Oki Matsumoto runs Japan's hottest online brokerage, Monex Inc. He's slashed fees and offered personalized trading in a business dominated by giants. From his launch last October, the 36-year-old ex-partner at Goldman, Sachs & Co., charged a rock-bottom $9.35 per trade. That established Monex as the low-cost leader just as stock commissions were deregulated and pushed others to lower prices as well.
Matsumoto, who graduated from the prestigious Tokyo University, first went to Goldman with his business plan. Goldman turned him down, so Matsumoto quit. After he persuaded Sony Corp. to back him, Goldman changed its tune, and, with other investors, put up $30 million. "Most businesses will be restructured by the Internet, and those dealing with individual investors will benefit the most," he says.
Matsumoto, who has abandoned silk suits in favor of loafers and T-shirts, now pens a daily e-newsletter on topics ranging from cosmology to philology. The aim, he says, is to make Monex as much an intellectual salon as a financial site.