Nomura Still Has the Best Corporate Access in Japan
The bank takes the crown for the third year running in II’s annual ranking of Japan’s Top Corporate Access Providers.
Nomura has defended its title as the No. 1 corporate access provider in Japan.
For the third year in a row, the bank leads Institutional Investor’s ranking of Japan’s Top Corporate Access Providers, based on feedback from 184 investors at 132 firms. Respondents were asked to consider five attributes — conferences, logistics, field trips, team quality, roadshows, and virtual events — and Nomura came first in three out of five. Meanwhile, runner-up Daiwa Securities Group was recognized for field trips and roadshows.
Following after Dawia on the overall leaderboard are SMBC Nikko Securities and Mizuho Securities, which placed third and fourth, respectively. Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Co. rounded out the top five.
The service of connecting investors and corporates to build relationships and provide opportunities has never been more important, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic and its restrictions put much of the industry into a virtual environment over the past three years. But even with the proliferation of online choices, the foundations of corporate access remain unchanged, according to the country’s top teams.
“While digital advances offer greater convenience, the ultimate source of value-added services is our content and our people,” said Shinji Wakizaka, head of the client relations management department at Nomura. “We are accelerating our digital initiatives in line with the changing environment, but this is not what will differentiate us in the end. Our corporate access representatives have been covering key institutional investors for more than ten years, with a focus on providing value-added services matched to clients’ individual needs. Pushing forward our efforts in this area is key to remaining the partner of choice for our clients.”
Regardless of how it is delivered, institutional investors continue to value high-quality engagement with corporate managements and seek regular communication with corporate investor relations, according to Daisuke Suzuki, head of APAC equity sales and corporate access at Mizuho. “Unimaginable before the pandemic, we are seeing senior corporate management communicate with investors via Zoom and Webex now, and such companies have been able to maintain high-quality interaction with key investors,” he added. “Quarterly updates are largely done through virtual meetings with IR-level speakers, so there is more focus on quality from the buy side when they evaluate corporate access service.”
Like much of Asia, Japan was grappling with travel restrictions longer than some of its European and American counterparts, according to Suzuki. “Japan was relatively late in exiting from the Covid-19 mindset, and 2023 will be the first year of post-Covid-19 normality,” he said. “2022 was still a ‘with-Covid-19’ year for corporate access in Japan.”
Suzuki reported that Mizuho hosted its flagship Japan Alpha Conference in September 2022 as a hybrid forum and had strong attendance by investors, despite the stringent visa requirements still in place at the time. “Strong underlying investor interest in visiting Japan was apparent,” he said, adding that Mizuho’s 2023 conference is expected to be fully on-site, with access to management from Japan’s largest corporates, at its headquarters in Otemachi Tower.
II also surveyed 85 corporate participants — more than twice as many as last year — to represent the corporate view. Corporate representatives ranked their top sell-side firms on the following attributes: investor feedback, investor introductions or ad hoc requests, non-deal roadshows, reverse roadshows or site visits, and virtual conferences. Nomura once again topped this ranking, followed by Daiwa Securities Group in second and Mizuho Securities in third. SMBC Nikko Securities placed fourth and Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Co., fifth.
“Investors are not just focused on the changes taking place but on anticipating what lies beyond that,” said Nomura’s Wakizaka. “Corporate access has become more efficient thanks to digital technologies, but there are limits to the corporate fundamentals we can obtain using [artificial intelligence] and machines. We believe that understanding the fundamentals of a wide range of companies and identifying the corporate access needs of investors will lead to business opportunities.”
Mizuho also credits its strong research platform — ranked second once again in II’s annual survey — as a differentiator in a market that has become even more competitive but is still rife with opportunities for dedicated providers with deep ties in Japan. “We are seeing various growing areas in corporate access,” said Suzuki. “Customized trips and tours, more offerings around ESG events, prompt and efficient response to client requests, etc. Having said that, the corporate access space has become very competitive over the Covid-19 years — companies are using more brokers outside their traditional ties with certain brokers and are more focused on hard service metrics. Here, we believe we can achieve higher efficiency by leveraging external resources as well.”