ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Finance

3-day workweek: Japan's top bankers map out post-pandemic future

Leaders of nation's largest banks and brokerages speak at Nikkei event

The heads of five of Japan's largest financial institutions sat together on a livestreamed panel at a Nikkei symposium Oct. 6. (Photo by Shihoko Nakaoka)

TOKYO -- New work styles and greater digitalization are crucial in adapting to the coronavirus, the leaders of five large Japanese financial groups said Tuesday at a Nikkei hosted symposium on their strategies for an industry transformed by the pandemic.

At the livestreamed event, the heads of the country's three megabanks and two of its biggest brokerages delivered talks on how to turn the setbacks caused by the virus into opportunities. The five executives sat together on the same stage, separated by dividers to reduce the risk of infection.

The pandemic has slashed customer traffic at bricks-and-mortar bank branches by 20% to 30% from last year, forcing institutions that focused on traditional face-to-face interactions to grapple with the accelerating shift to digital transactions.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group CEO Hironori Kamezawa focused on the idea of dispersion. Kamezawa, the only head of a major Japanese banking group with a math degree, argued that concentrating people and data in one place is "costly and inefficient."

MUFG formed a specialized team to handle its digital shift, and the group has been working on organizational changes at the megabank, Kamezawa said.

"We had already implemented changes such as a system for working from home, but I have the sense that the coronavirus crisis has advanced the change in work styles by years," he said.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group CEO Hironori Kamezawa, left, and Mizuho Financial Group CEO Tatsufumi Sakai.

Mizuho Financial Group has revamped its core systems and eliminated paper documents at its branches, CEO Tatsufumi Sakai said.

The company looks to establish satellite offices so employees can work close to home, and "we plan to introduce three- and four-day workweeks in December" if negotiations with the employee union pan out, Sakai said.

Kentaro Okuda, CEO of Nomura Holdings, said the brokerage is considering a new fee structure based on a customer's assets under management, moving away from commissions for trading. The aim is to create a virtuous cycle that boosts Nomura's profits as customers make money.

In the future, "financial institutions and securities companies should shift to asset management and consulting," he said.

The leaders also discussed how to help companies that have struggled to survive amid the disruption caused by the pandemic.

"We need to adopt measures to stimulate consumer spending and change the mindset" caused by the coronavirus-induced economic slump, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group CEO Jun Ohta said.

"We'll do all we can to help with financing" in industries hit particularly hard by the virus, such as tourism, he said. "We have enough capital to do it."

As for the view ahead, "major trends such as the extension of low-interest-rate policies amid a weak economy, the intensifying U.S.-China conflict and digitalization will not change," Ohta said.

Nomura Holdings CEO Kentaro Okuda, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group CEO Jun Ohta and Daiwa Securities Group CEO Seiji Nakata.

Daiwa Securities Group CEO Seiji Nakata anticipates a growing need for services related to mergers and acquisitions over the medium to long term, both inside and outside Japan, as industry consolidation gains momentum.

Nakata also cited the role of direct financing, without the use of a financial intermediary or other third party.

"The appeal of it lies in being able to provide cash to those that truly need it, based on your own preference," he said.

Companies now have a range of avenues for securing support beyond just traditional financing, Nakata said.

"The digital transformation has made more options available, such as crowdfunding and social tipping," he said.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends January 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more