NRI is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. As NRI reaches this major milestone, Yasuki Okai, President of NRI Holdings America, reflects on NRI’s past 50 years in the US and addresses its future plans for development in the US.
||Can you give a brief description of NRI’s history in the United States?
1. NRI America's inception
NRI's history in North America mainly revolves around NRI America, NRI's oldest and broadest North American subsidiary. NRI America dates back to 1967, when NRI established a representative office in New York. NRI opened another representative office in Washington DC in 1983, two years after the erstwhile Nomura Computing Center (NCC) had opened its own US representative office in 1981. These three representative offices subsequently became US subsidiaries of NRI and NCC. In 1990, two years after NRI and NCC had merged, their US subsidiaries merged to form NRI America. By the end of the 1980s, NRI America had extensive operations, including a data center and large staff of researchers and system engineers.
2. Major turning point in mid-2000s
While the business environment turned more challenging in the 1990s, NRI America boldly set out to expand its clientele, capitalizing on its data center and other management resources. These efforts bore fruit in the latter half of the 1990s. In 1994, NRI established NRI Pacific in San Francisco to research leading-edge information technologies and build stronger ties with leading Silicon Valley companies. In the mid-1990s, NRI's North American subsidiaries' aggregate headcount exceeded 200, including IT, consulting and research personnel.
As a main client such as Nomura Securities decided to insource research and IT systems, following the lead of other top-tier global securities firms, NRI America was forced to downsize. In the mid-2000’s, NRI has shifted its focus on expanding its clientele and identifying new business opportunities.
3. Emergence of new growth drivers
NRI re-embarked on its own overseas expansion program from the mid-2000s. For a while thereafter, NRI America primarily engaged in activities on behalf of its parent company, its main client at that time. By 2010, NRI America had not made much visible progress in expanding its operations. In retrospect, however, NRI America's activities in the latter half of the 2000s proved instrumental in driving NRI's subsequent North American business expansion in several key respects. In the financial research business, NRI America qualitatively upgraded its overall research capabilities and refocusing its research activities conducted on behalf of its parent company to better collaborate with its parent's divisions. NRI Pacific focused on innovative cloud computing technologies from the standpoint of North America as a whole, building a foundation that contributed greatly to the cloud business's subsequent development through alliances with affiliates.
4. 2010s: initiatives start to bear fruit
Since 2010, seeds sown in earlier years have been steadily bearing fruit. (In spring 2015, it acquired Brierley+Partners (B&P), a digital marketing company with particular expertise in the retail sector, in the aim of expanding the scope of NRI solutions.)
One of the points that bears emphasizing is that NRI America has contributed mightily to its parent company's success in the financial research business. In the retail financial services sector, NRI America has identified key trends before its parent company did. Such trends include retail financial institutions' migration asset-gathering business models and asset management companies' growing reliance on business process outsourcing (BPO). NRI America not only alerted its parent company to such trends, it has also provided a steady stream of specific proposals on how to cash in on them. Through such efforts, NRI America has helped to drive growth in its parent company's clientele for new services.