|Financial Services Commission (FSC) Chairman Eun Sung-soo, second from left, greets foreign financial firm CEOs before a lunch meeting at the Conrad Seoul, Monday. / Courtesy of FSC|
By Park Jae-hyuk
The nation's financial regulators guaranteed foreign financial companies new business opportunities in the Korean market as part of efforts to attract investments, according to the Financial Services Commission (FSC), Monday.
"In the Korean financial market that has repeated innovation, foreign financial companies will be able to discover new business opportunities," FSC Chairman Eun Sung-soo said at a meeting in Seoul with CEOs of foreign financial firms.
"In particular, collaboration with fintech startups, invigoration of the asset management market through business-centered fund conversions and continuous growth in pension funds will be significant opportunity factors."
The meeting was held to discuss countermeasures against growing uncertainties in the global financial environment and to hear proposals from foreign financial firms.
The participants were the FSC chairman, Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) First Senior Deputy Governor Yoo Kwang-yeol, who is also serving as the head of the Financial Hub Korea, and 17 foreign financial firm CEOs.
Foreign financial firms were heard on how the authorities have coped with their previous proposals.
The financial authorities also explained pending issues for policies and several measures that have been taken to make Korea an international financial hub.
According to the FSC, foreign financial firms asked the government to ease regulations.
They want to be exempt from the 52-hour workweek, because the regulation has hindered them from collaborating with their overseas branches in different time zones.
The FSC chairman said he will discuss their proposals with other ministries, so as to help foreign financial firms that are seeking to enter the Korean market.
In December, FSS governor Yoon Suk-heun also told foreign financial firm CEOs that the watchdog would fix the flaws that had hindered Korea from growing into a financial hub.
Yoon admitted tough regulations, heavy taxes, language barriers and living conditions had barred foreigners from making investments in Korea.
According to the FSC, the number of foreign financial company offices here has decreased from 168 in 2016 to 163 in 2019.
The financial regulators' initiative on innovation, however, is expected to put a brake on the recent exodus of these companies.
At the end of last year, several foreign firms, including financial companies such as HSBC Korea, launched a fintech committee under the British Chamber of Commerce in Korea to expand their investments in the country's financial tech industry, in line with the government's deregulation efforts.