A few months ago I announced the launch of the ING Solidarity Awards; the voting period how just started and now it is up to you to vote for your favourite association on www.ing.lu.
As a brief reminder, ING Luxembourg decided to relaunch the Solidarity Awards following the tremendous success of the initiative last year. The aim of the ING Solidarity Awards is to reward and support the Luxembourg community sector through a competition, with the initial phase linked to nominations and the second to public voting.
Participation was open to non-profit associations or foundations registered and established in Luxembourg, and matching the eligibility criteria stipulated in the ING Solidarity Awards rules, regardless of whether or not they are ING Luxembourg customers.
The 40 associations with the higher number of online votes registered between 10 - 30 October 2013, will each be the lucky winners of a cheque of €1,000. In addition, The Jury will reward each of the four best projects nominated with a €6,000 prize, as well as each of the four projects in second position each with a €3,000 prize.
One of the advantages of working for a large financial institution is that you can avail of the expertise and experience of colleagues from all over the world.
Below you find an interesting article on how to bargain for a better price written by our colleagues from the economic research desk in London, for their financial blog www.ezonomics.com.
Experienced market shoppers will know negotiating a good price takes skill. The same holds true in other shopping situations as well – think of buying a house or haggling over the cost of a car. And different “rules” apply in different parts of the world. Our six tips examine some of the research about how to drive a hard bargain.
1. Who “anchors” wins. The anchoring effect is a tool used to pin buyers’ expectations on a (usually high) price. Market shoppers may remember a time a seller offered a high price and then discounted it – making the reduced price seem more attractive than if it was the original offer. A lesson to be learnt is to be aware and to try to be the one to set the anchor rather than letting the seller do it for you.
2. Know your neighbours. Being alert to local customs can go a long way when negotiating the best price – especially when travelling, writes Yale political science and economics assistant professor Chris Blattman. In many countries there are what he calls the “national bargaining fraction”, an unwritten rule which gives a guide to by how much to negotiate. In order to find out this fraction, Blattman suggests calling upon the locals and quizzing them on the “real” price.
3. Busy is best. Market sellers might agree on how much they will charge for certain products, but University of Chicago economist John List wrote in The Economics of Open Air Markets that these agreements tend to break down on busy days. This means when markets are busy, it might be easier to strike a cheap deal.
4. First impressions. The same research by John List also suggests that market sellers are more likely to offer higher prices to well-dressed individuals, especially those shopping with children. As the old adage says “first impressions count”. To try and avoid being offered such extortionate prices, try leaving your best outfit (and the children) at home.
5. Flash the cash. Paying with cash can reduce spending because you are forced to think harder about the purchase process. Behavioural economists refer to it as the “pain of paying”. When it comes to negotiating taking cash rather than card may bring the true cost to the top of mind and encourage buyers to drive a harder bargain.
6. Out of season. Picking the right moment, or in this case season, is a great way to give shoppers an advantage when negotiating. The off-season shopping style can apply to a wide range of products, from small items such as clothing through to holidays and homes. Take advantage of sellers wanting to get rid of stock. Budgets are Sexy blog even goes as far as to recommend a “best time to buy list” to give a guide as to when to negotiate on what.
For many families the start of the new school year is a rite of passage: children start junior school or senior school; new sports and extra-curricular activities are planned; it might be the first year the children are taking the bus to school…
It seems like a good moment to give your child more financial independence and allow them to learn to be more responsible for his/her own affairs. One way to help them at this stage of their lives is to give them a fixed amount each month which they can then use as they want, but within specific guidelines. For example, it could cover pocket money for entertainment, presents and treats, as well as savings; it can also include allowances for clothes, mobile phone calls/texts, sport and transport.
The advantages of this approach are that you can teach your teenager how to budget, and how to manage that budget, without being scrutinised on every individual expense. Sitting down with your teenager and working out expenditure can be an eye-opening experience for them, but one which will help them learn, with your understanding and trust.
This may result in an agreement that you contribute part and they contribute part, the latter for which they may need to do some babysitting or other jobs in order to fund their part of the budget.
Your teenager would then have a bank account with a debit card with which he/she would use the money according to their budget and without the need for an overdraft or credit line, therefore reducing any financial risk.
At ING Luxembourg, the Teen Account is set up specifically for such requirements. Withdrawl limits can be set to keep some control on your teenager's spending, and it also teaches them about the costs of borrowing. Letting them make some (controlled) mistakes will benefit them either immediately or in the medium- or long-term.
The ING Teen Account is for those aged 12-17 years and comes with a debit card which allows him/her to:
• pay for his/her purchases in Luxembourg and most of the European Union;
• withdraw money for free at any ATM in Luxembourg (not only ING ATMs) and most of the European Union;
• get a free Visa Cybercard for his/her online purchases;
• Access to web banking & Mobile Banking.
In addition, it provides various benefits for parents, including:
• Setting of a weekly spending limit: this limit can be defined by the parents at the opening of the Teen Account (0, 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, 250, 200, 750 euros). By default, the spending limits are set by ING Luxembourg in accordance with children’s age.
• There is no credit line for the Visa CyberCard to avoid unwanted or unintended expenses
So take the time to sit down with your teen and introduce him/her to this next step on the road to financial independence!
Have you ever filled in a satisfaction questionnaire? And while you were doing it, did you wonder if it was a waste of time? Let me explain how we do this at ING.
At ING, we believe in dialogue. We want to take the time to listen to our clients’ needs and expectations and to them telling us what we can do better or different. In turn, it is our responsibility to be open and clear about what it is we do and why we make certain choices.
We have adopted NPS (Net Promoter Score) ® as the methodology to support such dialogue and improve client experience and delivery excellence.
NPS ® (www.netpromoter.com) is the industry standard for measuring and improving customer loyalty. It is a recognised concept that has been embraced by leading companies worldwide, not only in the banking sector but also in other areas such as telephony, airlines, online hotel reservation websites, etc.
How it works
NPS ® is based on the fundamental perspective that customers (and even employees!) of any company can be divided into three categories: Promoters, Passives and Detractors.
The NPS ® process consists in emailing questionnaires on specific topics (e.g. account opening or electronic banking) to clients in order to gather their feedback. A company representative will follow up responses by a phone call, in order to further discuss and understand suggestions or issues completely. Basically, to “close the loop”. This feedback represents the voice of customers.
By asking one simple question “How likely is it that you would recommend [our company] to a friend or a colleague?” you can identify these groups of people and get a clear measure of the strength of the relationship between customers and brand.
Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fuelling growth; Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but enthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offering; Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage brand by a negative word of mouth.
To calculate a company’s NPS ®, take the percentage of customers who are promoters and subtract the percentage of detractors.
Copyright NPS ®
Why we do it
NPS ® is at the heart of the client feedback culture at ING Luxembourg!
NPS ® is both a loyalty metric and a discipline for using client feedback to improve client experience and operational excellence within organisations.
The score itself is not the objective; it is what we do with our client feedback that counts!
All the information collected in these surveys is integrated into a customer relationship management tool, allowing our sales staff to have as much information as possible about their clients. As a result, they can be better equipped to meet client needs. Improving the score over time will result from improvements in our processes, services and products. This is a long-term process.
An emergeny fund is all about creating accessible cash for use in an unexpected life situation. Let’s see how to set one up and how much money you need.
Saving money is a good habit to get into, with an "emergency fund" the first thing to consider as it can ease the financial strain when one of life's unexpected events affects you directly. The emergency fund can soften the blow if you lose your job, fall ill or have an accident or are faced with an unexpected expense.
It also helps to reduce the strain when faced with such an unexpected situation, and also reduces the possibility of needing to borrow money to cover such costs. Paying off debt can be difficult, particularly if you don't have the level of income as you once did, and it can be stressful too.
How much you need in you emergency fund depends on your personal circumstances but you would ideally want to be able to cover all your expenses for a few months - experts quote 3-6 months on average - including rent/mortgage, household bills, transport, etc. You may also want to protect yourself from other large outgoings, e.g. if you think you may need to replace your car, laptop, tv, etc. - here, saving up beforehand will help soften the financial blow when you do need to make a significant purchase. Some people refer to such emergency funds as “rainy day savings” because the cash is used when times get tough. Saving for holidays and dining out is also a good idea; however, they do not fall into the emergency category as these are deemed to be luxuries and should be budgeted separately.
You should have a fair idea of your monthly income and outgoings, so you can then work out how much you can save, i.e. what you can put away each month. This may mean making some reductions, e.g. on your monthly entertainment or telecomms spend; or you may be able to make savings by cheaper insurance or energy supplies.
Saving is described as more of a marathon than a sprint, so it may take several months, or even longer, to attain your target. According to the latest eZonomics online poll, 35% of people take six months to reach their target in their emergency fund.
See the video How much should I be saving? which explains how to make a basic budget, work out how much money is available to put into savings and form good money habits. It involves building a basic budget by assessing income and expenses to see how much money can be saved each pay cycle. Build a savings habit by opening a dedicated emergency fund account, giving the account a suitable name and setting up automatic deposits at the start of the pay cycle to build up to the amount you need in your emergency fund.
The underlying message here is about giving you more power over your own finances; should something unexpected happen around the corner, you should be in a position that your foresight will protect you in this eventuality and that your savings will see you through until you get back on your feet again.
If you are serious about saving, make the cash for your emergency savings fund the first thing you set aside. That way you will find it is the little extras that you can’t afford at the end of the week, rather than the saving. It’s amazing how many of life’s apparent “essentials”, such as a meal out or a new jacket, are things you’ll never miss.
This month’s inner piggy rule: Your inner piggy’s very smart: he saves for when times are hard!
With 41% of Luxembourg residents using mobile banking services, according to the 5th study of the ING International Survey (IIS) on financial behaviour, mobile banking and social media, 24-hour access to banking services has never been easier.
The international survey was undertaken by ING and polled 12,000 people in 12 countries across Europe, between 18 April and 15 May, and included 500 who live in Luxembourg.
Luxembourg residents are more likely to use mobile banking services compared to consumers in neighbouring countries, with 41% for Luxembourg and 25% for France, 26% for Belgium, 33% for Germany and 37% for the European average.
But why use a mobile banking app? First of all because mobile banking apps in general let you handle your daily banking business whenever and wherever you want. You can check if your payments have been processed, as well as your current balance, while sitting on the train or wherever you may be; you can quickly change your V PAY card limit before doing some shopping; you can check the last transactions on your Visa Cyber Card before buying another app or a new e-book. The only thing you need is Internet access and your smartphone with the mobile banking app installed.
Secondly, mobile banking is a safe way of banking. By adhering to some basic security rules you can greatly reduce the risks: Block your phone when you are not using it, do not bank via public networks, only download apps from official, trusted sites, etc. You can find more tips on: http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/online-banking/5-mobile-banking-security-tips.htm
ING Luxembourg offers customers the ING Mobile application for iPhone and iPad, enabling the bank to be always within reach. The smartphone app has both public information (branch locations, card blocking info, messaging, etc.) as well as a secure area (after enrolling the device using a Digi ID available via the Digipass, only your own chosen password is needed to log in) offering a series of features and functionalities enabling customers to undertake eBanking anywhere and at any time:
- Consult the balance and the movements on your accounts (last 100 transactions)
- Make transfers – no need for your bills to pile up until the weekend!
- Manage your Visa card, including check transactions since your last statement
- Subscribe to new products, e.g. open an additional savings account – the perfect tool to put money aside for special occasions!
- Send and receive secure messages
- And even consult your securities portfolio and life insurance policies
Some of these features require a Digi ID for enhanced security purposes.
We are very proud of the fact that ING Luxembourg's mobile app is currently the best rated banking mobile app on the app store in Luxembourg.
The concept of insurance has been around for a long time; insurance is operated as a fund into which many people pay and which pays out in case of loss, meaning that one (the policy-holder) is not faced with a massive bill all at once, and shares the risk.
Insurance policies (in general insurance - we will address life assurance in another blog post soon) cover many different areas and scenarios, from building and contents insurance, to vehicle insurance, pet insurance and travel insurance.
Regarding the latter - travel insurance - this is something to which many people do not pay close enough attention. It can cover situations regarding lost or stolen luggage, illness and change of travel tickets due to a curtailed trip, for example. Some policies are taken out per trip whereas other policies are for 12 months. And, of course, you can have certain travel insurance when you pay by credit card too.
With the summer weather rolling in and schools and universities now finishing their academic year, many of us are thinking of getting away for a holiday and/or to visit relatives and friends back home.
Planning such trips can be stressful, and one's own home can suddenly become more appealing and attractive when contemplating what could go wrong. But the main issue here is addressing those concerns and planning to minimise the risks.
Working out what risks you are willing to take, and identifying which you would like to protect yourself against, can be a complicated and time-consuming exercise.
When travelling with family members, particularly small children, it can be a nightmare in a foreign land without the basic necessities at hand, including nappies and wipes, or being forced to stay at an airport overnight with a small child. Travel insurance can pay for lost and delayed (24+ hours) baggage as well as delayed flights, meaning that you won't be out of pocket after paying for food, accommodation and other bits and pieces that all add up.
Check the policy to see if items are replaced on a new-for-old basis, and if the insurer pays the cost of repairing damaged items or pays to replace them if they are stolen or destroyed. Also check to see if spectacles are covered - some travel insurance policies exclude these. Also check the amount of cash that is covered if you are robbed; some policies vary significantly.
Most travel insurance also covers emergency medical assistance, medical evacuations, hospital stays and surgery; some also cover repatriation to your home country.
When reserving flights, many online booking services ask if you want to include travel insurance; but exactly what does this cover? Do we actually bother to read the small print? Most of the time one is better off looking at other options regarding travel insurance.
Travel insurance can help with both catastrophic problems as well as those that are just inconvenient.
At ING Luxembourg we offer several types of insurance through our range of Visa Cards. Click here to check which card would best suityour travel needs
The terms "solidarity", "corporate social responsibility", "sustainability", "volunteering", "environmental protection", etc., are ones that are spoken about more and more frequently. In today's world, we are often too stressed out and too busy to notice what is going on around us. We need to sit back, take a global view of things and look at issues from a wider perspective.
Many organisations are now doing their share; in fact, many young people nowadays are interested to learn a company's strategy in relation to the above issues, when applying for a position. Many companies are developing such strategies and are appointing people with specific responsibilities in these areas.
In addition, outside of the corporate environment, many people give their time and effort as volunteers, giving back to the community, and not only financially. These actions all make a difference, directly or indirectly, whether it is to the lives of people here or farther afield.
ING Solidarity Awards
ING Luxembourg launched an initiative last year to support and reward local initiatives as part of its overall Corporate Social Responsibility programme. There was a three-month period during which non-profit organisations could be proposed, followed by a one-month voting period and then the awards in front of a 250-strong audience at Geesseknäppchen in Luxembourg-Hollerich.
In total, 210 organisations were proposed and 48,000 votes were cast, resulting into the top 40 organisations being awarded €1,000 by ING Luxembourg. In addition, 8 projects out of a total of 116 entries were also awarded prizes, ranging from €2,000 to €8,000. These winners included projects in Luxembourg and abroad (supported by Luxembourg-based charities), with the judging panel comprising ING as well as non-ING representatives.
The winning projects were from the following eight organisations across four categories: (A) Humanitarian Aid: Pour un sourire d'enfant Luxembourg (training young Cambodians in maternity); Ennerdaach asbl (building removation project in Differdange); Fondation Luxembourg - El Salvador (building of a community centre in El Salvador); (B) Handicap, Youth & Social Integration: Autisme Luxembourg (retraining of handicapped workers in technology); Schrett fir Schrett (supporting handicapped children to better communicate); (C) Health, Sport & Other: ALPAPS - Special Olympics Luxembourg (offering children with intellectual disabilities to participate in physical and sport activities); ALAN - Association Luxembourgeoise d'aide aux personnes Atteintes de maladies Neuromusculaires et de maladies rares (linking children suffering from rare diseases with renowned Luxembourg artists); (D) - Coup de Coeur: Amicale vun der Schoul fir Assistenzhonn (to train a dog for a handicapped boy, to provide him with a companion and to motivate him).
This initiative was not only a corporate social responsibility action by ING Luxembourg towards the local community, but it also raised significant awareness across the Grand Duchy of charities and voluntary organisations, with many actively encouraging their members and supporters to vote for them. Voting was feverish at times, particularly nearing the end of the voting period where nominated organisations were close to the magic cut-off line of 40!
The initiative was fun too for those at ING Luxembourg directly involved in it; with such a positive response last year, ING Luxembourg is gearing up to repeat the exercise this year, with the opening of the application period today. Get ready to vote!
With Saturday’s ING night marathon coming up, I had not much time to write this week’s article. Luckily, we have many specialists within ING Group who regularly write very informative stuff - like this article that appeared last year on the site www.ezonomics.com on compound interest.
According to urban legend, Albert Einstein referred to compound interest as the most powerful force in the universe. Whether he truly said that or not, savers and borrowers should be aware of the tricks, traps and behavioural challenges associated with compound interest.
Compound interest is a key way to grow savings and investments. It works when interest is paid on interest. This leads to exponential growth over time. In more detail, interest compounds when money invested earns interest and then – when the original sum and the original interest are unspent – interest in the next period is paid on both. Over many years, the pattern is repeated, growing the original investment at an increasingly rapid rate.
But beware, compound interest on debt works in a similar way, growing the debt if interest is left to compound.
The immediate lesson for savers is the sooner you start, the more you will accumulate. For borrowers, the sooner and more quickly you start to pay off debt, the less will be paid in total. However, these immediate lessons hide four important issues – the interest rate earned (or charged), the frequency at which interest is paid (or charged), the need to re-invest and the perils of procrastination.
Higher interest rates mean money saved (or owed) grows more quickly. For example, over five years, €1,000 reinvested at 3% each year will grow to €1,159. At 5%, this increases to €1,276 and at 10% to €1,610. the Website Maths is Fun lists the formula behind the calculations.
Small changes in the interest earned (or charged) can add up to large differences over time. But be careful to scrutinise figures to avoid falling for thinking traps – such as the left hand digit bias – and remember that contract terms (such as penalties for withdrawing early) and service level can also be important.
It can pay off financially for savers to get interest paid daily or monthly rather than annually as compounding starts earlier.
Agreements may offer lower interest rates for monthly rather than annual interest payouts – so do the maths. Still, a lower interest rate paid more frequently may pay more than a higher interest rate paid less often. Earning 1% a month compounding is a better deal than 12% a year.
Watch out for this if buying goods on payment plans, as advertised small monthly charges can add up over time. Economist Tim Harford highlights research showing 93% of people in a United States study chose a more expensive repayment plan partly because they misunderstood the implications of compound interest rates on loans.
Savers must not take interest earned away from their original investment if they want interest to compound. Earning interest on past interest is essential. Keeping interest earned with the original investment is known as reinvestment.
In the eZonomics video I can’t possibly save that much, ING senior economist Ian Bright tells how reinvestment is important for reaching long term saving goals. For similar reasons, it is important for borrowers to keep up with agreed paymentschedules (and to pay more than the minimum amount on credit cards) to prevent outstanding loans from rapidly rising.
Procrastination doesn’t pay
Although the benefits of starting to save or pay off debt sooner rather than later are well known and publicised, people often put it off. In fact, as the Cost of procrastination video says, a UK Financial Services Authority study identified procrastination as one of the main factors affecting the amount people saved. eZonomics offers tips to cut procrastination. There are informal approaches (such as using reminders and making deals with friends) and more formal approaches (such as companies asking workers to commit in advance to saving for pensions).
With compound interest, cutting procrastination now could really pay off in the future.
By eZonomics team
And there you have it, a pretty clear article on how the interest on your savings account can grow over time. By the way, did you know that in My ING our clients get on their homepage a clear visualisation of the interests they have received? Check it out for yourself.
It's springtime and some of us are already thinking of the summer and what we will be doing. While many will be planning holidays, either to the beach or for an activity holiday, or to visit relatives and friends back home. Some of us with youngsters are also thinking about what are they going to be doing all summer long during the school holidays.
By the time the summer is upon us, our darlings will have been working hard (for most of the time, we hope) and they will have sat exams (and hopefully passed), and will deserve a break.
A break can be a rest, including relaxation, but it can also involve a change. Have your youngsters/teenagers thought about a summer job at all? These can be a great way to occupy them during the summer holidays, gain some independence - both emotionally and financially - as well as providing them with a first opportunity at work experience and a certain amount of responsibility and maturity.
Certainly regarding the latter, summer jobs may enlighten them in such a way as they then discover what they would like to study at university and/or to work at when older, while some may have the opposite effect and provide them with an insight into a job or an industry sector in which they definitely don't want to work. Or maybe it opens their eyes and they realise that if they want to achieve a certain career or university course, then they will need to focus their academic studies more in a specific subject(s). One thing all jobs will do is contribute to the financial education of your teenagers.
On the financial side of things, having a bit of extra cash in their pocket will teach them more about their own finance and that money doesn’t grow on trees! Summer jobs provide youngsters with a dose of reality. Some may already be counting the number of weeks or days to a summer music festival or rock concert, or a trip away with friends. While they may end up doing some or all of these, who is going to pay for these? In their adult life, if they want to buy something, they need to work for it. They should learn an introduction to budgeting and saving, with the joy of being able to purchase something at the end of it, without relying on pocket money or hand-outs.
Some youngsters may wish to offer their services to friends and neighbours, by babysitting, gardening or painting. Others may find something more structured and work in an office with a team where, amongst other things, they learn about teamwork and getting along with others in a team environment. And a summer job will keep them out of trouble. Nobody enjoys a bored teenager; they certainly don't and parents don't either.
In Luxembourg, youngsters from 15 years old can take on summer employment. Some may be part-time, others full-time. Some may be for a week or two, others may be for up to two months (the maximum allowed for students, according to Cedies who manage university loans and grants for Luxembourg-resident students).
You may also like to suggest a couple of websites to your teenagers. http://www.cij.lu (Centre Information Jeunes), although it is just in French, offers information on what is happening around the Grand Duchy, including activities in which your teen may wish to participate. For example, some posts address the 2013 JobDay and Young Driver's Day, a casting opportunity for film extras, an art workshop and grants to study in Japan.
There's also the Youth Jobs Page at http://Jobs.youth.lu which lists positions from internships/stagiaires to assistants across a range of business sectors. Real jobs resulting in experience in the real world.