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Today I would like to share with you an article written by one of our portfolio managers, Richard Edwards:

“There are several thousand investment funds available to a potential investor, and the universe just keeps expanding. Trying to select the one that is most appropriate to your investment needs can feel like being a child in a sweet shop. Surrounded by a myriad of products which use slick marketing, it’s easy to be persuaded by what’s on the wrapper. However, what looks tasty on the shelf can end up being a bitter pill to swallow!

Investment magazines and investor websites produce lists of the “Top 10 Best Performing Funds”, but does that mean they are still the best ones to buy now? A strategy of “buying the winners” is not always the wisest approach.

When attempting to navigate in this vast universe, there are 5 areas that you should investigate in order to ascertain whether a particular fund suits your investment needs and your risk profile.

1. Performance. Absolute performance numbers can be deceiving. It is best to put this data into context by comparing with an appropriate market benchmark and/or similar funds from the same category.

2. Risk. Attractive high levels of return can often mean a greater level of risk and therefore the potential for greater losses. As an investor, just how much risk on your capital are you prepared to take?

3. Underlying investments. What exactly is the fund manager investing in? Different asset classes have their own characteristics and these can influence performance and risk. Sometimes the name of a fund does not give a clear indication of what is contained in the portfolio.

4. The fund manager. As an investor you are entrusting your savings to a third party. They will be making investment decisions on your behalf so it is therefore wise to seek some background information on the manager. Is the current manager the one responsible for the fund’s track record or has there been a recent change?

5. Costs. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”! The fund manager will be charging a fee in return for his/her investment expertise. The investor needs to know whether the fee level for a chosen fund is in line with market norms, and whether there are there any hidden “extras”.

Researching, and then analyzing, the above information is no easy task. Fund managers publish regular “factsheets” but these can still be fairly technical and not always very transparent.

In order to facilitate these investment decisions, at ING Luxembourg there is a team that is dedicated to the analysis and selection of third party funds for use in our Private Banking network. By applying strict criteria to a vast universe, we are able to filter out any inappropriate investments and create a list of what we consider to be “best in class” funds. ING Luxembourg clients can benefit from this in-house expertise and so navigate in smoother waters.”

Thank you Richard for this clear explanation.

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The exhibition The Colours of Night is at the Villa Vauban in Luxembourg city from 9 March to 16 June 2013. ING Luxembourg has sponsored this cultural delight, encouraging the public to see and appreciate this creative excellence.

The exhibition of works by Petrus van Schendel (1806-1870), which is organised in collaboration with Breda's Museum, is the first retrospective of the painter, one of the most important artists of the Dutch Romantic School. It comprises more than 60 paintings, drawings, sketches and silhouettes as well as historic objects from public and private collections.

Van Schendel was born into a family of merchant farmers in the village of Terheyden, near Breda. His drawing skills became apparent when he was still a child. In 1822 he left for Antwerp, where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1828, having completed his studies, he exhibited a self-portrait inspired by the chiaroscuro of the Old Masters, in which his exceptional talent for nocturnal scenes lit by lamps or candles was first revealed.

Later he enhanced his repertoire with other sources of artificial and natural light such as oil lamps, open fires, gas burners, fireworks, electricity and moonlight. In the course of his career he specialised in compositions with varying light effects. Around 1830, van Schendel, who was by then living in Amsterdam, produced his first painting of a market scene bathed in candlelight - a romanticised image which had no equivalent in reality, but earned the artist a tremendous reputation in The Netherlands and abroad. Struggling to earn a living, however, he left Amsterdam with his wife in 1832 and settled in Rotterdam where he was offered a position as a drawing teacher. There he produced mainly commissioned works, but also a wide array of paintings demonstrating his mastery in recreating the effects of artificial light. In 1838, after his first exhibitions abroad, he settled in The Hague, where he hoped to attract a new clientele.

This exhibition also explores another aspect of the artist's personality: his talent as an inventor. Van Schendel was indeed awarded several patents for innovations in maritime navigation, railway technology, agriculture, drawing and even aviation, which were presented at several world fairs from 1851 onwards, but failed to be implemented.

During his years in The Hague, van Schendel successfully established himself on foreign art markets and sold several paintings to various European royal collections. In the 1840s he was awarded several medals in exhibitions and salons abroad, including Paris, Brussels and Manchester. In 1845 he left The Hague and settled in Brussels. His studio in Schaerbeek received many visitors, among which collectors, members of the royal family and important art dealers. His large-scale masterpiece, The Birth of Christ from 1858, attracted countless enthusiasts to his studio and was later successfully exhibited in England.

After van Schendel's death in 1870, his works fell into oblivion as new artistic tendencies emerged. Today, however, they are highly valued, as Romantic art is attracting growing interest by experts and the wider public alike.

This exhibition falls under ING Luxembourg's strategy regarding sponsorship which focuses on Sport and Music as well as on Art & Culture.

The ING own Art Collection was founded in 1974 and comprises 15,000 works of art - contemporary art by professional artists - that are on display at 900 ING office locations worldwide. The works include painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, glass, video and graphic art. The ING Collection is highly international and always in motion thanks to the history, traditions and growth of ING throughout the world. All countries where ING is active are supplied with art from headquarters in The Netherlands.

Supporting cultural institutions is an integral part of ING Group's sponsorship policy. Conscious of the fact that both our customers and staff are aware of culture and art, our sponsorship undertakings aim to establish deeply-held, long-lasting contacts with the citizens in the many countries where our Group is active. As such, ING wants to make art and culture accessible to as broad an audience as possible.

ING Luxembourg is proud to regularly support exhibitions at the Villa Vauban – Musée d’Art de la Ville de Luxembourg.

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The answer to the question “Will we ever be able to retire?” seems to be “yes” for many people – but later than before.

Have you considered your retirement? I'm sure you have, thinking about relaxing on a beach or by a pool, with a drink in one hand and a book in the other, or maybe playing golf and exploring far-off destinations. We can all dream, but preparing for retirement is something that not everyone has prioritised. It's easy to put off such decisions, yet the benefits at retirement can be significant if you start planning early.

The ING International Survey on Pensions and Long Term Savings polled 12,073 people in 12 countries across Europe to find out more on attitudes towards retirement, savings, the future and more. Some of the highlights might take you by surprise.

People in different countries plan and fare differently concerning retirement. In Spain, for example, the majority of retirees earn at least 60% of their last salary; yet Spaniards are the most anxious about having enough money to retire - Austrians, Dutch and Turks are the least anxious. The British are the most likely in Europe to consider that their house is an asset than can help fund their retirement, with many selling their home to part fund their retirement

In Luxembourg, the current average retirement age is 57, but respondents expect to retire themselves at 62 years, both figures being 5 years less than the EU average. In the survey, Luxembourg residents were the 3rd most concerned at not having enough money upon which to retire but felt neutral when asked if they expected the same standard of living once they retire.

Concerning retirement income as a percentage of last salary, Luxembourg ranked second highest. Luxembourg residents were the second most satisfied regarding financial comfort for those who have already retired, behind The Netherlands.

Although information is key at pension fund pre and post sales, customers can be confused when it comes to pension plans. Luxembourg is top of the 12 countries concerning long-term savings; Luxembourg residents mainly invest in savings accounts (82%). 55% of respondents here do not have private pension plans, yet the majority have health, property and life insurances, however they are unprotected from risky life events such as sudden loss of income or long-term care.

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The issue of education in developing countries is a challenge that continues to face many societies. In particular, the education of girls is an issue that is receiving more attention.

93 million children worldwide do not have access to primary education. The direct link between access to education and access to the labour market and quality healthcare makes this high figure all the more surprising and shocking.

Spurred on by this, the ING Group decided to help to improve access to primary education in less developed countries. In a world-wide partnership with UNICEF, ING put an international development programme in place in 2005 to enable deprived children in India, Zambia, Brazil and Ethiopia to attend school; this is the ING Chances for Children programme. ING’s aim is for its global charitable programme to contribute to the physical and moral welfare of deprived children by giving them the chance to blossom.

Since the launch of the partnership with UNICEF, ING employees have been the cornerstone of the continued success of the programme, enthusiastically giving their valuable time and money. All financial contributions from ING's employees are doubled through the ING matching scheme. The Group’s staff around the world rallied round as soon as ING Chances for Children was launched. Thanks to their support, over 690,000 children have been able to attend a primary school since 2005.

Your donation could shape the future of deprived children. For example, a donation of €30 sends a child in a developing country to a primary school for an entire year - in India, Zambia, Brazil and Ethiopia. By giving them the chance to learn to read, write and count, you are giving them access to a job, a proper salary and good health. You can increase your contribution by multiples of this sum, depending on the number of children you want to support.

Donations can be made to account IBAN LU33 0141 5251 1420 0000 (account holder: Unicef Luxembourg). All donations to Unicef amounting to €120 or more can be deducted from your total annual income tax. In addition, ING Luxembourg Clients can support Unicef by using their Visa card. For each transaction in 2013 with an ING Luxembourg Visa card, ING Luxembourg will donate 1 cent to UNICEF (in 2011 and 2012 another organisation received a total of circa €56,000 from ING Luxembourg on behalf of its clients).

For further information, click here.

Monday, 11 February 2013 09:30

Barbara Daroca: Automatic Savings Planning

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It is always nice to have a little bit of money set aside, for a weekend trip or to cover some unforeseen costs. Or it could be towards a larger investment, for example towards buying a car, paying for education or putting down a deposit towards a property mortgage. By saving automatically you can put money aside with one simple standing order.

The challenge is to take the initial decision to start saving. Once you have a regular income you can set up a standing order with your bank and let them do the rest. You can sit back and see your money grow without noticing.

An automatic savings plan allows you to have money automatically moved to savings according to a set schedule. The outcome is that no effort is required to move the money to savings each month; it will be moved automatically for you once it is set up.

One way to use an automatic savings plan to reach a savings goal is to decide on the amount of money you need to save to reach your goal and the amount of time you need to reach that goal. Divide the amount of money needed by the number of months or weeks in the time you have to reach it. For example, if you want to save €500 in 5 months, you can set up an automatic savings plan of €100 per month or €50 twice a month. Because this money is removed automatically from your current account, there is less temptation to spend it and no need to remember to move the money to savings at the end of the month.

Different bank savings accounts operate different rules regarding how you can access your money; some stipulate at least a certain term while others have no such restrictions, and some allow you to access your savings whenever you like.

According to the ING International Survey 2013, pay packets are having to stretch even further for many people this year. Instead of wishing to save more, taking the decision and setting up a regular payment plan is crucial to achieving the goal of saving. While spending less can be beneficial to having more cash at your disposal, actually implementing a specific goal such as a savings plan will put this money to good use.

At ING Luxembourg, you can change the amount you save whenever you like, you can withdraw your savings at any time and you can choose to stop the standing order at any time too.

ING Luxembourg offers a number of different savings accounts: “Compte Vert” savings, Young Adults Savings Account, ING Orange Savings, Junior Savings (in EUR). But the real benefit of the ING Luxembourg savings plan service is that once you have an ING account created and online banking set up, you can use online tools yourself to manage your savings, without having to go into an ING Luxembourg agency to have it set up for you.

For further information, click here.

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