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Best domestic bank: Shinhan Bank
Best corporate and investment bank: Woori Bank
Best international bank: Citi
Best private bank: KEB Hana Bank
A decade ago, the founders or scions of corporate empires dominated the rich lists. But in recent years, the face of wealth has changed to reflect the successes of a younger generation of entrepreneurs.
Best digital bank: kakaobank
|Daniel Yun & Yan Lee|
The bank has focused intently on making its products easy to use. It takes customers an average of seven minutes to open an account and five minutes to secure a loan. Users of KakaoTalk, a free mobile-based instant messaging application with 47 million
active monthly users, can send and receive money to one other without needing to open a bank account.
Best bank for SMEs: Woori Bank
The image abroad of corporate Korea is of the same big-name chaebol: LG, Samsung, Hyundai and so on. But like other wealthy markets geared toward manufacturing and exports (Germany and Japan), much value lies in small and medium-sized enterprises. These SMEs act as Korea’s beating heart, generating abundant employment and acting as vital crucibles of creativity.
Few of Korea’s leading lenders are shy about articulating their SME credentials, but no domestic financial institution can compete with Woori Bank. Founded in 1899, Woori has been providing invaluable financial advice and credit to smaller Korean firms ever since. It helped to transform the likes of Samsung and LG into international powers and is working hard to support the next generation of would-be global firms.
At the end of September 2018, outstanding loans to Woori’s 1.6 million SME customers totalled W84 trillion ($74 billion). Its roster of smaller corporate clients is growing in number by roughly 100,000 each year, serviced digitally or at one of the bank’s 878 nationwide branches.
Woori has joined with government agencies to channel W1 trillion to smaller firms and aligned itself with the ministry of trade, industry and energy and the Korea Technology Finance Corporation to disburse an additional W500 billion to highly creative and innovative smaller firms.
The bank’s digital team has rolled out a suite of mobile banking services tailored to SMEs, including a tax advisory application and a cash management app.
The latter, Woori reckons, is actively used by more than 150,000 corporates every month, helping them to manage their time and finances more efficiently.
Best bank for CSR: Shinhan Bank
Proving one’s worth in terms of corporate social responsibility isn’t easy. Some banks pay the concept little more than lip service or ignore it altogether. At the other extreme, PR-conscious global banks can often overshadow the quieter success stories that are woven by smaller regional or local lenders.
Anyone with a spare hour on his or her hands could do worse than read the bank’s latest CSR report. It isn’t a page-turner and it runs to 116 pages, but it demonstrates how valuable a bank can be, when it really commits.