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The right information at the right time

How ING encourages customers to think about their finances

How much money do you spend on your car every month? How high are your energy bills? And how much longer do you need to save to pay for your dream holiday? To answer these questions, you need to understand your financial situation. ING encourages its customers to think about their finances and to take action. The quarterly magazine ing.world explored in what way ING put this strategy into practice.

Consumers know that it is important to be on top of their finances, but research shows time and time again that most people don’t like examining their household budgets too closely, even though an understanding is crucial to making financial decisions. ING believes it can play an important role in this process. Indeed, strengthening customer relations is at the heart of the strategy that ING launched earlier this year. Because our job as a bank is to enable people to turn their ideas for a better future into reality, however large or small those ideas may be.

To help customers navigate their way through life, ING wants to provide them with the right information at the right time: information on their current spending pattern and daily expenditure, but also about the future. What, for example, are the effects of taking out a mortgage? What happens if your income suddenly changes? By providing an insight, ING doesn’t want to be prescriptive or make judgements about the choices customers make. After all, they’re in the driving seat and are responsible for their own finances.

In the past, banks adopted a different position. The basic assumption was: rely on us, we’ll sort it out for you. But it’s not like that any more. Nowadays, lots of customers want to be in control. It’s all part of a trend whereby consumers have less trust in institutions and more in their immediate environment.

“People want to make their own choices and know that finances play an important role in that,” says Nanne Bos, head of Global Brand Management at ING. “But they prefer not to spend too much time on it. After all, they’ve got better and more interesting things to do: taking their grandchildren to the playground, pursuing a career as an artist, or starting up their own business. As a bank, our job is to facilitate that. And if we can ensure that customers are more confident about their finances, they feel better able to enjoy the things they believe are really important in life.”

“People know that it is important to be on top of their finances, but most people don’t like to get involved too closely”

Nanne Bos, head of Global Brand Management ING

Trend towards greater autonomy

Thanks to new technology, consumers have a greater understanding on a variety of levels. For example, more and more energy suppliers are offering apps that show exactly how much energy is being consumed. One of the latest innovations is Apple Watch, which will be launched at the start of next year. The smart watch records physical activity and heart rate. The user can set daily goals and receives an overview, for example, of how much exercise he or she has taken.

There is also a trend in the healthcare market for people to want to take charge of and monitor their own health, whether it’s the air they breathe, the food they eat or their personal hygiene. During a speech at the Innovation Experience, Frans van Houten, CEO of Philips commented: “Technology enables us to understand and control our own health, for example by means of coaching with real-time biometric data.” The Smart Air Purifier from Philips Healthcare offers real-time data about indoor air quality by continuously monitoring it and by issuing a warning if the quality falls below a certain level. This is done using an app, so that the machine can be operated with a smartphone. This innovation helps people with allergies and breathing difficulties.

The financial sector isn’t being left behind either when it comes to empowering people or getting them to take charge of their financial situation.