The article investigates the intellectual capital disclosure of Italian banks over the years 2016–2017, applying the specific lens of healthy and distressed banks. To this end, we used content analysis and encoding techniques. The main results point out that intellectual capital (IC) disclosure is generally poor and that the intensity of disclosure varies slightly between healthy and distressed banks. Regarding the quality of disclosure, healthy banks present a higher, albeit modest, tendency to disclose non-qualitative and forward-looking information, maybe due to the fact that they are more focused on the strategies and the relationships with stakeholders as opposed to a more short-term approach of the distressed banks. To complement our study on healthy and distressed banks, we repeated the analysis focusing on bank size and independent directors. In this case, results do not show relevant differences in terms of IC disclosure. Hence, our findings suggest the need to consider banks’ IC disclosure as a strategic asset for increasing, among others, transparency and reputation.
Keywords: intellectual capital; disclosure; Italian banks; bank distress; intangibles; non-financial information