UniCredit CEO Jean Pierre Mustier about the sales rumours surrounding Bank Austria, the upcoming staff cutbacks, bank rescues, dividend payments and why he thinks he is super fit but still wants to copy ideas.
They say you live ascetically, sparing neither yourself nor your employees. Is that true?
Jean Pierre Mustier: Yes.
Does this approach come from the difficult times in which banks currently find themselves or is it a matter of character?
It is a matter of character. But it is appropriate in the banking industry today to lead by example. I sold our bank's private jet, travel in economy class and have a Fiat Cinquecento as my company car. I want the team and the clients to see that we behave appropriately. The symbolism is important. In professions where you have responsibility, you should stay grounded and live a normal life.
Low interest rates reduce net interest income, new providers lower the price of services, costs remain high, the regulatory burden is heavy. Where else can banks earn money?
Banks can still earn enough, the key question is whether it is enough to cover their cost of capital - and whether they are taking the right risk. Many banks are putting their money into the wrong assets in order to keep their interest income or make their profits look better. We are there for our customers, but if we don't like the risk profile of a deal, we don't do it.
The European Banking Authority (EBA) has recently found that for the first time since the crisis, banks are not cleaning up their balance sheets but are now expanding them again - investing in riskier assets. Is this true?