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The Firm Investors Rely on for Access in Japan

In a year without in-person meetings, Nomura reigned as Japan’s Top Corporate Access Provider.

In a challenging year for corporate access, one firm bridged the digital divide between investors and Japanese company executives better than any other. 

Amid a global pandemic, both sides agreed that Nomura was the country’s best corporate access facilitator, according to Institutional Investor’s annual ranking of Japan’s Top Corporate Access Providers. This year, the firm maintained its top position among investors while also taking the pole position among corporates. 

For the buy side’s point of view, nearly 170 investors at more than 100 firms rated sell-side providers on a scale from 1 to 5 for the overall corporate access they provided in eight countries and regions: Japan, Australia/New Zealand, China, Europe, Hong Kong, North America, Singapore, and South Korea.

Scores were calculated by adding together each firm’s overall corporate access scores within each region to produce a table of the top ten firms.  

Daiwa Securities Group placed second on the leaderboard after Nomura, ranking highly for its conferences, roadshows, and industry speakers and experts. SMBC Nikko Securities followed in third, and Mizuho Securities took fourth. J.P. Morgan was the only international firm to crack the top five in the ranking, in which votes were weighted by commissions.

Nomura was recognized in part for its one-on-one meetings, which have primarily moved to calls and online conferencing since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, according to Shinji Wakizaka, head of the firm’s client relations management department.

This does not mean that Nomura has had to reinvent the wheel, as the foundations of the offering have not changed, according to Wakizaka. “Our corporate access representatives have been covering key institutional investors for the past 10 years,” he said. “We also arrange value-added services based on the individual needs of clients, so there has been no major change under the pandemic.”

Going forward, he said the top corporate access providers will be the ones that can excel in both traditional and digital forms of corporate access. “To differentiate ourselves from our competitors, we believe that we must provide the value-added services that investors want, and offer digital solutions to improve convenience,” he said. “Advancing the digital solutions we offer will allow us to further differentiate our value-added services.”

[II Deep Dive: Where Investors Turn for Access in Japan]

To generate the leaderboard representing the corporate point of view, 61 corporate respondents ranked their top four sell-side firms on five attributes: investor introductions, site visits, conferences, non-deal roadshows, and feedback. These attribute scores were then added together to produce a top-ten list.

Nomura ranked first among corporates, followed by Mizuho Securities in second. SMBC Nikko Securities improved one place to take third, while last year’s corporate winner Daiwa Securities placed fourth. This was not the only shakeup on the leaderboard, with Citi taking fifth place, a spot held by Morgan Stanley last year. 

In a sign of what’s to come, Nomura’s Wakizaka reported the firm is receiving requests from some investors and corporate management for face-to-face meetings though the majority remain virtual. But in the near future, Wakizaka believes corporate access will continue to be a mix of both online and in-person meetings. 

“The level of emphasis placed on each type of meeting may become a distinguishing factor and source of competitive advantage for brokers,” he added.

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