2022 has already been marked by the terrible invasion of Ukraine, which is having a devastating impact on people’s lives. ING’s first priority is to support colleagues and their families, clients and the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and surrounding countries.
“Looking back on 2021, I’m very pleased with our performance,” said ING CEO Colette Dierick. “Despite the challenging conditions impacting customers, colleagues and society – from the ongoing pandemic to supply-chain pressures, rising energy prices and inflation – we achieved record financial results.”
Increased lending volumes (EUR 9.0 billion in 2021) and strong fee income growth (up by EUR +22.5% in 2021) are a sign of growing confidence in the economy as Luxembourg slowly emerged from the coronavirus slowdown. Both of these contributed to a13% increase in total income compared to 2020 and a record underlying net result of EUR 120 million, after a tax burden of EUR 41 million.
The health and safety of ING staff continued to be top of mind for the Executive Committee throughout the year. ING’s offices were adapted to the hybrid situation. ING employees received assistance in setting up their home “offices”, and online wellbeing information was made available to all. In 2021, for the third year in a row, ING was named TOP Employer, a prestigious award granted only to 3 companies in the Grand Duchy. The jury recognized ING’s human resources practices which foster unity around the Bank’s values and purpose to empower people to stay a step ahead, in life and in business.
A year to be proud of
2021 was a year of highs and lows – for ING’s customers and staff alike. The much desired return to the office in the fall turned out to be very short-lived. The coronavirus began to surge once again towards the end of the year and many gatherings and celebrations had to be cancelled. ING had planned a series of smaller end-of-year get-togethers to celebrate the achievements of its staff, who had been so committed to serving customers throughout these challenging times. “I am convinced that these small gestures, rightly baptised Happy Weeks, are what make ING a great place to work and repeatedly earn us labels such as TOP Employer and Happy Trainees,” commented Mrs Dierick. The Bank was awarded the label Happy Trainees in 2021 for the eighth consecutive year.
There were also economic challenges including supply chain pressures, the persistent low-interest-rate environment in euro, rising energy prices and inflation. Still, already in 2021, ING identified positive signs of economic recovery, like increased lending volumes and a strong growth in fee income.
Diversifying sources of income has been a priority in the low-interest-rate environment and net fee income increased by 22.5% in 2021. Paired with a solid commercial and financial performance, the Bank achieved record income levels of EUR 338 million. ING recorded an underlying net result of EUR 120 million (+ 33%) and managed to keep the cost-income ratio at 53% (improvement of 4% compared to 2020). ING’s solvency ratio remained strong at 24%, well above the regulatory minimum, as did its return on equity (11%).
The coronavirus pandemic has also had an influence in the way customers interact with their bank, turning to mobile for their daily banking needs: in 2021 93% of ING’s customer had adopted My ING and almost half accessed it via a mobile device. ING reviewed it’s servicing model for Retail Banking in 2021, adapting the opening hours of its branch network and reinforcing centralized teams for specific needs: personal banking for investment needs, business banking for SME and self-employed, and a contact center for servicing and support.
For the second year in a row, ING won “Best Private Bank in Luxembourg” at the Global Private Banking Awards 2021 (Professional Wealth Management and The Banker), a testament to ING’s efforts in continuously training staff to guide customers through the various portfolio management, lending and estate planning solutions available. The strong performance of mortgages and asset management in 2021 led to higher income than in 2020 in Private Banking.
ING Solutions Investment Management (abbreviated ISIM), the Luxembourg management company of ING, continued its strong growth spurt surpassing EUR 30 billion in assets under management last year. It currently manages out of Luxembourg funds that are distributed in 5 European countries. ING Lease, a subsidiary of the bank, kept a stable portfolio and solid financial performance in 2021.
Despite the health crisis, Wholesale Banking reported a record performance in 2021 across all its activities: lending, payment and cash management and securities services. The financial result benefitted from the evolution of exchange rates (USD and GBP).
ING’s balance sheet grew considerably in 2021 to EUR 23.3 billion following large deposit inflows in Wholesale Banking. Lending to clients rose by EUR 0.3 billion, or 4%, higher than the growth realised in 2020. For Retail and Private Banking, mortgage loans grew by EUR 0.2 billion to a year end level of EUR 3.5 billion. ING remained resilient throughout the still peculiar year 2021. The increased costs linked to investments in risk management and tech were compensated by savings in other areas.
ING in the community
“Climate change and everyone’s financial health have become crucial issues. As a financial institution, we have a responsibility to be accountable both to our customers and to society as a whole,” stated Mrs Dierick. The Bank received for the fourth time the ESR label from INDR (Institut National du Développement Durable). The audit performed for this label highlighted improvements in all pillars of sustainability.
ING has put sustainably at the heart of its strategy, incorporating sustainability criteria into lending decision making and the selection of investment products. As proof of this, the prestigious Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) label by the ASBL LuxFLAG was renewed for the ING ARIA Sustainable Bonds funds.
On lending, approx. 33% of the Wholesale Real Estate portfolio is composed of green deals, 40% of which have Energy Performance Certificates.
In 2021, ING’s charitable contest ING Solidarity Awards granted 4 local NGO’s projects linked to Financial Inclusion or Climate Change. Each of them received EUR 5,000 and a visibility campaign reinforced by a video clip financed by ING.
ING strives to make financial education available to everyone and partners with ABBL for the “Woch vun de Suen” and the “Zuumer Academy” as well as with Jonk Entrepreneuren for their “Fit for Life” programme, all in order to initiate young people into good money management.
The cultural sector, which suffered from the continued pandemic situation, was able to rely on ING’s undeniable support in 2021: from the exhibition of Luxembourg artist Sophie Jung at Casino Luxembourg, to the Multiplica festival of digital arts and the Triennale exhibition of young contemporary artists in Luxembourg and the Greater Region in Rotondes, all the way to the multimedia exhibition by Karolina Markiewicz and Pascal Piron “Stronger than memory and weaker than dewdrops”. Together with its long term partners Rockhal and Rocklab, ING supported a second season of the Rocklab Pop-up Sessions, now streaming in RTL and Post.
Looking to the future
“After a 2021 record year for income and net results, the 2022 context will be more difficult for ING as we invest in complying with new regulation, such as the 5th AML directive or SFDR, and technology,” stated Mrs Dierick. “Nevertheless, when I see the results over the last years and how resilient our teams have been during this extraordinary period in our lives, I am convinced we will continue to empower customers big and small, in Luxembourg and abroad.”