The book, The Orange Code: How ING Direct Succeeded by Being a Rebel with a Cause, talks about business strategy and "how personal financial empowerment has made everyone a winner."
I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but here's what the reviewers at Amazon are saying:
This book got me thinking about why everyone mimics everyone else in business. Why do all banks act the same way (have branches, credit cards, ATMs, car loans, checking accounts, etc.)? For that matter, why do almost all car dealerships, or department stores, airlines, etc. act in the smae way?
Arkadi Kuhlmann has provided his own answer by trashing some of the sacred practices of established banks and creating a new company that is wildly successful by standing for something in the face of the customer.
Thomas A. Farin "Bank Consultant":
I expected to be told most of what I already knew. Instead I found it full of insight on ING Direct's core principals, its branding strategy, its thought process behind its maverick behavior, management communication and a number of things I hadn't thought about. Those things are core to an outstanding success story.
If you intend to reinvent your business it is a 'must read'. I will be ordering a copy for each of our staff members to prepare those willing to make the committment for a planning retreat in which we intend to reinvent our business. I suggest you do the same.
Have you had a chance to read it yet? I'm going to get a copy and, when I finish, will review it here.
Compete, a site that tracks traffic metrics and analyzes Internet trends, has a couple of new polls out on how consumers use online banking and what they think of it.
These are some interesting results — but, like Bankrate's recent survey, it's not entirely clear if this is discussing online banking from brick and mortar banks or online-only banks.
For example, easily more than 1% of those surveyed (probably) have opened a new account at an online-only bank. But at their brick and mortar's online site, they may not have.
How do these survey results compare to your online banking habits? Let us know in a comment below.
Bankrate recently announced the results of its 2008 Checking Study and found some interesting results:
The 22 checking accounts we surveyed at 18 online institutions show that they can be somewhat pricey, especially if you're intent on earning interest, but at least they pay decent interest. You may find that abiding by a couple of minor stipulations will eliminate fees.
Honestly, I'm not sure Bankrate did a great job of really looking at online banks — and it's a little confusing just exactly who they surveyed.
The text above says "online institutions" — implying online banks — but their methodology says they "surveyed one interest checking account and one noninterest checking account at each of the largest banks and thrifts in each of 25 large markets."
That seems to imply they are looking at the online versions of brick and mortar banks, but I'm not totally sure.
If you're looking to open an online checking account, the best is ING's Electric Orange.
When you open an account with at least $250, you'll get an automatic $25 deposited as a bonus.
It's got no fees, no minimums and is super-easy to use.
Bank of America, which has promoted green banking, is giving away a Saturn Hybrid car and 5 $10,000 prizes for using its paperless banking.
According to the Sweepstakes page, you can enter up to 16 times by:
The grand prize winner receives either a Saturn AURA hybrid or a Saturn VUE hybrid.
After that, there are 5 first prizes of $10,000 in cash.
We use BofA as our primary checking account, though mostly our money just goes in and out of the account.
But we've been paperless with them for a while now — and it's worth it. They used to send the thickest (and most useless) account statements every month.
I've said before that my primary motivation for going paperless is convenience, but it's nice to know I'm doing something good for the environment at the same time.
After their system problems last week, HSBC Direct says they're back up and running.
As a follow-up to my email last week, I am pleased to let you know that our systems have now returned to normal operating conditions. As always, we continue to monitor all systems closely and will let you know if there is any change in status. I can confirm that all customer information, data and funds were secure at all times.
In the event that you were charged fees as a direct result of our system issues please know that these will be refunded. If any deposits were delayed you will receive interest from the date they were originally deposited.
Should you have other questions about your HSBC Direct account please submit your question through "BankMail" when you are logged into your account, or contact our Customer Service team at 1-888-404-4050.
Providing consistent world class service levels is our priority and is something that we failed to do last week. We fully appreciate how important it is for you to have reliable access to your online accounts and we are committed to providing this. Again I apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced.
Thank you again for your support and for saving with HSBC Direct.
Executive Vice President,
Head of HSBC Direct U.S.
The Consumerist has a bit more about how much the outages affected customers, especially people who were waiting for their direct deposited paychecks to clear.
The widespread problem is limiting access to HSBCDirect accounts, and at least 8,000 Catholic Health System employees up in Buffalo are still waiting for their direct deposit payments to materialize.
The bank is keeping select upstate branches open late so Catholic Health System employees can come in and trade their pay stubs for cash. As for affected HSBCDirect customers, the bank promises to "return full–system functionality to you as soon as possible."
Glad to hear everything is working right again. You're not having any problems with HSBC, are you?
We've talked a lot about how convenient online banking is, but there's also a very green aspect to it, too. Being green isn't my top priority, but it's definitely an added bonus when it comes along with convenience.
Online Statements Getting your monthly statements online keeps you organized and cuts clutter
Bill Pay Scheduling bill payments online saves you time, postage, potential late fees, and more.
eBills Paying bills online? Why not go for ultimate convenience and receives them online, too.
According to the promo, BofA customers using the three steps have saved a total of 8,174 tons of paper.
Like I said, going green isn't the reason I would be banking online, but it's a very compelling reason for certain folks.
It's a smart move by Bank of America to shape their message this way, especially if their customers are hesitant to bank online.
Customers are increasingly satisfied with their online banks, according to a new survey from ForeSee Results (says the AP).
The measurement comes from the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index, which gave online banking an 82 out of 100, up from 73 in 2003.
The reading of 82 was higher than customers gave banks overall — 78 in 2007 — suggesting they are more pleased with banks' online operations than with branches and call centers. The score is also strong compared to other arenas: Online retailers, the highest-scoring category measured by the ACSI, recently scored 83.
Satisfaction is up partly because people are more comfortable banking online than they used to be, said ForeSee Results president and CEO Larry Freed. Other big reasons he cited include efforts by banks to boost security, allow more types of transactions, and ease navigation.
For the most part, I'm content with the online banks that I use. But there's still a lot they could do better.
First, get rid of ridiculous log in methods. HSBC is the worst when it comes to this, since you have to use their ridiculous virtual keyboard that constantly gives me errors.
Let me add as many external accounts as I want. E-Loan says you can only have one external account "for security," but that's a load of bull. I should be able to take my money wherever I want to go, whenever I want to go.
Speed up transfers. There's no reason it should take so long for my money to get from one account to another. Yes, there are some ACH issues surrounding this, but once that's done, my money should be where I want it.
What would make you more satisfied with your online bank? Leave a comment below.
ING Direct, probably the best known online bank, had "a record number of new savers, deposits and home mortgage loans" in 2007, according to an email from CEO Arkadi Kuhlmann sent to its customers.
I am happy to report that ING DIRECT's 2007 financial results are complete. Your confidence in us helped us deliver a record number of new savers, deposits and home mortgage loans. Further, we acquired ShareBuilder so we could offer you a low cost way to invest in stocks and ETFs. I'm proud of our first 7 years, but there's work to be done.
Global financial markets ended 2007 with many challenges ahead. While ING DIRECT avoided the sub-prime mortgage problem, we understand that this housing crisis threatens the well-being of countless families and, in the end, it will be seen as a major failing of the mortgage industry and its regulators.
The fact that ING DIRECT was not adversely affected is a testament to our operating philosophy that, as Americans, we should only buy houses we can afford. That way we can keep them for years to come. We believe a mortgage is a contract that both parties should execute in good faith and expect to see through to its conclusion. We will not waver from our sworn promise to provide you with great value, service and convenience.
Thank you for your continued trust in us. Stay tuned in 2008 for new ideas we'll offer to help you save your money.
The CEO of Saving
While ING hasn't been delivering the leading interest rates on its online savings account for some time, they have continued to innovate with new products like the Electric Orange checking account and business online savings account.
Kuhlmann has been an outspoken advocate of understanding you financial situation (he's not the only one) and has argued that, even though ING only offers adjustable rate mortgages, they ARE right for some people.
I don't keep any money with them anymore — there are too many better paying options — but I know that some people do because of the ease of use and dedication to the company. I wouldn't do it, but more power to them.
There was a time when people saved at banks, savings and loans and credit unions … and that was about it.
People still do, but our federal government defines banks, savings and loans and credit unions as part of a much bigger group of establishments called credit intermediaries that do financial intermediation.
Savings is not as simple as it used to be, but jobs in intermediation still have most of the same titles, including 558,000 jobs as tellers.
Tellers are an important job to watch. Office automation could just about eliminate teller jobs or knock them out of the whole economy (like cars knocked out horses in my grandfather's day).
Money machines eliminate the need for tellers for check cashing and other basic banking transactions. Writing paper checks requires an elaborate process of handling, posting and clearance that takes much longer and requires more labor than electronic processing at the point of sale.
Today's digital technology basically eliminates check writing, paper and even currency. However, teller jobs are not decreasing — they've actually been increasing modestly in the last few years.
Our happiness with these teller jobs has to be modest, because the median annual salary rings in at $21,300, but their continued growth shows America's resistance to further changing to electronic money.
With broadband Internet connections in more and more homes, some people are comfortable with their money literally flying through the air. Perhaps paper gives comfort to others.
Whatever the reason, America's refusal to eliminate checks and currency supports many more jobs than technology requires.
We know that increasing productivity makes manufacturing more efficient, but it continues to eliminate jobs. In a digital world, finance and insurance also have room for more efficiency. The number of teller jobs means that more efficiency could affect things.
Efficiency sounds so much like something we should like, but if efficiency keeps eliminating jobs, maybe we should begin to feel differently.
If more Americans would like things that are inefficient, we would have more jobs, but if America wants efficiency, they may have to think of shorter hours or new ways to spread the work.
Fred Siegmund covers America's jobs as part of work doing labor market analysis and projections for a client base of recruiters, trainers and counselors. Visit him at www.americanjobmarket.blogspot.com
E-Loan, where I keep an online savings account, is giving away $5 Starbucks gift cards for filling out an online banking survey.
Dear Valued Customer -
We are evaluating and enhancing our online banking website and would like your opinion on what bank products and features are important to you.
You will receive a $5 Starbucks Card to thank you for your participation in this short survey.
Thanks for helping us.
SVP, Internet Banking
Click here to access this survey:
I did it — hopefully my gift card will come in less than the advertised 4 weeks.
Give it a shot. You don't seem to have to be an E-Loan account holder to do it.
There is one problem, however: what can you get at Starbucks for only $5?