Finance sector describes its priorities for new year

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Finance sector describes its priorities for new year

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The core focus of Korea’s finance sector in 2016 will be stability, as the United States raises its interest rates and the risk of low growth and deflation grows.

Bank of Korea Gov. Lee Ju-yeol announced that his top goal for this year will be tackling short- to mid-term risks like low inflation and household debt.

“The Bank of Korea will do its best to keep the inflation rate up to reach our goal of 2 percent, and search for ways to soft-land the household debt risk by working closely with the government and financial watchdogs,” Lee wrote in New Year’s remarks on Friday. “I think the global economy this year will grow slowly but surely, thanks to signs of steady recovery and regular households’ purchasing power, which is expected to get better this year.”

Over the weekend, CEOs of major commercial banks sent New Year’s remarks to their employees emphasizing that their focus will be on quality-oriented growth rather than quantity-based growth, during a time of new competition from technology-based financial services.

Korea Federation of Banks Chairman Ha Young-koo called for change, emphasizing that “banks have to focus on boosting service quality in a time of infinite competition in the wake of IT companies jumping into the financial business via fintech and Internet banks.”

Korea Financial Investment Association Chairman Hwang Young-key advised the group’s members to “strengthen asset management services that help customers’ asset accumulation and retirement preparation,” via new services like the individual savings account, tax-free overseas investment funds and eased regulations on managing retirement pension.

Woori Bank President and CEO Lee Kwang-goo vowed that he will do his best to “find a new owner and complete privatization of the bank by the end of this year, as foreign investors’ interest in Woori is on rise.”

Lee said the bank will also work on enhancing its soundness while opening overseas branches, with the aim of opening a 300th branch by the year’s end from the current 200 branches outside the country.

Nonghyup Financial Group’s focus will be strengthening fintech-oriented asset management services, said Chairman Kim Yong-hwan in his letter.

“This year, Nonghyup will find new opportunities overseas while also becoming a leading player in fintech by implementing robo-adviser asset management products [in which robots with artificial intelligence automatically manage fund or investment products],” Kim added.

State-run banks promised a year of corporate restructurings and risk management.

Export-Import Bank of Korea Chairman Lee Duk-hoon said the bank - a creditor for many small and large companies - will “work for efficient restructurings that not only normalize individual companies but also contribute in enhancing the overall sector’s business environment.”


BY LEE TAE-KYUNG, KIM JI-YOON [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]

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