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East Asia


  • Asiamoney
    How should financial authorities contain the risk of bank defaults? Two Swiss academics have sketched an answer.
  • Banks are pushing hard to hire more women at every level, from graduates to seasoned managing directors. Executive search firms can help, by scouring the market for top female talent. But banks must change too.
  • The truth is that domestic banking of small and medium-sized enterprises is not a core priority for any of the megabanks – it is to a large extent still served on the ground by regional and local banks – but SMBC shows the clearest sense of direction among the top three.
  • Rakuten Bank is shaking up Japanese financial services by doing what people said could not be done: turning cash-loving Japanese towards digital applications, wallets and smartphone apps.
  • Notwithstanding the grand ambitions for private wealth management in Japan, it was a tough year for these businesses, all of which saw declines in profitability during our review period in the face of difficult market conditions.
  • A few foreign investment banks are smiling in Japan right now, benefiting from a new wave of corporate governance and investor activism that has led to conglomerates starting to hive off non-core businesses and focus on what they are really good at. The result: vibrant M&A opportunities.
  • The combination of Morgan Stanley and MUFG, forged from the global financial crisis, has delivered extraordinarily well in Japan, where the two groups formed a surprisingly successful joint venture that has confounded expectations of insurmountable cultural challenges.
  • The last 12 months could have been a tricky time for MUFG, with the transition from Nobuyuki Hirano to Kanetsugu Mike in the chief executive and president roles at the group level. But when one meets the two men, one is struck by the similarity: internationally minded and influenced, fluent in English, big thinkers, willing to shake things up.
  • The last year has been an interesting one for small and medium-sized enterprises in South Korea. According to the government, SMEs account for 99% of the country’s businesses, 88% of its total employment, 38% of exports and 51% of added value. In 2018, South Korea’s Financial Services Commission announced that new rules governing loan-to-deposit ratios would go into effect at the start of 2020 for the country’s banks, encouraging more lending to small businesses. With such support, SME banking has boomed.