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Shinhan’s Cho on life at 40

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Shinhan’s landmark anniversary comes as its chairman tries to navigate an unpredictable global environment, the threat of big technology in Korea and the opportunities of expansion in Vietnam.

Chairman Cho Yong-byoung has seen it all at Shinhan Financial Group – pretty much literally. He joined Shinhan Bank in 1984, just two years after the bank’s 1982 reestablishment (its predecessor, Hanseong Bank, dates back to 1897). After stints as a branch manager and in human resources, planning, global business and retail, he became president and chief executive of the bank in 2015 and the broader group in 2017.

The firm turns 40 this year and has been delivering well, with a 17.7% rise in net profit to W4.02 trillion ($3.28 billion) in 2021 that marks six consecutive years of steady increase. But it faces the growing strength of digital startups, macroeconomic challenges both financial and political, and an intensely competitive domestic industry.

Euromoney meets Cho in Shinhan’s head office in Seoul, overlooking the Namdaemun South Great Gate, the 14th century structure that once helped protect the city. The things that gate has seen: dynasties, wars, prosperity. It’s a useful reminder at an uncertain time that things change (most recently the government), sometimes drastically, but that life does go on.

Sometimes we have to embrace the risk and think of it as a friend or partner rather than countering it
Cho Yong-byoung, Shinhan Financial Group

With this in mind we ask first about managing at a time of global volatility, pandemic, rising rates and war in Europe.

“I’ve

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Chris Wright is Asia editor. He covers the Asia Pacific region and is based in Singapore. He has previously been Middle East editor of Euromoney, editor of Asiamoney, investment editor of the Australian Financial Review and a correspondent on emerging markets and sovereign wealth for numerous publications worldwide. He has also written two books.
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