Letter from the Chief Executive Officer

Letter from the Chief Executive Officer

Dear Stakeholders,

When I joined UniCredit early in 2021, I said it felt like coming home. This is true, but it was a home that was relatively unfamiliar.

Although I have worked closely with the bank throughout my career, nothing replaces what you discover about a business when you are on the inside.

So much of my first few months here was spent taking to our people, our investors, and our regulators, gathering an understanding of the bank and the needs and opinions of our stakeholders.

What I found was remarkable and deeply heartening, especially as we began to craft our long-term vision for UniCredit. Our bank is not an institution that needs to be fundamentally changed or rebuilt. We have all the raw ingredients for success: 13 banks across Europe; 87,000 people with a truly international mindset, and 15m clients. We are a truly local bank with a pan-European reach.

It would be an honour to be at the helm of such an institution at any time, but it is particular honour at this point in our collective history. Just as Europe was beginning to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, we found ourselves facing a crisis of a different nature in Ukraine: conflict the scale of which has not been seen on our continent for generations. As with the pandemic, we must endure these events and emerge from them determined to rebuild: not only to recapture the strength and success we had before, but to go further and do better.

Banks have a critical role to play as we do so. Operating correctly, they act as the engines for financial progress – the plumbing which facilitates this recovery and regrowth. They are the key transmission mechanism for our financial system; the deployers of monetary policy; the financers of state projects designed to increase growth, and so much more.

As a continent, we need our banks to function well because Europe has been underperforming. Our capital markets are less developed than those of other blocs and our real GDP growth is falling behind others, even before the war.

UniCredit is the only pan-European bank. Our true and deep presence across the continent means we are well-positioned to provide this financial plumbing which will help local communities to progress and Europe to succeed.

My role is to ensure that we are utilizing our bank’s ingredients properly to achieve the above, as well as our financial objectives: growth, profitability, strength, returns to shareholders, and long-term, sustainable success.

When we deliver this, we deliver for our people, giving them a bank to be proud of, and pride in the work they do every day. A team of passionate people, building true partnerships with clients and serving the communities they know well, will be at the heart of our success.

These things together will put UniCredit back in the top tier of European banks.

Looking beyond our bank, I believe this combination of financial success and empowered people is what will form the basis of Europe’s reestablishment as a leading economic bloc.

We have already made significant progress in 2021, working tirelessly with these goals in mind, and we have begun to see the results of such a strategy.


Although we formally announced our strategic plan in December, our action to unlock UniCredit and build the bank for Europe’s future began the moment we stepped through the door in April.

We were firmly in execution mode throughout 2021 and much of what we articulated in December was already in flight.

This year we have made significant changes to the way UniCredit operates, moving from five siloed business divisions to four coverage regions. We established Italy as a stand-alone territory. We removed unnecessary layers of decision making and empowered the people who really know their clients best to make decisions that concern them, within a clear risk framework.

We unified our view of our clients, ensuring that they are grouped in the same way across all regions. We developed two new, best-in-class product factories to serve these clients: corporate solutions and individual solutions. And we started rationalizing and transforming our technology.

In 2021 we saw the first signs of success from this strategy. Our Q4 results announced underlying net profit more than tripled compared to 2020 and net revenues were up 34% year on year.

Win. The right way. Together.

We should not underestimate the potential impact of us delivering on this strategy.

Doing so will have repercussions – both financial and social – across the continent.

This is what we mean when we say empowering communities to progress, and it is this that equates to helping Europe recover and rebuild post-pandemic and, eventually, post-conflict.

The most important factor that will determine whether we deliver on our ambitions is the presence of an engaged, empowered and driven team around us. It is their unique understanding of our clients that will enable us to deliver for them and, in turn, deliver on all of our ambitions. We are committed to giving them the inspiration, passion, and ambition to do their very best and go above and beyond for our clients.

We have taken measures to do so this year, defining our collective mindset as Win. The Right Way. Together. We want our people to be driven to succeed for our clients and for themselves: ambition is not something we shy away from. We want them to do so in the right way, in a way that adheres to our values of Integrity, Caring and Ownership, and we want them to do so in partnership with one another and with our clients. This mindset will drive all the decisions we take and provide the requisite attitude for longterm, sustainable success.

We have started a Courageous Voices campaign, to encourage our team to speak up, in all different settings. Our team are our most important asset and we must listen to their ideas and different perspectives to ensure we are working as a united group, moving in the same direction with shared goals. Our success will be a direct reflection of theirs.

There is an inextricable connection between a businesses’ financial success and an engaged team working to deliver a clear purpose. This is explicit in our plan, which sets out our dual goals of providing such a purpose and delivering a return on tangible equity of around 10%, annual net revenue growth of 2%, and a distribution of at least €16bn over 2021-2024, in spite of significant investment in our future – in our people as well as in our technology.


UniCredit Unlocked

UniCredit Unlocked is a plan designed to deliver for all our stakeholders: investors, employees, and clients. It is a long-term plan for our business. For obvious reasons, key metrics are based on 2021-2024, but this is just one milestone. True success will be measured by how well the plan sets us up for success beyond this date.

It is a plan designed to ensure we are ready for the future and, more importantly, ready to serve our clients of the future. We have bold ambitions to make UniCredit a truly digital bank, powered by data in all we do, investing 2.8bn in this area and making 3,600 new hires to help us on this journey.

Any plan for the long-term must have ESG at heart. Our commitment to sustainability and positive action across all three pillars of ESG will be a guiding force in each and every one of our actions and decisions.

ESG is about actions, not words, for both our own business and in the support of our clients and communities as they embark on their own transitions. We are committed to maintaining the highest standards within UniCredit across each of Environmental, Social and Governance, and to expecting and asking nothing less from our clients too.

Balancing these objectives will not always be straightforward. This is a journey, one which will not be complete overnight, but we will embody these principles every single day, working to do better and be better, until we get there.

We have committed to target net-zero by 2030 for our own emissions and have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 32% since 2017 (market based). We have contributed 36m to corporate citizenship and philanthropic initiatives, and to the education of 123,000 young people; and are investing 100m to ensuring equal gender pay, which means equal pay for equal jobs. The UniCredit Foundation continued its excellent work, donating €2.4m in Covid-19 relief to tackle hunger, providing over €1m to social solidarity projects and over €1m to support research, study and scholarship grants, whilst also providing €650,000 in match gifting to support our own employees’ charitable contributions.


Our financial ambition to unlock UniCredit is based on six pillars, designed to deliver sustainable performance and profitable growth through the cycle.

We optimise UniCredit by improving both our operational and our capital efficiency, enabling us to invest these resources into our business, with a key focus on digital and data. The focus of our plan is delivering growth, at an accelerated rate from 2022, reaching a return on tangible equity of around 10% in 2024 and aiming to surpass it thereafter. This strengthened business will distribute at least €16bn over the next four years in a sustainable fashion.

We have three interconnected levers that will drive returns over the coming years.


By managing the interaction of these three levers, we can optimally balance growth, strength and profitability.  

RoTE walk

All figures in %

Net profit

2021 guidance >3.7bn underlying net profit equal to >3.3bn with new net profit definition


RoTE evolution

All figures in %


Future Focus

I do not want to underestimate the incline of the path ahead, but I also want to stress the scale of what I believe is possible if UniCredit unlocks its potential and operates in the right way.

When our bank’s clearly defined ambition, purpose and values work in synergy, we will deliver for all stakeholders while not losing sight of the very fundamental reason for our existence: to empower communities to progress.

I truly believe that when these things operate in partnership, and when people work hard to win – the right way – together, this is when companies will excel. Furthermore, this is not limited to companies. It should not only be mantra for our bank, but for the communities and societies in which we operate.

If we get this right, I believe the convergence of a shared ambition, purpose and values is the principle that European recovery and growth will be founded on.

We will start with our bank: a bank that is united in this way, with the right measures in place to meet the needs of the clients of the future, so that we can better serve not only our clients but the societies in which we operate.

It is this that will enable us to be the engine of our continent’s recovery, the bank for Europe’s future.

This is a powerful purpose and one I hope that the UniCredit team can feel proud to be a part of.

I extend my sincere thanks to all those colleagues who have welcomed me so warmly and been open to the change that I know can be both exciting and challenging in equal measure.

There is a bold future ahead for UniCredit and we have already embarked upon our journey to get there. What we have accomplished to date – giving our team the framework for success; successfully beginning to unlock UniCredit; and delivering financial success for our stakeholders – gives me every confidence that we will achieve all that we set out to do.

I ask for the support of our investors and stakeholders as we do so; as we continue to deliver on our promise to build a better bank for Europe’s future.

Thank you, 
Andrea Orcel
Chief Executive Officer UniCredit S.P.A.