A few weeks ago, UNICEF Luxembourg came to present its mission and its experience in the field at our office; there, I had the opportunity to meet Paul Heber, Head of Communication for UNICEF Luxembourg, who explained to me why it was so important to raise awareness at company level.

In Luxembourg, ING has had a long-standing partnership with UNICEF for more than a decade. While both ING and UNICEF have their own individual strengths, working together and combining these strengths achieve even better results for children.

The presentation was a great opportunity to show what has already been achieved. It was a means to show the impact of UNICEF’s daily work for children and talking to a live audience allows them to better connect with people interested in their work.

At some stage I wanted to know more about the mission UNICEF Luxembourg did in Jordan and why they chose this place in particular.

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories around the world, including all those affected by the Syrian conflict and migration crisis as well as Syria itself. In fact, UNICEF is one of the last remaining international organisations in Syria.

In this case they picked Jordan, because it felt like a natural next step after they had focused a lot of their attention on refugee and migrant children at the end of 2015. While, at the end of last year, they looked at the whole situation from a European angle, this year they wanted to show that the migration issue has many more sides to it. In fact, 4.6 million Syrian refugees currently live in Syria's neighbouring countries. That is four times as many as in the whole of Europe, and it is putting a lot of strain on those countries.

The conference ended with a unique experience for all attendees: trying the Samsung Gear (360°) glasses to discover a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. During more or less 5 minutes, I had the chance to “spend time" with Sidra, a young Syrian girl, eat dinner with her family, explore the camp and play football with all the children. It was impressive how real it all was and how touching.

The Virtual reality (VR) glasses had been tested as a possible tool for awareness raising by UNICEF's Innovation Team in 2015, but had yet to make it into the open. About a year ago, UNICEF Luxembourg had the opportunity to test them and quickly realised their potential for communication purposes in Luxembourg. It is the cheapest and fastest way to get the audience to experience the work of UNICEF first-hand. The VR glasses take story-telling to a whole new level.

In Luxembourg, UNICEF decided to spearhead the use of VR glasses and took the initiative to push its development. In their spare time, they started to test different glasses ranging from cheap cardboard models to more sophisticated ones. In the end they settled for the ones providing best VR experience, which is crucial, because you only have one chance to convince people. Every person who has tried the glasses so far has been very impressed, both because of the innovative technology, as well as Sidra's compelling story.

On an international level, UNICEF plans to show more of its work through VR in the coming years, proving that the right technology can indeed have a positive impact on modern development work. It has been very exciting so far and we are very proud of our cooperation with UNICEF Luxembourg.


Do you know a 22-year-old that can afford to spend $20,000 on a Rolex? If you do, he’s most probably a professional athlete… As the hype of the EURO2016 dies down I’d like to share with you an article from our colleagues at eZonomics about the importance of money management – based on the lives of footballers. They earn astronomical figures but their careers are short. They need to be especially good at money to avoid being bankrupt by the age of 40. Maybe we can all learn something from their mistakes?

A unique earning path

Part of the reason might be that when others are studying, future sport heroes put in endless hours practising hard on the pitch. Most footballers leave school very early, do nothing but play football for the next several years and are paid a fortune for it. In money management terms, a pro-athlete can be like a twenty-something lottery winner who has not learnt the basics of budgeting or keeping receipts.

According to the Professional Football Association (PFA), Premier League footballers typically earn £25,000-£35,000 per week, Championship players can expect £4,000-£5,000, League One players £1,700-£2,500 and League Two players £1,300 to £1,500. However, an average footballer’s career lasts just eight years. This relatively short earning period magnifies the retirement problem. Even extravagant wealth can dissipate over the remaining decades of a footballer’s lifetime.

Financial advisors calls this the problem of the $20,000 Rolex. If a 22-year-old spends $20,000 on a watch or on a big night out at a nightclub, that money is either depreciating or gone. But if they invested it in a five percent, Triple A insured, tax-free bond for a period of 30 years that $20,000 would be worth $86,000 at that tax-free rate of return. And needless to say, they could buy more than one $20,000 Rolex.

What are the reasons?

Financial ruin can have many contributing causes, but it often boils down to bad advice. It can be easy to hire the wrong advisers and then trust them far too much. Financial advisors call this "the problem of the $20,000 Rolex”. Michael Seymour, UNI Private Wealth Strategies founder, explains: “If a 22-year-old spends $20,000 on a watch or on a big night out at a nightclub, that money is either depreciating or gone. But if they invested in a five percent, Triple A insured, tax-free bond for a period of 30 years that $20,000 would be worth $86,000 at that tax-free rate of return. And needless to say, they buy more than one $20,000."

Another problem is that the tangible is more thrilling. Many people, including athletes, do not understand the stock market. Securities are not just boring but invisible too, when compared with property, nightclubs or car dealerships. Huge lifestyle changes can be more likely too when the player has retired, the peak earnings period long over. And what if there’s an expensive divorce settlement?

Richard Lapchick, director of the University of Central Florida's DeVos Sport Business Management programme, says the thorniest question for a pro athlete can be how to handle the new people suddenly emerging in their lives who expect help, money or jobs. Often ex-players haven’t learnt how to say no.

An age-old story

A few may capitalise on their athletic experience and remain in the public eye forever, like David Beckham or Gary Lineker, which often skews our perceptions but most retire without a plan and may earn very little for the rest of their lives. Others successfully switch industries. Liverpool striker Michael Owen runs a racing stable, training racehorses and breeding winners. Some become coaches, and there are plenty of real estate moguls. Tottenham Hotspur’s Swiss former centre-half now develops luxury hotels and Frank Lampard signed a book deal to produce stories for children.

Typically, however, their post-retirement roles pay nowhere near what they have been used to, and the financial pressure can become too much. Top players who have gone bankrupt include former Aston Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie, who earned £30,000 a week at the peak of his career. Hendrie was declared bankrupt in 2012 after his £10 million property portfolio collapsed. Other bankruptcies include former England goalkeeper David James, who earned an estimated £20 million during his career, and Newcastle winger Keith Gillespie, who gambled away some £7 million.

The causes of bankruptcy can be complex. However, with footballers a pattern often emerges of breath-taking over-spending, poor investment choices and a failure to keep the taxman happy – mistakes to which many non-athletes can relate.


The ING Unseen Talent Award is a joint initiative started in 2013 by ING and Unseen Photo Fair Amsterdam that gives to emerging photographic talents a platform to show their work on a global scale.

As from 12 May 2016 to 3 July 2016, Neumünster Abbey exhibits all the nominees from the past three years, including the winners. An exclusive exhibition space is dedicated to the work of Sophie Jung, an artist from Luxembourg, who won last year.

Supporting young talents is important to ING. The aim of the ING Unseen Talent Award is to give talented artists the opportunity to raise their level. It is more than just financial support. As a matter of fact, it gives young artists what they really need: a platform, a network and expertise.

Every year the five best European talents of photography are shortlisted by ING Art Management as well as Unseen and rewarded with an extensive empowerment programme. This includes coaching sessions with an internationally established artist, like Rineke Dijkstra, and a range of workshops with different professionals of this specific field – not to mention the chance to create a work of art for the ING Collection on a dedicated theme. The final work of these new talents is shown at the Unseen Photo Fair, giving them the opportunity to present their work to the international art world.

The exhibition in Neumünster Abbey furthers one of the main goals of the ING Unseen Talent Award: to give new talented artists public exposure and support them at the very beginning of their career.

ING thinks that art inspires, reflects the world in which we live and push us to think.

One week ago, ING and Unseen announced the five finalists selected for the launch of the European edition of the ING Unseen Talent Award. Once again, Luxembourg will be represented. This time by the artist, Laurianne Bixhain. The winner of this 2016 edition will be announced at the Award Ceremony on 22 September. We will keep you posted.

In the meantime, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the exhibition at Neumünster Abbay. It is free and opened from 10:00 to 18:00!


In the month of June there is at least one orange "goodie" in every household in Luxembourg. This year: a foam finger, a keychain, a running T-shirt... and every year: one or several hats.

The day of the ING Night Marathon Luxembourg people wait expectant for our volunteers to start distributing the acclaimed gadgets. And once we start giving them away, they literally tear them from our hands! As you can imagine, this makes my team very happy; after all we spend quite a lot of time choosing and designing the goodies - so thank you all!

A couple of years ago we came up with the idea of producing even better goodies: promotional items we could sell to all our fans. But, of course, we're a bank not a retailer, so our goodies had to be sold at cost... or better yet: we could sell them at a small profit and donate all proceeds to an NGO. And voilà! the idea of the Express Shop was born.

Figuring out how to put the idea in place took longer than we expected. How would we display the items? How many different items did we need? Would people actually pay for ING stuff? So we did a test run during the 10th edition of the ING Night Marathon in 2015 with running related ING items. Guess how much money we raised for Medecins Sans Frontières? Over €2,000 in 1.5 days! And just to be really sure, we tested it again during the ING Route du vin last September where we managed to raise €1,230 for Unicef in support of Syrian refugee children.

Now we have an Express Shop in our Headquarters. Employees, clients and visitors alike can acquire the carefully designed ING items from the automated vending machine. It is our purpose to empower people to stay a step ahead in life and in business, so we try to design goodies that achieve that in some form. A mobile device charger; a notebook for great ideas; a travel mug; a handy shopping bag… And the profits go to Unicef as part of our partnership to help young Zambians via the “Power for Youth” programme to acquire the education and social skills required to manage everyday problems responsibly and independently.

My kids are big fans of our youth mascot, Sam, and they are looking forward to trying out the armbands in the pool this summer. And I’ll get an ING football for our next barbecue – it’s what everybody is talking about anyhow!

You too can show your love for ING and your support to Unicef! We look forward to receiving you at 52 route d’Esch in Luxembourg city.

If you’ve been following this column you’ve heard me say this before: I don’t run the ING Night Marathon, I run my personal marathon that day!
And it’s not just me, it’s the whole team setting this up. Every time I explain some of the things that happen in the background, I am amazed by people’s surprise. It seems to escape them that there are thousands of hours of work performed by the team of the organiser, Step by Step, by the different services of the Ville de Luxembourg, by the Police, the FLA and CSL, and by countless providers leading up to the event. And the day itself? Thousands of people are on duty to make the ING Night Marathon Luxembourg the great event that we all know and love.
On D-Day, ING Luxembourg is active mostly on the spectators' side. We organise several activities in Luxexpo and the city centre for the whole family. Volunteering ING staff distribute gadgets all around the city: hats and supporter fingers. I hope you got one too! Two of my colleagues from the communications department relay the event on social media. We have many guest runners, so we have our own start number pick-up desk at Luxexpo and this year, for the first time, we manned a refreshing point. These activities are done by our own staff. This year we had almost 100 ING volunteers – staff that comes to help out with family and friends and be part of the orange wave.
My role has two facets. I am one of the ING-liaisons for all entities working that day. In this role you might have seen me running around Luxexpo with an extension cord in hand, or frantically speaking into the walkie-talkie while rushing through the expo (that orange blur you saw tripping over the cables? Yep, that was me!), or scratching my head outside the arrival area trying to figure out whether the lit ING balloons that welcome runners to Luxexpo once the sun has gone down are actually lit.
My other responsibility that day is my CEO. As the main representative of our bank, during the ING Night Marathon Luxembourg, Luc Verbeken gives interviews to the press, visits all our activities and greets our volunteers, is next to the Mayor of the City of Luxembourg for the starting shot and gives the medals to the winners. My job is to make sure he has all the information he needs, that he is where he needs to be at all times (we travel back and forth between Luxexpo and the city centre) and is sufficiently hydrated, especially this year since he ran the ING Half-Marathon.
So you see, from early in the morning until late in the night (the last runner comes in at 1am on Sunday morning!) the ING Team is “running” its personal marathon. Hats off to everyone who, one way or another, gets involved in the organization and execution of the ING Night Marathon. Thank you and see you next year!


As you might know from our previous article, ING Luxembourg will move Place de la Gare in less than a year now: D-Day is getting closer!

Amongst the project’s different objectives and beyond ING visibility, two of our goals so as to enhance our Top Employer approach is facilitating collaboration and improving the well-being of ING employees within our premises.

Our new building is also an opportunity to re-think our way of working in order to cope with constraints we are facing and giving ourselves the means to support our corporate culture. To that end, we will implement an Activity-based organisation: as the name suggests, depending on the activity our colleagues are carrying out, they will be able to choose and move to the most suitable space to dialogue, collaborate, focus or even relax between two tasks. Easy to say, but it cannot be achieved overnight: it entails a lot of impacts on organisation (such as no more dedicated desks), flexibility of IT tools and infrastructure of the building and requires a great deal of change management.

Why do we need change management?

For the simple reason every change requires going through an acceptation process with more or less long phases depending on the person. Subsequently we found it very important to start as soon as possible to accompany our colleagues along the different steps, to help them prepare for their future organisation and, last but not least, to explain them why we are making this change.

How are we going to do this?

By communicating through different means. We nominated a few change managers who are in charge of conducting the project and we are implementing a network of ambassadors who help us understand the reality of the teams and who communicate with their direct colleagues. ING change approach breaks down into three characteristics:

Testing for enriching streams and projects

First of all, we put in place Proofs of Concept, which is to say that we implemented the New Way of Working as well as the needed infrastructures within two departments. The objective is to test the new model and functionalities of furniture and equipment, as well as to identify points of attention. IT is not left aside: given the flexibility of the Activity-Based organisation, we installed collaborative tools in different parts of the bank in order to best assess what we need to enable our New Way of Working. So far, we have received a lot of feedbacks and we are currently analysing implications for our new building. Fortunately we have already avoided this way wrong or mistakenly good decisions!

Working with teams to embed the concept in their organisation

We need to find the right interface between daily job and the Activity-based concept. For that purpose, we are organising workshops with managers to have a better grasp of the future concrete functioning of their teams. Managers are cornerstones for change as their role modelling and their proximity with our colleagues tremendously impact their acceptation process. As for implementing a new strategy, most of the success of a change project goes through top and middle managers.

In the coming weeks we shall also plan two different sessions for all the teams in the bank, validated by our Proofs of Concept testers who will come answering the questions their co-workers may have. Two keywords for these gatherings: fun and identification!

The first ones will be information sessions during which we try to link the theory to the participants’ daily job through different means; for instance, we present a sample of what a colleague’s schedule might look like. We also tackle some “myths” or false beliefs regarding the new model.

The second ones are interactive workshops that are more practical, given that we ask the participants to actually simulate or “act out” two working days of theirs by means of a Lego mock-up and to react to some scenarios. Thanks to role playing, people forget rational thinking and react more spontaneously: if they adopt new behaviours during the game, they will most likely replicate them in our new premises. These workshops also present an opportunity to brainstorm with them about some concerns they have and find solutions together.

Breaking silos to harvest talents and viewpoints

Besides our ambassadors, we have been sending surveys, we have been organising brainstorming meetings and we have set up several workgroups on themes like mobility and Look & Feel in order to involve colleagues in the project and gather the voice of our collaborators.

Eventually we are willing to be available when they have questions or show curiosity on very different aspects of our new premises. In order to answer this need, we plan every six weeks Lunch & Ask sessions and we are currently giving the opportunity to ING employees to visit the building site. Each team will also have its ticket to discover its future environment before the actual move.

The last word to conclude and sum up this article goes to Charles Marichal, head of the Securities department (one of our Proofs of Concept): “As far as I am concerned, I think what we absolutely need to remember is that this type of organisational change needs to be carefully and thoughtfully prepared. It requires common sense, motivation and commitment. It falls to the managers to create these feelings within their team before moving next to the train station.”

Tuesday, 19 April 2016 11:19

Barbara Daroca: Banks in Social Media



People wonder why banks have social media accounts. And by “people” I mean not only the general public (i.e. customers of those banks) but also the staff that works in banks. After all, social media are about private life, memes and funny videos, right?

Social media can be a great platform for companies to present new products with exciting and enticing pictures – not the case of banks (seriously, try posting an enticing picture about a loan on our Facebook page). Social media can be a great platform for post-sales customer contact and problem solving – hard to do on a public channel when the topic is personal finances! So why would banks want to spend time and energy in entertaining social media accounts?

Simple: to stay in touch with you. Social media represent informal, two-way communication channels that allow banks to be closer to the general public than ever. It allows banks to show what they do next to their core business of banking: from recruiting and career development, through social engagement activities all the way to innovation and digital developments that make banking easier for you. Things you would otherwise only know about if you read long, dry annual results publications.

And, in one case, social media helped a taxi driver recover a failed payment. Long after taking his client to the desired destination, the taxi driver realised the transaction hadn’t actually gone through. Knowing the person was an ING employee, the driver turned to Twitter and wrote: “@ING_news Employee ING. London taxi Dorchester Hotel – London Wall. Card rejected today @14.47 in cab. Was it you? Please get in contact.”

ING is a multinational company with more than 52,000 employees worldwide, and a staff of several hundred work in our London office serving corporate and institutional clients. But the tweet was directed to our HQ corporate communications account “ING News” in Amsterdam. Trying to find that colleague travelling to London was like looking for a needle in a haystack!

But since our purpose is to empower people to stay a step ahead in life and in business our colleagues picked up phones and dispatched emails… and less than 24 hours later the colleague was found and the taxi debt repaid. It goes to show the power of the networks!

You can read the full Twitter conversation here:

Follow ING Luxembourg to get to know us better! You can find us in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.




Watching a TV soap opera may be considered a guilty pleasure; curling up on the couch to catch the latest plot twist and discover which character’s been caught doing what; it’s fun, but could it also be educational?

Some intriguing new research for the World Bank suggests soap opera fans can actually learn lessons about money from characters’ mistakes. When familiar characters on the TV act in financially reckless ways, the study says many people learn the lesson and apply it in their own lives.

The World Bank study used a popular soap opera in South Africa called Scandal! to test whether viewers learn from the TV drama.

The financial storyline spanned two months and featured one of the leading characters borrowing excessively and irresponsibly through hire purchase, gambling, ending up in financial distress, and eventually seeking help to find her way out.

By the end of the study, viewers of the show were almost twice as likely to borrow from formal sources, less likely to engage in gambling, and less prone to enter hire purchase agreements than a different test group that viewed another soap opera.

Why is the soap opera so persuasive? The finding taps into the well-established idea that people are social creatures, heavily influenced by what those around us are doing – even if we don’t realise it.

The saving conundrum

In the context of personal finance and decisions about saving and spending, a particular challenge emerges. Spending is often visible and therefore more easily spread as a norm, but saving is mostly not visible. A new car, nice shoes, and the latest phone are used in public and shown off to others. But saving is often reflected only in the absence of consumption, making it hard to spot.

One question for anyone trying to help others to save, or who want to save more themselves, is: “how do I make saving conspicuous?”

Perhaps making savings goals prominent on social media could help – if a Facebook feed was filled with status updates like “I’ve just increased my pension contributions”, would people who see it be likely to squirrel away more?

Read the full article on Ezonomics:


Wednesday, 23 March 2016 15:30

Barbara Daroca: All together Against Cancer


Last week-end, ING Luxembourg participated for the 3rd year in a row at the 11th edition of the Relais pour la vie; this event, organised by Luxembourg's Fondation Cancer, aims to show solidarity towards cancer patients.

More than a run, the amazing gesture of solidarity took place at d'Coque in Kirchberg over 24 hours from Saturday to Sunday, where more than 10,500 relay participants walked, jogged and ran.

Amongst all those taking part, the ING Team was composed of 37 members who walked, jogged and ran over the course of the 24-hour event, always in a good atmosphere and proud to participate in this challenge - even in the middle of the night! The camaraderie between all participants was evident for all to see, and not only on the track as so many additional initiatives were being organised in and around the modern facility.

At ING Luxembourg, we intend to keep this momentum going by participating actively in the Televie fundraising initiative with several internal actions later this month – we will share such details with you in future articles - watch this space!


With the European Money Week around the corner (d'Woch vun de Suen here in Luxembourg), the topic of financial education is back on the table.

For several years now, banking associations across Europe have been working together with governments to find ways of improving children's knowledge of money, as well as of young adults and the general public. And it's surprising how little most of us know about money and finance!

So, despite what some might think, it is in the interest of banks to make sure people are as money-savvy as possible. Which brings me back to d'Woch vun de Suen: what are these bank volunteers teaching our children?

The basics: from differentiating between needs (must-haves) and wishes (nice-to-haves) to saving and spending pocket money (budgeting), things children should learn as soon as possible so they truly become part of their thinking process as they grow up.

You can see the full programme here:

I especially like the section about advertising. It is something I am already confronted with at home and my son is only five! And I am surprised how quickly he picks up on what I sometimes think are complicated concepts (like the need to work to earn money, then save money in order to buy things). I cannot wait to discuss with him other money-related matters: Why do I need a bank account? What is the difference betweek a debit and a credit card? What is interest and how do I calculate it? How do I calculate a percentage or a discount? And the queen of all questions: why does borrowing money cost money?

Banks want people to make informed financial decisions. So banks go out of their way to contribute to financial education in schools and also later on in life. One of example of our efforts at ING is our blog  Because many important decisions in life (buy or rent, work or study, when to settle down and start a family) are financial decisions!


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