Point of difference
Mitch says ANZ is by the far the largest Australian bank in Japan and our book has been growing steadily.
“Oceania is a keen area of focus for many Japanese operators. ANZ has a fantastic advantage with our [Australian] headquarters in the right time zone, it fits really well with our Asia Pacific footprint and - unlike North America or Europe - in Oceania, investment for a Japanese institution is not ‘bet the farm’ stakes.
“ANZ is a natural partner as they're looking to diversify, come out of Japan or deepen their investment.”
Mitch explains that after a solid rollout over the past three years, the Japan team is now in “phase two” of building up the office’s securities business.
“We've recently expanded our foreign exchange and commodities sales teams so the next step for us will be expanding third-party distribution, investing in technology operations and compliance infrastructure to support that expansion,” he says.
“In third-party distribution, we will be taking selected investment products that ANZ manufactures in locations like Sydney, Singapore and Hong Kong and selling them through local partners - whether it's asset management companies, local securities companies or possibly even regional banks - to give their clients and investors access to a broader range of products. That's a key area of growth for us.”
Beyond markets and securities, Mitch says ANZ is working with several local banks to pinpoint where we can play a role in Japanese wind and solar projects. In the technology space, he says the bank is focused on network and trade opportunities where Japan fits into the global tech supply chain.
Japan’s economy has certainly experienced its share of ups and downs over the years, however Mitch says this has created many opportunities for growth.
“[Despite] the struggles and challenges Japan has faced… it is still the number three economy globally,” he says.
“Former Prime Minister Mr Abe put forward his economics platform, which was essentially loose monetary policy, loose fiscal policy and economic reform. Most analysts would give that fair marks and it has largely worked to reflate many of the asset classes where the bubbles had formed and then burst back in the 1990s.
“There's quite a bit more work needed on reform [and] digitisation to further open and improve the economy… but we've seen quite a bit of improvement in the financial economy in the last seven or eight years.”
Mitch says Japan’s ageing population is also leading to a record number of outbound merger and acquisition transactions as Japanese enterprises have bought up assets around the world.
“A favourite place for companies to experiment with their business models offshore is in Oceania and we expect that trend to continue,” he says.
“A good example would be a Asahi's acquisition of Carlton United Breweries a couple of years ago. As of today, over 90 per cent of the beer sold in Australia is from a Japanese-owned brewery.”
A lot of companies around the world and certainly in our region are thinking about diversification and where else they can be growing and investing. I've personally been talking to our customers about the need to focus on Japan as an opportunity market. It's highly sophisticated, very wealthy and, with the right investments and long-term approach, businesses can do well.
The rule of law, regulatory security and long established architecture of relationships with Australia all serve to lower the risk of Japan compared with some faster growing markets.
Mitch says the best part of his job is getting to interact with so many high-quality people across the network.
“Every day brings a new opportunity. I like that variety and the number of smart, high-integrity players we have on the team,” he says. “I have the opportunity to be up-close with world-class businesses and interact with their people, learn their stories and be part of their success as they grow.”
You can listen to the whole conversation in the podcast above.
Shayne Elliott is CEO of ANZ
Click here to browse through the full “World of Networks” series