ING’s “Pick your financial advisors” blog

ING is one of the most dynamic and innovative European banks in terms ofweb 2.0 and buzz/viral marketing. They have a Dutch “mini-state” on Second Life, they recently launched a viral marketing site with its own profile on YouTube

On regular basis, I check the ING Asia/Pacific’s blog initiated by Jacques Kamp, CEO ING Asia/Pacific. A couple of weeks ago, I found out about their excellent initiative in India, the Pick Your Financial Advisor blog.

I am always very pleased to see a leading bank innovating and utilizingweb 2.0 features. Even if the new platform or service is not perfect. Recently, I reviewed the phase 2 of, the European Network for Entrepreneur launched by another innovative bank in the Benelux, Fortis Bank.

My goal is to share my comments and my suggestions to improve the service and better engage their members. The customer experience is key: nowadays, in the web 2.0 era, people want more control. Before launching a new platform, companies should aim to create and build a community. Then, they need to make sure they engage their members and urge them to post some value added content on regular basis. Companies must focus mainly on providing a comprehensive and intuitive platform, and let their members produce the content.

But most banks refrain from implementing web 2.0 technologies because of potential brand damage. They are scared of user-generated content. But an aggressive comment or complain on your blog is not a problem, as long as you respond to it! is a sort of blogging platform, not a social network. It is a good initiative, I like the idea of being able to choose your advisor, know a bit more of her/his background and put a face on the advisor, and see some activities and responsiveness from her/him.

As a potential client, it should definitely urge me to use the service and get in touch with the most suitable advisor. Moreover, I have a good feeling about ING which demonstrate they want to develop a good long-term relationship with me.

But how am I supposed to choose among the advisors? How do I get to use this service if ING don’t promote it on its website? What if the interface is not intuitive? How comfortable with the service should I be if I find some inappropriate content or other visitors/members personal contact numbers?…

This is a good example of potentially damaging user-generated content. The good news is that it is easily addressable, with a moderator who constantly monitor the blog.

Please find below my comments and my suggestions.

Interface – main menu
It links to the media section of ING’s website. You are lost, and there is no link to the original press release
Is this link targeted to potential clients, potential employees or investors?

I think the Font used is too small, and not suited to older people.
There are no hyperlinks on the pages and at the end there is no call to action. For instance, on page 13, I was expecting to find a link to the “Lifemaker application” info page on their website.

It is an interactive book. Why not, but it is not ideal in terms of user experience, and it could have been more interactive. As best practice, I invite you to check “the Virtual Forest” section of first direct interactive.

Why would I do that? Moreover, it looks like the picture is not displayed on the website… I would be curious to find out a) the reasons why they decided to add that option… b) how many times this wallpaper has been downloaded!

It is merely a link to the website…

Interface – poor navigability
The interface is not intuitive and a bit messy: a lot of info or features are below the fold, the home button is at the bottom of the page… The user experience is critical if you want to drive traffic to your service, and urge your members to login frequently, be more active and contribute.
* A fair proportion of “communty blogs” are useless: you can only see the standard “Please enter your message here”. Also, it is easy to duplicate your message by mistake… Before submitting the post, they should launch a script which controls the body of the message.
* Browsing the communty blogs is not user friendly, and it takes for ever to find a message which is relevant to you.

One of the key misses is the absence of categories or taggs. Tagging is the base of pretty much all the web 2.0 websites and communities. It is a very efficient way to find all the relevant info about a specific topic, share that info between members and urge them to contribute.

Registration & User Profile
Pickuradvisorprofile_2Early in the registration process, they ask you to choose my advisor. But how are you supposed to choose your prefered advisor at that stage?

* Add testimonial: it is good to urge your members to leave a testimonial. But here, it looks like there is only one online! Does it mean that: no one ever left a testimonial? They received many testimonials but they were that bad? They receive many testimonials, but they don’t bother checking and publishing them?
* Blog rating: this is an interesting feature. Now, I feel like I am in control. But am I rating each post? Or the whole private blog with my personal advisor? What is the impact of my vote? There is no point sending my feedback if no action is taken.
* Reminders: it is a basic reminder/alarm service. I couldn’t find the list of reminders on my personal homepage.
* Face-to-Face meeting: when you click on the link, another page appear saying that you will be contacted shortly. That is it!

The Advisor profiles
Pickuradvisoradvisorprofiles* The way advisors introduce themselves is diversed but there is no consistency.
Is the goal of the blog to recruit more advisors OR to develop warmer, more personal, relationships with clients? As a potential client, do I really want to hear about “growth potential”? Nope.
* I was surprised to find some personal email addresses?
* I would challenge the value of displaying personal photos. Moreover, most of the time the advisors forgot to add a description. There is no checking: “Upload family photo and enter a caption”.
* They introduce their personal background.

Fine, but I need to better understand what their approach is and find out about their key skills which could help me as a client. I need to understand how successful and popular my advisor is: it would be benefitial to have access to the nb of community blogs, private blogs, face 2 face meetings, and blog ratings by advisor.

No control? It means a higher risk of brand damage

Pickuradvisornomoderator_2No “moderator”? Visitors promote …
It looks like the advisors themselves don’t check their community blogs!

It does not communicate a positive image of the company. A visitor may well think: “OK it is a good service, but ING don’t care. They don’t even read the content of the posts…”

No promotion on ING Vysya Life Insurance website?
I briefly browsed the ING V.L.I. website. I may have missed them, but I couldn’t find any references or links to

When companies launch such an innovative service they should: a) be proud, b) communicate and send press releases to early adopters and sneezers, c) promote the new service on their website.

Stats – 31 July 07
* 6 cities & 27 advisors: Bangalore (5), Chennai (5), Delhi (5), Hyderabad (4), Mumbai (4) and Pune (4).
* It looks like there are just 490 posts for over 20 advisors since the launch.

Terms and conditions
I rarely go trough all the T&Cs, but this time I wanted to find out more about ING’s policy in terms of control and moderation on the blog.

This site hosts message boards, and chat services for both public and private forums. The Users may please note that any information that is disclosed in public forums becomes public information. Users should exercise caution when deciding to disclose their personal information on such forums.
Fair enough, but what if the advisors are asking for those contact details in the community blogs… Should they do it? On many occasions, I found some personal contact details in public posts.

IVL reserves the right to edit/delete the content contributed by Users in its blog forums, if the same in the opinion of IVL is against law, morality and IVL’s Business Principles.
Cf my “No control?” section…

What do you think?

Written by Christophe Langlois

Based in London for almost a decade, Christophe is an entertaining fintech marketing keynote speaker and a trusted advisor to the global financial services industry on the topics of digital marketing, innovation and B2B social media.

Christophe has contributed to over 140 events in 18 countries.

Currently, Christophe is advising a number of fintech startups on marketing and growth hacking and he is the Chief Marketing Officer of The Fintech Power 50, an exclusive annual programme helping fintech scale-ups to accelerate their growth globally.

Christophe's views on are his own.

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