World Thrift – The History of the World Savings Banks Institute

Founded in 1924 as International Savings Banks Institute, the World Savings Banks Institute now represents 940 Savings Banks from all over the world.

At the occasion of the First International Thrift Congress, Milan saw the foundation of the International Savings Banks Institute in 1924.  This congress had been organised by the Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, which also celebrated their centennial anniversary. The congress gathered 354 delegates present representing approximately 7,000 branches of savings banks from 27 different countries.

 First International Thrift Congress Milan
First International Thrift Congress, Milan, October 1924

 When this First International Thrift Congress closed on 31 October, Professor Filippo Ravizza, officially proclaimed October 31 'World Thrift Day'.  The intention was to make the general public aware of the importance of Savings. From this day on, Savings Banks all around the globe have celebrated World Savings Day, as it is nowadays called, every year and it became a fixed holiday on the calendar of all savings banks.

In its resolutions, the Congress also stated that the creation of a permanent International Savings Banks Institute would be  "advantageous and indispensable for the better mutual acquaintance of all Savings Banks and for the increased development and co-ordination of their activities."

The first President of the Institute was Marquis Capitani d’Arzago, the former President of the ‘Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde’ and of the ‘Associazione fra la Casse di Risparmio Italiane’. He remained President of the Institute until 1945. First Director of the Institut was Filippo Ravizza who stayed in office until 1948.

Marquis Capitani d’Arzago               Prof. Filippo Ravizza

Marquis Capitani d’Arzago             Prof. Filippo Ravizza

The Institute’s main objective was to improve the collaboration among savings banks. The Institute published the first issue of the official organ of the Institute entitled ‘World Thrift’ in June 1926. This journal was spread among all members of the Institute.

Until the Second World War the headquarters of the International Savings Banks Institute remained in Milan. But since Milan had suffered from heavy bombings the Institute moved to Amsterdam in 1948. With a new structure comprising a range of committees and working groups, the International Savings Banks Institute was now restructured to function according to its international character.

In 1963, The 'Savings Banks Group of the European Economic Community' was created to represent European Savings Banks from the merging European markets. This institution was renamed ‘European Savings Banks Group’ in 1988.

The International Savings Banks Institute was again relocated in 1969, this time to Geneva where it remained until 1994 when it was dissolved. In its place, a newly created World Savings Banks Institute (WSBI) was established in Brussels on 9 June 1994. Both WSBI and ESBG are today managed by a World Savings Banks Institute - European Savings Banks Group (WSBI/ESBG) common secretariat, located in Brussels.

World Congresses

WSBI World Congresses have addressed global trends that affect both savings banks and their customers.

Important representatives from the worlds of finance, politics, philosophy and civil society and from international economic institutions, development organisations and the academia come together at this forum. They are invited to present their vision of the economy and of the society and confront the trends and challenges facing savings banks. These events provide a unique occasion to place savings banks’ activities in a global context and to help them develop a vision for future trends and opportunities.

There have been 22 WSBI World Congresses since the first event in 1924: 16 took place in Europe, 1 in the US, 2  in Latin America (Colombia and Chile) and 3 in Asia (Singapore and Japan).

Since World War II, WSBI World Congress have taken place once every three years.

The next World Congress will take place on 10/11 May 2012 in Marrakech, Morocco.

Archives of the International Savings Banks Institute, 1924-1994

The WSBI-ESBG Joint Office safeguards the historical archives of the International Savings Banks Institute. The archives of the Institute are an important source for historical research on the evolution of the financial industry. Detailed requests for information can be addressed to: info@savings-banks.com


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