Financial firms cutting payrolls

By Park Hyong-ki

The number of employees at local listed financial companies is decreasing as they seek to downsize their operations to improve profitability. Also, most of their employees have reached retirement age.

Listed financial companies let go of more than 1,700 people last year, according to, a local consultancy, and the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), the financial regulator. The two outfits compiled data using listed financial companies’ audited reports.

In fiscal 2016, banks, insurers and brokerages listed on the stock market had 89,483 employees, down about 2 percent from the previous year.

Thirteen listed insurance companies cut their payrolls by 970 last year, with the number of their employees reaching 36,567.

Meritz Fire & Marine Insurance, listed on the KOSPI, released the highest number of employees at 316 in the insurance sector, followed by Mirae Asset Life Insurance which let 298 go and Heungkuk Life insurance releasing 288.

Twelve financial holdings companies, including commercial lenders, saw their payroll numbers drop by more than 460 to 30,788.

At Woori Bank, more than 300 left the lender, the highest in the banking sector.

“In our case, it was by attrition as some 300 in their late 50s to early 60s reached retirement age,” a Woori Bank spokesperson said.

KB Kookmin Bank received voluntary resignations from more than 2,800 employees last December. This is the second highest after 2010 when some 3,200 left, it said.

KB Kookmin Bank’s attrition numbers were unaccounted for in the 2016 data as the employees left the bank in January, 2017.

“The bank sought to restructure its organization by having more younger employees and fewer older ones as it wanted to create a pyramid-type organization in terms of age brackets,” a KB Kookmin Bank spokesperson said.

KB Kookmin added that it also sought to improve its finances through attrition.

A lot of its young employees submitted their resignations as they sought to redevelop their career.

The bank offered all of them retirement allowances, which ranged between 200 million won to 400 million won per person.

Also, more than 280 people left 20 listed securities companies last year.

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