Annual Review 2014
4. Our strategy
At the beginning of 2014, we entered the final phase of our restructuring. In March, we launched a new purpose and strategy to meet the challenges we face as a bank in a fast-changing world. We wanted to put more focus on placing customers at the heart of what we do. We defined our purpose: empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business. We developed the Think Forward strategy to put that into practice.
In a fluid, fast-digitising world our customers’ needs and behaviours are continuously changing. So how do we serve them best? Many of our customers are self-directed and they expect solid support, but they want to make their own decisions. We can do that by being a strong banking partner and empowering people and organisations to realise their own vision for a better future in life and in business.
Empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business
Driving sustainable progress
Ultimately, our role is to help people achieve a better quality of life. Financial institutions can support and stimulate economic, social and environmental progress. We believe that people with determination and imagination fuel sustainable progress by making their futures better. We back ambitious and responsible entrepreneurs and companies. Economic growth goes hand in hand with social progress and environmental preservation. By investing in sustainable progress we aim to support society at large and create a higher quality asset portfolio for ourselves.
Our strategy in action
Becoming a bank
We have been on a journey since late 2008 to radically simplify our operations.
In 2008, we received EUR 10 billion in state aid. The Dutch State has now been repaid in full. We made the final repayment in 2014, six months ahead of schedule. Total repayments on this aid package amounted to EUR 13.5 billion, which resulted in an annualised return of 12.7 percent for the Dutch State.
In 2009, a restructuring plan was agreed that met the European Commission’s requirements. Since then, we have conducted over 50 divestments with a total transaction value of about EUR 40 billion, if we include the market value of our remaining stake in NN Group as at year-end 2014.
As we near the end of this restructuring, there are new opportunities. ING has become stronger, simpler and more sustainable.
Reassessing our role
The financial crisis gave us the opportunity to rethink our role in society. Our focus now is on having enduring relevance for our customers. We want to empower them to realise their own vision for a better future. This is the essence of our new strategy.
Our strategic model
There are four key components to ING’s Think Forward strategy: Our Purpose, Our Customer Promise, Our Strategic Priorities and Our Enablers.
Our Customer Promise is the foundation of our strategy. It is designed to deliver a differentiating customer experience that empowers people so they stay a step ahead.
Our strategy in different markets
The implementation of our strategy varies in different markets. Overall our strategic priorities and enablers remain consistent. The detailed implementation is adapted for local conditions.
Building on our strengths
We are currently well positioned to be successful in the coming years. We believe we have strong deposit-gathering capabilities across Europe, a significant position in European digital banking and a successful Commercial Bank. These strategic strengths are supported by a disciplined and rigorous approach to managing costs, risk and capital resources. The strength of our balance sheet attests to the quality of our risk management. We have consistently demonstrated our ability to generate capital and now have a limited requirement for professional funding.
Internationally, our thriving commercial banking network is active in over 40 countries. We operate a good mix of mature and growth businesses worldwide, which we believe provides both earnings stability and significant upside potential.