There’s a New Leader in Japan Sales

Daiwa Securities Group has emerged as the No. 1 provider in Institutional Investor’s 2023 All-Japan Sales Team.

Bigstock photo

Bigstock photo

A quartet of domestic firms continues to dominate the All-Japan Sales Team — but that’s not to say the past year was without its obstacles for the country’s top teams.

“The past year, Japanese market volatility was low and the market remained range bound,” said Koji Yoshida, head of the multistrategy consulting department at Nomura Securities Co. “That said, it was a challenging market with cycles of upturns and downturns in a short period of time.”

The challenges included “unexpected events such as the conflict in Ukraine, rising interest rates in developed countries and persistent inflation, change of the yield curve control by the BOJ, and reopening after Covid-19,” Yoshia added.

Kazuhiko Sawanobori, head of APAC sales at SMBC Nikko Securities, confirmed that based on these macroeconomic factors, the “condition of the Japanese equity market was difficult to manage last year.”

And just like the market, the members of Institutional Investor’s All-Japan Sales Team have experienced some ups and downs as well.


Daiwa Securities Group is the new No. 1 provider in the 2023 ranking of Japan’s sell-side sales operations, up one spot from last year. Last year’s winner SMBC Nikko Securities came in second place. Nomura moved up one spot to capture third, while Mizuho Securities took fourth. The only global firm, JPMorgan Chase & Co., was down two spots to No. 5.

As part of the survey for II’s All-Japan Research Team — where Daiwa placed first as well — participants rated the country’s best sales teams based on six performance attributes: adding value to research, providing global context, idea generation, market knowledge and feel, service and responsiveness, and understanding client needs. Daiwa topped half of these. (Responses were weighted based on each voter’s commission spending.)

Third-place Nomura was rated the highest for idea generation and service and responsiveness. The firm also led the assets under management leaderboard, which is calculated based on each respondent’s size. In these alternate rankings, Daiwa took second place and SMBC Nikko Securities placed third. Mizuho and JPMorgan repeated their fourth and fifth place finishes, respectively.

After some contraction in its headcount, Nomura is currently expanding its sales team through both external recruitment and internal transfers as well as a mentorship program between its junior and senior team members. Yoshida also cited the strong connection between its sales and research teams as a strength for the firm. (Nomura came in fourth on the All-Japan Research Team this year.) “Our sales and research teams stay in close contact,” he said. “We provide feedback to clients every day. We also have regular meetings between the head of sales and head of research to discuss the issues we face. As a result, we have been able to provide better research services with higher client satisfaction.”

Looking ahead, SMBC Nikko’s Sawanobori sees more complexity coming to the markets, which also means there is an opportunity for the sales teams that can best tailor their service and offerings to individual clients. “The market condition is getting more complex, and every institutional investor has different needs; therefore, a sales team should focus more on custom-based service to each [client],” Sawanobori said. “Sales used to be called distribution, but I think it was wrong, and the times have changed. The sales team needs to be the creator, producer, and concierge for investors, and prioritize the partnership with both investors and buddies based on the cooperation across sections and regions. We are focusing on [these] points to be the stronger sales team globally.”