South Korea's financial regulator is seeking to bolster the business of local firms in Southeast Asia, widely considered the “next China”.

The Financial Supervisory Service hosted an event on Friday in light of the Moon Jae-in government’s “New Southern Policy” which strives to elevate diplomatic and economic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), as well as India.

FSS first senior deputy governor Yoo Kwang-yeol called on Korean firms to build strong localised business models with a long-term vision, and highlighted the agency’s regulatory and business support centre for the region.

He asked firms to focus on localisation efforts and stressed the importance of regulatory compliance when conducting business in different countries within the Asean region.

The FSS also presented the latest regulatory direction and collaborative opportunities in the Asean member states, including Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam, to enhance mutual understanding.

Looking ahead, the FSS said it will ensure that its audits on foreign branches of Korean financial companies will be centred on providing support to their local business operations.

As of end-2018, Korean financial firms – in the areas of banking, securities, asset management, insurance, credit and financial holdings – operate a total of 436 overseas branches worldwide, according to the FSS.

In Asia, there are 303 branches across 23 countries, including China, Vietnam and Hong Kong. In the Americas, 73 branches of Korean financial firms operate across five countries – including the US, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and Panama.

In Europe, there are 43 branches across nine countries, including the UK, Germany, France, Turkey, Ireland and Hungary. In other regions – Australia, Russia, New Zealand, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Ghana – there are 17 branches. THE KOREA HERALD/ANN