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Banks Now Offering Style As Well As Substance

Posted May. 16, 2005 23:22,   


There is a teller’s desk called “Champs-Elysée” on the sixth floor of the GS Tower (which used to be LG Gangnam Tower) in Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu. It is a teller’s desk, but it is more like a charmingly decorated room painted in pastel colors. It is equipped with luxurious pieces of furniture such as a big projection TV, a high-quality audio system, and comfortable sofas. When you enter the room with an escort, professional consultants waits for you. You don’t have to look for proper desks as you usually do at an ordinary branch bank. When you need a tax consultation, a tax consultant comes, and when you need a stock forecast for a specific company, a stock analyst visits you. And a real estate consultant is one of the professionals waiting for you. Champs-Elysée is one of five rooms for consultation at the Woori Private Banking Gangnam Center. The Gangnam Center opened on May 16 as a financial center co-established by Woori Bank and Woori Investment Securities.

Bank Layouts Are Changing-

The layout of the Gangdong branch that the Shinhan Financial Group opened at the end of April is different from those of ordinary branches. The design concept of the branch is modeled after an art gallery where you can find many paintings hanging on the walls. The desks also are laid differently, from a straight line to a trajectory line at a 45-degree angle, which enables the bank tellers to concentrate only on clients, and clients to keep their privacy. The layout of the Woori PB Gangnam Center is unique as well. The rooms, where tailored financial services are provided, are named after bank client jobs: “silk road” for corporate clients, “Teheran valley” for CEOs, “Wall Street” for professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and professors, “Broadway” for famous stars and diplomats working abroad, and “Champs-Elysée” for women and entertainers. The interior of each room is also designed according to its name and clients.

From Financial Supermarket to Financial Department Store-

Bank branches have evolved themselves into supermarkets whose products range from investment products, such as installment savings fund, to bank assurance (insurance-related) products, from corner stores selling only deposits and loans. It can be often seen that bank branches even sell competitors’ products. At the advent of financial holding companies, banks transformed themselves into supermarkets with various financial subsidiaries. Shinhan Financial Group plans to increase its number of branches to 20 by the end of this year, and more than 100 by the end of 2008.

Ji-Wan Cha Sun-Woo Kim cha@donga.com sublime@donga.com