Nomura's emergence as a global investment bank

A fragmented competitive landscape following the financial crisis and the rising importance of emerging markets provide a golden opportunity for Nomura to pursue its global ambitions, writes Jesse Bhattal.
Jesse Bhattal
Jesse Bhattal

Someone once said that intelligence without ambition is like a bird without wings. Frankly, we wouldn't be doing justice to our intellectual capital by demanding less from our people at Nomura than to strive for a globally competitive franchise.

The world post-crisis presents a particular set of characteristics, which work both for and against us. Global markets are at an unprecedented crossroads when it comes to the rising importance of emerging markets versus the traditional economic powers in Europe, the US and Japan. With $2.5 trillion of reserves in China alone, the amount of wealth flowing into emerging markets will forever transform the face of our global economy.

The pace of this globalisation gives us the biggest chance of creating a viable, scaled, and profitable business, but to seize it we need a global platform. We have achieved market gains in both Asia ex-Japan and Europe. Now, we are aggressively building our US franchise to tap that market's massive fee pool. The scale of these investments will engender several quarters of challenged profitability, but this is a golden opportunity to gain a foothold in a market where even a 50bp increase in market share equates to over half a billion dollars in new revenues.

The difficulties ahead are significant: the West is over-leveraged and excessively reliant on government liquidity, while a negative bias towards our industry is driving a tightening of the regulatory environment. But the competitive landscape is fragmented and open to change as players continue to recover from the credit crisis. We are already seeing dramatic shifts in market share, including our own, through market consolidation and the rising prominence of local players.

Several themes are critical to our success. One requirement is to deliver the firm to our clients and place them at the heart of everything we do. Abiding to a rigorous cost discipline, while proactively emphasising conservative, yet strategic risk management to address heightened regulatory scrutiny, are also key. And, of course, leveraging our dominance in Japan, the world's second largest economy, is an essential component of our strategy. No other investment bank can claim as dominant a market share in their home market as we do in Japan.

An international culture of collaboration is also vital to overcome the challenges ahead, and the leadership structure that we have implemented with the creation of our wholesale division now brings our global markets and investment banking businesses under one umbrella. It allows us to be nimble in how we operate, avoiding bureaucracy in favour of strong and direct leadership, to make rapid -- yet thoughtful -- decisions.

We run a tight ship. Each person is expected to play a critical role and take accountability for our success, so it's imperative for us to continue recruiting the best talent in the business. The loss of personnel is part and parcel of this cycle in the industry and should be expected. For those onboard, the upside is exponential. Our net revenues from overseas have increased significantly since before the acquisition of Lehman Brothers' operations in Europe and Asia, and even surpassed Japan in two of the four quarters last year for the first time ever.

Our story is still unfolding -- it's a narrative of emergence.

Jesse Bhattal is president and chief operating officer of the wholesale division at Nomura. He joined Nomura in 2008 when the Japanese bank bought the Asian operations of Lehman Brothers where he was Asia-Pacific CEO.

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