ING Direct Australia chief and founder to retire

Uday Sareen, a former deputy chief executive of ING Vysya in India, will replace ING Australia chief Vaughn Richtor in June when he retires after a 24-year career at the Dutch bank that included founding ING Direct in Australia.

Mr Richtor, 60, was the founding CEO of ING Direct in 1999 after first starting with the bank in 1992. It was the first bank in Australia to launch a purely online bank.

ING Direct chief executive Vaughn Richtor will be replaced by Uday Sareen, the deputy CEO of ING Vysya in India.
ING Direct chief executive Vaughn Richtor will be replaced by Uday Sareen, the deputy CEO of ING Vysya in India. Photo: Ben Rushton

ING Direct Australia is now Australia's sixth biggest bank, with a loan book of almost $43 billion – larger than locally listed regional banks Suncorp-Metway Bank or Bank of Queensland.

After no growth in profit or loans in 2013, he presided over a 9.4 per cent rise in profit in 2014 – the last full year results available – to $297 million due to lower funding costs.

However, amid a shift to become customers' "primary bank" rather than just a high interest online savings account, it has so far sold about $7 billion in "white label" loans, leading to almost no loan growth for the past couple of years.

He left Australia to head up ING Group's Indian operations, India Vysya, from 2005 to 2009 and then led ING's commercial and retail banking across Asia from 2009. He returned to be CEO of the Australian business again in 2012, but also remained CEO of Challenger and Growth Countries Asia, and later CEO of ING Retail Banking Asia.


Mr Sareen was deputy CEO of ING Vysya until April 2015 when rival Kotak Mahindra Bank bought ING Vysya. He has since been president of the operating management committee responsible for overseeing the integration of Vysya's retail banking in Kotak Mahindra.

Mr Sareen spent two years between 2012 and 2014 as chief strategy officer at ING-DiBa in Germany.

Neither Mr Richtor nor Mr Sareen was available for comment.

Both worked closely for two years at ING Vysya from 2007 when Mr Sareen became head of retail and private banking there. However, it is understood Mr Richtor was not part of the recruitment process.

Mr Richtor will continue to act as ING's representative on the board of TMB Bank Thailand and will remain an adviser to ING in the Asia-Pacific region.

In a statement, the global chairman of ING Direct, Michael Katz, said Mr Richtor was a visionary leader who had guided the bank with "passion and enthusiasm from the very first day of the business".