Digital Transformation of the Securities Industry in Japan and Asia

Modularization of Industry

Industries across the board are undergoing structural change. This change extends beyond individual firms and spills across industrial sectors. Other industries that have been exposed to the tide of technology-driven structural changes have through the process harnessed technology to be reinvented as new industries befitting this evolution in industrial structure. The financial industry traditionally has been far from the vanguard of this change.

The proliferation of the Internet and digital technologies is only accelerating the evolutionary modular shift across all industries. This stands in stark contrast to the traditional non-modular, vertically integrated structure (that is to say, the antithesis of a modular structure, where all the products and services are provided through and within one exclusive value chain) that the industry has historically embraced.

However, disruptive new market players have visibly forced conservative, existing entities to begin to seek new approaches; at the same time, regulatory authorities have also started to embark on establishing a new, more robust system for regulating the financial industry.

The Securities Industry of the Future

The securities industry can be regarded as the first sector in the financial industry to have embarked down the path of modularization. A major area that has been involved in this first step toward modularization has been mutual funds.

In the closed model era of brokers and mutual fund firms, which was the norm until the 1960s, mutual fund firms would outsource sales to securities companies (full service brokers). Then, the market witnessed the emergence of no-load funds starting in the 1970s. This era was characterized solely by diversification of sales methods, and was entirely absent changes to the closed model that covered planning, manufacturing, and sales. Finally, change descended on the market in the form of the mutual fund supermarket revolution. Metaphorically speaking, this approach was akin to companies putting mutual funds on the shelves of a supermarket and charging commissions only for the products sold. The interface between mutual fund companies and securities companies opened up, with this the creation and sales components were decoupled and functionally modularized.

The Role of New Technology: Robo-advisor

Robo-advisor initiatives can be expected to accelerate the speed of advances in modular demand structure. Presumably, coming delivery channels will seek to optimize information and investment expertise provided, driven by approaches that respond to the needs of investors by sometimes providing "automated advice" and sometimes harnessing brokers as "a human support mechanism.”

In Japan, megabanks, startups, and dedicated online brokers are all jockeying to leverage their strengths in a way that accords them the most advantageous position possible. Their robo-advisor initiatives so far largely appear tailored to support the sales of mutual funds. As easy-to-use, non-face-to-face channels, they are garnering interest from investors with a level of comfort with IT and a degree of financial literacy. Moving forward, further advancements that draw on both the asset management facet and technology are expected in the 4 areas; diversity of products, diversity of services, automation, accommodating B2B.

Excluding Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, Asia is a fragmented market for retail investors, and therefore it’s still inaccessible. In addition, such markets as Taiwan and Korea are showing an increase in home bias. Thus, how the robo-advisor business thrives in the Asian market will depend on its distribution dynamics, along with its asset growth potential and product development.

Legacy modernization in the securities industry is much more than the application of novel technology. Rather, it portends nothing less than a wholesale structural overhaul of the securities industry that is an opportunity to envisage anew and redefine the industry’s future. There can be no doubt that this transcends the mere establishment of a digital channel; rather it will certainly impact products, services, IT units, and sourcing models, and, in so doing, provide the securities service providers of the future a chance to seriously consider exactly what kind of companies they would like to be and the corporate cultures they would like to foster.

 

Related releases:

Legacy Modernization in the Japanese Securities Industry, Part 1

Legacy Modernization in the Japanese Securities Industry, Part 2

Fintech and Robo Advisors: Booming in Japan

Legacy Modernization in Japan’s Financial Industry, Part 2: What the Auto Industry Can Teach the Financial Sector

 

MoneyGram Agrees to Merge with Ant Financial

Through this $880 million deal, Ant will connect MoneyGram’s network of 2.4 billion bank and mobile accounts with Ant’s customers.
Ant, which is working closely with Alibaba, is seeking to expand its global presence amid increasing competition with the Tencent group at home.

Last year, Rakuten, Japan’s top e-commerce firm, downsized its international presence once again, closing its marketplaces in the UK, Spain and Austria, following a streamlining strategy to pull out from Southeast Asia and Brazil last year.
As the Rakuten case shows, the global expansion of e-commerce is more difficult than that of financial services.

The "last-mile" logistics problem still exists in e-commerce, requiring huge assets in local distribution centers.
Meanwhile, in modern financial services, technologies for mobility and security are the key.
In this sense, this M&A deal can be seen as an effective investment. Similar trends will likely accelerate in Asia as well.

2016年後半のカンファレンスを振り返る

カンファレンスは、いつも刺激に溢れています。2016年もアジアの各地で、パネルディスカッションやプレゼンテーションの機会に恵まれました。自らのプレゼンテーションを通じて、過去のリサーチ成果を発信するだけでなく、カンファレンス・チェアやパネル・モデレータの役割は、業界ソートリーダーとのインプロビゼーションであり、将来のリサーチトピックスやインサイトテーマを仕込む、貴重な瞬間です。人が出会い、意見を交換し、議論を深める。そのための準備と当日の緊張感は、アナリストの責務であり、醍醐味でもあります。 本稿では、2016年後半の5つのカンファレンスを振り返ります。銀行、保険、証券、ウェルスマネージメントの各業界の議論に共通したキーワードは、引き続き、フィンテック、デジタル、そしてモダナイゼーションでした。
***

Insurance, Digitization and Bubbles(7月1日:東京)

保険業界は変革を迫られています。超低金利、新規事業参入者の増加、激化する価格競争、顧客との関り方の急激な変化が、保険会社の商品/ビジネスモデルを揺さぶっています。モノのインターネットやスマートロボットだけではなく、いまやブロックチェーンも保険業界に大きく影響しつつあります。 こうした新しいテクノロジーは、本当に業界を根底から変えてしまうのでしょうか? 仮に変化があるとするならば、いつ、どんな出来事が、どのような順序で起こるのでしょうか? セレント主催の本イベントでは、世界の保険業界におけるデジタル改革の最新トレンドを紹介し、お招きした日本の保険業界を代表するソートリーダーの皆様と、中長期的な視点での将来像を模索しました。
  • 世界の保険業界におけるデジタルトランスフォーメーションの最新トレンド
  • InsurTechが保険業界の未来、ビジネスモデル、事業運営に与える影響
  • 短期、中長期的な視点での展望、業界の未来図
  • 日本におけるInsurTechの現状と展望
Insurance, Digitization and Bubbles
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Asia Anti-Money Laundering Summit713-14日:シンガポール)

アジアにおいても欧米同様に、規制の継続的な改正、最大手の金融機関における規制違反事例など、AMLの運営管理全般を改善する必要性が高まっています。電子取引の爆発的な普及は新たな課題をもたらしており、金融機関が様々な事象をチェックする際に、もはや規制当局や政府公認のブラックリストだけでは不十分な状況にあります。 AMLはまた、海外業務を展開する大手銀行だけのテーマではなく、全金融機関において同様な備えとその効率化が問われる時代となっています。本イベントは、アジアの保険業界を中心としたコミュニティにおいて、AMLとKYCを真正面から討議する場となりました。 セレントからは当日、以下の既刊レポートを中心に、「ユーティリティモデルの隆盛とAI適用」に関する報告を行いました。 Asia Anti-Money Laundering Summit
***

Asia Insurance Technology Awards95-6日:シンガポール)

2016年も引き続き、セレントは、AIR の主催する Asia Insurance Technology Awards (AITAs) の審査員を務めました。アジア各地の保険業界における、イノベーションと現代化に関する先進的な取り組みを表彰するこのイベントは、セレントの主催するアワード:セレントモデルインシュアラー と併せ、当社アジア保険部門の2大イベントとなります。 新たなテクノロジー、ビジネスモデルそして業界構造や組織変革への取り組みが、6つアワードカテゴリーにおいて表彰されました。中でも、Best Newcomerに輝いた Everledger(英国)、Digital Transformationを獲得した PetSure(オーストラリア)の両社は、InsureTech時代を象徴する取り組みと賞賛されました。
  • IT Leadership: Liberty Videocon General Insurance
  • Best Insurer, Technology: New China Life Insurance, Max Life Insurance
  • Digital Transformation: AXA Asia, PetSure (Australia)
  • Big Data and Analytics: AXA Hong Kong
  • Best Newcomer: Everledger
  • Innovation: IDBI Federal Life Insurance, Ping An Property & Casualty Insurance Company of China
Asia Insurance Technology Awards
***

5th Asia Insurance CIO Technology Summit95-6日:シンガポール)

AITAと同時開催のアジア保険CIOサミットにおいて、キーノートスピーチ「InsurTech & Digital: A Global Round-Up 」を提供しました。 さて、保険会社の存在価値とは何でしょうか?
  • 安心、安全、健康な人生を支援する
  • 企業活動の全てのリスクを担保する
  • 人生の、企業活動の不安とリスクを軽減する仕組みの提供
様々な表現で語られますが、全てに共通することは、「顧客中心」主義。一方で、これまでの金融機関におけるテクノロジー活用の中心命題が、長らく
  • システム化による、人手から機械への代替による合理化、コスト削減 であったことは事実です。
しかし、テクノロジーの進化とその爆発的な普及は、こうして古典的な命題を激変させました。本キーノートでは、情報とテクノロジーを手にしたデジタルな顧客に対峙する現代の金融機関は、
  • 「デジタルな顧客中心」主義であるべき と提唱しました。
また、デジタル世紀の金融機関が遭遇している、急激な業界構造の変化に対して、
  • 「戦略自由度の担保」とそれを実現する「アーキテクチャ」 も提案しました。
5th Asia Insurance CIO Technology Summit
***

TradeTech Asia 20161019-20日:シンガポール)

キャピタルマーケットとウェルスマネージメント業界の祭典 TradeTech Asiaは、今年もシンガポールで開催されました。セレントは長年、このイベントのカンファレンス・チェアやモデレータを務めてきました。ウェルスマネージメントにおけるロボアドバイザーの台頭、トレーディングデスクにおけるAlgoからAIへのシフトが鮮明だった2016年は、アジアの機関投資家の方々と、以下のパネルに参加しました。
All Star Panel: How can you use machine learning and artificial intelligence for predictive analysis and accurate analytics?
当日は、セレントのAIフレームワーク:人口知能モデルを披露し、資本市場、資産運用ビジネスにおける、AI活用の現状と展望に関して、以下の事柄に言及しました。
  • トレーディングライフサイクルの最適化におけるAIの役割
  • 投資分析の予測能力や正確性を向上させるAIの適用方法
  • リサーチ:投資分析やポートフォリオ分析におけるAI活用
  • AIとコンプライアンス:不正取引の監視におけるAIの活用
  • 購入か利用か、構築か?:AIにおけるフィンテック企業の可能性
TradeTech Asia 2016  

Pioneering Unexplored Areas

Japan has been at the forefront of innovation in the asset management—and the broader financial services—industry in Asia, with a number of new and incumbent players rolling out robo-advisory services. Robo-advisors are online platforms that offer investment advice based on sophisticated algorithms mapping portfolios that can look at investment performance across asset classes in real time.

While there is vast potential in this area in Japan, the gains made by the robo-advisory industry may be limited if it does not strive to improve investment literacy and enhance accuracy and transparency of information.

Current robo-advisor initiatives in Japan are largely tailored to support the sales of mutual funds. As easy-to-use, non-face-to-face services, they are garnering interest from investors comfortable with information technology and a degree of financial literacy.

Moving forward, further advancements that draw on both asset management options and technology are expected in the following areas:

  • Diversity of products. Expanding the range of products offered from general, publicly offered mutual funds to a variety of asset classes.
  • Diversity of services. Online onboarding, portfolio management, reports and alerts. Operation support that is a hybrid approach, harnessing both existing contact centers and face-to-face services.
  • Automation. Automated reinvestment and rebalancing. Supporting small-value and high-frequency trading.
  • Accommodating business-to-business (B2B). Pro-level sales support tools developed to offer the advanced features professionals want. Vendor-supplied cloud services and financial institution-supplied white-label service offerings for other financial institutions.

 

Click to read more…

Robo-Advisory in Japan: A Need to Push the Envelope

Robo-Advisory in Japan: A Need to Push the Envelope

Robo-advisors: Booming in Japan
http://asianbankingandfinance.net/financial-technology/commentary/robo-advisors-booming-in-japan

Fintech and Robo Advisors: Booming in Japan
http://celent.com/reports/fintech-and-robo-advisors-booming-japan

証券決済革命

日本の証券決済制度改革は2000年頃に本格化した。15年の歳月を経てDVPは実現し、STPは幅広く普及した。そして、今まさにその最終ステージに差し掛かり「証券決済革命」の時代を迎えている。

日本の証券決済制度改革の経緯において、以下の4点は重要なマイルストーンであった。

  1. RTGSと照合システムの構築、STPの普及(2001年)
  2. 証券保管振替機構の拡充と株式会社化(2002年)
  3. CCPの設立とDVP決済の進展(2002-3年、2007年)
  4. 株券の電子化(2009年)

現在の日本における「証券決済革命」の残された課題は、以下の5点に集約される。

  1. 国債、株式等の決済期間短縮化への取り組み
  2. 清算機関(CCP)の機能拡充、利用拡大、連携・統合への取り組み
  3. 証券決済機関(CSD)の機能拡充
  4. 市場参加者におけるSTPの加速
  5. クロスボーダー証券決済の円滑化

証券決済システム高度化の経緯

161130_fig1 

セレントは、こうした日本の証券決済革命の動向を基軸に、金融業界のレガシー&エコシステムマイグレーション、イノベーション、そしてエマージングテクノロジーの可能性をレポートしている。

本証券決済革命シリーズにご期待下さい。

資金決済革命

決済を取り巻く環境は劇的に変化しつつあります。消費者がキャッシュに代わるより便利なものを求めていることは明らかですが、金融機関はこうしたニーズにあまり積極的に答えようとしてこなかったように思われます。一方、この分野は、金融サービスプロバイダにとっては、ブルーオーシャンのようにチャンスが広がっているといえるでしょう。先駆者として新たな決済プロジェクトを投入できる新市場の成長が期待できるからです。
 
既存の決済サービス市場は競争が激化しており、多くの決済オプションが溢れかえったレッドオーシャンです。市場参入を目指すプレーヤーが既存の市場で成功を収めようとするなら、既存の決済手段に取って代われる価値提案を創出する必要があります。 企業活動や消費者の生活により密着する方法を開発しなければなりません。そうなると、金融サービスをめぐる競争のカギは金融業界の外にあるのかもしれません。YouTubeやリッツ・カールトンのような顧客認知、Google やAmazonのような顧客行動予知などがその例です。
 
未来の個人向けの決済サービスは、デジタルネイティブ世代の日常生活における新たな情報と価値移動の基盤として、既存の電子マネーを凌駕する破壊力を持つでしょう。未来の 法人向けの決済サービスは、決済指図と契約を電子化、自動化することで、企業活動の情報と価値移動の源泉を握り、既存のサプライチェーンを革新することが期待されます。

セレントはここに、破壊的なイノベーションと「資金決済革命」の可能性を見出します。

Uncontested market space

The payments environment is undergoing dramatic change, driven by the changing behavior of payment services users. While consumers have clearly expressed a desire for something more convenient than cash, the supply side has been seemingly unwilling to meet this demand. Financial institutions have failed to provide handier and more convenient alternatives to cash. Service providers should see this field as a blue ocean – a market space ripe for pioneering new payments initiatives.

The intense competition over incumbent payments services makes that market a red ocean – a market space crowded with many existing payments options. Would-be players need to create value propositions that can supplant existing payment methods if they wish to succeed. They need to develop ways that allow them to be more intimately intertwined with the activities of corporations and the lives of consumers . Indeed, the key to competition in financial services may lie outside the financial industry, coming from services and businesses that specialize in knowing the customer such as YouTube and Ritz-Carlton.
 
At Celent, we believe that new payments services for retail customers will be a watershed, replacing existing e-money and serving as a platform for information transfer and value transfer for a digital native generation. Next-generation transaction banking services for corporate customers will enable the overhaul of existing supply chains and the exercise of tighter control over corporate information and value transfer through digitizing and liberating contracts and settlement.
 
Celent sees great potential for significant innovation and a "payments revolution" from firms willing to challenge the status-quo despite the apparent immediate obstacles.

THE FUTURE OF ROBO-ADVISOR SERVICES IN JAPAN

Technology and New Business Frontiers

Megabanks, startups, and dedicated online brokers are all jockeying to leverage their strengths in a way that accords them the most advantageous position possible. The latest iteration in the ongoing battle to be first, to move early, and to outdo the competition is unfolding around robo-advisor services and technology with a key point being which customer categories to target.

Historically, the asset management business in Japan has revolved around the relatively lower-hanging fruit: customers that have both assets and financial literacy. Moving forward, that will change. It will be important for players to expand the market’s reach to include customer segments in the stage of asset creation, namely younger generations in the midst of becoming financially literate and the senior demographic of customers with little experience with technology. Early robo-advisor movers pushing the boundaries of the market and acquiring new customers will be crucial if robo-advisory services are to gain traction and not become a fleeting phenomenon. Many progressive global examples of companies and markets are responding to diverse investment and technology needs and, in doing so, helping to boost financial literacy across the market.

The robo-advisor initiatives that have hit the market in Japan so far largely appear tailored to support the sales of mutual funds. As easy-to-use, non-face-to-face channels, they are garnering interest from investors with a level of comfort with IT and a degree of financial literacy. Moving forward, further advancements that draw on both the asset management facet and technology are expected in the following areas.

  • Diversity of products: Expanding offerings from general, publicly offered mutual funds to multi-asset classes.
  • Diversity of services: Online onboarding, portfolio management, reports, and alerts. Operation support that is a hybrid approach harnessing both existing contact centers and face-to-face channels.
  • Automation: Automated reinvestment and rebalancing. Supporting small-value and high-frequency trading.
  • Accommodating B2B: Pro-level sales support tools developed to offer the advanced features professionals want. Vendor-supplied cloud services and financial institution-supplied white-label service offerings for other financial institutions.

 

Sell Side Business Model

Overcoming the first obstacle presupposes a shift in the competition among firms marketing mutual funds. This would entail a move from the conventional model, under which they vie for short-term sales commissions, to a longer-term model in which revenue is generated from discretionary investment fees. Already, the number of wrap accounts is growing quickly as major players migrate rapidly to a wrap-account approach premised not on sales commissions but on discretionary investment fees (for investment services offered on a contractual discretionary basis that include investment choices, actual purchase or sale, and regular reports).

FIG 4: Surge in Wrap Accounts

robo4

This surge in wrap accounts has spurred debate. Observers point to issues in products, service content, and management performance; in concrete terms, this means the fee structure (major firms say that they typically charge a total of around 3% for mutual fund advisory fees, transaction and management fees, and fees related to mutual funds), minimum contract amounts (major players accept contracts from 3 million yen in increments of 10,000 yen), and investment types (wrap account-dedicated mutual funds, programs combining actively managed funds, programs combining index-managed funds, etc.). Celent would like to believe that the proliferation of robo-advisors will enhance product offerings and advice across the investment cycle overall. The advent of mutual fund sales professionals (major banks and securities brokers) adopting robo-advisory technology can be expected to be the dawn of a new technological era not solely for wrap accounts, but also more broadly for the mutual fund business and the asset management business.

Celent believes that Japan’s asset management business sector currently faces two challenges that must be addressed particularly on the sell side.

  • Information imbalance: This refers to an imbalance or asymmetry in the quantity, quality, or use of information related to investment products or services. The market is flooded with investment information. However, there is a shortage of information and advice to cut through the noise to aid in reaching investment goals and to help prospective investors select products that match their risk appetites among the vast array of investment choices.
  • Know-how imbalance: This refers to an imbalance in recommending appropriate investment products and services as well as know-how related to investor management and development. The market is awash in investment know-how. Nevertheless, there is a shortfall of accurate understanding of investor orientation and experience. This is coupled with a lack of help for investors to optimize their portfolio holdings, subsequent follow-up, and advice to achieve investment objectives.

 

Just published the new Celent reports:

Fintech and Robo Advisors: Booming in Japan

 

END DESTINATION OF THE BOOM

Robo-Advisor Services: The Road Ahead

The fundamental essence of financial system services will remain, but with innovation, the inconvenient and irrational elements of the industry will be eliminated, falling by the wayside. The first touchstone for this will likely be the battle among robo-advisor services. With Japan’s highly integrated industry, mutual funds have from the beginning grown in the context of a modular (or unbundled) business structure. In the future, the insurance industry is expected to experience a similar change. It is only natural that bancassurance accelerates such structural change.

On the demand side, robo-advisor offerings are expected to play a supporting role in particular with retail investor asset management in terms of the (PDCA) cycle (which in this context refers to setting fund management goals, selecting and purchasing products or services, post-purchase review “checks,” and ongoing action). On the supply side, expectations are high that robo-advisors will yield benefits in B2B via functions that enable support tools geared toward professionals in the asset management arena. Moreover, observers have even loftier expectations that robo-advisors can play a role in enabling the asset management market to evolve into a sounder and more cyclically sustainable market.

Celent expect that robo-advisors in Japan’s market will work to supplement investment literacy on the demand side, heighten accuracy and transparency related to information (including price, quality, and risk) about asset management products and services, and supply technology that will help to solve the incentive problems that interfere with efficient business transactions on the supply side (and the oligopoly of the value chain).

From a technical perspective, there are three important points that would make the robo-advisor initiatives become widely accepted and profitable:

  • Use of refined smartphones with easy operability and robust security, providing a high-quality user experience.
  • Ability to provide diversity of products and services, low-value and high-frequency trading support, and automation.
  • Ability to (conduct / carry out) traceability and rebalancing, where assets are vigilantly monitored, and plans can be reviewed and revised accordingly.

FIG 7: Expectations for Robo-Advisors

robo7

 

Shift to the Modular Structure

It is incumbent upon the financial industry as a whole to shift to a modular demand structure to meet new demand spawned by new digital technologies and new demand in the digital industry. Institutions should ease their dependence on vertically integrated, direct sales — that is to say, keiretsu sales channels — to establish more dynamic and open delivery models. The demands and challenges of omnichannel transcend choosing an open or closed channel; rather, these demands proffer an ideal opportunity for companies to review and reconsider the optimal delivery model for their needs. Moreover, this means that financial institutions can collaborate with a wide range of non-financial sector entities including startups to broaden access to and the scope of the market that they can potentially claim as their own.

Financial institutions should strive to become trailblazing purveyors of financial services that leverage digital technology. In the financial services value chain, areas coexist where firms can and should go it alone to generate their unique in-house high-value-added services and products as well as other areas where they stand to benefit by collaborating with other firms to thoroughly drive down costs. Also, if firms thoroughly consider economies of scale and economies of scope, they can possibly parlay their cost centers into new profit centers and play a role in the industry infrastructure by collaborating with other firms. In the actual operation, after deliberating and implementing such initiatives, big-data analytics and automation of all processes will prove key. Here as well, a shift to a modular supply structure will be required, and a critical factor in determining the success of financial institution management will be alliances — namely how adroitly they select and choose to partner with other entities.

Fintech is much more than the application of novel technology in the sphere of financial services. Rather, it portends nothing less than a wholesale structural overhaul of the financial services industry that is an opportunity to envisage anew and redefine the industry’s future. There can be no doubt that Fintech transcends the mere establishment of a digital channel. Instead, it will clearly affect products, services, IT units, and sourcing models and, in so doing, provide the financial service providers of the future a chance to seriously consider exactly what kind of companies they would like to be and the corporate cultures they would like to foster.

FIG 8: Key Transformative Points in the Financial Services Industry

robo8

 

Just published the new Celent reports:

Fintech and Robo Advisors: Booming in Japan

 


JAPAN’S WEALTH MANAGEMENT MARKET

Japan’s wealth management market differs significantly from the global market in a number of ways.

Individual financial assets are managed with an emphasis on security and primarily allocated toward deposits, while potentially highly profitable securities — in particular, equity — are not typically preferred. The asset management emphasis toward savings deposits has persisted through the nation’s deflationary phase, but with the introduction of inflation targets and drastic monetary easing, this approach increasingly makes less sense. This leaves one wondering when the tide will change and who or what will trigger a change.

In January 2014, the government introduced a new initiative to encourage a shift in behavior from saving to investing. Called the Nippon Individual Saving Account (NISA) the program is designed to support the stable growth of household assets while boosting the availability of capital available for economic growth. While a combination of macroeconomic factors — including changes in exchange rates, a rebound in stock prices, and an upturn in the economic environment — seems to have the market headed in a more positive direction, Japan’s investment market still differs significantly from Europe’s and North America’s, particularly in areas such as the diversity of the composition of individual asset holdings, the investment environment for individual investors, and investment literacy.

FIG 2: Individual Financial Asset Breakdown: Japan-US Comparison
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Growth in the Mutual Funds Market

Against this backdrop, the growth in funds allocated to publicly offered mutual funds has been particularly prominent. In May 2015, total assets under management topped 100 trillion yen for the first time, driven by an influx of money into open-ended mutual funds. As of the end of September 2015, this had reached 75 trillion yen, up 60% from 2012. This rise has been spurred not only by market value factors (a rise in asset prices) driven by increasing stock prices and a weaker yen, but also by trade-related factors — that is, new inflow of capital. Open-ended mutual funds turned positive in the first half of 2014, and in the second half of 2015, they returned to levels seen prior to the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Two core factors are behind the growth in the mutual funds market: increases in channels and products. Channel growth principally signifies a diversification of intermediaries and intermediary types for bringing together mutual fund management firms and investors. The market was opened to banks in December 1998. After an eventful subsequent period, the formidable growth of the banking channel has put it nearly on par with the securities firm channel. As of the end of 2015, banks’ mutual fund sales, including private placements, had reached 64 trillion yen, accounting for 46% of the market; moreover, at the same time, the banking channel has similarly diversified its collective product lineup, including the following areas:

  • General mutual funds: Typical mutual fund sales through traditional channels
  • ETFs: Brokering analogous to listed securities brokering
  • Discretionary investment mutual funds (wrap account): Brokering for discretionary investment services
  • Dedicated DC (defined contribution pension) mutual funds: Dedicated sales for defined contributions to pensions

 

Wrap Accounts

Among these, the inflow of funds into discretionary investment mutual funds wrap accounts has been particularly prominent. Following 2012, the sector saw an influx of 1.4 trillion yen in the second half of 2014, and more than 1.2 trillion yen in the first half of 2015. This flood of funds has been fueled not only by the growth of products that meet consumer needs and more channels offering greater convenience, but also due to a shift in emphasis in sell side strategy from stressing sales commissions to one putting more weight on asset management balance and performance.

Until now, retail investors in Japan have exhibited a preference for major brands and the stability associated with them, resulting in investors becoming comfortable with an investment environment with a high degree of reliance on the sell side, namely the strategies of major financial groups. Further fueling the current surge in low-cost investing, which can expect high if unstable returns, will require raising investor financial literacy, providing novel products and services, and forging new sales channels that harness technology. There is vast “blue ocean” potential here for robo-advisory services to gain a foothold and thrive in the Japanese market.

 

Just published the new Celent reports:

Fintech and Robo Advisors: Booming in Japan