Jobs cuts to mainly take place in Belgium and The Netherlands

IFM Correspondent

October 4, 2016: Dutch bank ING, the country’s biggest lender, announced plans to shed 7,000 jobs, mainly in Belgium and The Netherlands. The plan is part of cost cutting measure for the company, which will help it save $1.01 billion by 2021. The rise of online banking competitors is forcing the bank to reshape its digital banking strategy.

ING presented the job losses in Belgium and the Netherlands as being part of its ‘Think Forward’ strategy aimed at digitising more of the group’s operations.

Rik Vandenberghe, chief executive of the bank’s Belgian arm, said on Monday that the decision was “a shock for a lot of people … it was not an easy decision, I have not slept well these last days.”

Ralph Hamers, chief executive of ING Group, said, “You have to announce these programmes and these intentions at a time when you can afford them. We’re strong right now, we have good results, we are growing and then you have to do the repairs, and not when you don’t have any choice anymore.”

He also highlighted that ING had been hit — like other European banks — by low interest rates in the eurozone and tough regulation.

Belgian and Dutch unions reacted angrily, but analysts said the job losses were the result of the online transformation of the banking industry.

The move is the third financial sector restructuring announced in Belgium in recent weeks. Earlier, Axa Belgium and P&V also announced planned job cuts.