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What’s Next For ING Direct: My Interview With Peter Aceto

It’s been nearly a year since Scotiabank officially acquired ING Direct, snapping up the online bank for $3.1 billion back in November.  Scotia promised to keep its hands off ING’s operations, opting to keep the bank as a separate, standalone entity.

For the most part, Scotia’s been true to its word.  Earlier this year, ING closed its mortgage broker division, citing an overlap with Scotia’s objectives.  ING continues to sell mortgages direct to consumers through its website and call centre.

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Aside from that change it has been business as usual for ING, a pioneer of no-fee online banking in Canada

ING Direct customers react

I had the chance to speak with Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct, earlier this summer.  After we discussed his hilarious appearance on The Daily Show, we talked about how ING’s customers reacted to news of the Scotia sale and what we can expect from ING going forward.

Aceto said nearly 10 percent of its 1.9 million customers contacted ING following the sale to Scotia, expressing their concerns through social media, email, and phone calls.

“Some of our customers were disappointed and skeptical about the sale, but most took a wait and see approach,” said Aceto.

He estimates fewer than 3,000 customers have closed their accounts and the online bank is on track to open 103,000 new accounts this year, which is on par with last year.

Fewer banking options

Consumers have a right to be cautious.  RBC swallowed up Ally Financial and wasted little time shutting down Ally’s consumer accounts and integrating operations.  When TD acquired MBNA, Canada’s fourth largest credit card issuer, it waited a year before slashing the benefits on the popular Smart Cash rewards credit card.

There’s no question Canadians have fewer choices about where to bank when compared to consumers in other countries.  Less competition due to regulation has given us a stable banking sector – the envy of the world the past few years – but has also made it more expensive to bank here.

Meanwhile, the big banks continue to increase fees, offering discounts only when you give them more of your business.  It’s more convenient to bank in one place, but you’ll still pay more than if you shop your business around.

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Aceto said one benefit of the merger will be integration with Scotia’s ATMs, which is one reason PC Financial stands out among the no-fee banks.  Their customers get free access to 3,800 PC Financial and CIBC ATM’s.

What’s Next For ING?

With Ally eliminated from the Canadian banking scene earlier this year, all eyes are on Scotia’s plans for ING. The company has until May of next year to shed the ING Direct name and rebrand itself.

Aceto says a decision is still to be made, but one thing is clear – Scotia will not be in the new name.

“We won’t be called Scotiabank 360,” he said, alluding to ING Direct USA rebranding as Capital One 360 earlier this year.

One item on the forefront is the introduction of a cash back credit card.

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“Cash back is simple, convenient, and it ties back to savings, all things that align with our values,” said Aceto.

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12 Comments

  1. Martin on September 5, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Oh man. Scotiabank 360 just rolls of the tongue.

    Great job on the interview. I’m nervous to see what happens. I love my ING Direct account. So simple and easy to use.

    • Echo on September 6, 2013 at 7:14 am

      Thanks Martin! Although their name must change, I’m sure they’ll continue to be a leader in online banking and hold true to the no-fee model.

  2. Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle on September 6, 2013 at 6:24 am

    I bought Bank of Nova Scotia shares last month and part of the reason was because of the ING takeover. It should make the bank stronger.

    I think ING will begin to disappear but people are sort of lazy when it comes to banking and if their accounts are being moved to BNS they will probably just leave them there.

    • Echo on September 6, 2013 at 7:11 am

      @Jane – Scotia had pretty strong quarterly results, presumably bolstered by ING’s deposits.

      Why do you think they’ll eventually disappear? All indications are that they’re not going away anytime soon.

      • Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle on September 6, 2013 at 7:18 am

        I think it will be like TD Canada Trust. The name may survive but it is really all TD.

        Duplication of services and competing with yourself is one reason I think it will disappear. I do know that other companies run competing branches but they try and target different markets. For instance Cara Foods has Harvey’s, Swiss Chalet and Montana’s and they are all competing for out food dollars but they are targeting different tastes and budgets. I have not seen any giant differences in services that banks, online or brick and mortar, offer so it may be more economical to merge them to offer one larger provider.

  3. Eleanor on September 6, 2013 at 7:01 am

    “siting an overlap with Scotia’s objectives” – actually, it’s “citing….objectives”. Not sure there is such a word as “siting”.

    • Echo on September 6, 2013 at 7:09 am

      Ha! Thanks, Eleanor. Must’ve been a long day yesterday.

      Fixed!

  4. JT on September 6, 2013 at 10:32 am

    They should name it Scotiabank 360. Capital One 360 is a heck of a product. Hope it is just as good up north!

  5. Robert Britton on September 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I think they should go with a another popular word ending. ED, IFY, IFICATE, IVATE, IZE, or ALLY, now that that English ending has specifically been freed up. 🙂

  6. VanLarry on September 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I wonder how much deposits and mortgages were taken out of ING and switched to another bank during this process. This mattered more to Scotia then customers coming and going.

    I know I transfered out my RRSPs and withdrew most of my savings from ING to another account. Although to be truthful Scotia’s purchase was not the main reason. My RRSPs grew sufficient to switch to funds then letting it sit for a few pennies in interest.

    BTW, for those that have RRSPs in ING, transferring out to another institution is of no cost. It only took 2 business days for me, plus another 3 business days for the new account to show up.

  7. Anton Ivanov on September 11, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    What happened to Ally bank in Canada?

    • Echo on September 12, 2013 at 9:08 am

      @Anton – They were purchased by RBC and shut down.

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