Published April 2022

Shigeharu Suzuki

The securities industry is suddenly attracting attention as the Nikkei Stock Average has returned to the 30 yen range for the first time in 3 years since the bubble burst. The top leader is Shigeharu Suzuki. He talked a lot about his childhood as a baby boomer, his time as a Keio boy in the middle of his youth, his life as a front-line securities worker with a "work-hard, life-hard" lifestyle, and even his implementation of the SDGs as a manager.

Interview: Hanako Watanabe

Chairman, Japan Securities Dealers Association
Former Chairman of Daiwa Securities Group Head Office

Shigeharu Suzuki

Suzuki Shigeharu

Born in 1947 in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. He graduated from Keio University's Faculty of Economics. In 1971, he joined Daiwa Securities. He had a career in stock sales, bond sales, secretary to the chairman, studied abroad in the United States, and corporate sales, and was appointed director in 1997. After serving as a senior managing director, he became a director, representative executive officer, president and CEO of Daiwa Securities Group in 2004, and a representative director and president of Daiwa Securities. He became the chairman in 2011. After retiring in 2017, he is the current incumbent.

Childhood living in government residence
University days immersed in music circles

- Mr. Suzuki is a dandy person whenever I meet him. I read it in the Nikkei Shimbun's ``My Resume'' in January last year, but I heard that your parents were also reputed to be a handsome couple.

Suzuki: Is that what you said? She was certainly a proud mother. She was a truly generous and fashionable mother. My father, on the other hand, was a serious, conservative, and methodical person.

- You graduated from Keio University. He currently serves as a councilor for his alma mater.

Suzuki: Ever since I joined the company, and even now, Keio's relationships with customers, people within the company, and people outside the company have been essential.
Considering the burden on my parents, I was thinking of going to a university in my hometown of Kansai, but I was told that I could go to Tokyo. When I went to Tokyo on a school trip, my cousin took me to live house ACB (Ashibe) in Ginza and Suehiro steakhouse, and I was very impressed. My fashionable mother admired the ``Keio brand,'' so she exclaimed, ``Keio is great, too.'' I thought I had no choice but to move to Tokyo.
At Keio, I joined a music club and spent my days immersed in club activities, ignoring my studies. However, I only play chords. It's more of a club for drinking and mahjong than playing instruments. It was also around this time that I learned the joy of the sea. I had a group of friends who owned cars, and we used to go out to Isshiki Beach in Hayama and Morito Beach.

- Like the ``Young General'' from the movie. This is exactly the youth of Keio Boy.

Suzuki: At that time, there were villas for foreigners around Isshiki Beach, and in the summer when the owners returned home, they would rent them out and camp with their circle mates. The house was painted blue and was called the ``Blue Chateau''. It's a play on a famous Group Sounds song.
We used to say to each other that this silly music club would disappear after we graduated, but after I graduated, a talented person named Mariya Takeuchi joined the club, and things changed completely. The club called ``Keio Real McCoys'' is now one of the most prestigious on campus.

Immediate offer after interview
Joined Daiwa Securities

- After graduating from university, joined Daiwa Securities (currently Securities). Did he want to work in the financial industry from the beginning?

Suzuki: I hardly thought about finding a job. However, as soon as he entered his fourth year, all of his classmates began job hunting all at once. He said, ``Suzuki, this is not the time for you to be carefree either,'' so I asked my cousin what I should do, and he, who was working in the bank's research department at the time, advised me, ``In the future, it's either a leasing company or a securities company.'' He did it for me.
When I first visited the leasing company, the person in charge of human resources said, ``Are you sure you want to join our company?'' I wondered what it would be like to be in a company where the human resources department says something like this.
The next company I visited was Daiwa Securities. There were more Keio alumni at Nomura Securities, but I decided to visit Yamato first because the head office building had just been expanded and was shiny. When I went there, I was told that today was the day of the written exam. I took a paper test and an interview with the vice president on the spot, and when I got on the elevator on my way home, the vice president came after me and said, ``You passed.''
I didn't even know what kind of work I would do at a securities company. But since it's a great opportunity, I thought it would be fine here.

- I take my hat off to the vice president's keen eye for immediately identifying young Suzuki's qualities.

Suzuki: After joining the company, I worked in the sales department at the main store for three years. After that, he was transferred to the Omiya branch. As someone from Kansai, who thought Tokyo was far away, he was impressed and said, ``If you think about it, you've come far.''
Selling stocks seemed to be a good fit for him, and even though he started with little understanding of how finance works, his sales results were not bad. Before I knew it, I began to think that there was no more interesting job than stock sales.

Shigeharu Suzuki
Shigeharu Suzuki

Sales that earn money with your feet
Kamakura new branch that does not handle stocks

Suzuki: Just then, I was shocked when I saw a fax that arrived at the branch. This is an order to open a new store in Kamakura that mainly sells investment trusts and bonds, and to go there. Although he was angry and wondered, ``Why am I, a stock specialist and one of the top sales performers, using bonds?'', he was unable to go against the personnel order. In reality, I reluctantly transferred to the Kamakura branch, which was to start as a regular branch, but once I took over, it turned out to be the most enjoyable place in my long securities career.
Since this is a newly established branch, there are zero customers. We develop new customers through door-to-door sales. At that time, there were no branches of other companies in the same industry in Kamakura, so my rivals were my colleagues. I also went to Zushi, Yokosuka, and Ofuna, which borders Yokohama, and walked around a lot.

Early morning golf, tennis, yachting
triple header weekend

- It seems like you are doing a lively job.

Suzuki: Everyone at the Kamakura branch is very close.
Kamakura is right in front of my favorite sea. I decided that I had to have fun with this, so as soon as I arrived, I bought a used dinghy yacht with my branch colleagues. Although it is a small boat, it is expensive.
So I called on my colleagues to create a yacht club within the branch. When I calculated the annual fee back from miscellaneous expenses and set it at 1 yen, some people said it was too expensive, so I decided to offer half the price for women. Almost everyone in the branch has become a member. It's a dinghy, so even if you squeeze it in, it can only fit 5-6 people. We had about 40 members on board in rotation, so we were out at sea all Saturdays and Sundays in the summer.
I also played a lot of golf. Chigasaki Golf Club is where I play privately with my colleagues from the branch. Early morning golf here until 8 a.m. is cheap, and it's limited to the first 10 groups, so you'll have to meet up before dark to play. There have been times when I went there at 3am and there were already customers there.
After we finished playing at 8 o'clock, we ate the clubhouse's specialty cutlet sandwich, and next we had to take the branch members onto the yacht, so we headed to the sea. The schedule for sailing members every weekend was full.
The area in Riviera Zushi Marina where Malibu Hotel is now located used to be a tennis court, right? After that, more members joined in and played tennis. I also often played night tennis at Zushi Marina. Weekends when I worked at the Kamakura branch were really busy.
I am truly grateful to my wife, who was pregnant with our second child at the time. Currently, golf is a common hobby for the couple.

- Currently has a handicap of 9 and great skill.

Suzuki: When watching the tournament at Riviera Country Club, my husband and I were excited by the power of the top pros and the speech by Tiger Woods.

- At that time, you were full of work on weekdays, and you didn't have time to rest even on weekends?

Suzuki: I was able to do this because I was young. However, everyone at the Kamakura branch was enthusiastic and friendly. The branch manager was also a great person.
After that, I continued to work at the Ikebukuro branch, but suddenly I was ordered to become the chairman's secretary. This is a surprising appointment.

- This is the beginning of your management training, right?

international group president
Loving "1000 Knocks"

Suzuki: For the past 12 and a half years, I had only had sales experience with individual clients, so the idea of ​​working for Chairman Chino Yoshitoki, who built the foundation of Daiwa Securities' international division, was completely unexpected. When I greeted him for the first time, he asked me, ``Of course, your English is okay, right?'' and I was taken aback, and I answered, ``...I think you have potential.''
Although I may say so myself, I think I had good chemistry with Mr. Chino. As a secretary, it's important to have a sense of well-being, or rather, compatibility.
The level of research required was high. When I asked people in the relevant department who were close to my year of employment about areas I didn't understand, the chairman said, ``What I want to know is not the opinion of a section manager. Go listen to what the officer in charge has to say.'' I was healed and trained. Even the executives who I had no chance to meet when I was working at a branch would not give up if I told them they were on the chairman's behalf.
Chairman Chino's research orders continued like a thousand knocks for three years, and became my flesh and blood. I gained insight that goes beyond my own area of ​​expertise, but what was valuable was that I was able to get a glimpse of how managers think.

Shigeharu Suzuki

Our motto is “Work Hard, Life Hard”

- Aggressive both in public and private life. However, if you have a promising future and are repeatedly promoted, it can be difficult to devote a lot of time to hobbies and enjoyment.
Has it become?

Suzuki: On the weekend, I was excited and had fun. Rather than leaving room for work, you will find new ways to do things to the best of your ability, and above all, you will be happier and more happy. From around the age of 40, I became addicted to bass fishing. I heard that there is a tournament held 10 times a year and that if you win, you will be on your way to becoming a pro, so I decided to take on the challenge seriously.

- Were you aiming to become a professional fisherman?

Suzuki: I wanted to become a professional, but when I became a manager, I had to give up because I had to play golf and other activities on weekdays and weekends. If he had become a bass pro, he might have become a star pro.

- In terms of work-life balance, which has become a hot topic in recent years, I feel like I wanted to see you as a ``top of the securities industry and a superstar of bass fishing''.

Suzuki: In my case, I guess it means that I had a hard balance between work and life.
I had never done sea fishing before, but since joining the Riviera Resort Club, I have been enjoying it. I had the fish cooked right away by a Riviera chef. That is a blissful time.

Shigeharu Suzuki
Shigeharu Suzuki
Shigeharu Suzuki

When the time comes, make a decision

Suzuki: It was late 1991. At that time, I was the manager of the underwriting department, which helps companies raise funds, and I was working on a project to issue a new type of warrant denominated in ECU (European Currency Unit). On the day it was launched on the market, news broke that France had rejected the treaty that established the European Union (EU) in a referendum.

- The Treaty of Maastricht. Even after a general agreement was reached, it was difficult for all countries to reach the same agreement, and it took nearly two years for ratification to take effect.

Suzuki: The agreement was aimed at issuing the euro, but it was unclear at the end of 91. However, there was an uproar within the company because it meant that ecu would disappear in the not-too-distant future. I thought I could do something about it, so I said, ``I'll make it work, just let me do it.''

- Were you not afraid of failure? As expected.

Suzuki: Of course I was nervous. However, I have always believed that if you are a company employee or a general manager, you should take a certain amount of risk, and now that I am in this position, I feel that even if something were to happen, the general manager should be solely responsible. I feel that it is wrong to inflict harm on someone.
However, I now think that it was because of something like this that I had a senior boss who looked forward to my work.

Reputation makes people
Ability will come later

-You are often asked, "What is the secret to getting promoted?" or "What are the tips for advancing your career?"

Suzuki: In such cases, I answer with "luck." There's no other way to say it.
However, one thing I think is that ``reputation makes people.'' If something gives you a reputation that you can do it, then if you work hard to live up to that expectation, your skills will follow.
The same goes for "popular company rankings," which do not necessarily reflect the reality of the company. However, top companies don't want to lose their reputation, so they continue to make serious efforts. If we do this, we will become a really good company as a result.
I think that's the case with both people and companies.

A workplace where women can flourish is
Easy to work even for men

- The Japan Securities Dealers Association has a ``reputation'' for being one of the first to announce its commitment to the United Nations' SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).

Suzuki: When I read the SDGs ``2015 Agenda'' adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 9, I felt a great deal of sympathy for the idea of ​​``leaving no one behind.'' Although we promised to do it immediately, it would be difficult to directly contribute to each of the 2030 global goals, 17 achievement criteria, and 169 indicators.
The good thing about the SDGs is that all of humanity can participate in their efforts, and no one is left behind, and the small efforts of each individual can lead to big results. We narrowed down our targets and established three pillars: 3) Finance (fund raising), XNUMX) Gender-free, and XNUMX) Support for children.
① is my main job. Regarding ②, we have been working on promoting women's empowerment since the 90s.
In the past, the securities industry was a typical male-dominated society. However, in fact, many female employees have been working at securities companies for a long time. There were probably many talented people, but the reason so few women received treatment commensurate with their abilities was partly due to a bad corporate culture that made long working hours a virtue. If a customer says, ``I can talk to you after 20:XNUMX p.m.,'' we work overtime. After the business meeting, I did some paperwork and returned home late at night. If you have to work until late at night, you will naturally have some extra time during business hours. Otherwise, your body won't last.
I myself often got tired of working in that style from a young age, so when I became president, I took the plunge and ordered that overtime work after 19:XNUMX pm must be requested in advance. There was some opposition from people in the field, saying, ``Some customers only come late at night,'' but we said, ``We hope our customers understand.'' Top salespeople have the ability to properly communicate with customers and build relationships, so they are able to close deals even if it's not late at night.
They work hard during the day and then eat with family and friends. Workplaces that are easy for women to work in are also easy for men to work in.
During his seven years as president, no female employees quit, and more than 7 women in general positions were converted to general positions. We were also able to appoint four female executives. One of them is currently a vice president.

throughout the securities industry
Work on SDGs

Suzuki: What we are particularly focusing on as a way of putting the SDGs into practice is ③ support for children. This is an initiative taken by the entire securities industry, led by the Japan Securities Dealers Association.
One of the initiatives that has achieved concrete results is the ``Children's Mirai Used Book Fund''. This is a system in which used book collection boxes are set up at the main offices and branches of securities companies, and customers who visit the sales counter donate books they have finished reading at home.
Although this is a modest initiative, the securities industry as a whole has a network of 1500 branches, so if you add up, it will become a huge force.
Furthermore, as part of the securities company's shareholder benefit menu, we have established a ``Shareholder Benefit SDGs Fund Donation'' and accept donations.

- That's a contribution plan that many companies can easily participate in!

Suzuki: It seems like the Riviera Group is also involved in various SDGs activities?

- We at the Riviera Group launched the "Riviera Future Creation Project" in 2006. Currently, we are working on SDGs and are continuing to carry out specific activities in three pillars: environment, education, and health/medical care. In addition, we think of things in three categories: (3) things that can be done by the company alone, (3) things that can be done hand in hand with people outside the company, and (2030) things that serve as a hub that connects people. Now that we are counting down to 10, the Riviera SDGs Festival, which has been launched as part of the Decade of Action, is a practice of ③.

Suzuki: Providing a place where like-minded people can come together is something that only Riviera can offer. There is hope that the circle of SDGs will expand. Please do something together in the future!

"Habit of feeling happy"
That's the secret to living happily

- Chairman Suzuki has many hobbies and is always aggressive. Please tell me how you currently spend your holidays.

Suzuki: I am very happy to have joined the Riviera Resort Club at a time when my life was fulfilling. Apart from the stressful game of golf, at the resort club I go out to my favorite beach and spend relaxing time with my family and friends. Also, Sagami Bay is a great fishing spot because the water gets deep rapidly. I am having a great time as a club member with the rich forest and ocean right in front of me.

- I heard that no matter what situation you are in, you enjoy it, turn it into strength, and savor your happiness.

Suzuki: No matter how talented you are or how much money you have, you won't be happy if you don't have the habit of feeling happy. I think so. No matter how happy a person may seem, there are hardships and painful feelings. That's why it's important to have the habit of feeling happy no matter what.

Shigeharu Suzuki

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