If you’re an equity researcher in Asia worried about the global and local headwinds that are battering your job function, the news about Nomura today will only heighten your anxieties. The bank has trimmed eight out of nine staff from its Singapore equities research team as it looks to scale back overseas under a new plan to revive its business, reports Bloomberg. We understand that the eight people include a team assistant and an editor as well as equity analysts. Nomura decline to comment for this article.
In most job sectors, redundancies on this scale in a financial centre the size of Singapore wouldn’t be alarming. But the Nomura cuts follow a three-year period of layoffs in Asian equities (research as well as sales and trading) – and they suggest the jobs rout is not yet over. Deutsche Bank made redundancies in its Asian equities team last year, while Credit Suisse culled dozens from its regional equities operations in 2017. Barclays, along with several other banks, trimmed Asian equities jobs in 2016, while Standard Chartered has shuttered its team altogether.
Equity research jobs in Singapore and Hong Kong have been in the firing line partly thanks to volatile regional markets. At Credit Suisse in Q4, for example, APAC equities revenues fell 28%. Mifid has also affected demand for researchers globally, including in Asia. In short, if you’ve just lost your role at Nomura in Singapore, your job options are more limited than they would have been just four years ago.
There is some hope. In January, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently unveiled its three-year S$75m Grant for Equity Market Singapore, which includes a 70% salary subsidy for graduate equity researchers, and a 50% one for newly-hired experienced researchers. MAS, perhaps wary that equity research is on the wane as a career option, wants to “groom a pipeline of equity research analysts and retain experienced research talent”.
Don’t hold you’re breath, however. The full impact of the programme is unlikely to be felt this year and is likely to be mainly taken up by boutique banks and research firms, say recruiters. Exiting Nomura and joining another large global bank in Singapore remains a difficult task.
Nomura CEO Koji Nagai today announced an overhaul of the firm’s operations, which aims to cut “lower profitability” businesses, particularly those outside of Japan, where the bank has been losing money.
If you want to work for Nomura in ex-Japan Asia, you might want to try China instead of Singapore or Hong Kong. The bank is preparing to build out an onshore platform in China after winning regulatory approval to take a majority stake in its Nomura Orient International Securities joint venture there. Jobs in private banking could come first. Nomura plans to launch a high-net-worth business in China and then roll out other services, including wholesale banking, as it aims to become a “full scope securities firm”, according to CEO Nagai’s presentation today.
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