NISA brokers get off to brisk start

JIJI

Demand for the Nippon Individual Savings Account, Japan’s version of a British savings account program, has grown steadily since it was launched in early January.

More than 4.75 million of the temporarily tax-exempt accounts have been set up since the program was launched on Jan. 6, but the bulk of them are reportedly being opened by people who are already active investors.

NISAs have been doing extremely well, said Kazutoshi Inano, chairman of the Japan Securities Dealers Association.

As of Jan. 31, about 10 to 30 percent of those who have opened NISAs had begun trading, mostly in stocks, according to brokerages that also offer investment trusts for NISA users.

Of the total, about 3.2 million NISAs are at securities houses and the rest are believed to be at major and regional banks. Including those being processed, NISA applications hit 5.5 million at the end of last year.

Most brokerages say that only about 10 percent of their NISA holders are purchasing stocks or investment trusts through the accounts, with the rest sitting on their hands.

An official at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Holdings Co., said 70 to 80 percent of its NISA holders trade in stocks, while a broker at Mizuho Securities Co., said the figure is 70 percent.