We at ING believe every project is worth pursuing. We believe all sustainable progress is driven by people with the imagination and determination to improve their future and the futures of those around them. We empower people and organisations to realise their own vision for a better future – however modest or grand. Our purpose therefore is: Empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business.
And this is not only for our core business. For the fifth year in a row we just opened applications to the ING Solidarity Awards. We are happy and honored to support associations working hard for a better future.
As in previous editions, there are two ways to compete: a public vote online where the 40 associations that gather most votes will be awarded €1,000 each and the project vote where associations can win up to €6,000.
As from last year, we also offer the winners the opportunity to gain new resources via a new form of fundraising. In partnership with KissKissBankBank, a well-known online crowdfunding platform, winners have the chance to get to know this financing alternative better and raise additional funds.
Every project is worth pursuing and every project stands a chance to win. And everyone can help by spreading the word and voting! I leave you here the key dates of the competition:
12 September - 10 October 2016: Registrations
18 October - 8 November 2016 at 12p.m.: online votes
15 November: Prize ceremony
Watch here what the winners have been able to accomplish in the past thanks to the ING Solidarity Awards:
When it comes to making financial choices, it’s obviously important to understand what you’re choosing, but it’s also vital to know why you’re choosing it. What are the deeper reasons behind our financial behaviour and choices.
This is why ING together with other experts (Microsoft, Dimension Date, EMC 2 and CEPR) initiated the Think Forward initiative.
The Think Forward initiative is basically a multi-year movement bringing a range of experts and research to find out how and why we make financial choices.
We live in a time where people are more and more expected to look after themselves, set their own goals, be self-reliant and therefore rely less on the welfare state. In other words, people are expected to gain mastery over their lives, become more empowered. But how do empowered people in Europe really feel?
Bridging the empowerment divide is the latest report commanded by ING in the context of the Think Forward Initiative and I wanted to share it with you.
No, this is not a post about how to magically become a millionaire. That's not ING's style and, as those of you who know me personally can confirm, neither is it mine.
This is a both-feet-on-the-ground post about being good at managing your money and soundly building your wealth. All financial advisors agree: the sooner you start putting money aside, the better off you will be. When you’re retired, but also at any point in life, there might come a time where you need a little extra: a larger house, a well-deserved holiday, education fees that exceed your expectations or - knock on wood this remains hypothetical - emergency funds in case of adverse scenarios.
You’ve got a savings account? Good. That's your immediate buffer, ideally paired with an automatic savings plan so you don't even need to think about it and you keep saving regularly. Putting money aside in a savings account nowadays isn't what it used to be, though. Your money is merely asleep, waiting for the day you'll use it. And following ECB chief Mario Draghi's latest statements, that situation isn't going to change for some time... How about instead (or even on top of) letting your money hibernate, you put it to work?
When I began my professional life, my dad urged me to start putting money aside in investment funds. He spoke about retirement and what not, so I ignored his advice. When I turned 30, he nagged me again. And that time, I listened.
Like me back then, you might not know a lot about investment funds. Or funds altogether. And you might not have that much money to put aside each month. No worries, that's where solutions like ING’s Invest Plan come in. Starting with as little as €50 per month, you can put your money to work and see it grow steadily (watch the video)
I repeat, there’s no magic at work here! The ING Aria Lion Funds invest in best-in-class investment funds internationally and this diversification generally results in higher returns and increased control of the risks. Plus, the longer you invest, the higher the chances that your Invest Plan will outperform your savings account (see, this is why my father was so insistent!). Just take a look at this illustrative graph.
Why Invest Plan? Because it's simple. Because it's flexible. Because it's easy to manage, whether together with your trusted banker or online from your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. Because at ING, we believe every project is worth pursuing, and Invest Plan can be the first step toward realising your dreams.
I am the Marketing Manager of ING Luxembourg but that doesn't make the above any less true. Just google it. Be good at money and start building your wealth now!
When I first heard about Pokémon Go I thought to myself: "New hype that won't last more than 2 weeks." Boy, was I wrong! I still haven't downloaded the app and joined in the frenzy but I'd like to share with you 5 impressive numbers to explain what is going on.
- 75 million downloads in 25 days in iOS and Android, although it's only available in 32 countries. It's the most downloaded game in the history of the US;
- 121% increase in the value of Nintendo shares in just over a week after 6 July. Granted, they have gone down again, but they are still about 50% more valuable than before Pokémon Go was launched;
- €9,813 per minute! This much revenue is generated by Pokémon Go through in-app sales. Popular games like Cash of Clans or Candy Crush produce €2,312 and €1,173 per minute;
- 23 million active daily users in the US alone, another record for Pokémon Go ahead of Candy Crush (which achieved 22 million active daily users when it launched in 2013);
- more than 30 minutes per day is the average time players spend on the game, more than what they spend on favourite lifestyle apps like Facebook or Snapchat.
Much like with financial investments, also here past performances do not guarantee future profits. We'll see if after the summer if Pokémon Go continues to produce such amazing results for the companies involved!
A few weeks ago, UNICEF Luxembourg came to present its mission and its experience in the field at our office; there, I had the opportunity to meet Paul Heber, Head of Communication for UNICEF Luxembourg, who explained to me why it was so important to raise awareness at company level.
In Luxembourg, ING has had a long-standing partnership with UNICEF for more than a decade. While both ING and UNICEF have their own individual strengths, working together and combining these strengths achieve even better results for children.
The presentation was a great opportunity to show what has already been achieved. It was a means to show the impact of UNICEF’s daily work for children and talking to a live audience allows them to better connect with people interested in their work.
At some stage I wanted to know more about the mission UNICEF Luxembourg did in Jordan and why they chose this place in particular.
UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories around the world, including all those affected by the Syrian conflict and migration crisis as well as Syria itself. In fact, UNICEF is one of the last remaining international organisations in Syria.
In this case they picked Jordan, because it felt like a natural next step after they had focused a lot of their attention on refugee and migrant children at the end of 2015. While, at the end of last year, they looked at the whole situation from a European angle, this year they wanted to show that the migration issue has many more sides to it. In fact, 4.6 million Syrian refugees currently live in Syria's neighbouring countries. That is four times as many as in the whole of Europe, and it is putting a lot of strain on those countries.
The conference ended with a unique experience for all attendees: trying the Samsung Gear (360°) glasses to discover a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. During more or less 5 minutes, I had the chance to “spend time" with Sidra, a young Syrian girl, eat dinner with her family, explore the camp and play football with all the children. It was impressive how real it all was and how touching.
The Virtual reality (VR) glasses had been tested as a possible tool for awareness raising by UNICEF's Innovation Team in 2015, but had yet to make it into the open. About a year ago, UNICEF Luxembourg had the opportunity to test them and quickly realised their potential for communication purposes in Luxembourg. It is the cheapest and fastest way to get the audience to experience the work of UNICEF first-hand. The VR glasses take story-telling to a whole new level.
In Luxembourg, UNICEF decided to spearhead the use of VR glasses and took the initiative to push its development. In their spare time, they started to test different glasses ranging from cheap cardboard models to more sophisticated ones. In the end they settled for the ones providing best VR experience, which is crucial, because you only have one chance to convince people. Every person who has tried the glasses so far has been very impressed, both because of the innovative technology, as well as Sidra's compelling story.
On an international level, UNICEF plans to show more of its work through VR in the coming years, proving that the right technology can indeed have a positive impact on modern development work. It has been very exciting so far and we are very proud of our cooperation with UNICEF Luxembourg.
Do you know a 22-year-old that can afford to spend $20,000 on a Rolex? If you do, he’s most probably a professional athlete… As the hype of the EURO2016 dies down I’d like to share with you an article from our colleagues at eZonomics about the importance of money management – based on the lives of footballers. They earn astronomical figures but their careers are short. They need to be especially good at money to avoid being bankrupt by the age of 40. Maybe we can all learn something from their mistakes?
A unique earning path
Part of the reason might be that when others are studying, future sport heroes put in endless hours practising hard on the pitch. Most footballers leave school very early, do nothing but play football for the next several years and are paid a fortune for it. In money management terms, a pro-athlete can be like a twenty-something lottery winner who has not learnt the basics of budgeting or keeping receipts.
According to the Professional Football Association (PFA), Premier League footballers typically earn £25,000-£35,000 per week, Championship players can expect £4,000-£5,000, League One players £1,700-£2,500 and League Two players £1,300 to £1,500. However, an average footballer’s career lasts just eight years. This relatively short earning period magnifies the retirement problem. Even extravagant wealth can dissipate over the remaining decades of a footballer’s lifetime.
Financial advisors calls this the problem of the $20,000 Rolex. If a 22-year-old spends $20,000 on a watch or on a big night out at a nightclub, that money is either depreciating or gone. But if they invested it in a five percent, Triple A insured, tax-free bond for a period of 30 years that $20,000 would be worth $86,000 at that tax-free rate of return. And needless to say, they could buy more than one $20,000 Rolex.
What are the reasons?
Financial ruin can have many contributing causes, but it often boils down to bad advice. It can be easy to hire the wrong advisers and then trust them far too much. Financial advisors call this "the problem of the $20,000 Rolex”. Michael Seymour, UNI Private Wealth Strategies founder, explains: “If a 22-year-old spends $20,000 on a watch or on a big night out at a nightclub, that money is either depreciating or gone. But if they invested in a five percent, Triple A insured, tax-free bond for a period of 30 years that $20,000 would be worth $86,000 at that tax-free rate of return. And needless to say, they buy more than one $20,000."
Another problem is that the tangible is more thrilling. Many people, including athletes, do not understand the stock market. Securities are not just boring but invisible too, when compared with property, nightclubs or car dealerships. Huge lifestyle changes can be more likely too when the player has retired, the peak earnings period long over. And what if there’s an expensive divorce settlement?
Richard Lapchick, director of the University of Central Florida's DeVos Sport Business Management programme, says the thorniest question for a pro athlete can be how to handle the new people suddenly emerging in their lives who expect help, money or jobs. Often ex-players haven’t learnt how to say no.
An age-old story
A few may capitalise on their athletic experience and remain in the public eye forever, like David Beckham or Gary Lineker, which often skews our perceptions but most retire without a plan and may earn very little for the rest of their lives. Others successfully switch industries. Liverpool striker Michael Owen runs a racing stable, training racehorses and breeding winners. Some become coaches, and there are plenty of real estate moguls. Tottenham Hotspur’s Swiss former centre-half now develops luxury hotels and Frank Lampard signed a book deal to produce stories for children.
Typically, however, their post-retirement roles pay nowhere near what they have been used to, and the financial pressure can become too much. Top players who have gone bankrupt include former Aston Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie, who earned £30,000 a week at the peak of his career. Hendrie was declared bankrupt in 2012 after his £10 million property portfolio collapsed. Other bankruptcies include former England goalkeeper David James, who earned an estimated £20 million during his career, and Newcastle winger Keith Gillespie, who gambled away some £7 million.
The causes of bankruptcy can be complex. However, with footballers a pattern often emerges of breath-taking over-spending, poor investment choices and a failure to keep the taxman happy – mistakes to which many non-athletes can relate.
The ING Unseen Talent Award is a joint initiative started in 2013 by ING and Unseen Photo Fair Amsterdam that gives to emerging photographic talents a platform to show their work on a global scale.
As from 12 May 2016 to 3 July 2016, Neumünster Abbey exhibits all the nominees from the past three years, including the winners. An exclusive exhibition space is dedicated to the work of Sophie Jung, an artist from Luxembourg, who won last year.
Supporting young talents is important to ING. The aim of the ING Unseen Talent Award is to give talented artists the opportunity to raise their level. It is more than just financial support. As a matter of fact, it gives young artists what they really need: a platform, a network and expertise.
Every year the five best European talents of photography are shortlisted by ING Art Management as well as Unseen and rewarded with an extensive empowerment programme. This includes coaching sessions with an internationally established artist, like Rineke Dijkstra, and a range of workshops with different professionals of this specific field – not to mention the chance to create a work of art for the ING Collection on a dedicated theme. The final work of these new talents is shown at the Unseen Photo Fair, giving them the opportunity to present their work to the international art world.
The exhibition in Neumünster Abbey furthers one of the main goals of the ING Unseen Talent Award: to give new talented artists public exposure and support them at the very beginning of their career.
ING thinks that art inspires, reflects the world in which we live and push us to think.
One week ago, ING and Unseen announced the five finalists selected for the launch of the European edition of the ING Unseen Talent Award. Once again, Luxembourg will be represented. This time by the artist, Laurianne Bixhain. The winner of this 2016 edition will be announced at the Award Ceremony on 22 September. We will keep you posted.
In the meantime, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the exhibition at Neumünster Abbay. It is free and opened from 10:00 to 18:00!
In the month of June there is at least one orange "goodie" in every household in Luxembourg. This year: a foam finger, a keychain, a running T-shirt... and every year: one or several hats.
The day of the ING Night Marathon Luxembourg people wait expectant for our volunteers to start distributing the acclaimed gadgets. And once we start giving them away, they literally tear them from our hands! As you can imagine, this makes my team very happy; after all we spend quite a lot of time choosing and designing the goodies - so thank you all!
A couple of years ago we came up with the idea of producing even better goodies: promotional items we could sell to all our fans. But, of course, we're a bank not a retailer, so our goodies had to be sold at cost... or better yet: we could sell them at a small profit and donate all proceeds to an NGO. And voilà! the idea of the Express Shop was born.
Figuring out how to put the idea in place took longer than we expected. How would we display the items? How many different items did we need? Would people actually pay for ING stuff? So we did a test run during the 10th edition of the ING Night Marathon in 2015 with running related ING items. Guess how much money we raised for Medecins Sans Frontières? Over €2,000 in 1.5 days! And just to be really sure, we tested it again during the ING Route du vin last September where we managed to raise €1,230 for Unicef in support of Syrian refugee children.
Now we have an Express Shop in our Headquarters. Employees, clients and visitors alike can acquire the carefully designed ING items from the automated vending machine. It is our purpose to empower people to stay a step ahead in life and in business, so we try to design goodies that achieve that in some form. A mobile device charger; a notebook for great ideas; a travel mug; a handy shopping bag… And the profits go to Unicef as part of our partnership to help young Zambians via the “Power for Youth” programme to acquire the education and social skills required to manage everyday problems responsibly and independently.
My kids are big fans of our youth mascot, Sam, and they are looking forward to trying out the armbands in the pool this summer. And I’ll get an ING football for our next barbecue – it’s what everybody is talking about anyhow!
You too can show your love for ING and your support to Unicef! We look forward to receiving you at 52 route d’Esch in Luxembourg city.
If you’ve been following this column you’ve heard me say this before: I don’t run the ING Night Marathon, I run my personal marathon that day!
And it’s not just me, it’s the whole team setting this up. Every time I explain some of the things that happen in the background, I am amazed by people’s surprise. It seems to escape them that there are thousands of hours of work performed by the team of the organiser, Step by Step, by the different services of the Ville de Luxembourg, by the Police, the FLA and CSL, and by countless providers leading up to the event. And the day itself? Thousands of people are on duty to make the ING Night Marathon Luxembourg the great event that we all know and love.
On D-Day, ING Luxembourg is active mostly on the spectators' side. We organise several activities in Luxexpo and the city centre for the whole family. Volunteering ING staff distribute gadgets all around the city: hats and supporter fingers. I hope you got one too! Two of my colleagues from the communications department relay the event on social media. We have many guest runners, so we have our own start number pick-up desk at Luxexpo and this year, for the first time, we manned a refreshing point. These activities are done by our own staff. This year we had almost 100 ING volunteers – staff that comes to help out with family and friends and be part of the orange wave.
My role has two facets. I am one of the ING-liaisons for all entities working that day. In this role you might have seen me running around Luxexpo with an extension cord in hand, or frantically speaking into the walkie-talkie while rushing through the expo (that orange blur you saw tripping over the cables? Yep, that was me!), or scratching my head outside the arrival area trying to figure out whether the lit ING balloons that welcome runners to Luxexpo once the sun has gone down are actually lit.
My other responsibility that day is my CEO. As the main representative of our bank, during the ING Night Marathon Luxembourg, Luc Verbeken gives interviews to the press, visits all our activities and greets our volunteers, is next to the Mayor of the City of Luxembourg for the starting shot and gives the medals to the winners. My job is to make sure he has all the information he needs, that he is where he needs to be at all times (we travel back and forth between Luxexpo and the city centre) and is sufficiently hydrated, especially this year since he ran the ING Half-Marathon.
So you see, from early in the morning until late in the night (the last runner comes in at 1am on Sunday morning!) the ING Team is “running” its personal marathon. Hats off to everyone who, one way or another, gets involved in the organization and execution of the ING Night Marathon. Thank you and see you next year!
As you might know from our previous article, ING Luxembourg will move Place de la Gare in less than a year now: D-Day is getting closer!
Amongst the project’s different objectives and beyond ING visibility, two of our goals so as to enhance our Top Employer approach is facilitating collaboration and improving the well-being of ING employees within our premises.
Our new building is also an opportunity to re-think our way of working in order to cope with constraints we are facing and giving ourselves the means to support our corporate culture. To that end, we will implement an Activity-based organisation: as the name suggests, depending on the activity our colleagues are carrying out, they will be able to choose and move to the most suitable space to dialogue, collaborate, focus or even relax between two tasks. Easy to say, but it cannot be achieved overnight: it entails a lot of impacts on organisation (such as no more dedicated desks), flexibility of IT tools and infrastructure of the building and requires a great deal of change management.
Why do we need change management?
For the simple reason every change requires going through an acceptation process with more or less long phases depending on the person. Subsequently we found it very important to start as soon as possible to accompany our colleagues along the different steps, to help them prepare for their future organisation and, last but not least, to explain them why we are making this change.
How are we going to do this?
By communicating through different means. We nominated a few change managers who are in charge of conducting the project and we are implementing a network of ambassadors who help us understand the reality of the teams and who communicate with their direct colleagues. ING change approach breaks down into three characteristics:
Testing for enriching streams and projects
First of all, we put in place Proofs of Concept, which is to say that we implemented the New Way of Working as well as the needed infrastructures within two departments. The objective is to test the new model and functionalities of furniture and equipment, as well as to identify points of attention. IT is not left aside: given the flexibility of the Activity-Based organisation, we installed collaborative tools in different parts of the bank in order to best assess what we need to enable our New Way of Working. So far, we have received a lot of feedbacks and we are currently analysing implications for our new building. Fortunately we have already avoided this way wrong or mistakenly good decisions!
Working with teams to embed the concept in their organisation
We need to find the right interface between daily job and the Activity-based concept. For that purpose, we are organising workshops with managers to have a better grasp of the future concrete functioning of their teams. Managers are cornerstones for change as their role modelling and their proximity with our colleagues tremendously impact their acceptation process. As for implementing a new strategy, most of the success of a change project goes through top and middle managers.
In the coming weeks we shall also plan two different sessions for all the teams in the bank, validated by our Proofs of Concept testers who will come answering the questions their co-workers may have. Two keywords for these gatherings: fun and identification!
The first ones will be information sessions during which we try to link the theory to the participants’ daily job through different means; for instance, we present a sample of what a colleague’s schedule might look like. We also tackle some “myths” or false beliefs regarding the new model.
The second ones are interactive workshops that are more practical, given that we ask the participants to actually simulate or “act out” two working days of theirs by means of a Lego mock-up and to react to some scenarios. Thanks to role playing, people forget rational thinking and react more spontaneously: if they adopt new behaviours during the game, they will most likely replicate them in our new premises. These workshops also present an opportunity to brainstorm with them about some concerns they have and find solutions together.
Breaking silos to harvest talents and viewpoints
Besides our ambassadors, we have been sending surveys, we have been organising brainstorming meetings and we have set up several workgroups on themes like mobility and Look & Feel in order to involve colleagues in the project and gather the voice of our collaborators.
Eventually we are willing to be available when they have questions or show curiosity on very different aspects of our new premises. In order to answer this need, we plan every six weeks Lunch & Ask sessions and we are currently giving the opportunity to ING employees to visit the building site. Each team will also have its ticket to discover its future environment before the actual move.
The last word to conclude and sum up this article goes to Charles Marichal, head of the Securities department (one of our Proofs of Concept): “As far as I am concerned, I think what we absolutely need to remember is that this type of organisational change needs to be carefully and thoughtfully prepared. It requires common sense, motivation and commitment. It falls to the managers to create these feelings within their team before moving next to the train station.”