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Seeing the Forest
through the Trees

In Focus
NAME:Florin Ilie
POSITION:Deputy CEO and Head of Wholesale Banking
LOCATION:Bucharest, Romania
Deputy CEO and Head of Wholesale Banking at ING Romania, Florin Ilie, is driven by his passion for the environment with an eye on technology.

He was a forest ranger and a diplomat before carving out a 20-year career at global financial institution, ING.

Now, having been Deputy CEO and Head of Wholesale Banking for the bank’s Romanian arm since 2019, Florin Ilie is looking to double the size of the business over the next 10 years – leaning heavily into sustainability, with an eye on Romania’s position in the global economic landscape.

Ilie aligns closely with ING Romania’s sustainability agenda, like the US$1.1 billion it released last year to finance sustainable enterprise in the country, alongside the US$1.5 million to support financial health and environmental protection projects. The bank also rolled out interest rate discounts for sustainable purchases and for mortgage and personal loans for private individuals.

He hopes to expand this as the Romanian economy grows.

“Doing this business right from a banking perspective contributes hugely to how and where Romania goes.”

“We are looking at an economy that hopefully in the next 10 years can basically double as a result of the European Union funding that keeps coming in, which I would say has very much improved governance in the country, and in business,” he tells The CEO Magazine.

Ilie is also extremely proud of the US$93 million ING Romania spent to fund the first bottle deposit refund scheme in Romania, where a small surcharge is applied to purchasing drinks in plastic and glass bottles as well as metal cans, and is refunded on return of the empty item. Ilie estimates it will take up to seven billion plastic bottles and metal cans off the streets and out of the rivers, and is an initiative that will have an undoubtable positive impact.

“I was very keen with my team on being the bank that funded this,” he says.

Strictly Sectors

Ilie is also looking to deepen the organization’s sector specialisms, which it believes is one of its main differentiators against competitors, and offers a significant boost to the Romanian economy.

“We are strictly sector organized, so you can tap into sector expertise at a global level immediately. You are always working in a cross-border group of people who excel at what they are doing globally. You are instantly connected to the best practice that you can see in Sydney, Amsterdam, London, New York or Singapore for that matter, which is quite unique,” Ilie says.

“Collaborating with ING Romania is an opportunity to excel. At the heart of our partnership on cash management solutions is our commitment to deliver innovation, digitalization and adaptability to enhanced needs and new trends. We value our shared goals and trust that the new digital solutions for cash management will further provide competitive advantage in both our industries.” – Dan Dumitru-Popescu, CEO, Brink’s Cash Solutions Romania


“They are spearheading any economic sector in the country. And the country is 80 percent multinationals by the way, in terms of large companies, which means that we are globally connected, and very dependent on how global connections work. Doing this business right from a banking perspective also contributes hugely, and I would say in an oversized manner, to how and where Romania goes.”

People First

While maintaining such a level of professionalism requires intense training in client management, ING Romania is also investing in new technology-enabled platforms to improve its customer experience. That includes new global platforms for all its products, including lending, foreign exchange and global payments, with partners like Brink’s Romania being key for optimal cash flow management across all parts of the business.

These developments help the bank’s employees work more efficiently and focus more on improving how they service clients, Ilie says. They also allow it to go one step further to better understand their clients’ businesses. Because while ING Romania is keen to explore how AI can help it grow more competitively, that’s where Ilie believes humans are critical.

“When we talk about customer excellence, we really mean it. It’s not just empty sloganeering in the corporate world, which I honestly loathe.”

“To be not preemptive, but forward-looking, in everything you do and how you position yourself to service your client cannot be done by anybody or anything else for you,” he says.

“When we talk about customer excellence, we really mean it. It’s not just empty sloganeering in the corporate world, which I honestly loathe. Every year we intensively and individually train our people on this, to help prepare them for any interaction that they might have with the clients, in such a way so they can closely understand the sector, and the client’s interest and needs.”

The Best Contribution

Looking back at Ilie’s varied career, he feels that perhaps his biggest achievement at ING Romania actually predates when he actually started there.

“As a diplomat in the Foreign Office, I was involved in Romania’s European Union accession negotiations. That was probably the best contribution I ever made to the business,” Ilie says.

“Because if Romania wasn’t a European Union member right now, the business would not be 25 percent of what it is. Frankly, I think that was the best way to contribute to the current business in the little way that I could.”

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