January 24, 2022

Roberta Bonasoni: "A new era has begun, that of the woman sapiens"

Roberta Bonasoni, Financial Consultant. In 2016, after 18 years of experience in banking in the Finance sector, she joined Azimut Capital Management as Wealth Manager and since 2017 she has held the role of Specialist Previdenza e Welfare for Azimut Emilia-Romagna, Marche and Umbria.

Protection of assets in terms of tax and inheritance, Retirement, Sustainability of investments, Private equity, Services to businesses, are among the many focuses of her customer-oriented activities. IAG business angel since 2018. Let's get to know her better.

What is your background?

I studied at the Faculty of Economics in Bologna in a time when the programs’ exams were taken in full, without discounts, and classes were attended sitting on the floor with 300 other students. During my studies I developed a great passion for law, for international cooperation. I dreamed of a job abroad. But my life plans, children first and foremost, led me to choose the ‘safe’ option and I found myself in a bank. In 18 years, all spent in financial services of which 3 years in OTC market trading, I have really seen the world change: the advent of the Internet, the euro, the attack on the twin towers and all that followed, the financial crisis of 2008, the sovereign debt crisis in 2011. At a certain point, my job as an employee started to become too narrow, "the bank is a barracks" is my recurring phrase. So, I switched to freelance financial consulting. Creativity and desire to do things had the right space. More and more work is being done with businesses and working on the front lines with entrepreneurs and professionals. I'm finally touching the results of my work; I can make a difference.

You joined IAG in 2018. Can you tell us a little bit about your choice to be a business angel and the evolution of IAG over the years?

I first approached IAG when my husband became a partner. In one of the Retreats I attended as a "companion", between dinners and chats, Antonella Grassigli, a great example of an "angel" that I respect very much, grasped the importance of the involvement of partners and families and the idea of the "Family Member" was born right there. I think I was the first to take advantage of it. I discovered a frontier world, a window on the future and, above all, human capital of great value. Business angels are innovators, visionaries, they provide time, skills and capital and play a very important social role that few people in Italy are aware of, starting with the institutions. If we were to walk down the street and ask passers-by what business angels do, I'm afraid very few would be able to answer. Yet, likely, their future job has just been created with the contribution of a business angel.

When Azimut developed its Private Market fund offerings, my involvement with IAG gave me a huge advantage: the knowledge that it was the right path, and the culture necessary to effectively pass it on to my clients. From private equity to start-ups, the transition is short: I often invite clients to discover the world of business angels. Returning to IAG just after a few years I have seen an important evolution, with the acquisition of new fundamental skills and above all a significant increase in the female component, which does not need "pink quotas" to assert itself. Brilliant and courageous minds able to make a difference.

I really appreciated Paola Bonomo's initiative to team up and deepen the knowledge among IAG members. The pandemic has limited in-person meetings, but we have an active WhatsApp group on which we share updates and experiences useful to all. Important synergies to increase the visibility of women angels. Unity is strength.

"You like to 'make things happen,' make dreams concrete." What advice would you give to young women that want to realize their projects?

To believe in themselves, to listen to their "gut", not to fear the judgment of others, to be ready even for failure, which is only a moment of growth.

A person who works with passion has the power to overcome stereotypes and barriers of all kinds.

But they already know this, it is to men that it must be explained.

Your professional experience includes that of ESG Advisor. ESG factors are now the cornerstone of Sustainable and Responsible Investing (SRI). Can you tell us more about it?

It's very simple. A paradigm shift has been underway for some time. We are abandoning the logic of the supremacy of shareholder profit on a short-term horizon in favor of a medium-to-long-term vision that takes into account values other than profit. We are simply evolving. According to the paradigm of "shared value" introduced in 2011 by Porter and Kramer of Harvard academics, companies strengthen their competitive position if they can create value, produce benefits for the communities in which they operate, helping them to face new challenges and meet their needs. Many companies have now adopted this logic in their business model. In the medium to long term, in fact, companies that respect the famous ESG criteria survive those that have the least possible impact on the environment (Environmental); those that protect the interests of all stakeholders and contribute to their well-being, with positive effects on productivity (Social); those that adopt transparent and correct governance (Governance). ESG investments are nothing more than the natural evolution of traditional investments and in a certain sense, "reward" those companies whose business model brings profit and well-being in the medium to long term. It is said that it is a fashion, it is said that it is a sector "in a bubble". It is certainly not a fashion, but rather a necessity. Think, for example, of the huge damage caused by abnormal weather phenomena; they are a drain on companies and insurance companies. Investor demand for ESG instruments has grown exponentially in recent years, and it is normal that valuations should rise above reasonable levels.

But it's the future. And the challenge will be to put on the ground what for now is in some cases still on paper: new industrial processes, new sources of clean energy that are more efficient than the current ones. Impact investing must develop much more, with the financing of specific projects. But before reaching the impact investor, these projects will have been intercepted and followed by business angels. Once again, business angels will be fundamental. And that's where I want to be.

How do you reconcile your personal, professional, and business angel life?

The powerful means of technology that we've cleared at all levels during the pandemic have made possible what was once impossible.

I can alternate between client meetings, professor receptions, and an IAG workshop without moving from my chair and making dinner in my spare time.

We are beyond homo sapiens. A new era has begun, that of "woman sapiens."