The Korea Herald


Shinhan, Woori chairmen celebrate 100 days in office

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : June 30, 2023 - 19:43

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Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Jin Ok-dong (Shinhan Financial Group) Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Jin Ok-dong (Shinhan Financial Group)

Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Jin Ok-dong and Woori Financial Group Chairman Yim Jong-yong are celebrating their first 100 days in office back-to-back this week with their business focuses set on overseas operations and internal administration.

While Jin has been primarily focused on global expansion, Yim's attention has been more directed toward improving overall transparency and corporate governance. Jin and Yim hit their first 100 days on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

From the beginning, the Shinhan chair did not hide his primary ambition to expand the financial group's presence overseas. In April, he visited Japan as his first overseas business trip since taking the office.

During the visit, he took part in investor relations events and met with Japanese institutional investors. The chairman, who is also known as a Japanese market expert, had meetings with officials from Mizuho Bank, the Bank of Japan, Nomura Securities and Daiwa Securities among others to explore collaboration opportunities.

Jin became familiar with the Japanese financial market when launching and supporting Shinhan Future’s Labs Japan as the CEO of Shinhan Bank in 2015.

In June, Chairman Jin embarked on a visit to European countries including the Netherlands, France and the UK.

During this trip, he met with the financial group’s strategic partner BNP Paribas, a French bank that has cooperated with Shinhan Financial Group since 2001. BNP Paribas is currently the fourth-largest shareholder of Shinhan Financial Group.

According to industry sources, Chairman Jin is expected to shift his focus slightly slightly toward positioning the group as the top financial firm in Korea during the second half of this year.

Despite Shinhan Financial Group securing its position as a leading financial firm with a net profit of 4.64 trillion won ($3.51 billion) last year, it relinquished its top ranking to KB Financial Group in the first quarter of this year with a net profit of 1.38 trillion won.

Woori Financial Group Chairman Yim Jong-yong (Woori Financial Group) Woori Financial Group Chairman Yim Jong-yong (Woori Financial Group)

Chairman Yim’s appointment followed financial authorities' persistent pressure on Yim’s predecessor Son Tae-seung to resign and accept the penalty that he received for mis-selling funds run by now-defunct Lime Asset Management.

This is why Yim, a former career bureaucrat, has been prioritizing fairness and transparency within the group, according to industry sources.

When appointing the group’s subsidiary Woori Bank’s new CEO in May, he also made sure the procedure is done transparently, according to Woori Financial Group.

The head position of Woori Bank has remained vacant for almost three months since the resignation of former CEO Lee Won-duk on March 7. Lee submitted his resignation approximately a month after Yim was appointed as the new chairman of the financial group in early February.

In a letter to Woori employees on Friday, he stressed that the group’s system will become fairer and more transparent. He also said that his priority is on enhancing the human resources system.

Yim’s next step will also include expanding its nonbanking portfolios further.

"To continuously enhance the competitiveness of our nonbanking sector, we will diversify the group's business structure by expanding nonbanking portfolios, such as securities and insurance,” Yim said during a conference call for the earnings in the first quarter.

However, this might be a challenging mission for Woori, as it failed to acquire Yuanta Securities -- an investment firm considered highly preferable for acquisition.

Woori Financial Group’s net profit in the first quarter this year was the lowest among the five groups, standing at 911.3 billion won.