BNY Mellon has hired Robert Whittemore to head its treasury services business in Japan, replacing Sumiko Katsuhara who retired last year.
In the role, Whittemore is responsible for managing and building the delivery of treasury services, both payments and trade activities, to financial institutions in the country, one of three markets that BNY Mellon considers is key to reaching its target of doubling Asia treasury revenue by 2015. He oversees a team of 30 in the bank's Tokyo office and reports to Richard Brown, Hong Kong-based head of treasury services for Asia.
"Japan is a major and growing market for BNY Mellon, as the biggest banks and even regional banks demand robust, high quality services, such as global payments, from a provider with global scale, reach, and technology," said Brown in a statement. "Rather than competing with them for their corporate or retail clients, our model is to access these markets through local partner banks, so we achieve win-win solutions that enable them to grow their businesses."
Accessing the Japanese market through partnerships with local banks is common practice for foreign institutions. Most large global transaction banking players refrain from targeting local corporates for domestic cash and trade needs, instead working with financial institutions or catering to cross-border flows. Large players include Citi, HSBC and J.P. Morgan with the latter having a unique position in the market as the operator of Tokyo Dollar Clearing.
Asked how BNY Mellon intends to differentiate itself from other foreign providers in the market, Brown said the bank's offering was different because it was not trying to be a "universal bank" in international markets and was focused on the local bank segment in Japan. However, he did not acknowledge the fact that J.P. Morgan also acts primarily as the 'banker's bank' in Asia.
While Whittemore's appointment in Japan is only a replacement, BNY Mellon is growing in Asia. Over the past year, the bank has made a number of 'first' appointments to its regional leadership team including Filippo Santilli as Asia-Pacific managing director of liquidity services in January, Shekar Ranganathan as Asia-Pacific regional financial controller and Navneet Singh as country executive and chief representative for India, the latter two were in August.
Last September, BNY Mellon announced plans to hire 50 new staff in its Hong Kong Asia-Pacific headquarters.
Whittemore joins BNY Mellon with over 24 years of experience in the financial services industry, more than 10 of which were in Japan. During his time in the region, he held various positions with Bankers Trust and Chase Manhattan Bank. Whittemore was most recently an independent financial consultant based in Rye, New York.
In the first quarter, BNY Mellon reported total global revenue of $2.56 billion, up 5% year-on-year, and attributable to improved performance in equity and credit markets. Treasury services revenue was $127 million for the period, also up 5% compared to the first quarter of 2009.
BNY Mellon has been in Japan for more than 40 years.