Finance groups seek trust in 2020

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Finance groups seek trust in 2020

Expanding digital platforms and regaining the trust of customers are some of the New Year’s promises made by the heads of Korea’s major financial groups.

The messages announced on Thursday follow huge losses customers faced in 2019 on controversial high-risk investment products, including derivative funds sold by major banking groups such as Woori and KEB Hana Bank.

“Through digital innovation in finance, we must find new business models which will support financially marginalized people and thus the country,” said Kim Jung-tai, chairman of Hana Financial Group on Thursday in his message.

Kim said new technology is making coffee franchises like Starbucks its potential industry rivals. In partnership with Microsoft and others since 2018, Starbucks has been working with cryptocurrency platform Bakkt to introduce a new consumer app soon.

“Starbucks is no longer a coffee company but a ‘bank that has no financial regulation,’” he said.

Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Cho Yong-byoung said not only is internal digitalization important, but collaboration with tech companies is necessary as well to raise the financier’s competitiveness.

Cho emphasized the relationship with its customers.

“Customer trust does not build automatically overnight,” Cho said. “This year, we will strive to deal with voice phishing and implement a new customer-centered evaluation system and a fortified monitoring system for individual assets.”

The chief of KB Financial Group said the bank will strengthen digitalization to provide a better finance experience for its customers.

“We will provide more personalized products and services based on customer data analysis,” Yoon Jong-kyoo, head of KB Financial Group said Thursday in his New Year’s message. The digital innovation will resolve the customers’ “pain point,” Yoon said.

The financial group also said it will pursue a diverse range of mergers and acquisitions deals with “boldness and speed.”

Woori Financial Group Chairman Sohn Tae-seung emphasized recovery of customer trust in the new year.

“Sohn said that the most important goal for Woori Financial Group this year is to regain trust and credibility,” said the financial group in a statement Thursday.

Last year, KEB Hana Financial Group and Woori Financial Group were under investigation for improperly selling high-risk derivatives-linked securities and funds to their customers.

Korea Federation of Banks Chairman and CEO Kim Tae-young called for digital innovation to better suit the fast-changing needs of the customers.

“Demand of customers from the digital generation is high, and they move boldly in search for more convenient and new financial services,” he said in his New Year’s message.

“In order to better respond to the environment, it is necessary to build partnerships with external organizations and fortify open innovation.”

Kim also pointed out the need to build more trustworthy relationships with customers. “Customer-centered sales systems should be settled, and consumer protection systems should be fortified.”

Na Jae-chul, the newly elected chairman of the Korea Financial Investment Association (Kofia), acknowledged the need to restore damaged credibility in the financial industry in his inauguration speech Thursday.

“We need to listen more, agonize more and act more in order to regain credibility,” he said.

Na, who formerly served as head of Daishin Securities, was elected the chairman of Kofia last month when Kwon Yong-won, the association’s fourth chairman, was found dead in November in an apparent suicide.

Kwon was under scrutiny for alleged verbal abuse of an employee.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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