Longtime economist Sung Won Sohn, who rose to prominence as senior economic advisor to the late President Richard Nixon and briefly helmed Koreatown-based Hanmi Financial Corp., opened up his own consulting practice on July 2 in Hancock Park.
Sohn said in an email exchange with the Business Journal that he will focus his business primarily on international country reports and the impact of trade policies.
Sohn follows in the footsteps of former UCLA Anderson Forecast economist Christopher Thornberg, who formed Beacon Economics in 2007. Beacon Economics is now headquartered near Los Angeles International Airport. Beacon’s focus is a mixture of national, state and local; it often does reports for clients at the local level.
“Compared to Beacon (Economics), I am more macro- and global-oriented,” Sohn said in an email.
Sohn, who is in his 70s, was born in Seoul in what’s now South Korea. He immigrated to the U.S. and obtained a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pittsburgh, and a professional master’s degree from Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Mass. Sohn joined the Nixon administration in its latter days on the recommendation from one of his Ph.D. advisors, and rose to the position of senior economist. He then joined Northwest National Bank of Minnesota and remained there after the institution purchased Wells Fargo & Co. in 1998, eventually becoming the chief economist for the merged operation.
Sohn left Wells Fargo in 2005 to become chief executive of Hanmi Financial Corp., parent of Hanmi Bank, where he served nearly three years of a six-year contract. Hanmi’s assets grew from $3.1 billion to $3.8 billion during his tenure.
Sohn left Hanmi at the end of 2007 citing “personal and professional reasons,” according to news reports at the time, to join the faculty of newly-formed California State University Channel Islands, becoming one of that school’s highest-profile draws.
Also in 2008, Sohn became vice chairman of Lincoln Heights-based clothing retailer Forever 21 Inc., a post he still holds.