2014 saw several important landmarks, confirming once again Banca IFIS's solid foundations. We continue growing and achieving targets, which is especially positive considering the protracted challenging economic scenario of the last twelve months. With a sustainable and profitable business model, the bank put the mutually related values of innovation and superior technical expertise at the core of its growth.
Throughout the year just ended, a major political and economic issue was credit, especially to businesses – and this will continue to be the case also in the future. We need a breakthrough to provide more credit to the real economy, and we need a renewed relationship between companies and banks to allow entities in good standing and those with growth potential to access more funding. The lack of a coordinated effort caused the already limited availability of credit to businesses and households to shrink even further.
Small companies cannot create a virtuous cycle due to the lack of credit, with repercussions on individual entities as well as several supply chains and business clusters, and eventually on the real economy.
As for households, the lack of a recovery did not allow the scenario to improve.
The bank is committed to supporting these two sides of Italy, virtuous businesses and struggling households, putting its relentlessly growing technological expertise to use in driving innovation in the banking industry.
In 2014, the Bank once again posted strong margins and grew exponentially in spite of widespread market concerns – a situation exacerbated by Italy's financial, political and legal instability.
In the DRL segment, Banca IFIS is the only active buyer on the Italian market and is also able to manage the entire non-performing loan supply chain on its own. This segment is growing fast and will evolve and innovate further also in 2015.
Therefore, we enter the new year with our abundant liquidity, excellent capital ratios and strong asset quality. Over the next 12 months, as always, the bank will strive to grasp all the opportunities offered by the market.
Our strong position and the confidence investors have in the company allow us to continue paying high dividends, a policy I believe shareholders appreciate. Here is to a wonderful 2015, hoping to achieve once again excellence and satisfaction while serving the real economy.