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Here Are Japan’s Best Sales Teams, According to Investors

SMBC Nikko stays on top in the 2022 All-Japan Sales Team.

SMBC Nikko Securities has defended its title as the top sales provider in Japan.

After a meteoric jump from third place to first in 2021’s results, the domestic firm once again topped Institutional Investor’s All-Japan Sales Team.

As part of the All-Japan Research Team survey — where the firm took third place — institutional investors were asked to rank the firms with the best overall sales teams, while considering their performance across six sales attributes.

SMBC Nikko was recognized as number one in four of these: idea generation; market knowledge and feel; service and responsiveness; and understanding client needs. Daiwa Securities Group was tops for adding value to research, while plaudits for providing global context to sales went to Goldman Sachs.

Though it won that attribute, the American bulge-bracket firm placed just outside the top five at sixth place, up one spot from 2021. Daiwa Securities Group improved one place to take second in the overall rankings this year, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose from fifth to third in 2022. Nomura held steady at fourth, while Mizuho dropped from second to fifth place.

Kazuhiko Sawanobori, head of APAC sales at SMBC Nikko Securities, credited the firm’s success to its collaborative approach. “Our global sales members are really focusing on communicating with clients firstly, and trying to find their different demands, then focusing on the custom approach based on them with a strong partnership among our research, corporate access, trading, and other many members as well,” said Sawanobori. 

Citing the “current difficult market conditions,” Sawanabori argued that institutional investors need research more than ever. This includes several areas based on financial analysis as well others such as environmental, social, and governance issues, sustainable development goals, and global macro factors.  

The top 10 leaderboard was weighted by how much each respondent spends in Japanese equity commissions. In addition to these commission-weighted results, another leaderboard weighted by assets under management was also produced.

SMBC Nikko topped this ranking as well, and Daiwa Securities Group took second, but there was a slight shuffling of providers below them. Nomura placed third here, followed by Mizuho Securities in fourth. 

JPMorgan placed fifth and was also recognized for its ability to global context in sales — something that Shinji Ogawa and Khahlil Kirtman, co-heads of Japan cash equity distribution, concur is the bank’s strength and a differentiator in a strong domestic field.

“The domestic competition certainly has a strong offering in the local market in terms of volume and natural connectivity to Japan Inc., but our strength is in our global access and global reach. This is what differentiates us,” Ogawa said. “We also believe that our relentless focus on delivering best-in-class products combined with the top talent we have can be a winning formula.” 

The bank has also focused on diversity when making changes and hires to its sales team in Japan over the past year, according to Kirtman. “As our clients’ needs continue to evolve, it is important for us to have a diverse set of talent in our sales organizations and leadership team,” he said. “Diversity helps to bring flexibility in our approach to clients, and it has also proven to boost creativity and innovation within our team.” 

These innovations are also helped by technology that the bank continues to improve as the world enters its third year of distributed work forces and client bases. “Technology is also a key ingredient and it is something we continuously invest in,” Kirtman said. “Our focus this year was on leveraging technology to enhance our clients’ ability to access JPMorgan hosted events, such as client customized portals for event access.”

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