Nomura Loses 20 Investment Bankers in Asia After Bonus Payouts

A pedestrian walks past a branch of Nomura Securities Co., a unit of Nomura Holdings Inc., in Tokyo. (Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg)

Nomura Loses 20 Investment Bankers in Asia After Bonus Payouts

Nomura Holdings Inc. lost about 20 mostly junior investment bankers in Asia after bonus payouts in May, adding to a stream of departures from Japan’s biggest brokerage as financial firms vie for talent in the fast-expanding region.

The resignations, which all were outside of Japan, also included senior bankers Thomas Batt, the head of Asia ex-Japan equity capital markets; Alexandra Tong, the head of Greater China equity capital markets, said people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the information is private. Tong confirmed her departure. A Hong Kong-based spokesman for Nomura declined to comment.

Global banks are battling to keep junior investment bankers in Asia where financial technology firm and investment companies can offer a route to faster promotion and the prospects for higher earnings. At Nomura, the attrition was comparable to that in the previous years after bonus payouts, the people said. Still, the departures highlight the acute talent shortage in China and Hong Kong, where turnover this year of junior bankers has roughly doubled at some firms.

Nomura’s overseas operations were thrown into disarray earlier this year by the implosion of U.S. family office Archegos Capital Management, which left it suffering a $2.9 billion loss. The firm aims to shrink its prime brokerage business in Asia, and curtail it more dramatically in Europe and the U.S., executives have said.

The reset puts more focus on Nomura’s plans for greater China. The brokerage opened on the mainland at the end of 2019 and plans to add an investment banking division by 2023 to become a full-licensed broker. It has plans to boost its China mainland headcount to about 300 this year, mainly by adding private bankers and other front-office staff, Toshiyasu Iiyama, head of Nomura’s China committee, said late last year. Iiyama also said the bank had so far won more clients than expected and that hiring had gone “very smoothly.”

Nomura has also seen the departure of several prominent bankers in Asia over the past months, including the head of health care investment banking, Vijay Karwal, who became the chief financial officer for biopharmaceutical startup AffaMed Therapeutics. Anshul Trivedi, head of Asia equity capital markets syndicate, left earlier this month.

The lender isn’t the only that’s having to deal with defections. HSBC Holdings Plc has lost about a third of its debt capital markets team covering Chinese state-owned enterprises. The London-based lender, which counts Hong Kong as its biggest market, is still struggling with the fallout after becoming entangled in political spats between China and the West.

To boost its ranks, the Tokyo-based firm recently hired Li Gao as head of China financial sponsors in Hong Kong from JPMorgan Chase & Co., people familiar said. Sebastian Jones joined as an executive director for the technology, media and telecommunications sector in Singapore from Macquarie Group Ltd. Ashwin Narang was hired for the debt team in India.

The investment bank is reviewing candidates for the position left by Karwal, and will have a new group of graduate hires starting in late July, the people said.

Investment banks are raising pay for junior employees and adding staff to prevent defections and ease discontent over long hours and work-life balance issues during the pandemic.

HSBC, which is in a midst of a major pivot to Asia, in April promised a shorter career path for new associates, offering promotions after three years instead of four. It also pledged to boost pay. Switzerland’s largest lender UBS Group AG has agreed to pay a $40,000 one-time bonus to its global banking analysts when they are promoted.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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