Korean Bankers Make Twice as Much as Their U.S. Counterparts

      September 10, 2015 12:32

      Bank staff in Korea earn up to twice as much as their counterparts in the U.S., U.K. and Japan. Korean banks lag behind their foreign rivals but appear to be paying excessively high salaries.

      According to financial authorities on Wednesday, the average salary of bank staff in 10 major countries compared to per-capita GDP showed Korea was second highest after China. This method of comparison is more accurate than simply comparing annual salaries, according to financial authorities.

      When comparing salary rates with per-capita GDP, China came top with 214 percent, and Korea stood at 203 percent. Korean bank staff made US$57,941 in 2014 when the nation's per-capita GDP stood at $28,486. In the U.S., bank workers made similar annual salaries but the country's per-capita GDP is almost twice as much. China's per-capita GDP is $7,594, but its bank workers made $16,242 a year.

      The rates in the U.K., France, Germany and Spain ranged from 152 percent to 183 percent. In Japan, Taiwan, Australia and the U.S., the rate was less than 150 percent. Korea and China were the only countries where the rate surpassed 200 percent.

      Excluding women, who are mostly temporary contract workers, university-educated, male bankers raked in W140 million a year at Kookmin Bank and W130 million at Shinhan (US$1=W1,194).

      Data from the Korea Institute of Finance shows one out of four bankers made more than W100 million a year, 23 percent made between W100 million and W150 million a year, and 2.1 percent made more. Starting salaries were also high at W50 million a year for men and W45 million for women.

      Korean banks spend far more than their foreign rivals on salaries. The proportion of salaries to all expenses stands at 45.5 percent in the U.S., compared to 62.2 percent in Korea.

      Shinhan, Hana and Kookmin banks recently vowed to cut the wages of fat cats and use the saved money to hire more young workers, but insiders say that is easier said than done since average wage levels are so high in the industry.

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