Where Investors Go for the Best Access in Japan

Nomura leads II’s ranking of Japan’s Top Corporate Access Providers.

Kentaro Okuda, President and CEO of Nomura Holdings Inc. (Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg)

Kentaro Okuda, President and CEO of Nomura Holdings Inc.

(Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg)

Corporate access has had its trial by fire over the past two years.

Before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lifeblood of corporate access — the work of brokers and investment banks to connect the buy side to executives — was comprised of conferences and meetings, all of which had to be transformed for a virtual environment.

But despite the rollercoaster of external environment and market trends, those connections remain an important part of the financial ecosystem, according to Shinji Wakizaka, head of client relations management department at Nomura.

“Corporate access provides vital opportunities for investors and corporates to understand each other and build relationships,” he said. “While it is not essentially affected by market trends, corporate access methods have evolved and become more diverse over time. We are constantly adapting our corporate access services to meet the evolving needs of our investor and corporate clients.

In Japan, the service is in more demand than ever due to the pivot to virtual, Wakizaka said. But more than two years in, investors have also become more discerning with their time. “The use of online platforms has led to a dramatic increase in corporate access services,” he said. “However, investors have become more selective with meeting services in terms of industry, companies, and speakers.”

Both executives and the buy side are looking forward to a future that incorporates in-person events and meetings. “Two years into the pandemic, we are seeing signs of virtual fatigue with more requests for face-to-face meetings from both investors and corporates,” Wakizaka added. “After in-person meetings resume, we think expect to see clients opting for hybrid, real and virtual, meetings rather than choosing one format over the other.”

Whichever path they choose, it appears investors will continue to rely on Nomura, who once again takes the top spot in Institutional Investor’s 2022 ranking of Japan’s Top Corporate Access Providers — extending its reign into a second year.

II surveyed 157 investors at 113 firm to capture the buy-side point of view. This group rated the top sell-side firms based on six attributes: conferences, logistics, field trips, team quality, roadshows, and virtual events. Nomura captured four of these, with SMBC Nikko Securities and Mizuho Securities rated first in roadshows and virtual events, respectively.

SMBC Nikko also placed second in the overall leaderboard, which was weighted based on how much respondents spend in commissions. Daiwa Securities Group took third, followed by Mizuho in fourth and Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Co. in fifth.

A leaderboard weighted by assets under management was also produced. It was identical to the commission-weighted ranking.

To represent the corporate view, II surveyed 41 corporate respondents who ranked their top sell-side firms based on the same six attributes.

Nomura was still No. 1 from this perspective, followed by SMBC Nikko Securities in second. Mizuho Securities and Daiwa Securities Group placed third and fourth, respectively. Citi placed fifth, making it the highest-ranked international firm from the corporate point of view.