Nomura hiring dozens of private bankers in Hong Kong and Singapore

Nomura is chasing the growing ranks of rich Asians to boost its wealth operation.
Nomura is chasing the growing ranks of rich Asians to boost its wealth operation.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Nomura Holdings plans to hire dozens of private bankers in Hong Kong and Singapore in a bid to extend its wealth management push from Japan and mainland China to the rest of Asia.

The Tokyo-based firm, which has already outlined aggressive plans for China, aims to grow the assets it manages from those two hubs by five times to US$50 billion (S$67.37 billion) by March 2026, said Yuji Hibino, a senior managing director in charge of the business for Asia excluding Japan. He wants to almost double the number of relationship managers to 100 in three years, from 57 as of December.

"Asia has bigger potential for future growth compared to Japan," Hibino said in an interview in Singapore. "We would like to look for more opportunities."

Japan's biggest brokerage is chasing the growing ranks of rich Asians to boost its wealth operation, which has dodged the waves of job cuts undertaken to restore profitability at its overseas securities business. It's a crowded market, though, dominated by the Swiss banks and coveted by the likes of Morgan Stanley, which is also seeking to expand.

The bank started hiring for the Asia wealth business last year with 10 net additions, Hibino said. "We also look at inorganic opportunities," he said, while adding that the company isn't currently in any talks about acquisitions.

Nomura currently manages about US$10 billion in Asia excluding Japan. The 10 largest firms in Asia each oversee more than US$50 billion, according to data compiled by Asian Private Banker that excludes Chinese firms operating on the mainland.

Hibino moved to Singapore last year from Tokyo, where he was a senior managing director of the bank's Japan wealth business. He plans to use Nomura's strength from the global markets and investment banking divisions to serve wealthy clients, he said.

"We would be in a good position to be able to connect our Asian clients to the opportunities that are available in Japan because of our great network," Hibino said. The brokerage is also looking to serve Japanese clients living abroad, he added.

CHINA FORAY

Hibino's responsibilities don't extend to Nomura's new joint venture in China, where it has also started hiring experienced private bankers. The company is among a handful of global firms to receive securities licenses as part of the country's opening up of its financial sector.

Nomura expects to expand headcount at the Chinese venture from around 100 now to 500 by 2023, when it aims to start offering investment banking services.

At home, the firm is restructuring its retail business - where it manages about US$1 trillion of client assets - to concentrate more on high net-worth individuals. Outside of Japan, Nomura's Asia wealth business is currently concentrated in Hong Kong and Singapore, from where the bank serves markets including Australia, Southeast Asia and Greater China.

Nomura hasn't seen any material change in the Hong Kong business since unrest flared up last year, Hibino said. The firm manages the bulk of its regional wealth assets in Singapore, where it holds a banking license.

"I believe that Hong Kong will remain one of the very important hubs for the financial industry in the future," he said. "We don't have any alternative plans due to the Hong Kong protests."