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Nomura Stays on Top in Japan

The country’s dominant research provider also led II’s annual ranking of Japan’s best equity sales teams.

Nomura is still No. 1 in Japanese equity sales.

Buy-side analysts and money managers responsible for $740 billion in Japanese equities voted the Tokyo-based firm into the top spot for the second year in a row — and the seventh time since Institutional Investor’s All-Japan Sales Team debuted in 2012. The respondents included more than 700 investment professionals from nearly 360 firms.

These respondents were asked to rank the firms with the best generalist sales teams based on attributes including their ability to provide special services, their understanding of client needs, their knowledge and communication of the research product, the quality of their idea generation, and their ability to provide a global context for Japanese portfolios.

Following Nomura, Daiwa Securities Group improved from fourth place to capture second this year, SMBC Nikko Securities maintained third place, and Mizuho Securities took fourth. JPMorgan Chase & Co. had the greatest improvement this year, rising from ninth place to round out the top five equity sales firms.

The top 5 sales firms closely mirrored the 2019 All-Japan Research Team results, which illustrates the importance of the coordination between the two businesses, according to providers.

“We have a renowned research team globally and they are closely collaborating each other,” said Makoto Kinone, head of equity sales for Nomura. He also cited the firm’s events — ranging from field trips to seminars with key specialists — as a differentiator for clients.

“We are always staying alongside with clients,” Kinone said, noting that close and constant communication is key to a successful sales team. But it’s not just collecting client information, he says — it’s what you do with it. “We also invested in AI enabling us to make better decisions through proper data analytics,” Kinone said.

[II Deep Dive: Nomura Reclaims the Crown in Japan Sales]

Of particular interest to investors this year was Japan’s place in the world. “Typical concerns of clients in 2018 were around the timing of the end of the cycle, and ongoing global geopolitical issues, of which the greatest concern was the possibility of a global trade war, particularly involving the U.S. and China,” said Sara Perring, JPMorgan’s head of equity distribution, markets sales, and marketing for Japan. “This led to concerns of a much stronger Japanese yen, which could then adversely impact both earnings and the equity market performance.”

The most-improved firm also reported a few changes to its team. “During 2018 we invested in a new graduate hire, as well as a lateral hire to boost our focus on hedge funds,” Perring said. “One of our senior sales people moved out of the sales team into a different internal role, and we brought back a senior sales person in [Hong Kong] to head our cash distribution team, which includes our sales and execution teams in Japan.”

Institutional Investor has introduced some changes of its own to the All-Japan Sales Team. An additional ranking was produced this year via a new method for weighting the survey responses. For this leaderboard, each respondent’s vote was calculated based not on their assets under management but their sell-side spending. 

In these debut commission-based rankings, Nomura led again, followed by SMBC Nikko Securities in second, and Mizuho Securities in third place. Daiwa and Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities Co. claimed the fourth and fifth spots, respectively. 

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