Banks strug­gle to hire work­ers in SE Asia

The Korea Times - - FINANCE - By Jhoo Dong-chan [email protected]­re­

Do­mes­tic banks, which are ex­pand­ing their pres­ence in South­east Asia to over­come Korea’s sat­u­rated fi­nan­cial mar­ket, are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in se­cur­ing qual­ity work­ers there.

With more for­eign fi­nan­cial firms en­ter­ing the mar­ket, they are strug­gling to re­tain tal­ented em­ploy­ees in the re­gion as an in­creas­ing num­ber of their work­ers are ask­ing for higher wages, and then mov­ing to other fi­nan­cial com­pa­nies once their de­mands are not met.

Ac­cord­ing to the Fi­nan­cial Su­per­vi­sory Ser­vice (FSS), the na­tion’s fi­nan­cial firms op­er­ate a to­tal 433 branches and of­fices in 43 coun­tries as of the end of June.

Of their for­eign mar­kets, South­east

Asia has been the most fa­vor­able des­ti­na­tion for do­mes­tic fi­nan­cial firms, re­flect­ing the mar­ket’s rapid eco­nomic growth over the past cou­ple of years.

De­spite their smooth en­try to the mar­ket, sources said these fi­nan­cial firms are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in se­cur­ing tal­ented work­ers with busi­ness and lan­guage abil­i­ties.

“South­east Asian coun­tries such as Viet­nam, Myan­mar and Indonesia have en­joyed sev­eral years of rapid eco­nomic growth. Not only Korean fi­nan­cial firms but also global in­vest­ment banks are mak­ing in­roads into these mar­kets,” a do­mes­tic bank of­fi­cial said on con­di­tion of anonymity.

“Korean firms want to hire Korean stu­dents there who can speak not only Korean and English but also the lo­cal lan­guage. The cur­rent wages are far lower than the lev­els these stu­dents ask for if they get hired here. For that rea­son, they just work for one or two years then move to other com­pa­nies.”

Korean firms are seek­ing to hire lo­cal tal­ents in these emerg­ing mar­kets, but cul­tural bar­ri­ers are an­other rea­son do­mes­tic firms ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fi­cul­ties in hu­man re­source man­age­ment.

“In­dia is a Hindu so­ci­ety based on the caste sys­tem. The sys­tem’s pres­ence is still too big in the coun­try’s busi­ness arena,” the of­fi­cial said.

“Ksha­triya em­ploy­ees wouldn’t work hard un­der a Vaisya man­ager. Such a prob­lem was some­thing Korean firms never ex­pected when they first en­tered the In­dian mar­ket. Korean firms have now found a way to man­age such prob­lems, but are still un­der pres­sure in se­cur­ing more tal­ented work­ers.”

Of the re­gion’s mar­kets, Viet­nam has been the most fa­vor­able des­ti­na­tion for do­mes­tic lenders.

An FSS study said Korea’s com­mer­cial banks posted a com­bined 157.8 bil­lion won ($131.8 mil­lion) net profit last year in the mar­ket, up 116 per­cent from $61 mil­lion the pre­vi­ous year.

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