Selecting the fittest as a bank reshapes itself

Marc Sidwell
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NOMURA just evolved. Under its new chief executive, Koji Nagai, the Japanese bank chose the language of natural selection to describe its mutating strategy, announcing “the next step in the evolution of its Global Equities franchise” on the day it also said that it would make half of its planned $1bn savings in EMEA.

Nagai may feel the language suits his own Darwinian rise to the top, having only been appointed last month after Kenichi Wantanabe’s tenure was killed off by a scandal over insider trading. And for those based in London, Nomura’s cost-cutting might certainly suggest a commitment to business red in tooth and claw, as they contemplate just what the reductions will mean in terms of job losses.

But for Nomura to survive and thrive in a changing world, Nagai’s judgement is that it must change too. The equities strategy announcement explains: “Equity markets are being dramatically reshaped globally as a result of the current environment”. Responding to that selection pressure, Nomura is reshaping itself as well.

The question is, what sort of company will result? Is this the extinction of Nomura’s ambitious play to survive in a global ecosystem, a retreat to more modest mode of survival?

Instead, Nagai seems to hope he has found the missing link, a successful balance between local strength and global focus. Nomura claimed that the equities reshuffle announcement “reinforces Nomura’s status as Asia’s Global Investment Bank”, and while it is shrinking its European equities business, there is also $340m of cost-cutting in Asia.

Only time will tell the outcome as Nomura takes this new turn in the struggle for existence. But the new strategy does still seem to have some designs on climbing higher up the global food pyramid.