the first steps in simplifying the structure of our organisation, enabling greater ownership across all businesses and areas, further integrating technology as a core part of our DNA, and clarifying respective roles and responsibilities.

This begins with the replacement of the Executive Management Committee (‘EMC’) with the newly created Group Executive Committee (‘GEC’).


Why this and why now?
We need to have a leadership team and organisational structure that will ensure we can drive the business effectively and deliver our new strategic plan during H2 2021.

The GEC will be framed by a smaller number of decision makers who will form a tight team and have greater proximity to the CEO.  This means more challenges will be heard first-hand and decisions taken quicker, so that we are able to execute with speed, clarity and full accountability.

We must focus on how our businesses operate and on optimising our strategic priorities.  We need local CEOs who are empowered to drive their banks within their local geographies but are also determined to operate as part of a cohesive Group. We need leaders who bring best practices and unite our Group. Leaders who have clear oversight and equal proximity to management as well as to their teams and end clients.  We are creating a leadership team from which we will be able to build an organisation that meets these critical objectives.

In doing this, we will not compromise on efficiency nor on our risk and compliance framework. We will further strengthen these foundations by clarifying roles and responsibilities, empowering them, and acting as a team. We will strive to achieve greater visibility around decisions, ownership of actions and accountability for delivering.

And finally, we need a Group Executive Committee that marks a clear step forward in championing diversity and meritocracy at all levels.  Our leadership team needs to reflect the business that we want to create and of the clients that we have.  A team who, through their varied backgrounds and experiences, continually challenge each other to make the best and most informed decisions.


What does this mean in practice?
We are removing a layer in the organisational structure – Western Europe and Finance & Controls – minimising co-Heads and maximising partnership, reducing the leadership team from twenty-seven under the old EMC to a streamlined fifteen, who will make up the new GEC.

Of this fifteen, ten will transition over from the old EMC. They will be joined by one internal promotion and four external appointments.
In addition, a wide simplification effort is being launched with a focus on streamlining committees starting with SpA, which currently covers both holding and Italian operating activities. We will reduce from 44 committees to a maximum of 15-20 and expect this to be cascaded down through the organisation.

In any new phase of development, adjustments are made and difficult decisions are taken in the long-term best interests of the business.  These decisions will affect individuals, some of whom have been a core part of the organisation for many years and we are grateful for their valuable contribution and dedication.


The Mode

We are moving to a system of country/regional CEOs (Italy, Germany, Central Europe and Eastern Europe) who will be empowered to manage their geographic area in an integrated fashion across all businesses and areas.

Each region will deliver best practice and capitalise on synergies by working closely to integrate their business into the overall Group, further underscoring UniCredit as one holistic business.

As such, Corporate and Investment Banking will become a transversal in matrix with the countries, with joint accountability for local CIB teams, ensuring a superior offering for clients through shared best practice and controls.

Similarly, our Group Digital, Operations, People & Culture and Control competence lines will roll out best practices across the Group and act as senior partners in their respective areas.

With this approach we intend to strengthen our footprint in the regions where we are present and beyond.


Italy will be headed by Niccolò Ubertalli, who was most recently Co-Head of Central and Eastern Europe.  Niccolò is a veteran of UniCredit, a true culture carrier for the business and for Italy itself and the right partner to build a truly unified team optimally positioned for success within the market.

This appointment and the positioning of Italy as a standalone geography reflects the critical importance of this country to our Group and also honours the roots, essence and spirit that underscore the origins of UniCredit.

Germany will continue to be headed by Michael Diederich who will remain focused on developing and growing our business in the country.

Central Europe will comprise of Austria, Czech Republic & Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia and be managed by Gianfranco Bisagni.

Eastern Europe will comprise of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Serbia, and be managed by Teodora Petkova. Currently the CEO of Bulgaria, Teodora is another veteran of UniCredit and a culture carrier of our new generation of leaders.

Gianfranco and Teodora will assume joint responsibility for Russia. The country heads within Central Europe and Eastern Europe remain unchanged, with the exception of Bulgaria which will remain under Teodora until the transition to a new CEO.

Gianfranco and Teodora will work closely together given the common infrastructure, market trends and obvious synergies of their respective regions.


Transversal Businesses
Corporate and Investment Banking will continue to be led by Richard Burton. Our clients are best served through an organisation that offers seamless products and services that incorporate different local demands. As such, CIB will overlay each geographical offering, including Central Europe and Eastern Europe.

CIB will be optimally positioned to deliver our best offering to each core market. This will create one enhanced, cohesive and clear offering, able to provide best in class infrastructure, product innovation and consistency in standards. We will be able to maximise synergies, reduce duplication, enhance creativity and ultimately deliver the very best of UniCredit for our clients.

We may replicate this structure with other business functions in time, and we will clarify this in our new plan later this year.

Digital & Operations
A newly created Digital division will be headed by Jingle Pang, who is joining as our Group Digital and Information Officer.  Most recently at Ping An Technology, Jingle brings with her unparalleled experience in banking and insurance and in the transformation of a “legacy” financial services organisation into a truly digital one; something very few have achieved.

By elevating technology, digitalisation and data to the GEC, we are sending a clear message as to the critical importance of this area for the future of our business.  No longer an add on, this division will drive and input into every decision that we take.  It will be fully embedded into each and every strategic deliverable as a way to better optimise our execution and, in doing so, enhance the client experience.

Jingle’s expertise and deep understanding across digital, banking and operations brings a different perspective through which we can view our business, weaving it into our institutional DNA.

Daniele Tonella, current Group CIO and the CEO of UniCredit Services, will be Chief Digital and Information Officer ad interim. He will work closely with Marco Bressan who remains head of Data & Analytics.

Digital will work in very close cooperation with Operations, which will be run by Ranieri de Marchis.

We will no longer be a bank defined by what we used to do. Our focus now is on creating a bank that harnesses the power of digitalisation to disrupt not only our own processes, but also the expectations of the industry and its customers.


Competence Lines

Risk will continue to be led by TJ Lim.

Compliance will continue to be led by Serenella De Candia.

Legal will continue under the leadership of Gianpaolo Alessandro.

Finance will continue to be led by Stefano Porro.

Human Capital will be broadened and become part of People & Culture as reflects the critical imperatives that drive our business and the stakeholders it represents. Annie Coleman will run this area.

Annie was previously Global Head of Culture and Client Marketing for UBS Investment Bank for nine years, with similar roles at Goldman Sachs and GAM. Annie has over 30 years’ experience of culture transformation and employee engagement, which will be invaluable in her new role. She will work closely with the current Human Capital management team.

Our people are our most important asset.  Ensuring that we are able to attract, hire and retain the best-in-class talent for the long-term benefit of our business and our clients is essential.  Talent will be a core driver in developing and embedding our new culture.

Under this new leadership we will build an organization that recognises and champions the right behaviours.  One that actively encourages doing things the right way, through increased ownership, constructive challenge, as well as opportunities to speak up and contribute.  We will move away from a command and control system towards one that recognises the importance and significance of those who make UniCredit what it is.


CEO Office
Fiona Melrose will head Strategy & Optimisation, which will deal with all critical initiatives for the CEO, such as Strategy and M&A, Group Transformation Office, and the further integration of ESG into our businesses.

Fiona has held strategy roles at UBS Investment Bank where she was Global Head of Strategy and more recently Santander. Previously she was a Senior Banks Equity Research Analyst for over twenty years latterly at RBC Capital Markets.

Functions that have been impacted by the de-layering (WEU and Finance and Control) will report here on an interim basis.

The newly created position of Stakeholder Engagement brings together all constituent parts that make up communication for the business, ensuring that we speak with one voice and deliver one message.  It will include Group Investor Relations, Group Identity and Communications, Group Institutional Affairs and Group Regulatory Affairs. Transparency and clarity around how we engage is critical for all our stakeholders and for the smooth running of this business.

This area will be led by Joanna Carss, who brings with her over twenty years’ experience of working in financial communications. Her understanding of this area, judgement and ability to deliver a consistent message across multiple stakeholders will be critical to ensuring that our actions are clearly understood and that our dialogue with our stakeholders is open, effective and impactful.


What is the focus of the future?
This leadership team will continue to meet on a regular basis with the primary focus of driving our business in this period of transition, working towards the creation and delivery of our strategic plan for the long-term profitable growth of UniCredit.

This is the beginning of a cascade process and I recognise that there may be some questions to answer around reporting lines in this new structure. We are committed to providing as much clarity as we can as soon as possible.

A number of our colleagues will move on in their careers. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank them for their commitment to UniCredit during their tenures. I would also like to thank all the members of the EMC for their dedication.

Further detail about our evolving structure and additional appointments will come as we announce our new strategic plan in H2. For now, I am confident we have put in place the optimal structure, with the right people in the right roles to reach this next milestone.

I want to thank you for your understanding and resilience during the recent period of transition and through my first thirty days.

I fully recognise that change can be unsettling, but these are necessary measures in the long-term interests of the bank. Our focus must remain on our clients, our business and on supporting our colleagues. 

For me this is the start of a new and exciting journey with all of you; one that will unlock UniCredit’s full potential and return this venerable institution to its rightful position within its industry.