It’s hard to create a splash in the staid, regulated Canadian banking industry, but that’s just what ING DIRECT CANADA did. Management built a winning brand and thriving business – and they did it entirely through innovation. As Peter Aceto, the company’s President since 2008 says, “We were trying to reinvent and re-examine every single thing that we possibly could.” ING DIRECT CANADA’s incredible long-term record of innovation is why we invited Aceto to our Innovation conference.
At our retreat, he’ll explain how ING completely changed the game in regulated banking –- how being the thorn in the side of the Big Five established banks introduced a number of financial innovations to Canada. He will describe ING’s defining moments, such as when he put in place procedures and advertising support to enable customers to move their funds to higher-interest ING, without entering a branch!
He’ll tell us how pursuing creative solutions is key to achieving success. “It’s crucial to remain innovative, different, fast and nimble when creating a customer-focused environment,” he told PEO. “You can’t let down your guard, and innovation needs to be part of your culture.”
Aceto is “100 per cent” devoted to continuing the innovative environment he’s created. “It’s really embedded. The ideas will continue and the drive to realize the ideas will increase.”
“We have a simple set of values; we hire people who find it exciting to challenge the status quo. We have a system in place that allows people who talk to customers to express ideas to simplify things for the customer and for ourselves. Like a stone wheel – it’s moving and is difficult to stop.”
Aceto will also reveal the inside story behind ING’s latest and perhaps most talked about innovation: the groundbreaking app that enables customers to deposit their cheques by taking photos of them on smart phones. “The rules surrounding the old system made it difficult to introduce the technology but we built it because we knew it was the right thing to do for our business and because it made sense for Canadians. “
He adds: “We planned to launch the capabilities whether the rules changed or not. Thankfully the rules did change and they successfully improved procedures. On Mondays we get over 1,000 cheques deposited by photos every week.”
Aceto affirms that many directions pursued in the beginning were fundamental in forming its prevailing values today. “We have 950 employees and they’re all a part of our innovative spirit. Today we have almost 2 million customers, we’re big and successful but will still be the challengers, continuously looking for innovative was to gain the competitive edge.” Bank of Nova Scotia acquired ING DIRECT CANADA in 2012 for $3.1 billion and decided to maintain the business as a stand-alone entity, a testament to ING’s ongoing success and differentiation.
When he’s not working, Aceto enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. He coaches his sons’ hockey team, likes to read and plays various sports with his ING team. The team recently started participating in the Tough Mudder event, a 17 km obstacle course that he describes as a team-building event that teaches how to overcome obstacles and persevere in the face of adversity – no matter what.
“Peter Aceto is an outstanding leader and anyone who looks at the Canadian banking system even casually knows that ING DIRECT shook it up radically under Peter’s leadership,” commented Leon Goren, CA, PEO president and CEO. “It’s a coup for us to have Peter speak at our conference.”