KB Financial chief’s balanced strategy upholds ‘leading bank vision’

By Bae Hyun-jung
  • Published : Mar 8, 2018 - 16:08
  • Updated : Mar 8, 2018 - 16:08

Since 2014, KB Financial Group has renewed one business record after another, raising its yearly net profit to a record-high benchmark, moving a step ahead of rivals and cementing its position as industry champion.

At the heart of such progress was Chairman Yoon Jong-kyoo, who is noted for his strategic balance between the group’s signature banking sector and prominent nonbanking businesses.

In September last year, Yoon was reappointed as the financial holding company’s chairman, marking the first consecutive term for a leader since KB Financial was established in 2008.

After serving three years as group chairman and KB Kookmin Bank CEO, Yoon stepped down from the banking chief position, pledging to focus on his group leader role. The CEO post was assumed by Hur Yin, former vice president of the bank.

KB Financial Group Chairman Yoon Jong-kyoo. (KB Financial)

The separation of the role came as KB Financial was almost certain to keep its leading position not only in the banking sector but also in overall financial performance.

The group’s net profit in 2017 stood at 3.34 trillion won ($3.12 billion), outrunning that of longtime rival Shinhan Financial Group, which recorded 2.92 trillion won and fell short of the 3 trillion won mark. Of this total, KB Kookmin Bank accounted for 2.17 trillion won, up 125 percent from a year earlier.

Throughout his initial three years in office, Yoon’s key goal was for the group to win back its former title as the nation’s leading bank.

“As we have once again become the No. 1 player, we now face higher expectations from the market, our shareholders and customers,” Yoon said in his New Year’s address this year, calling executives and employees for continuous efforts and self-examination.

Backing the financial group’s progress was Yoon’s two-way approach: reinforcing the relatively vulnerable nonbanking sector through aggressive merger and acquisition deals and expanding the banking sector’s role through corporate investment banking functions.

The most tangible achievement was the successful launch of KB Insurance in 2015 and KB Securities in 2016, the former being the renewed version of LIG Insurance and the latter a merger of KB Investment & Securities and Hyundai Securities.

The insurer recorded 33 billion won and the brokerage 27.2 billion won in respective net profit last year, adding to the bank’s figures and further boosting the group’s overall performance.

Yoon has also called for close cooperation among the group’s affiliates as an essential factor for competitive corporate investment banking.

KB Kookmin Bank last month organized a 71.8 billion won financing deal for US investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’ acquisition of business units from LS Automotive and LS Mtron.

“It was the synergy of KB Kookmin Bank and KB Securities which made the CIB deal possible,” officials said.

It is their stance that such close cooperation between different affiliates would not have been possible, unless under a comprehensive business vision.

In a recent gesture to continue his leadership in the financial group, Yoon purchased 1,000 corporate stocks earlier this month, raising his stock level to 15,000.

“The purchase is a signal of (Yoon’s) determination for responsible management,” said an official.

By Bae Hyun-jung (