South Korea`s financial district of Yeouido in western Seoul (Yonhap)
South Korean bankers under four major lenders here saw an average median pay increase of over 8 percent in the past three years, making nearly 100 million won ($88,500) on average last year despite a shrinking workforce due to digitalization, data showed Sunday.
The average annual income gained 8.6 percent from end-2017 to 98 million won as of end-2020, data provided by the four major banks – KB Kookmin, Hana, Woori and Shinhan – showed.
Of the banks, employees under KB Kookmin received the largest average income last year with 140 million won. Hana came No. 2 with 97 million won and Shinhan came No. 3 with 96 million won in the same period. Woori trailed at 95 million won.
However, annual reports filed by the banks showed that the employees who received the largest incomes were either the lenders’ CEOs or management-level executives that received lucrative exit packages.
For example, Hana Bank CEO Ji Sung-kyoo earned an annual salary of 1.02 billion won last year, while five other executives received roughly 1.2 billion won each in the same period. Four out of the five executives received an additional 1 billion won for their exit packages.
This came as local banks throughout last year offered employees the option to accept early retirement to cut costs amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. The early retirement applications covered wider age ranges and offered more money than in previous years, due to the circumstances.
The pandemic has also accelerated the shift to online and mobile services from businesses handled by brick-and-mortar branches, forcing the banks to shed jobs.
The four major banks shed 2,600 jobs between end-2017 to end-2020, data showed. From end-2018 to end-2020, they shut down a combined 260 brick-and-mortar branches. Hana shuttered the most number of branches with 102 and KB Kookmin came at No. 2 with 85.
By Jung Min-kyung (email@example.com