Generali Investments celebrated its 30th anniversary with a conference focused on the main challenges facing investors in Slovenia

(Ljubljana, 11 March 2024) Generali Investments (formerly KD Skladi), the oldest Slovenian asset management company, celebrated its 30th anniversary with a conference focused on the main challenges facing investors in Slovenia.


The panellists at the roundtable discussion – Prof. Dr. Aljoša Valentinčič from the School of Economics of the University of Ljubljana, Ms Melita Rajgelj Ozebek, President of the Management Board of Generali Investments, Mr Primož Pinoza, Deputy Director of the Securities Market Agency, Mag. Žiga Hieng, President of the Management Board of Salus, d.d., Mr Primož Cencelj, Executive Director of the Asset Management Division, Modra zavarovalnica, d.d., and Mr Karel Lipnik, analyst at the Delo media company – concurred that the financial assets of an average Slovenian lack diversification. This deficiency, they agreed, hampers the potential long-term growth of individuals’ financial assets and also the overall prosperity in Slovenia.


Participants of the round table with the moderator, prof. dr. Aljoša Valentinčič, Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana (from the left to right): Mrs. Melita Rajgelj Ozebek, CEO of the Generali Investments, Mr. Primož Pinoza, Deputy Director of the Securities Market Agency, M.Sc. Žiga Hieng, President of the Management Board Salus, Mr. Primož Cencelj, Executive Director of the Asset Management Sector Modra zavarovalnica, and Mr. Karel Lipnik, Analyst at Media house Delo.


Slovenian households primarily hold their savings in banks – at the end of November 2023, household deposits totalled EUR 29.0 billion. This is very likely the result of inadequate financial asset management strategy, very conservative saving habits among older generations, and negative experience during the last financial crisis.

Melita Rajgelj Ozebek, President of the Management Board of Generali Investments, said: “Over the long term, investors maintaining a basic mutual fund portfolio comprising 30% bond funds and 70% equity funds could realise a return of 30% on their initial investment within five years and around 60% within 10 years.”

The preference for keeping money in banks, at home, or in bonds rather than in mutual funds or the stock exchange results in opportunity loss. Primož Cencelj, Executive Director of the Asset Management Division at Modra zavarovalnica, estimates this loss to be in the billions, attributable, on the one hand, to inflation, and on the other hand to the returns from capital markets. “Slovenian savers have failed to actively participate in capital markets over the last 10 years, yielding an opportunity loss of EUR 10 to 15 billion.”

Prof. Dr. Aljoša Valentinčič said: “Capital markets are important in several ways. They are very important for companies to access cheaper and diverse sources of capital, to be used for developing products and services. Capital markets are also very important for savers to achieve better long-term objectives through smart and diversified allocation of their savings. Both companies and individuals are supported by financial intermediaries, including asset management companies and mutual finds, while the regulator’s role is to maximise transparency and minimise risk. Every one of us who can contribute to higher yields for individuals and benefits for the society at large plays a role in this network.”

While Slovenia is among the top European countries in terms of the saving rate, Slovenians are still reluctant to invest in mutual funds and capital markets, despite the many advantages of this type of investment.

Karel Lipnik, an analyst for the Delo newspaper, underscored the multiplier effects of people actively investing in capital markets for the entire country: “If an individual had invested their employer’s contribution in equities at the Ljubljana Stock Exchange over the past 20 years, they would have invested one average gross salary per year, totalling a direct investment of EUR 37,000 (provided this money was invested in and retained at the Exchange). Today, the stock market value of those invested assets would stand at EUR 110,000, with dividends of EUR 3,800 earned in 2023 alone. Had pension saving schemes been introduced in Slovenia in 2000, significant economic development could have been achieved, including the ‘third development axis’. We would have eliminated the need to speculate about the timing of the first wind park as there would have been ample funds available. We would have three-lane roads and healthy public finance. If people in Slovenia, a country that pays about EUR 800 million in interest on its public debt, invested more actively in capital markets, the money for the interest on the country’s public debt would also stay within Slovenia, and we could afford an investment the size of the second railway track project every year.”

“Restoring the confidence of Slovenian investors in capital markets necessitates showcasing as many positive stories as possible. We can learn lessons from the recent government retail bond issue – i.e. both the state as the issuer, but also municipalities, which could issue municipal bonds, a sought-after financial instrument at the Ljubljana Stock Exchange in its initial times. It is important that investors learn how the capital markets work. Negative experiences are inherent to any capital market. Capital markets must be viewed as operating with a long-term perspective. In the short term, they are highly volatile. We Slovenians have a tradition of saving and hold significant amounts in bank deposits. On the other hand, we are also relatively inclined to speculation, especially the young generations investing heavily in cryptocurrencies. Young people must be educated as early as possible,” said Primož Pinoza, Deputy Director of the Securities Market Agency.

Companies are not sufficiently aware of the financing opportunities offered by capital markets. We should showcase as many success stories as possible, as Slovenia has witnessed both negative as well as positive stories. People must be informed more often about positive stories because it is success stories that attract the crowds. This is how Žiga Hieng, the President of the Management Board of Salus, summarised the story of NLB, which “went through a difficult period and various phases, to ultimately achieve a relatively successful privatisation, with a concept. The latter could be useful and suitable for other Slovenian companies, too. Following this avenue, with the current situation in the capital markets, we could attract additional investors or at least further motivate the existing ones with an IPO or SPO, similar to the engagement seen with government retail bonds.”

The panellists concluded the roundtable by agreeing that given the anticipated unfavourable demographic changes, the current discouraging system of saving for old age, and the significant gaps in the financial education and literacy of the Slovenian population (which impact both the younger generation, affecting their ability to distinguish between current and future consumption, and the older generation, whose savings allocation does not match the their retirement saving goals), it is high time for each stakeholder to assume their share of responsibility. This includes the general population, who should appropriately reallocate their savings.