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Moving Forward as Japanese Markets Recover

Michael Ross, President - CEO, FIA Japan

The crisp autumn season has brought a degree of stability in the financial markets. The Nikkei is recovering nicely from the declines of the summer, and as we note elsewhere in this issue, we have every reason to believe that Japan’s sound fundamentals will continue to attract investors to our markets.

In our November issue, we focus on striking developments with the various arms of Futures Industry Association. We seize on news of the merger between FIA affiliates in Washington, Europe and Asia as an opportunity to ask our colleague Walt Lukken, President & CEO of FIA, to share his thoughts on the merger and a wide range of other issues.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Walt during a recent trip to the US, and we agreed that while FIA Japan is not part of the merger, it will remain an affiliate of the new global organization and we will continue our close cooperation. We are working out fresh licensing agreements, and will continue looking for ways to share resources in areas ranging from legal to technology. Walt, who joined the board of FIA Japan over the past summer, shared his appreciation of the dedication and hard work of all our members of FIA Japan.

More broadly, the global regulatory firmament continues to address the causes of the 2008 financial crisis by focusing on capital and liquidity. But we note that here in Japan, the Financial Services Agency is stressing the need to address other concerns as well, including Cyber Security. Threats in this area, according to the Agency’s Financial Monitoring Report for 2014-15, have become “borderless and rapidly more complex.” The FIAJ Technology Committee will investigate best practices in addressing these concerns, and leveraging our relationship with FIA, will report back to the membership.

Another area of focus in Japan will be in asset management. The Bank of Japan’s quarterly flow of funds data show that more than 50% of household assets are still held in demand accounts. This made sense during a deflationary environment, thanks to the real return on cash represented by increased purchasing power over time. The Bank of Japan, however, seems determined to rid Japan of its deflationary pressures, and hit an inflation target of 2%. If successful, this will erode the value of assets held in demand accounts. It will fall to asset managers to come up with better, more sophisticated products that will offer investors alternatives designed to protect them from the coming period of inflation.

FIA Japan has started working with industry participants and regulators to allow for such alternatives, aimed at both domestic and global markets. We expect to report back to our membership on our progress in due course.

For now, please accept my best wishes for a productive autumn season!


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