Sustainability as a lever for innovation in a bank's business.


ING Spain is a financial institution with innovative DNA, which approached us with the challenge of including sustainability as part of their core business and strategy, following the group's vision. In order to find a solution to this demanding commission, it was essential to take into account the reality of the local market, as well as the needs and expectations of their current users.


We designed a sustainability strategy and commitments that included: The role ING wanted to play as a financial institution that integrates sustainability into the core of its business, its vision, and the cornerstones of the transformation on which to build value solutions for its customers.

Thanks to this solution, sustainability was presented as a lever that offers value to ING customers by integrating sustainability across all its business areas, which avoided sustainability projects being pursued individually and finally not being implemented.

A global outlook for a local, realistic and innovative design.

ING Spain is part of a group headquartered in the Netherlands, so we proposed a scenario in which, while having a vision of how the head office and other parent countries had included sustainability in their way of working, we had to understand the Spanish market and the Spanish user in order to develop a local strategy aligned with global expectations and guidelines.

To achieve this, we built a team in which transparent communication was a key factor, allowing us to understand the vision of sustainability held in more advanced countries as well as the local situation at ING Spain.

With this information we were able to detect areas of opportunity arising from the business’ strengths and weaknesses, the needs and demands of ING's customers, as well as trends and major success stories.

 We were able to co-create a sustainability strategy that responded to the needs of each key ING business area, to the reality of the group and to offer actionable lines of work in which the entire team that collaborated felt comfortable for their activation and subsequent roll-out.

The sustainability and operations area were part of the team with which we were able to activate all the areas in the bank and thus face a path without silos and in total alignment right from the outset.

A project initiation promoting common understanding and language on sustainability.

With the aim of fostering a smooth project roll-out and the collaboration of all the agents involved, regardless of their prior knowledge of sustainability or the business area they represent, we started the project by training and inspiring everyone on the basics and key concepts they needed to know in order to play an active part in each phase of the process and their dynamics. 

During the training day we looked at positive impact from an environmental, social, governmental and of course business approach, reviewing success stories in other companies which, through their purpose and impact strategy, were not only managing to drive the great global challenges, but also to build profitable, sound business models that their customers loved.

This training, delivered by our experts, served to kick-start the project with motivation and to raise each team-member’s commitment to the challenge we were pursuing.

It also helped to understand what it means to include positive impact in a company's strategy and culture, the importance of alignment between areas and jointly creating each step together.

A local customer who knows something about sustainability, but is not fully prepared for 100% sustainable finance.

As part of the research exercise, we were able to reach out to ING Spain's existing customers to listen to them and explore their relationship with ING Spain and their understanding of sustainability and sustainable finance in greater depth. 

This approach allowed us to understand the level of awareness that ING's customers had of positive impact and to confirm that the integration of this new cornerstone had to coexist with the great values for which ING stands out as a benchmark for its customers: Simplicity, proximity, agility, transparency and innovation in order to make everyday life easier for its product users. 

From this research we learned that transforming without changing its essence makes ING a loved and well-considered brand, and this was the first step. We emphasised training and support to make sustainable financial solutions understandable to ease the learning curve and avoid friction in the integration of these products and services into each customer's existing portfolio.

An opportunity to return to the forefront.

ING has historically positioned itself as one of the most innovative financial institutions by launching its bank-not-a-bank concept and developing a simple, commission-free and fully digital banking relationship with its customers, when in Spain banks were still anchored to branches, offering long, tedious processes and high fees with little transparency.

Sustainability comes very naturally to them, just as digitalisation and customer experience did, and that is why we wanted their sustainability strategy and their new positioning in this context to be perceived not as a company that is trying to be trendy, but as a bank that wants to transform the financial sector by offering sustainable solutions to its customers.

A concept based on "Doing and not saying we do".