Business

In graying Japan, securities firms target seniors' assets with end-of-life services

JIJI

Securities firms have been expanding services recently for shūkatsu (end-of-life preparations), as a marketing strategy to appeal to elderly customers.

The securities houses aim to attract the elderly along with their financial assets by providing advice not only on investment but also on inheritance and funeral preparations, as well as digital possessions such as photos and emails.

At a shūkatsu seminar held in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district by Nomura Securities Co. in late January, sales staff accompanied some 300 participants to lectures and consultation services. “I want to gain legal knowledge about a will and gifts as I may face the need for inheritance procedures at any time,” said a 64-year-old Tokyo man.

Recalling his own experience, Shinichi Mizuno, a senior corporate managing director at Nomura Securities, acknowledged that difficulties can emerge when dealing with the deaths of aging family members. “When I had to clean up my parents’ home after my mother died, I had difficulty getting rid of items that reminded me of her,” Mizuno said.

Popular booths at the seminar included those for consultations on how to throw away unnecessary items, ways to locate cemeteries in hometowns, and lectures on a family trust method aimed at facilitating problem-free family business successions.

SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., a unit of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., held a lifetime gifting seminar at Kaneiji Temple in Tokyo’s Ueno district early last month. Some 100 participants, mainly in their 70s and 80s, listened attentively as a lawyer explained effective measures for reducing inheritance tax. “Although I’ve made some inheritance preparations, such as utilizing an insurance product for lifetime gifting, I’m worried about a surprise inspection by the tax office,” said a man in his 80s who came from the Tokyo suburb of Fuchu with his wife.

According to the Financial Services Agency, the ratio of household financial assets held by people 60 or older has risen to 60 percent of the national total in recent years from about 30 percent in 1989. By meeting the needs of seniors, securities firms hope to encourage beneficiaries to keep any financial assets they inherit in accounts opened with them.

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