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Rakuten Trade CEO sees a blue ocean amongst Malaysia’s youngish population

  • Purely digital company, saw surge in account openings since March 2020
  • Launch of its foreign equity service is 'just the beginning' says its CEO

Rakuten Trade CEO sees a blue ocean amongst Malaysia’s youngish populationOne of the behavioural changes triggered by the pandemic has been the rush of people getting themselves a pandemic pet to help deal with the disruption to life. These tend to be dogs or cats for the vast majority of people. But have you heard of a pandemic mustang? Not the free roaming horse but the car, specifically the Ford Mustang. Well meet Kazumasa Mise (pic), CEO of Rakuten Trade who did just that, recently.

It was just a casual question. “What do you do to de-stress?” Golf or biking would have been the expected answer from a Japanese executive. For Mise, though, it was playing baseball and his love for driving. Both of which came to near stops for large parts of the past 20 months. But boy is Mise planning to make up for lost time here. “I just bought a new car. It’s a Ford Mustang. It’s very powerful,” he says with a sheepish laugh.

Rakuten Trade CEO sees a blue ocean amongst Malaysia’s youngish population

Hey, we’re in the New/Next/Never normal. Take your pick. For sure, life will not go back to what it was like, pre-pandemic, so why not find a new unconventional past time? And likely, Rakuten Trade’s 235,000 retail investors predominantly aged 18 to 40 who are hoping to build up an asset base, will take inspiration from his interest in the unconventional.

When it launched in 2017, Rakuten Trade was Malaysia’s first completely online equities broker offering digital investment opportunities to investors keen to trade on Bursa Malaysia. Rakuten Trade is a joint venture between Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd and Japan’s Rakuten Securities, Inc. part of Rakuten Group, an innovative Japanese company founded by Hiroshi Mikitani, one of Japan’s most successful men.

Mise has been with the company since its launch and Sept 2020, took over as its CEO. Having spent time at Rakuten Securities in Japan before coming over to Malaysia, it is not surprising that some of the key management beliefs Mise holds close to his heart are inspired by what he learnt at Rakuten.

For example, speed in execution. Well, it’s actually Speed!! Speed!! Speed!! (yes, with double punctuation). One of the 5 Principles of Success of the Rakuten group, Mise recalls how if a team would give a 6-month project timeline, “Mikitani would say ‘get it done in 1 month’.”

Another key belief he picked up from Rakuten is the all-encompassing priority of delivering customer value. “Customer satisfaction is very important. My boss at Rakuten Securities would constantly remind us that we work for our clients. This core belief is something Mise continuously embeds into the psyche of his team in Malaysia. “It will take time but it is my challenge and responsibility,” he says.

He already sees progress. “Staff mindset is changing,” he notes. Key to this is constant communications, not just with the leadership team but with all ranks of staff though he cites how his HODs (head of departments) have “changed dramatically” since he became CEO. For example, when in the past they would have service disruptions, no one would tell the customers as the focus was on trying to fix the problem as quickly as possible. “But now, the first thing we do is to alert the customer before we work to identify and rectify the problem,” he says.

As a purely digital company, Rakuten Trade saw a surge in account openings beginning March 2020 that resulted in the company recording 100,000 accounts since its first day of business mid-2017.

But Mise sees a blue ocean opportunity to capture a larger share thanks to Malaysia’s youngish population with its median age of 29.2 years, many of whom are not yet clued into the value of investing in stocks.

Its digital-only business model perfectly suits the new normal but it needs to increase market awareness and education is key. “We have to encourage trading as a means to build assets.”

Rakuten Trade CEO sees a blue ocean amongst Malaysia’s youngish populationThe establishment of an equity sales department in 2020 which regularly undertakes education activities has been a positive move, Mise notes, with the establishment of a Telegram messaging channel that shares daily trading ideas and corporate speaker sessions. There are also monthly webinars. Various digital platforms are used to promote and reach its target market and its own subscribers besides speaking at conferences. Mise was a speaker at the SCxSC Fintech Conference in October organised by the Securities Commission Malaysia on the topic, Digital Fit For The Future.

Mise thinks that the recent launch of US equity trading on Rakuten Trade will be well received by traders. “Actually, ever since we launched in 2017, our retail traders have pushed us to offer access to US equities.” With the launch of its foreign equity service, he hints, "this is just the beginning".

Meanwhile, if you hear the rumbling roar of a Ford Mustang, red, whizzing past you on the highways, you’ll know who it likely will be.

With the launch of their foreign trading service, for a limited time, all new applicants who sign up and enable their foreign trading service will get 1 FREE US SHARE!*

*T&C Apply

Rakuten Trade CEO sees a blue ocean amongst Malaysia’s youngish population


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