A conversation with Andrew Bester, ING’s new head of Wholesale Banking
You have a long career including executive positions at Lloyds Bank, Standard Chartered and, lastly, Co-Operative bank. What attracted you to ING?
ING is a very strong global bank with a unique footprint. I have always admired the ING business, the brand and its people, also having worked with ING as a mutual financial institution client during some of my previous roles. At a business level I am excited by the strong geographic footprint of ING. In the post-Covid world we have the opportunity to be one of the top wholesale banking franchises in Europe with strong positions in Asia and the Americas.
What experience in your previous role do you bring to ING?
I have been working in banking and corporate finance for over 30 years. I have worked for institutions with rich histories, diverse teams, strong brands and loyal customer franchises. I have been fortunate enough to travel the world and work on three continents in a wide range of roles spanning the front, middle and the back office in retail, commercial and investment banking. My last roles were dominated by transformation – in the turnaround of the Co-operative Bank in the UK and in the post-financial crisis recovery of the commercial and wholesale banking business of Lloyds Banking Group, which is similar in size and complexity to ING Wholesale Banking.
What is your view on the current, past and the future of the financial sector?
The financial services sector continues to go through significant change, accelerating in pace since the financial crisis in 2008. This has been on multiple dimensions including customer preference for digital interaction, significant changes in regulation, numerous geo-political developments, the Covid pandemic, the persistent very low interest rate environment and an acceleration of the commoditisation of products resulting in lower profitability.
These changes have created both risks and opportunities for the banking industry. The pace of change is very fast and means you need to be clear both on the universal truths that are constant and have underpinned the industry over the centuries and on the things that will change completely. The constants I see are the trust customers place in their bank, the ability to access the services they require wherever and however they choose and the importance of being a primary provider to your client. The changes that will keep coming include deeper digitisation and automation, a relentless drive for cost efficiency and ever more focus on optimal capital deployment to drive returns.
How do you see the future of Wholesale Banking at ING?
In the environment I described before, I see a future for Wholesale Banking that leverages its strong client franchise and unique geographic footprint to be a key driver of returns and profits. The key to thriving in the future is to keep the agility and flexibility to re-enforce the strengths of ING. The brand is strong, the people are committed and the geographic footprint is unique. Like for everyone in the industry, adjusting to a post-Covid world will mean there are some tough choices ahead. But with the scale and strength of ING, I see opportunity for growth both for individuals and the franchise.
How would you describe your leadership style?
First of all, I am very focused on the client and on ensuring everyone does so. From there, I am a strong believer in values based leadership which respects the values and culture of the organisation, ensuring diversity in an inclusive environment. I use fact based frameworks of both financial and non-financial information to ensure we leverage the best of the bank’s culture and values to drive positive outcomes.
Your new role requires you to be based in the Netherlands. Will that be a big change for you?
I am looking forward to working in Amsterdam. We have been fortunate to live and work in some amazing cities. As a family we had seven happy years working in Hong Kong and Singapore and have had two stints working in London. I have done business in the Netherlands throughout my career and am excited about spending more time living and experiencing life in the Netherlands.