Daiwa to Increase Retail Staff, Branches by 50% on Japan Rally

Daiwa Securities Group Inc., Japan’s second-largest brokerage, plans to increase the number of bankers at its retail branches by 50 percent over the next few years as the stock market rally boosts demand from households.

Outlets will increase by about half over the same period, Chief Executive Officer Takashi Hibino said at a meeting with analysts and investors in Tokyo today. Daiwa has between 3,000 and 4,000 consultants at its 123 branches in Japan, and will increase headcount mainly by allocating graduates, he said.

“Japan is the most exciting market,” said Hibino, 57, adding that it offers “unprecedented” business opportunities.

The remarks underscore the turnaround in fortunes for Tokyo-based Daiwa and larger rival Nomura Holdings Inc. since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December on a pledge to end deflation. The Topix Securities and Commodity Futures Index has almost tripled in the past six months in anticipation that higher trading volume will spur revenue.

Shares of Daiwa have soared 184 percent over that period. They fell 1.3 percent to 989 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average slipped 0.4 percent from the highest level since December 2007 to 15,037.24.

Speaking after the meeting, Hibino predicted that the Nikkei 225 will climb to 18,000 by the year’s end as long as the yen remains weak. Japan’s currency touched 102.76 against the dollar yesterday, the lowest since October 2008.

Hibino said Daiwa has finished restructuring operations outside of Japan. The bank has been cutting costs and eliminating jobs abroad as part of a 70 billion yen expense reduction program.

Daiwa, the No. 1 underwriter for Japanese stocks this year, reported its highest quarterly profit since 2006 earlier this month, as commissions and underwriting fees jumped.

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