With Mizuho Bank now on the naughty step, having received a business improvement order from the Japanese Financial Services Authority over loans to organized crime, it’s no wonder CEO Yasuhiro Sato emphasised Mizuho’s duty to the Japanese nation, through providing capital for new ventures in the agricultural and healthcare industry, rather than focusing on earning interest on loans, in a recent editor’s interview for Nikkei Business.(in Japanese – English precis available to Rudlin Consulting/Japan Intercultural Consulting clients only)
Mizuho, one of Japan’s three “megabanks” was born over 10 years’ ago of a shotgun marriage between Daiichi Kangyo (once the biggest bank in the world and also accused of organised crime links in the past), Fuji Bank and Industrial Bank of Japan. According to Sato, the challenge now is not so much merging the three bank cultures but getting the retail side and the corporate side to behave as “One MIZUHO”, following the merger in July this year into one organisation of Mizuho Corporate Bank and Mizuho Bank (retail).
Sato comes from the corporate side, which has a focus on overseas business and blue chip companies, and is seen as being rather dismissive of those at Mizuho in the retail side and small business banking. Apparently when Sato did a recent tour of the 400 or so branches in Japan, one manager told him his speech was full of “borrowed” foreign words.
Sato has appointed some executives from the retail side to senior positions, and threatened those joining the bank that there will be opportunities to go abroad or to be transferred to the trust or securities side, regardless of where people have originated from.
Clearly still very sensitive to comparisons (particularly in terms of profitability) with the other Japanese mega banks (Mitsubishi Union Finance Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation), Sato differentiates Mizuho by saying its “pivot” is still firmly in Japan (a dig at MUFG’s overseas acquisitions and ambitions) . Nonetheless he says he is cultivating relationships with top people at overseas companies, and points out that Mizuho is Prada’s main bank, and also an active advisor to BP, Baoshan Steel and Lotte.
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