When most people think of a financial institution they usually think of suits, large offices, strict hierarchy, and a buttoned up culture. That's where ING Direct Canada is different. Employees don't have job titles, there are no offices, and the CEO doesn't even have a reserved parking spot for himself. ING Direct Canada has around 1,000 employees and 2 million customers and is bringing in 100,000 new customers every year. ING Direct Canada manages around 1,800 customers for every employee it has whereas the Big Five Banks (in Canada) are only doing around 250. They also manage around $40k in assets per employee compared to $10k per employee at the Big Five.
So how is ING Direct Canada able to manage around 25-30 times the amount of customers per employee and four times the amount of assets as their competitors? Keep in mind that ING Direct Canada only has 1,000 employees while the Big Five all have between 40,000-70,000 employees? Clearly there is something special going on here.
I recently spoke with the CEO of ING Direct Canada, Peter Aceto and it's safe to say the Peter definitely has the 5 Must Have Qualities of the Modern Manager. He has been with the company now for 17 years and during our talk Peter had no problem talking about everything from the core values of his company to his sometimes difficult relationship with his father. ING Direct Canada is a very unique company which has a strong focus on collaboration and adapting to the future of work and so I wanted to find out what Peter was doing to create this type of a unique company. Peter's advice for other business leaders is to focus on a few key areas:
Values and the culture of the organization
According to Peter, whether you are building a company from scratch or evolving an existing one, the underlying values and culture need to facilitate collaboration. At the end of the day values can mean different things but basically they steer how you hire, make decisions, and work. The values for ING Direct Canada are: 1. To Simplify 2. To Be Challengers 3. To Be The Good Guys. Now while "collaboration" isn't an explicit value it's a core part of the culture. Collaboration comes as a necessity because the above values cannot be realized without collaboration. Not having job titles or offices is part of what ING Direct Canada does to help facilitate an open and collaborative culture. In fact, according to Peter, everyone at his company is a leader and you can't be a leader without collaborating.
Flattening the organization