FSS implores financial sector to help SMEs

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FSS implores financial sector to help SMEs

The head of Korea’s financial watchdog highlighted the importance of supporting smaller businesses during his first meeting with the CEOs of major banks on Monday.

Yoon Suk-heun, the governor of the Financial Supervisory Service, stressed that the banks should focus on helping more capital flow into SMEs and areas of innovation amid scandals befalling the industry, such as unfair recruiting and interest rate manipulation.

“Banks should take a leading role in channeling more funds into promising smaller companies,” Yoon said during the meeting in Myeong-dong, central Seoul.

The governor also underlined his expectations that the banking sector reduce youth unemployment and offer loans with reasonable interest rates to low-income earners.

“I hope that banks will play an active role in creating jobs for young people and help low-income households,” Yoon said.

In response to the request, the banks vowed to hire 3,100 more workers in the second half of this year and push for more diverse social projects as part of a broader effort to live up to their corporate social responsibility.

“Banks are planning to hire a total of 4,600 workers this year, and for that, 3,100 people will be employed in the second half,” said Kim Tae-young, chief of the Korea Federation of Banks (KFB), during the meeting.

The stated recruitment goal for this year is 54 percent larger than total recruitment in 2017, he noted.

The members of the federation, which includes 22 major banks, such as KB Kookmin, Shinhan, KEB Hana and Woori, also vowed to raise 700 billion won ($617.28 million) over the next three years to launch a variety of projects aimed at giving back to society, such as creating jobs for young people, according to Kim.

Industry insiders said that Yoon’s remarks on Monday appear to indicate a softer stance than his comments from earlier this month.

“I believe we will have to go to war with financial companies in the process of creating a mechanism to protect consumers,” Yoon said on July 9.

BY PARK EUN-JEE, YONHAP [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]
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