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Japan's best private bank 2017: Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley PB Securities

Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley PB Securities

When Asiamoney asked one bank executive to name the best private bank in Japan, his response was telling: there is only one. In truth, some of the world’s biggest private banks offer services to Japanese clients. But Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley PB Securities, led by Satoru Adachi, stands out from the crowd.

The bank has made the most of the successful tie-up between Morgan Stanley and Mitsubishi UFJ, but private banking was not immediately part of the deal when the two banks agreed to form a joint venture in 2009. The merger between the two private banks was announced in late 2013, a year after MUFG bought out the wealth management arm of Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Japan.

By combining its own firepower with that of two of the best-respected US banks, Mitsubishi UFJ dominates private banking in Japan.

A quick look at Euromoney’s private banking survey in February shows its lofty position. The firm was unsurprisingly voted best private bank in the country. But it was also voted the best for every wealth bracket, from super-affluent clients to high net-worth and ultra-high net-worth clients.

This is not to say it has faced an easy environment. The Bank of Japan’s aggressive approach to monetary easing has made volatility a distant memory in the fixed income markets, hurting the potential for trading revenues.

Even worse is that low rates have not led to a boom in borrowing appetite.

But Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley PB Securities has proved able to navigate these problems. The firm pulled in revenues of ¥19.9 billion ($175 million) between April and September 2017, an increase of 30% over the same period in 2016.

Its half-year profits shot up too, from ¥2.7 billion to ¥4.56 billion.

The tie-up between Mitsubishi UFJ and Morgan Stanley may get most attention for the deals the two firms are able to put together for their clients, whether acquisitions offshore or capital market issues, but the partnership has proved to be much more than a deal factory. The success of the private bank proves just that.

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