One of Japan’s longest standing high-end department store, Takashimaya, has been the top seller in the industry for the last 3 years. They call themself “a customer-first department store that enhances and supports customers’ lifestyles while closely meeting their needs”. They are also known for their remarkable 'gaisho' (direct sales targeting wealthy customers) team.
In June 2020, Takashimaya became a hot topic among Japanese asset managers by launching financial services that includes sales of 'toshin' (Japanese investment funds). What is the aim and prospect of their challenge? Yasunori Hirano, the head of Financial Service Planning and Development Project, speaks.

What is the outline of your financial services?

Takashimaya’s financial services are operated by our group company, Takashimaya Financial Partners Co., Ltd. (TFP), who originally handled credit cards issued by Takashimaya.  Partnered with SBI Securities, TFP sells toshin products as a financial products intermediary.  As an independent financial advisor (IFA), we provide advice and solutions for our customers on financial planning, asset building, inheritance, etc. at our consultation desk named “Takashimaya Financial Counter” which opened on the 8th floor of Nihombashi Takashimaya.  Customers can also open equity accounts and trade securities online. 

Consultations are free but online pre-booking is required.  If consultants are available, however, you can have a consultation on stop-by basis.  The financial consultation desk is open according to the store opening hours.  So, customers can drop by after work or pop in as on weekends, which is usually not possible with normal financial service providers.

IJ: Why did a department store think of getting into asset management services?

Takashimaya had been planning to go into financial services business since the mid-2010’s.  The original plan was to start up a concierge service specializing in financial matters.  Our store concierge at major Takashimaya branch stores listen to requests from shopping customers and offer advice.  We wanted to do a financial service version of that.  We thought that is the financial service Takashimaya can offer.

“Customer-first” is the trend in the financial industry.  When I joined Takashimaya from banking in 2015, I was deeply impressed by the customer-first spirits rooted in every employee.  For them, serving customers is not just a job but a mission.  They take pride in supporting daily lives of customers, which leads to gaining trust in return.  Because of this trust, we thought, if anyone can provide a place where customers can drop by anytime to ask and seek advice about financial matters, it is us.

We asked ourselves, what is the meaning of Takashimaya getting into financial business in the first place.  “From saving to investing” had been said for years, but not much progress had been made.  If an outsider like us joined as a player, we might be able to lower the bar for investment and urge slow starters to invest.  Therefore we decided to set consulting at the center of our financial services.  Probably, we may able to see why common people don’t invest; because they don’t need to, or they aren’t interested, or they think it’s too complicated.

IJ: What is important in your consulting?  What is Takashimaya-style consultation?

To listen to customers story and think together to find the best solution.  We never rush customers into investing.  Basically, we wouldn’t offer products to invest on the day of consultation immediately.  We work as a team, so we share and discuss issues until we reach a solution.  By working as a team, each personnel can avoid making mistakes or bias and urge standardization of services.

Currently, we have 8 staff in the financial service team.  Four of them are Takashimaya bred.  We are looking to foster more Takashimayans to be our financial counsellors.  Bringing experts from financial companies is not fit with this new service of ours, no matter how excellent their sales records are, because they would probably come with a “sell or die” attitude.  What we do is to carefully listen to customers’ concerns.  We prefer team players to star players.  Takashimaya staff are expert listeners, expert team players.

Our consultation-based services and teamwork style may not be the most way.  However, we think developing a good, long-term relationship with customers is far important than pursuing short-term efficiency.  Financial service is just one of fraction of Takashimaya’s services.


What kind of financial products do you offer?


Besides trusts for wealthy customers and insurance products, now our customers can buy more than 2600 toshin products SBI Securities offer.  We selected 8 toshin products that are suitable for long-term asset building.  This is called the “Takashimaya Selection”.  Funds such as SBI Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund and eMAXIS Slim Domestic Equity Nikkei Average are included in this package.  These toshin products can also be purchased as accumulated basis with our Takashimaya Credit Card.


Who has visited your financial consultation desk so far?  Considering Takashimaya’s general image, were they wealthy and over 50?  Do you hope to reach out to younger generation with the accumulated toshin products?


Since the opening of the consultation desk in June, we have been almost fully booked.  People from various generations and backgrounds, from young, first-time investors to elderly, planning for inheritance have visited us.  Our customer segments seem to be almost the same as the department store.  Notably, the major discussion matter was long-term asset building, not only for themselves but also for their family’s futures.  From asset-building and insurances to inheritance, our financial product lineup is diverse, just like the department store, Takashimaya.  We hope to expand our customer base along with the ordinal sales floors and online stores.  To make this happen, I hope for every Takashimaya staff to get to know about the financial consultation desk and make full use of the service in their own sales.


Thank you very much.

Yasunori Hirano

Operating Officer
Project Leader, Financial Service Planning and Development Project
Takashimaya Co., Ltd.

Yasunori joined Takashimaya in 2015.  Prior to joining Takashimaya, he was Head of Consumer Banking Japan, Standard Chartered Bank, and worked for various management operations at the Bank of Tokyo (now MUFG Bank), Union Bank, and Citibank N.A.