UBS Global Asset Management has fulfilled its goal of creating a senior management structure for its Japanese business that is led by a native Japanese.
Christof Kutscher, managing director and head of Asia-Pacific at the firm, has transferred back to Hong Kong after a roughly 18-month stint during which he was based in Tokyo and assumed direct responsibility for Japan.
He has relinquished country management to Susumu Okamura, who has been elevated to the role of representative director and president at UBS Global AM in Japan. Okamura comes from Daiichi Life Insurance and its affiliated asset manager Diam.
Kutscher had moved to Tokyo expressly to find a successor for Patrick O'Sullivan, who had held the director role through 2006 but then transferred out of the region. He hired Okamura and a number of other executives and junior officers. "After a year or so I knew he was the right guy," Kutscher recalls. Okamura is one of those rarities who understands both local and global business culture, Kutscher adds.
For the past year, he has coached Okamura for the top role, and the firm has gradually ceded most business decisions regarding Japan to him.
This completes a process of localising the senior management for the Japan business. Hideo Mori was named head of the wholesale business last year, and has overseen two years of strong growth; wholesale now comprises the largest business segment for UBS Global AM in Japan. Takashi Asano was hired two years ago to run fixed-income investments. And the firm also recently hired Kazunori Kanaura to a senior role in business development for pension funds.
Foreigners retain senior positions in Tokyo but for regional functions, not for the local business, Kutscher notes. "This is not about race or gender, but about doing business in a locally acceptable way," he explains.
For example, Japanese operational regulation is more strict than in other countries, so simply following a global standard would not work. Each country has its idiosyncrasies and UBS has found a one-size-fits-all approach limiting once the business reaches a certain size.
"In principle, localisation will happen everywhere," Kutscher says, provided the firm can find the right people to lead its operations.