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Star prosecutor-turned FSS chief leads promotion of Korea's financial hubs, industries
By Anna J. Park
Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) Governor Lee Bok-hyun has showcased the strengths of the Korean financial sector to global investors during his European tour, highlighting values of credibility, innovation and openness as the core of the industry. Lee also stressed the financial authorities will further enhance the market accessibility and convenience of Korean financial markets for global investors.
“Since taking office, I've put great emphasis on learning the challenges and difficulties that foreign investors and financial companies encounter in the Korean market, and reflected them in making our financial regulations and supervisory practices better. The government is committed to further improving the regulations and practices for foreign investors and businesses to make Korea a more attractive investment destination,” Lee said during his opening remarks for the Invest K-Finance: London IR 2023 at Royal Lancaster London Hotel in London, U.K., on Wednesday.
During the London event, Lee briefed the Korean government's policy directions, such as abolition of investor registration, tax exemption for foreign investment in Korean Treasury Bonds, changes in dividend distribution procedures, the forex system's enhancement and the gradual obligation of listed companies' disclosure in English, aiming to heighten accessibility to the Korean market.
Held under the title of Invest K-Finance: London IR 2023, the investor relations event was jointly hosted by the FSS, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Busan Metropolitan City and major financial companies to reach out to global investors and promote Korea's financial hub cities and its latest policies to create favorable market conditions.
It is the first time ever that such an international investor relations event was jointly initiated by concerted efforts of the financial authority, municipalities and major private financial companies.
Participating in the investor relations session with the FSS chief in London were heads of major Korean financial firms, including Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Jin Ok-dong, Woori Financial Group Chairman Yim Jong-yong, Mirae Asset Securities Chairman Choi Hyun-man and NH Investment & Securities CEO Jeong Young-chae, among others. joined the investor relations session with the FSS chief in London. They were also joined by key officials from municipalities including Seoul's Vice Mayor for Political Affairs Kang Cheol-won and Busan's Vice Mayor for Administrative Affairs Ahn Byung-yoon.
Some 350 officials and executives from 80 global financial firms, including HSBC, BlackRock, Blackstone, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and UBS, also joined the event.
The London event is the second overseas promotional tour jointly hosted by the FSS and major financial firms, since Lee took the helm of the financial supervisory agency in June 2022. Lee led the previous overseas investor relations event in Singapore in early May, meeting various global investors and convincing them of the Korean financial sector's credibility and stability.
Despite earlier concerns over the youngest FSS chief ever, Lee, who used to be a star prosecutor, has successfully transformed to a competent leader of the financial authorities, based on his expertise in financial crimes, personal affinity with financial moguls and close partnerships with heads of other financial authorities. He has also shown great confidence in his ability to communicate and earn trust from global investors, boasting of his fluent English that he honed when he passed the U.S. bar in the state of California.
Market insiders share an overall positive evaluation over Lee's efforts to closely connect with global investors by giving them clear messages about the Korean government's stable policy goals. Some participants of the event also say that it is very meaningful to have an opportunity to hear directly from the head of the Korean financial authority.
“There have been requests from global investors to continue hosting these investor relations events, as it carries a significant meaning to them to be able to listen to what the Korean authorities have to say,” the FSS governor told reporters in London. “The event provided a good chance not only for the authorities but also for the major financial group chiefs and heads of financial companies to convey and share their perspectives with global investors.”
Lee said he hopes a jointly hosted overseas investor relations event could be maintained through the concerted efforts by the FSS with financial companies and municipalities.
Lee also participated in the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and Governors and Heads of Supervision (GHOS) meetings in Switzerland earlier this week. He also held high-level bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the U.K. and Indonesia, international organizations and global financial companies, during the week-long schedule.