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Best Bank Awards

Japan's best bank for SMEs 2020: SMBC

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp

Makoto Takashima, SMBC.jpg
Makoto Takashima, SMBC

Japan’s SME sector faces particular difficulties as Covid-19 disruptions collide with an unfamiliar variety of market turmoil.

Tokyo is back at the drawing board rethinking guidelines on size, scale and structure for smaller operations for preferential tax treatment and subsidies, benefits payments and the gamut of corporate norms. As prime minister Yoshihide Suga attempts to revitalize a slumbering economy, empowering SMEs is an obvious focus. That gives SMBC an obvious advantage over industry peers.

Granted, SMEs have never been a core business for Japan’s megabanks. Not enough splashy deals to make the department worthy of prime focus. But SMBC remains a standout in terms of priorities and execution. And the bank is making a go of it.

In the first six months of fiscal year 2021, lending to medium-sized corporations and SMEs continued its modest growth – up 1.2% to $180 billion, keeping pace with loans to large corporations and individuals. The same with the corporate loan spread to SMEs relative to large corporations.

As analyst Yuka Negami of Fitch Ratings put it: “The bank's higher net interest margin, due to a larger share of SMEs in the loan portfolio relative to peers and the group's consumer-finance business, continues to support profitability”.


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