There are a lot of words that could be used to describe 2011, boring not being one of them.
Around the world, people have demanded change, heads of state have fallen, bailouts have come and gone, and sadly, debts have continued to rise. I’m a big believer in leading by example, which is something we didn’t always see in 2011.
2011 was a big year for ING DIRECT. We continued to stick to our Canadian Charter of Financial Independence – a list of 10 guidelines designed to help Canadians take control of their own financial wellbeing. They are basic when you think about it: for instance, knowing the true cost of borrowing, investing for the long term, and paying down debt – advice that, in many ways, is as applicable to the current global economic situation as it is to managing one’s own financial wellbeing.
This year also saw the birth of the Occupy Movement, a reaction to the economic inequality felt by many in the wake of the global financial crisis. Initially based out of Wall Street, Occupy protests popped up in cities across Canada and the world. And actually, if you look at #10 on our Charter, there’s one thing ING DIRECT seems to share in common with the Movement, which is the notion that:
10. We will be heard: Our representatives in government and the corporations we deal with need to know that we are paying attention. If we’re silent, we’re accepting the status quo. Through change we believe we can make things better for all…
For years I’ve asked friends, family and strangers alike, “If you could change one thing about your bank, what would it be?” Nearly every time I get the same response: “the fees.”
While reducing banking fees in Canada still has a long way to go, ING DIRECT celebrated two major milestones in 2011 which were quite opposite in nature – instead of charging people more in fees, we paid our $5 billionth dollar to Canadian savers in interest and charged them $0 dollars in fees on their savings and we launched THRiVE Chequing – a no-fee daily chequing account. I couldn’t be prouder of both.
Looking ahead at 2012 it’s hard to know what the coming year will bring, but this much is certain – we will continue to listen carefully to our customers and make sure that ING DIRECT gives Canadians the power to save and the choices to do it on their terms.