ING Luxembourg announces that it will stop retail banking for individuals

ING Luxembourg announces that it will stop retail banking for individuals
ING Luxembourg announces that it will stop retail banking for individuals

Almost a week after the announcement of the closure of customer accounts at ING Luxembourg, the orange lion bank finally reacted this Wednesday, May 29. A communication which was made first to the thousand employees of the ING bank in the evening, then via a press release. The bank explains that it has taken the decision to stop its mass retail banking services in Luxembourg for individual customers.

“We constantly evaluate our activities, including whether they are likely to achieve the desired scale in the market within a reasonable time frame. We have come to the conclusion that there is no sustainable growth possible in the near future for ING in Luxembourg in retail banking for individual clients,” said Michael Burch, CEO of ING in Luxembourg. The establishment says it is currently informing its customers regarding this decision.

“Additional measures” to help former customers

The bank is thus ending its retail banking offering for individuals and wishes to concentrate on the development of its Wholesale Banking activities (banking activities aimed at so-called “institutional” companies, editor’s note) and Private Banking as explained already this Tuesday Aleba with Comma. ING, however, specifies that it wants to continue to serve all its customers with housing loans, credits and/or investment portfolios.

Concerning this late communication, one week after closing the accounts, ING “recognizes having underestimated the impact of the communication and wishes to provide additional details”. She also writes that “the announcement of the closure of certain accounts provoked reactions”. “We are aware that the request to transfer assets to another bank has caused frustration for our customers. In order to support them as best as possible, we have put in place additional measures with immediate effect,” said Michael Burch.

“ING is committed to closely supporting affected customers and has already taken several measures to support them. In particular, it has increased the number of employees in its agencies located in Ettelbruck, Esch-sur-Alzette, Strassen and Luxembourg Gare to answer questions and explain the account transfer process. ING has also strengthened its contact center team to handle incoming calls and messages. On its ing.lu website, ING has published a special section containing key information on the account closure process and other frequently asked questions: ing.lu/resiliation,” the press release continued.

“We are firmly determined to remain a key player in Luxembourg in Wholesale and Private Banking activities, in order to continue to be a strong and sustainable financial partner,” assures Michael Burch. Wholesale Banking (major customer banking) refers to banking activity aimed at financial institutions, international companies and real estate professionals, while Private Banking (private banking) is aimed at asset management and fortune.

Note that ING previously abandoned retail banking in France. Such an announcement was made in December 2021, to become effective from 2022.

In its press release, ING does not say what the consequences of this profound restructuring could be on its staff (990 employees for the ING group according to the latest Statec data) and on its agencies. The bank has nine in Luxembourg.

The intervention of the Minister of Finance

Out of nearly 100,000 customers, 40,000 accounts were closed by the ING bank, according to information collected from Aleba. The financial sector union confirmed this Tuesday with Comma that the ING bank wishes to keep “customers who have potential”, i.e. people earning “roughly speaking” at least 5,000 euros per month and having 50,000 euros in savings, as indicated The essential.

According to an email that Comma was able to consult before the announcement made this Wednesday evening, the bank explains that ING Luxembourg is “in the process of being integrated into the ING group” with regard to the organization of systems and processes. The banking institution goes on to explain that it was decided to refocus the strategy and customer portfolio on those “who have an important relationship” with the group at a global level and on those who are concerned by several products and services in Luxembourg.

Remember that ING Luxembourg, 100% owned by ING Belgium, is a branch of ING Amsterdam.

“I expect clear communication from management and a solution to the customers concerned,” Finance Minister Gilles Roth (CSV) declared this Tuesday on the social network the CEO of ING Luxembourg.

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The closure of customer accounts has also entered the political debate. Numerous parliamentary questions have been addressed to Minister Gilles Roth since Monday on this subject.

In 2023, ING Luxembourg employed 939 employees and achieved a turnover of 608 million euros last year, significantly higher than in 2022 (422 million euros). The bank recorded a profit of 349 million euros before taxes last year compared to 180 million for the year 2022 (+94%).

Does a bank have the right to close an account?

The question that has come up regularly in recent days among affected customers is whether a bank has the right to close an account. Legally, a bank is allowed to do this. “There is a commercial relationship between the bank and the client and the bank may decide to terminate this relationship, without justification. But it must notify the customer two months in advance, either by letter or by email,” explains Ben Walisch, specialist in the disputes department of the Luxembourg Consumers’ Union.

On the other hand, every Luxembourg citizen, that is to say every resident, has the “right to a bank account”, as the ULC emphasizes. Data subjects can file a complaint against account closure, for example to the financial supervisory authority CSSF. (L.W.)

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