Overview of Banks in South Korea
Overall, there are 148 licensed banks in South Korea, consisting of 52 commercial banks, 5 specialized banks, and 91 mutual savings banks. Banks in South Korea are regulated by the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), which is responsible for examining and supervising financial institutions under the broad oversight of the Financial Services Commission (FSC). The Bank of Korea is the country’s central bank, which is responsible for issuing the Korean won and maintaining price stability.
According to Moody’s, the outlook for the Korean banking system is negative, due to weak domestic consumer sentiment and rising policy risk in the country and abroad.
For anyone considering a career in banking in South Korea, this list of the top banks in South Korea is a helpful guide on where to start. To learn more, see our lists of financial institutions.
The top banks in South Korea are:
Shinhan Financial Group
Established in 1897, Shinhan Financial Group was the first of the banks in South Korea, founded under the name Hanseong Bank. The bank operates through its Retail Banking, Corporate Banking, International Banking, and Other Banking segments. Headquartered in Seoul, it manages 871 branches and 27 private wealth management service centers in South Korea, as well as 14 branches in other countries. The bank employs around 13,400 staff.
As of 2016, total assets of the bank were US$341 billion.
NongHyup Financial Group
Founded in 1961, NongHyup Financial Group was created from the merger of Agricultural Bank and Agricultural Federation. The group provides financing, mortgages, personal lines of credit, corporate finance, real estate finance, and new technology finance services. It also offers life, property, and casualty insurance products. Headquartered in Seoul, the bank employs around 13,000 staff.
In 2016, the bank’s total assets amounted to US$315 billion.
KB Financial Group
Headquartered in Seoul, KB Financial Group is a financial holding company that offers financial services through its subsidiaries. The group operates through various business segments: Retail Banking Operations, Corporate Banking Operations, Other Banking Operations, Credit Card Operations, Investment and Securities Operations, and Life Insurance Operations.
The corporate banking operations consist of corporate banking services. The group’s other banking operations include treasury activities and back office administrative operations. The investment and securities operations consists of securities brokerage, investment banking, securities investment and trading, and other capital markets services. The life insurance segment comprises life insurance and wealth management services.
In 2016, the bank reported total assets of US$275 billion.
Hana Financial Group
Hana Financial Group was created in 1971 and is headquartered in Seoul. The bank offers mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, fundraising, risk management advisory, and securities trading and underwriting services. It was formerly known as Hana Daetoo Securities Co. Ltd. and changed its name to Hana Financial Investment Co. Ltd. in September 2015. It employs around 19,000 staff.
As of 2016, total assets of the bank were US$308 billion.
Korea Development Bank
Founded in 1954, Korea Development Bank is headquartered in Seoul. The bank provides deposit products, corporate banking products, investment banking products, and international banking products.
In 2016, the bank reported total assets of US$1,000 billion and total income of US$19 million.
Woori Financial Group
The bank offers commercial banking products and services to individual customers, small and medium-sized enterprises, and major corporations in South Korea. It operates through six segments: Consumer Banking, Corporate Banking, Capital Markets, Investment Banking, Credit Card, and Other Operations. Woori Bank, a subsidiary of Woori Financial Group, is Headquartered in Seoul and employs 15,000 staff and manages 894 branches in South Korea and 22 branches internationally.
In 2017, the bank’s total assets amounted to US$296 billion and total income reached US$1.416 billion.
Industrial Bank of Korea
Industrial Bank of Korea was founded in 1961 and is headquartered in Seoul. The bank operates through Retail Banking, Corporate Banking, Money Market, IB, Credit Card Operations, Foreign Exchange, and Others segments.
It manages approximately 570 branches and 47 depositary offices in South Korea, and 11 overseas offices. The bank’s total assets were US$254 billion as of 2018.
BNK Financial Group
Headquartered in Busan, BNK Financial Group is one of the top five financial groups in South Korea. Founded in 2011, the group, together with its subsidiaries, operates through Bank, Financial Investment, Specialized Credit Finance, and Mutual Savings Bank segments. The bank business offers services that include internet banking, financial products, asset management services, apartment application deposit, fund products, and variable annuities. It was formerly known as BS Financial Group Inc. and changed its name to BNK Financial Group Inc. in April 2015.
In 2016, the bank reported US$83 million in total assets.
DGB Financial Group
Established in 1967, DGB Financial Group is one of the largest regional banks in South Korea, mostly serving customers in the Daegu-Gyeongbuk region. The bank provides deposits, new technology business loans, personal loans, and other loans. It also offers automobile financing and facility lease services, foreign exchange, fund and bancassurance, asset management, issue, charge, electronic money, and Internet banking services.
As of 2016, the bank’s total assets amounted to US$47 billion and total income reached US$491 million.
Founded in 2016, Kakao Bank is a subsidiary of Korea Investment Holdings Ltd. It is the first internet bank in South Korea. The bank provides every type of banking service, from lending and savings to overseas remittance and credit cards. The digital-only bank signed 2.9 million users during its first month of operation, including a record 187,000 customers on its opening day.
Careers in investment banking
To break into investment banking, there are several important things to focus on. These include networking, resume, experience, and financial modeling skills. To learn more, explore our interactive career map….
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This has been CFI’s guide to the top banks in South Korea. For anyone looking for a career in banking, this list is a great place to start your networking. Please also see these additional resources: