On June 23, 1823 the Commissione Centrale di Beneficenza (CCB) established a savings bank under the name of Cassa di Risparmio di Milano.
The CCB had been in existence since the end of 1816 to manage the funds entrusted to ‘Fund for Lombardy’ that had been set aside to counteract the dire economic crisis and unemployment that affected Lombardy and Venice after the end of the Napoleonic wars.
The members of the Commission had been selected within the Congregazione Centrale of Milan and were all from aristocratic families, many of them possessing a personal background as civil servants for the Republic and the Kingdom of Italy.
The new bank branched out quickly all over Lombardy, collecting small deposits in bearer savings books from the general public and investing only in government debt or in loans directed to charities.
In 1850 the bank made available loans secured by government debt and stocks, since 1858 bills of exchange could be discounted by the bank - so long they were signed by at least three Milanese persons of good standing – and in 1859 the bank offered the placement of treasury bonds
The robust growth of resources was due to the widened field of activities and the improved structure of the organization, paced by the institution of a special division (Credito Fondiario, 1867) to finance real-estate development, the introduction in 1882 of registered - as opposed to bearer -saving books, the arranging of credit facilities secured by bonds, stocks and bills of exchange in 1897.
The bank had reached a size that was relevant at world’s level and such success was grandly embodied in its neo-renaissance styled new premises in Milan, via Monte di Pietà - promptly nicknamed ‘Ca’ de Sass’ by the populace (The House of Stone) - that was designed by Giuseppe Balzaretti in 1870 having in mind the palazzos of the great Florentine bankers.
To celebrate its first centennial Cariplo called an international congress of the main savings banks in the world and relevant banking associations. On the occasion, the International Saving Memorial Day was instituted on October 31, 1924, a yearly event that is celebrated to this day.
Such trade meetings were regularly held ever since as they generated a flow of valuable contributions of economic and technical nature that allowed useful comparison of best practices, and also a good deal of advertising.
The International Thrift Institut / Institut International de l’Epargne was created in 1925 care of Cariplo, Milan; it published the magazine ‘L’Epargne du Monde’. In the same year Cariplo joined the Italian Association of savings banks (ACRI – Associazione tra le Casse di Risparmio Italiane). The scientific research activity and the international relations of Cariplo were greatly strengthened under the chairmanship of Giordano Dell’Amore (1952 -1979): he gave a special boost to the International Saving Institute moving its seat to Geneva, Switzerland in 1969 to better liaise with the international agencies of economic cooperation. Cariplo was then more directly linked by Dell’Amore to the Confédération Internationale du Crédit Agricole (CICA).
Since 1923 Cariplo had been also acting as official collector of taxes and in 1928 it obtained such franchise from the City of Milan. In 1928 a separate accounting section was formed within Cariplo to take care of agribusiness financing (Credito Agrario).
In 1953 Cariplo widened further its activity by establishing a bank called Mediocredito Lombardo as a special institution that offered medium- and long-term loans facilities to small and medium sized industrial enterprises. Such move was but a step albeit significant within the transformation of the bank that occurred during the ‘50s and ‘60s under the chairmanship of Giordano Dell’Amore. As a result of such process Cariplo increased its clientele significantly, developed the intermediation of foreign trade and acquired new targets as a commercial bank operating across several credit markets. Since its inception Cariplo had been deeply sensitive to arts and culture; during World War II it opened its strong rooms to shelter the stained-glass windows of the Milan Cathedral (the Duomo) as well as the painted masterpieces belonging to the Brera and Ambrosiana Museums, and also rare manuscripts and ancient handwritten musical scores. Cariplo increased also its own collection of artefacts that has as special focus the works of 19th century artists from Lombardy, in addition to few works created in the 15th and 16th century. The bank patronised and directed the publishing of countless and well appreciated volumes about art, economic studies, banking and credit dissertations, and historical analysis about industry and society in Lombardy.
In the ’80s Cariplo knew a significant growth both in terms of territory covered and banking products offered, along the preferred model of the multifunction banking group. In the ‘90s the bank acquired stakes in various saving banks operating in Central and Southern Italy.
In 1991 the newly incorporated CARIPLO SpA included Istituto Bancario Italiano – already wholly owned – and all the activities of Credito Fondiario, Credito Agrario and Opere Pubbliche in order to bring all banking activities under the same roof.
In 1998 Banco Ambrosiano Veneto merged with Cariplo SpA to originate Banca Intesa and in December 2000 Cariplo SpA has been incorporated into Banca Intesa.