Erudite Risk / Adviser / Hank Morris
Today’s guest is Hank Morris, an advisor at Erudite Risk, a multinational risk management company.
As a financial expert in Korea, check out the interview for advice he gives to those who want to work in Korea!
(Image Source: https://www.kbla.net/about)
“Candidates for employment should be able to explain why the business of the company that they are applying to is of interest, and in general be able to explain why they want to live and work in Korea.”
Make a good first impression by being dressed professionally.
Be able to express themselves effectively, both in speaking and in writing.
A person wishing to work in Korea should be knowledgeable about Korean customs and culture in general, and it is useful to have knowledge of Korean history.
How did you get to your present position as a financial expert in Korea?
Although I studied English in my undergraduate and graduate school days, later in the late 1970s and early 1980s when I worked for the US Prudential Insurance, I studied business and obtained a Chartered Life Underwriter degree and also passed the securities exams given by the National Association of Securities Dealers in the USA.
(Image Source: https://www.cnbc.com/video/2018/07/30/what-can-investors-expect-from-samsung.html)
I am sure there was something attractive about working in Korea. What was the decisive reason for working in Korea?
There are many nice things about Korea. Good public transportation, good food available in restaurants and supermarkets, and good opportunities for sports like hiking, running, bicycling etc. There are fascinating museums, art galleries and many other cultural opportunities that can be enjoyed by foreigners and Koreans.
Do you have many foreigners in Erudite Risk you are working for or KBLA(Korea Business Leaders Alliance) you are participating in?
Erudite Risk is a small company. It has just a few employees, Korean and foreign. Also, KBLA is an informal association of Korean and foreign business people in Korea who meet occasionally to attend social events and to share information and advice about doing business in Korea.
(Image Source: https://www.eruditerisk.com/)
(Image Source: https://www.kbla.net/)
Is there any special reason that Erudite Risk is located in Seoul even though it is not a Korean company?
The reason that Erudite Risk has an office in Korea is due to the presence of foreign companies in Korea that use Erudite's services.
What does a foreigner do at Erudite Risk?
It is actually very useful to have foreign analysts in regard to researching North Korea. By law, South Koreans are forbidden to visit or live in North Korea. South Koreans generally do not know the Chinese citizens who are engaged in trading with North Korea. They are often the best sources of information about North Korea.
(Image Source: https://www.eruditerisk.com/)
What are the strengths of foreign outstanding individuals in Korea?
A person wishing to work in Korea should be knowledgeable about Korean customs and culture in general, and it is useful to have knowledge of Korean history. It can be very useful to employers if the person has some capacity to speak some Korean. Most young Koreans do speak English but the level of English varies greatly and some ability to speak and read Korean will be useful for anyone who wishes to work and live in Korea.
You have work experiences in Korea and other countries, what is the difference when you look at the finance sector?
The financial sector in Korea has a focus on the Korean financial markets. One of the other Asian country’s financial sector has a regional focus, and financial companies in many cases have a focus on doing financial transactions not in the domestic market, but rather for companies in SE Asia and China.
How has the Korean workplace culture changed these days?
There will always be a hierarchy in business in Korea although it is generally not as strict today as it was in past times. Today rather than using formal management titles, like 'bujang' or general manager, many companies use the less rank oriented titles, such as 'team jang' or team leader.
What competencies do job seekers need most?
Those seeking employment need to be able to express themselves effectively, both in speaking and in writing. They should make a good first impression by being dressed professionally, and for men that means wearing a suit and tie and wearing polished shoes. Women should dress conservatively as well. Candidates for employment should be able to explain why the business of the company that they are applying to is of interest, and in general be able to explain why they want to live and work in Korea.
Are fluent "Korean" skills necessary for working at a company in Korea?
It is not necessary to speak Korean in most cases but it helps greatly if job candidates do speak some Korean. Even taking a taxi, or a bus can be much easier if a foreigner speaks some Korean. Foreign employees will not always be with English speaking people at work, and foreigners should be able to function independently.
Is there anything you want to say to those who are preparing to get a job in Korea?
South Korea is very bureaucratic, has a non-convertible currency, a somewhat limited variety of housing that would be suitable for foreign business people, and not enough schools for foreign children.
Aside from things mentioned above, foreigners should be aware that housing costs in Seoul are high, and most of their salary may end up being spent on renting accommodation.
Those are just a few of the problems.
Introduction of Hank Morris
Hank Morris is an American with over 30 years of experience in the Korean financial sector. He initially came to Korea in the early 1970s with the US Peace Corps and served as a university teacher from 1972-75. He then entered the financial sector in the USA in the late '70s before returning to Korea in the early '80s where he has been based ever since. Hank has had senior management roles in securities analysis and sales, as well as investment banking with Korean and UK securities companies, trust companies, investment banks, and asset management companies including Ssangyong Securities, Kleinwort Benson, HG Asia, Standard Chartered Merchant Bank, Bermuda Trust, GAM and Asia Alternative Asset Partners. Currently he is advising Observatory Group in the Korean market. Observatory Group is a macroeconomic policy research company, with a focus on the economic and political risk analysis of the US Federal Reserve, the ECB and Bank of England, Bank of Japan, Peoples Bank of China and Reserve Bank of India. Hank writes frequently on the asset management markets of Korea and Japan for Asia Asset Management magazine, and he has often been interviewed about the Korean market on CNBC, Bloomberg, and the BBC. Hank is fluent in Korean and is active on the Council of the Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch and with the Executive Committee of the Seoul Financial Forum.