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FSS to boost contact with foreign CEOs

Gov. Choi says FSS is committed to deregulation and communication

The nation’s chief financial regulator has promised to meet with chief executives from Korean branches of foreign financial service firms twice a year.

“Under the authorities’ policy to expand communication channels, I will hold the biannual meetings with CEOs of foreign financial firms (operating here),” said Financial Supervisory Service Gov. Choi Soo-hyun during FSS Speaks 2013, a forum held in downtown Seoul on Tuesday.

Choi’s predecessors had held them once a year. According to financial industry sources, the next meeting between Choi and the foreign sector CEOs is slated for the latter half of the year in Busan, the nation’s second-largest city.

“The FSS recently picked Busan as the next venue for the periodical regulator-chief executive forum,” a source told The Korea Herald.

At the Seoul gathering, Choi emphasized that regulators will elaborate more on improving the business climate for foreign financial firms in Korea through more efficient regulatory examinations and a door open for dialogue.
Financial Supervisory Service Gov. Choi Soo-hyun (center, front row) poses with chief executives of foreign financial firms operating in Korea during the FSS Speaks 2013 forum at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)
Financial Supervisory Service Gov. Choi Soo-hyun (center, front row) poses with chief executives of foreign financial firms operating in Korea during the FSS Speaks 2013 forum at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)

Choi also expressed his commitment to making changes to current regulations and practices that impede creativity and innovation so that foreign financial companies can do their part in spurring job creation and economic growth.

The FSS Speaks forum was arranged to give updates on current financial supervision, to hear difficulties of foreign financial companies doing business in Korea and to open the floor for feedback.

This year’s FSS event revolved around state measures to foster a “creative and innovative financial market,” incorporated with a long-term partnership with international financial firms.

About 330 attendees gathered to state regulator FSS’ fifth and Governor Choi’s first policy forum for foreign financial companies.

Michael Hellbeck, an executive vice president and head of regulatory affairs of Standard Chartered Bank Korea, said it seems that the FSS is not welcoming about foreign firms’ licensing request. He also asked to give foreign financial firms opportunities to directly voice their opinions to the Financial Services Commission, the decision maker of the FSS.

But Hellbeck’s was the sole question that was raised during the question-and-answer session in the first of the two SPEAKS sessions, before which the FSS head took off.

“I do not want to speak out about things that will not bring a big effect or change, and that is something that most of us agree with,” said an official of a foreign bank under condition of anonymity.

Foreign companies expressed resentment to a comment by Min Byung-hyun, director of Financial Hub Korea, that foreign financial companies spend only 4 percent of sales on local social contribution activities compared to local firms’ 5-7 percent.

During his presentation, Min asked attendees to “have more awareness about the Korean public.”

An official of foreign securities company who preferred to be unidentified said, “They say we spend only 4 percent of our total size on CSR, but it is such an unsophisticated comparison. Korea is but a small pie, from perspectives of international companies with headquarters in New York and London, for instance, and we do more CSR on a global level.”

By Chung Joo-won (joowonc@heraldcorp.com)
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