Michael Burch (ING): Sustainability at heart
One year after his arrival in Luxembourg, Michael Burch, CEO of ING in Luxembourg, finalizes an ambitious strategy to enable the firm with the vibrant orange branding to seize the many opportunities in a rapidly changing world. Interview.
What have you learned in your first year in the Grand Duchy?
Firstly, I really like the unique combination of Luxembourg - international but on a human scale - and I appreciate the very natural way of making contacts, initiating conversations, and developing long-term relationships here. I think I've fully grasped the importance of networking: You have to approach the right people and get to know them. From my first day in Luxembourg, I felt very welcome. Also, sitting on the board of the Bourse and the ABBL, where I chair the Retail Committee, has enabled me to benefit from a combination of listening, learning, influencing, and participating in defining the priorities for the country and ING. I quickly realized that I had to adopt the "orange culture"! ING has a strong corporate culture based on initiative, collaboration, and consensus in a group operating on a matrix approach. This prompted me to develop my network in all directions: In the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors, with my colleagues, but also in Amsterdam and at the level of key functions.
"The current environment offers many opportunities for a group like ours, with its highly entrepreneurial culture."
What is your strategy for the coming months?
I believe I was recruited to bring to ING the benefits of my international experience in asset management, private banking, wealth management, and retail banking. Since taking up my new position, I've spent a lot of time understanding the expectations of all our stakeholders: Our customers, my colleagues here in Luxembourg and abroad, as well as our board members. We now have a wealth of experience to draw on in formulating and implementing our plans.
What opportunities and risks do you see for Luxembourg in general and ING in particular?
The geopolitical and economic context, exacerbated by successive waves of regulation, inflation, rising interest rates, and the war in Ukraine, is forcing Luxembourg and banks to demonstrate their resilience. The current environment offers many opportunities for a group like ours, with its highly entrepreneurial culture.
For example, the sustainable transition is both a challenge and an opportunity. Sustainability is at the heart of what we do at ING, as we believe we have a role to play in defining new business practices. We are firm on certain industries - we have withdrawn from all new oil and gas exploration -, and at the same time, we want to continue working with our customers by supporting them in their ecological transition. When it comes to meeting such challenges, we rely more than ever on united, collective action to achieve real, positive change. I believe that Luxembourg's "sustainable" positioning will attract many investors. The country needs to multiply this type of high added-value initiative. Another challenge specific to Luxembourg is its dependence on cross-border commuters and expatriates: How will we continue to attract talent given the rising cost of living and new preferences for remote working? I'm impressed by the level of expertise in our company, made up of many nationalities, both resident and non-resident: Their commitment and motivation are second to none. The past proves that Luxembourg has always been able to reinvent itself and take on new challenges. I am convinced that by working together, we can ensure that Luxembourg remains a leading international player.