Money is a leading cause of stress for people everywhere. Half of households in Europe are struggling to make ends meet, while one third are unable to face unexpected financial expenses. More than half are concerned that they won’t have enough money for a comfortable life in retirement.
ING believes financially healthy people contribute to a healthy economy and drive social progress. That’s why we aim to steer our customers and communities towards improved financial health. We can make a difference by helping people to stay a step ahead of their financial challenges. Plus, it’s one of the ways we contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly towards sustainable and inclusive economic growth (goal 8) and reduced inequalities (goal 10).
What makes people financially healthy? They can pay their bills, they have no problematic debts, they have savings set aside, and they’re planning for the future. As such, they’re generally happier because they’re better able to reach their goals, whether that’s buying a new car, their dream home, expanding their family or retiring from their job: whatever it is that moves them.
We aim to make our biggest impact on improving financial health in three ways: through financial inclusion, by helping people manage their everyday finances and helping them plan for the future and protect their dreams.
Accessibility, or the ability to access things, is a prerequisite to managing one’s life. That extends to managing financial matters. ING wants to be an accessible bank for everyone, including people living with disabilities whether that means sight, hearing, physical disabilities or cognitive/learning disabilities. We have taken various steps, such as voice-activated ATMs in certain countries that make it easier for people with a visual impairment to withdraw money and bank cards with a notch on top so they can insert them correctly. These cards are also useful for customers with limited hand functionality. In Australia, customers with speech or hearing difficulties can do their phone banking via the national relay service and there’s a sign language service in some of our bank branches in Poland.
Financial inclusion is also about making sure everyone can easily understand our terms and conditions, that the information on our websites is readily accessible and that customers can use our online banking channels and mobile apps, irrespective of their situation. We started a programme in 2022 to align digital channels in all our EU Retail Banking countries with the EU’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines standard (WCAG 2.1). In the Netherlands, the ‘MijnING’ app is accessible with a voice-over to transfer money or to get current account insights.
We use technology and our insights on money to create innovative digital tools that help customers come to grips with their everyday finances. Think of forecasting tools like Kijk Vooruit, which help customers in the Netherlands to plan and control their expenses, the subscription manager OneView in Belgium, the money management feature Money Up! in Spain and automatic savings features and tools like Everyday Roundup. Used by over one million customers in five countries, Everyday Roundup makes saving instant and easy by automatically rounding up customers’ card payments and moving the difference to their savings accounts.
Shopping platforms like Dealwise – accessed via the ING app in Germany, Belgium and Romania – can encourage smarter spending by gathering shopping deals in one place and giving users access to cash back on purchases.
To support financial health in our communities, we partner with local organisations that provide financial planning, coaching and debt counselling. These include Schuldhulproute in the Netherlands, the Dutch Youth Perspective Fund for people aged 18 to 27, Romania’s Banometru and Banocontrol and Nantik Lum in Spain, which provides social workers with financial education.
Planning for the future
We seek to empower customers to protect their dreams through savvy savings and investments. We offer smart digital investment tools like My Money Coach in Italy, Naranja+ in Spain, Easy Invest in the Netherlands and Komfort-Anlage in Germany.
Another way we can help customers to stay in control of their finances is by helping them to identify potential savings, for example with a personal budget planner and categorisation tool that’s available in Germany.
Measuring our progress and impact
We continue to explore ways to measure and understand our impact. We have developed the Dutch Financial Health Index in collaboration with the National Institute for Financial Information (Nibud) and academic and business partners. It aims to become the market standard for gauging financial health and stimulating behavioural change.
We’re working with the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative under the Principles for Responsible Banking to contribute to setting a measurement standard for financial health impact for our industry. As a founding signatory in December 2021, we’ve committed to setting ambitious targets supported by measures around products and services, processes, data analytics and/or partnerships, with the aim of promoting financial inclusion and fostering a banking sector that supports financial health.
In line with this commitment, we have set a long-term target with a focus on, the Netherlands with almost eight million private individual customers. There, we have chosen the UNEP-FI core indicator (CS010: customers with products connected to long-term savings and investments plans) and set a target of a 25 percent increase in it by the end of 2030 (base year 2022). The target group for this includes all digital primary customers that have been with ING Netherlands for at least a year. Of these customers, those who (i) use automatic savings option for their savings account and/or (ii) set periodic investments for their investment products contribute to the target. This target aims to support the savings and future planning habits of our customers thereby promoting financial resilience.
Progress on this target shall be reported on annually.