Contributing to retirement savings is not a strong suit for most Americans, which is why ING Group Inc. wants to make it easier for individuals to develop that much-needed nest egg.

Catherine Smith, the chief executive officer of ING U.S. Retirement Services, said helping employers to offer savings opportunities, and employees to participate, is one of the biggest gaps in the industry.

ING’s main focus last year was the integration of the former CitiStreet LLC business, which ING bought in July 2008. Smith said in an interview Tuesday that CitiStreet’s technology platform helped ING to move down market and better serve small and mid-sized corporate customers, with less than $150 million in assets under management or administration.

ING U.S. Retirement Services ranked among the top three plan providers and record keepers in the country last year, according to the company, with more than 52,000 plan sponsors, approximately 7 million plan participants, and over $235 billion in combined assets under management and administration.

Smith said despite the economic downturn, ING picked up market share in the education and small and midsize corporate market and is well-positioned for future growth as the economy begins to pick up.

ING has been able to gather share by keeping an eye on regulatory developments. For example, in the beginning of last year there were a series of regulatory changes that impacted 403(b) plan providers, which required them to act more like fiduciaries.

ING put together a number of online tools designed to help providers manage the complexity of the plans. The benefit: ING was able to slash the number of vendors to a handful from up to 30 for each provider, add 70,000 new participants and 1,600 new plans, Smith said.

What differentiates ING, Smith said, is that because it works across all marketplaces it can be an expert provider and focus on participant education, enrollment, and multi-cultural capabilities.
ING recently rolled out the next phase of a retirement marketing campaign, which it launched in 2008, to show the importance of identifying the amount of money an individual needs to save in order to retire the way he or she wants.

The campaign includes an interactive microsite that enables consumers to easily calculate the amount of money they need for retirement.

The next phase of the marketing campaign includes a television commercial that aired during the Winter Olympics on Feb.12. The commercial addresses the need for an individual to exercise more financial control through active planning.

“Knowing your retirement number continues to be a clear, effective way for ING to connect with consumers,” Ann Glover, the chief marketing officer for ING Americas, said in a press release. “While many people today want to take control of their personal finances, they may not know what to do or where to turn for help. This year's campaign communicates the benefit of having a plan and using your retirement number to help better prepare for your financial future.”

Smith said that ING is looking at aging boomers as another important market and believes its individualized financial solutions program can help boomers as they turn the corner from asset accumulation to payout.