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Nonghyup CEO vows to seek overseas opportunities
MARCH 21, 2014 04:16  
"We will surely recover the public trust in Nonghyup Bank damaged by leakages of customer information. We will not only increase investment information technology but also make active social contribution efforts. Please see how we do it."

Lim Jong-ryong, chairman and CEO of the Nonghyup Financial Group, expressed his strong determination to restore consumer trust at an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo last Friday. Nonghyup suffered a significant setback in customer trust, the most important asset for a financial company, after its customer information was stolen in January. He said that Nonghyup has a "trust recovery program" in place.

Lim is a former bureaucrat who held key posts at the finance ministry and the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. After having a career change as head of the Nonghyup Financial Group in June last year, he is successfully turning the group into a major player in the local financial market. He has effectively orchestrated Nonghyup`s takeover of Woori Investment & Securities.

○ Restoring customer trust top priority

Last month, Lim and other Nonghyup executives and employees joined a blood donation campaign, did volunteer work at a nursing home and held a concert for underprivileged teenagers. "We are making social contribution efforts not for publicity but as a token for our apology to people who trusted Nonghyup," he said. "I will help the needy at every opportunity during my term in office."

Lim`s trust recovery program consists of 40 action plans. The three key plans are brisk social contribution activities, 760 billion won (706.8 million U.S. dollars) in information technology and the expansion of gift giveaway events for its credit card users.

"I think that recovering lost customer trust is of the most important values for a financial company," Lim noted. "Since the credit card data breach, we have been re-educating our entire employees on the importance of customer information."

Recently, he appointed a former vice president of Samsung Card as president for Nonghyup`s credit card division, the first president from the outside in Nonghyup`s history.

Lim said he plans to lower Nonghyup`s bad loan ratio, which is slightly higher than those of other commercial banks, in an effort to enhance its awareness for risk management. "I have established a system in which each case of bad loans is assigned to each employee to clean it up," he said. "This year will be when Nonghyup is reborn as a sound financial institution by lowering its bad loan ratio from the current 2 percent to 1.6 percent."

○ `Creative finance` only Nonghyup can do

When Nonghyup completes its takeover of Woori Investment & Securities soon, its total assets will increase to 290 trillion won (269.7 billion dollars). Nonghyup will have the largest securities and insurance divisions among local financial holding companies. The strengthening of Nonghyup`s competitiveness in non-bank divisions has laid the foundation for its growth as a general financial group.

Lim also presented a blueprint for creating new profit bases for Nonghyup, saying that the company will use the synergies from its affiliates to pursue a differentiated strategy for overseas businesses. "I would like to provide creative financial services that only we can do, rather than setting up overseas branches as other financial companies do," he noted. "As Nonghyup has financial services, agricultural technology and distribution networks under its wing, we will seek overseas business opportunities with its competitiveness in agriculture and financial services." For example, Nonghyup is planning to identify promising farming or food companies to nurture them as global business models and teach advanced farming technologies to areas lagging behind in them.

Lately, Lim has been pushing a strong drive for "competitive culture" in Nonghyup. "Woori Investment & Securities has many competent employees who experienced fierce competition," he said. "I would like to use competition-driven Woori as a catalyst for Nonghyup`s change."

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