The 2016 Sustainability Report focuses on aspects that are most relevant and most “material” for the business and Group's stakeholders. These aspects were identified by materiality analysis – a process structured according to “G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines” of GRI, the main reference standard for sustainability reporting and the <IR>, the international reference framework for integrated reporting, promoted by the IIRC (International Integrated Reporting Council), which can be used to identify organizational and strategic factors and solutions that are the basis of the current and future ability of the Group to create value. Therefore, aspects that “have significant economic, social and environmental impact for the organisation or that could substantially influence assessments and decisions taken by stakeholders” are considered “material”.

In this regard, materiality analysis was integrated with the IIRC reporting framework that includes:

  • the introduction of the six capitals (financial, social and relational, intellectual, infrastructural, human and natural), to highlight how the value creation process is the result of synergies between financial and non-financial capital;
  • forward-looking elements (megatrends), in order to give new interpretations to aspects considered as “material” and increase the Group's oversight of changes to the external environment.

The process recommended by GRI involves three steps:


Identification of material aspects and stakeholders

The identification of “material” aspects for the financial sector which are significant for Intesa Sanpaolo's business and for its stakeholders are identified, by analysing:

  • documentary sources within the Group, including the 2014-2017 Strategic Plan, top management communications, shareholders’ meeting minutes, notices to shareholders, ESG rating agency questionnaires, Sustainability Reports for the last three years, policies adopted by the Group and complaints concerning the Code of Ethics;
  • external documentary sources, including the reference reporting standards for sustainability performance (G4, <IR>, SASB);
  • Sustainability Reports of other Italian and international financial groups;
  • sources from national and international institutions (World Bank, ISTAT, World Economic Forum etc.) for the identification of general and specific megatrends of the banking sector.

The issues identified were sorted into a three-tier structure with progressive details and were addressed during stakeholder engagement in 2016.

Prioritisation and definition of the materiality matrix

Stakeholder engagement continued to a be a key aspect of materiality analysis in 2016. To prioritise the issues identified, each one was assessed in relation to its significance to business strategies and commitments defined in the Business Plan, and also in relation to the degree to which it represents the interests and expectations of stakeholders: these two aspects are represented by the two axes of the materiality matrix, shown below.

The two aspects respond to the need to identify, for each topic:

  • the degree of commitment that the company has taken or plans to take on each issue according to the perception of the potential to generate risks and opportunities for the short, medium and long term strategic objectives;
  • the relevance perceived by stakeholders of the same issues assessed through a variety of listening and engagement initiatives implemented by Intesa Sanpaolo during 2016.

2016 Materiality Matrix

materiality matrix

Priority areas for 2016, with details given in the Sustainability Report about relative management procedures, projects, actions taken, significant indicators and objectives, also in relation to the Business Plan, are as follows:

Priority areas

Compared to 2015, there were no significant changes in the “impact of strategies”, with priorities determined by the strategic lines of the four-year Business Plan that will end in 2017. As regards “relevance for stakeholders”, the importance of issues identified in the previous analysis cycle was confirmed, with the relevance of the following aspects increasingly considerably:

  • “Climate change” in view of national and international developments in environmental issues (COP21, Agenda 2030, etc.) and the growing interest shown by SRIs;
  • “Customer service innovation” which includes the digitalisation of services and technological innovation and which has increased in relevance for all stakeholders People, Customers, the Community and Investors);
  • “Training and professional development” and “Employee enhancement”, which have gained greater significance for People, Trade Union Organisations and Investors, particularly as concerns customised training for specific roles, procedures and innovative systems for knowledge transfer, diversity management and talent attraction;
  • “Integrity and rigour in corporate conduct” which is an issue of particular importance for Investors, the Community and Customers, particularly concerning the protection of privacy and anti-money laundering – which gained importance, also in view of recent legal developments.

Relations with suppliers and the community do not qualify as material aspects, but Intesa Sanpaolo recognises their high social and environmental value and therefore provides detailed disclosures on the website and in single-issue papers [i]. A summary disclosure is in any event provided in the Sustainability Report.

Matrix validation

For each aspect identified as “material”, the potential risks/business opportunities were assessed, as well as possible impact on external and internal stakeholders and on company entities, in the long term (see the section “Analysis of “material” issues in the wider context of sustainability”). This also made it possible to define the reporting structure and disclosure for each issue of the Sustainability Report (both within and outside the Bank), in order to give stakeholders fully comprehensive information about performance (see GRI – Impact boundaries @).

The materiality matrix was shared with Chief Risk Officer Governance Area Supervisors, with the aim of integrating outcomes with the Reputational Risk Management processes conducted annually by the relative function. From this year onwards, process outcomes were also considered when assessing the significance of issues concerning strategies and this provides a qualitative/quantitative overview of the Group's reputational risk as perceived by top management. At the same time, the CSR Sub-Department informed the Reputational Risk function of the significance of issues concerning stakeholders, to give Area and Division Managers an integrated overview of critical reputational factors.

Analysis of material issues in the wider context of sustainability

Intesa Sanpaolo aims to show how business activities help improve or deteriorate social, economic and environmental conditions in a local, regional or global framework. To this end, a concentric figure is presented, with the seven “material” macro-areas, i.e. the most relevant results according to the materiality analysis in relation to:

  • the risks and opportunities associated with each issue, which could have a broad-ranging impact on the strategies and business of Intesa Sanpaolo in the medium and long term;
  • the positive impact that could generate shared long term value for the Group, the environment and society in general.



* ESG refers to Environmental Social and Governance Risks.

** SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) investors: investors that assess ESG criteria (Environmental, Social, Governance).