Michael Burch (ING): Embracing Uncertainty
"In order to achieve any transformation, you need to win the hearts of people," says Michael P. Burch, Ph.D. who recently joined ING Luxembourg as CEO and Country Manager. Interview.
Can you describe your career path in a few words?
I always liked working with people and have a passion for financial services. Born near Zurich, I started my career at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), consulting at different Financial Institutions, with various teams on M&A, Strategy and Transformation. I managed to spend one year in Moscow, two in New York, and three in London. Each stop gave me the opportunity to learn and make an impact. In particular, I realized that to achieve any transformation, you need to win the hearts of people. In 2013, I left the consulting industry and joined BHF Kleinwort Benson Group to take full managerial responsibility after years of crafting great ideas. I recently moved to ING from BlackRock to share my international experience in asset management, private banking, wealth management, and retail banking. I feel that I fit perfectly into such a universal bank serving different types of clients, with a strong corporate culture.
“Our purpose remains unchanged: To empower people to stay a step ahead in life and in business.”
How are your clients’ needs evolving?
In order to assess our customers’ needs, it is crucial to understand them: After two years of Covid, life is still challenging for all of us. The cost of living, energy, and interest rate increases make it more challenging to afford a home, at the same time the mainly younger generation is taking more responsibility for our planet. As a bank, we need to make choices about where to create the most value. For example, regarding CO2, the footprint that we leave as a company is marginal but our real impact is how we help and influence our clients: linking financing to the green transition and helping households to be financially savvy. I started with ING at a key moment as the global strategy evolved to place the customer even more at the center and to provide a superior customer experience. Our purpose remains unchanged: to empower people to stay a step ahead in life and in business. Customers expect us to make a difference during important moments of their lives and society increasingly needs us to play a vital role in protecting people and the planet. We are determined to meet and, if possible, exceed these expectations in the years to come.
“Where there is change, there is opportunity!”
What risks and opportunities do you identify?
Many challenges are shared in the sector and are not specific to ING or even to Luxembourg. Currently, banks must ensure their resilience and profitability despite regulatory waves, an uncertain geopolitical context that affects financial markets, and customers’ expectations that keep growing. But where there is change, there is opportunity, especially at ING where we have an entrepreneurial spirit! We need to rethink the way we work to attract and retain our people; we must embed ESG in everything we do and we will continue adapting to new regulatory requirements. These represent real opportunities. In short, we need to start building the future now.