|Cho Young-suh, head of KB Research|
A former vice president at Shinhan Financial Group's IT service unit has jumped ship to Shinhan's rival KB Financial Group, taking the nation's banking industry by surprise.
Cho Young-suh, former vice president of Shinhan DS, announced that KB Financial Group had appointed him as the new head of the group's think tank, KB Research, and the leader of KB Kookmin Bank's digital transformation strategy department in its latest reshuffle last week.
Considering the conservative and rigid culture of the domestic banking industry, it is unusual for banking group executives to move to rival lenders. Shinhan and KB are in fierce competition to take the leading bank title.
The Korea Times called Cho to ask him the reason for his recent decision, but he was unavailable for comment.
Cho is known as an expert in digital strategies for financial services companies.
Starting his career as a finance ministry official, he went on to work for McKinsey & Company and Bain & Company as a consultant in charge of financial firms' growth strategies and digitization.
He joined Shinhan in 2017 as an executive to direct its digitization. Earlier last year, he was appointed the vice president of Shinhan DS, which is currently led by CEO Sunny Yi, another former Bain consultant who joined Shinhan in 2019.
During a previous interview with The Korea Times in 2019, Cho said he could proudly say that Shinhan was the industry leader in terms of digital transformation.
However, after he abruptly moved to KB late last year, industry officials are wondering whether he will enable KB to achieve its goal of becoming more customer-oriented and the No. 1 financial platform provider. On top of hiring Cho, KB reformed its organizational structure recently to better pursue digitization.
Some officials speculate Shinhan might not maintain the digital strategies Cho formerly handled, such as operation of the group's integrated R&D center, the Shinhan Digital Innovation Institute, and the "digitized Noah's ark," which is intended to reorganize every sector to align with the digital-oriented ecosystem.