Standard Chartered Plc started its first brokerage business in Japan with 100 employees as institutional investors seek products from emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa for better returns.
The U.K. bank will deploy 20 salesmen to meet with Japanese life insurers, brokerages, banks and asset managers to sell products that invest in developing countries with potential for fast economic growth, said Taisei Takegami, president of Standard Chartered Securities (Japan) Ltd.
All of the people in the unit already work for Standard Chartered’s corporate banking arm in Japan and will perform dual roles, he said.
The move comes even as Chief Executive Officer Bill Winters cuts costs and sells businesses to turn around the London-based bank, which posted its first loss since 1989 last year. Japanese investors are struggling to boost returns at home as stocks slump and bond yields plunge below zero, while interest rates in other developed markets are also tumbling.
“Our major battlegrounds and strengths are in Asia, Africa and the Middle East,” Takegami said in an interview last week. “Japanese institutional investors who have tended to focus on developed markets in Europe and the U.S. now see the need to diversify investments with various products as interest rates fall dramatically worldwide.”
The Japanese securities unit will also start an investment-banking business that would advise local corporate clients and financial firms to raise funds in capital markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Takegami said.
The U.K. bank opened its first Japan office in Yokohama in 1880. Its corporate banking operation in the country provides loans, cash management and payment collection services for companies. The firm closed its Japan wealth-management business in 2012.
Takegami joined Standard Chartered in 2013 as the head of financial markets in Japan. He was previously the head of fixed income at Credit Suisse Group AG’s Japanese brokerage unit.