Macquarie’s presence continues to grow in Japan since establishing in the market in 2000. As Senior Vice President for Commodities and Global Markets, Hitoshi Kono focuses on sales to Japanese financial institutions. He has spent four years establishing Macquarie’s relationships and tailoring opportunities for investment in our products.
Since opening the doors to the Tokyo office in 2000, Macquarie Group has steadily grown its Japanese presence. Today, three of Macquarie’s four business groups – Macquarie Asset Management, Commodities and Global Markets, and Macquarie Capital - are represented in Japan.
In 2018, Hitoshi Kono joined Macquarie’s Tokyo office as Vice President, where he focuses on developing sales relationships with Japanese financial institutions for the Commodities and Global Markets group. Hitoshi believes that there’s more change and growth on the horizon to further embed Macquarie’s presence in Japan.
“Macquarie is in a unique position sitting among physical commodities, infrastructure asset and financial products, thus it definitely makes us different from other market players." Hitoshi explains.
“Macquarie continues to thrive by offering a unique product to Japanese financial institutions.”
Hitoshi says he felt a natural pull toward the financial services industry after completing an Economics major at a Japanese university.
In 2005, he began his career working in the global markets division for a French bank, with an office in Tokyo. For the first two years, he worked in the fixed income and currency structuring team, then moved into a corporate sales role.
However in 2010, he decided to take a career break.
“After the Global Financial Crisis, I rethought my career, took a round-the-world trip, got married and completed a Master’s Degree in China,” Hitoshi explains. “In 2013, I decided to return to Japan because I wanted to experience another industry and try working for a Japanese organisation.”
Hitoshi joined a Japanese-owned company constructing and leasing offshore oil and gas production units, where he was in the asset management and project finance group, taking a leading role on many project finance deals.
Five years later, an ex-colleague from the French bank where he had previously worked, was working for Macquarie in Japan and approached him about handling and growing sales for Japanese financial institutions and corporate clients. Hitoshi says he immediately saw a synergy between his career experience so far and Macquarie’s businesses, he then joined the Commodities and Global Markets group in 2018.
“I have a diverse background, where I’ve worked in global markets but also in the project finance business in relation to the oil and gas industry - all things Macquarie is well known for.” Hitoshi says.
“The breadth of my experience was useful, because of the variety of products I deal with at Macquarie - from oil and gas to fixed income and currency, structured finance, and equity.”
Now four years into his journey with Macquarie, Hitoshi has broken new ground and carved out his own role as Senior Vice President.
“The main challenge of my role has been raising financing through cash or high quality assets for Macquarie and its projects in order to grow and expand the business.”
To achieve this, he has built a strong client list of Japanese financial institutions whilst developing relationships with internal Macquarie stakeholders.
“A lot of large Japanese financial institutions, from banks to insurers or other companies, are now my clients and I’m always trying to expand my business.”
Hitoshi has been involved in many large transactions providing financing for Macquarie across divisions. He has worked collaboratively with teams in Macquarie’s Tokyo office, and globally with divisions including Equity Derivatives and Trading, Fixed Income and Currencies, Commodity Markets and Finance, and Central in Commodities and Global Markets as well as Group Treasury.
Hitoshi says the main challenge in his role has been aligning goals and interests so that Macquarie’s diverse product offerings match what Japanese financial institutions are looking for.
The products Hitoshi promotes can come from a range of Macquarie businesses, including unsecured borrowing, repo or collateral swaps from Equity Derivatives and Trading, and Central as well as eFX and structured finance (including sports finance, securitisation and project finance) from Fixed Income and Currencies, and Commodity Markets and Finance.
“It’s about creating new business opportunities for both sides,” Hitoshi says. “I call clients and introduce Macquarie products. Sometimes Macquarie teams ask me to approach an institution. Other times I approach an internal team with something I know an institution is looking for.”
“A product may match immediately with a client but, when it doesn’t, my role is as an intermediary. I need to keep talking and negotiating until the capability matches for both sides.” Hitoshi says.
“For example, we may need to change the terms and conditions, language, or legal documents to solve issues or find a compromise so it suits the Japanese institution while adhering to the regulations.”
“I’m always looking to benefit Macquarie Group as a whole,” he explains. “But my focus isn’t the product, it's the client.”
Hitoshi says Macquarie’s culture encourages you to be challenged and leads to new opportunities.
“Macquarie is a relatively flat organisation. It’s not bureaucratic. That means it’s easy to speak up and reach out to whoever is in charge and make suggestions.”
“Looking for new opportunities is encouraged, and management tends to listen, which results in new proposals, and a can-do culture that welcomes challenges.”
He has been able to leverage this culture to grow his client relationships and business and sees more possibilities ahead.
“Macquarie has strong specialties and unique business lines,” Hitoshi says.
“And every investment cycle has new opportunities for Japanese financial institutions, which is exciting.”
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