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College grads are set for higher pay at Japan securities firms

[TOKYO] Major Japanese brokerages are set to raise pay for newly hired college graduates this year as competition for talent intensifies amid a rebound in retail business and a chronic labour shortage.

Daiwa Securities Group plans to increase base salaries for the 600 school-leavers starting in April from the 245,000 yen (S$3,028) a month their predecessors got a year ago, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities is also considering an increase, spokesman Koji Ichihashi said, without giving an amount.

Mizuho Securities said last May that it will boost the monthly amount to 245,000 yen to compete with Nomura Holdings and Daiwa. Nomura, by contrast, has no plans to raise graduate pay, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

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The increase at Daiwa will make its freshmen the highest paid among the nation's biggest brokerages, which are competing for staff to work mainly at their retail branches as individuals show a renewed appetite to trade securities. Japanese companies, which traditionally recruit graduates in the spring, are facing pressure to boost wages in the tightest job market in decades.

"Pay is one of the most significant factors to attract good students," Japan Securities Dealers Association chairman Shigeharu Suzuki said in an interview. "Brokers need staff who can persuade clients to purchase investment products with proper explanations and consulting," said Mr Suzuki, a former chairman of Daiwa.

Daiwa has yet to make a decision on graduate pay, spokeswoman Reiko Ohashi said. Separately, Ohashi said the firm plans to raise compensation for some existing employees with young families by about 4 per cent to 5 per cent. Seiji Sato, a spokesman for Nomura, said no decision has been made on graduate salaries, as did Hokuto Sawada for SMBC Nikko Securities.

On top of base salaries, workers at Japanese companies usually get bonuses that amount to several months' pay.

Japanese brokerages are relying more on retail business to boost revenue after the nation's stocks touched a 26-year high earlier this year. Individuals even bought shares during this month's market turmoil, purchasing a record net 745.8 billion yen from Feb 5 to Feb 9, according to Tokyo Stock Exchange data.