Company News

Japan's Nomura to start new grads in call centre as sales change: sources

TOKYO (Reuters) - The brokerage arm of Japan's Nomura Holdings Inc 8604.T will send new-graduate employees to work at its call centre for their first year to expose them to dealing with customers over the phone, two people familiar with the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Nomura Securities is pictured at the company's Otemachi Head Office in Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 18, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

The move is Nomura’s latest pivot from a traditional emphasis on face-to-face sales, which have been under pressure since before the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the rise in popularity of online brokerages.

Nomura Securities, the country’s largest brokerage, will send almost all of its 350 new-graduate hires to work at the call centre after they join the company in April, said the people, who declined to be identified because the information is not public.

“Given we have fewer chances to meet customers directly, new graduates will be able to get experience by hearing a lot of customers’ voices at the call centre,” one of them said.

Nomura declined to comment.

Nomura would be Japan’s first major brokerage to make such a change.

Japan’s biggest corporations traditionally hire new graduates all at once each year to replace retiring employees. New graduates tend to be rotated between departments during their first few years.

At Nomura, many new hires spend their first years working in a branch, learning the “shoe-leather” sales culture of going out, meeting customers and trying to sell investment products.

That face-to-face business model and Nomura's 7,000-strong sales force have been under threat from retail brokerages. Top online brokerage SBI Holdings Inc 8473.T in March surpassed Nomura for the first time in the number of accounts.

Nomura last year said it aimed to strengthen its channels of contact with customers by building up its online service as well as the call centre.

Still, a year-long stint in a call centre may not be attractive to recent graduates expecting a high-flying career in financial services, said the second person.

“Their image of working at a brokerage may not match with working at a call centre.”

Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Additional reporting by Yuki Nitta; Editing by David Dolan and Christopher Cushing