ING narrows focus in 'back to basics' shift
GLOBAL - ING, the Netherlands-headquartered banking and insurance group, is forming a single global investment management business and consolidating its operations to in future focus on retail banking and the retirement market.
Ahead of its bi-annual Investor Day today, ING announced it is integrating all of its investment management operations into one global asset management organisation and reforming the company to have banking and insurance division operate under a separate single group umbrella, so it can focus its insurance interests predominantly on the life and pensions market.
More specifically, the asset management divisions in Europe, the Americas and Asia/Pacific businesses will be brought under one label "to benefit from synergies in marketing, operations, distribution and sales" and will in future incorporate ING Real Investment Management.
The Real Estate Development team will be required to manage down capital exposure and join the commercial bank, as will Real Estate Finance.
This is just the latest insight into changes at ING investment Management as Jan Straatman, chief investment officer - who joined the firm late last year from Axial Investment Management - revealed last month he was integrating the business to generate alpha by realigning buy and sell teams into multi-boutiques. (See earlier IPE story: Straatman to overhaul ING as multi-boutique)
In an interview to be published in the May edition of IPE, Straatman said the model for the restructured €330bn investment business is a ‘de-siloing' operation, creating "a skills-based, entrepreneurial multi-boutique structure for the front office backed-up by a large and scaleable organization for research, operations and execution".
"Where necessary we are changing team composition," said Straatman later in the interview. "When I joined I could see that, although there were pockets of very good practice and skills, we were too traditional in our organisation and to move forward we needed to adjust quickly. There is a lot of quality, but not necessarily people with the right focus working in the right culture. By getting that right we should be able to leverage that quality much more efficiently - focusing on what the client needs, focusing on alpha-generation, focusing on risk-management and focusing on execution.
Elsewhere within today's announcement, ING's chief executive Jan Hommen said the group business structure would narrow its insurance business focus towards life and retirement - which in turn means " a fundamental shift" in the risk profile of its US insurance business - and reduce its geographic and business scope to focus on "building on positions in markets with the strongest franchises".
Key elements of the insurance business will be operations in the Benelux, US, Central Europe, Latin America and Asia/Pacific, while its insurance divisions in China and Japan are "under review".
"We are taking ING back to basics on all levels," said Hommen. "The crisis has reinforced the need for us to be even more in touch with our customers. We need to put our customers first in everything we do and we will make the relationship with our customers the most important objective. We will be focusing on fewer but more transparent products. We will streamline processes to make them more efficient and steer towards operational and commercial excellence," he added.
Make sure you receive your May edition of IPE to gain a further insight into ING's strategy plans.