Sachiko Kuno × Jun Makihara
Sachiko Kuno × Jun Makihara

Monex Group can become a leader that
changes society

A Core that Remains the Same Even 25 Years after Establishment

Makihara: Monex was founded in 1999 and I was appointed independent director in 2006. Looking back, I am surprised to realize that I have been involved as a board member for most of Monex’s history. There have been ups and downs, but the core of the company has not changed at all. The company is always moving in the direction of Matsumoto-san’s vision and even now 25 years later, it is like a start-up where ideas are quickly implemented.

Kuno: Many years ago, I met Matsumoto-san through a mutual acquaintance and got to know him better on a personal basis over the years. I had no idea I would someday be involved in the management of Monex Group. However, when I received an offer to become an independent director, I decided to accept because I was drawn by Matsumoto-san’s innovative spirit to risk establishing an online brokerage 25 years ago, his open mind, and his “dignified aspirations.”

Makihara: I like that expression, “dignified aspirations.” To achieve a vision, Matsumoto-san quickly absorbs new ideas and is able to boldly change management policy when the operating environment changes. In addition, people around him feel free to express their opinions frankly, and when needed, refute him. The company is constantly moving forward through discussions. I myself feel a sense of excitement about what topics will be discussed at the board meetings.

Kuno: I also look forward to attending board meetings. It is absolutely wonderful when people at the top from a wide variety of backgrounds are able to discuss things passionately and sincerely. I think this is thanks to Matsumoto-san’s own mindset, which has become the mindset for the entire company.

Becoming "Everyone's Monex" under Seimei-san's Leadership

Makihara: Seimei-san replaced Matsumoto-san as CEO. This succession plan was not something that was decided recently but was in the works for several years. We considered many candidates for CEO, including outside people, and after much discussion, we all agreed that Seimei-san was the most appropriate person for the job. Ms. Kuno, what is your impression of Seimei-san?

Kuno: The other day, I had the opportunity to talk with Seimei-san and I thought she is the “real deal.” She is fearless, has her own ideas, and clearly understands what needs to be done.

Makihara: Indeed, Seimei-san has the ability to draw others around her. Although she obviously has more than sufficient management skills, taking over a company after a charismatic founder is very difficult. Changing the company from “Matsumoto-san’s Monex” to “everyone’s Monex” will be a huge challenge. But Seimei-san understands this, and by tackling the issues at hand one by one and by creating her own vision, stakeholders will naturally come to support her. My advice is, “Do what needs to be done, and everything will be OK.”

Kuno: It is also reassuring that she has such a good relationship with Matsumoto-san. I think their respective strengths work together well. Matsumoto-san is adept at leaping into unchartered territories, which he himself says he loves. Seimei-san is probably better at developing the new domains that Matsumoto-san discovers, increasing the scale of operations, creating output, and making a social impact. While some shareholder expressed concern about Matsumoto-san giving up the reins at the recent shareholder meeting, Seimei-san was completely unfazed and made her own statement at the end. I was incredibly impressed and thought, “Wow, I didn’t realize there were people like this in Japan.” In no time at all, she has become a true leader and I have high expectations that she will lead Monex Group strongly.

The relationship between people and finance has become increasingly complex. We cannot be bound by conventional rules. (Makihara)
The relationship between people and finance has become increasingly complex. We cannot be bound by conventional rules. (Makihara)

Determining the Best Ways to Support Customers amidst Dramatic Changes in Finance

Kuno: What do you think about the future of Monex Group?

Makihara: We are in an era where anything can happen and where the future is impossible to predict. However, no matter the times, finance will always be needed. Monex Group’s vision to support and better people’s lives through finance is the core. Finance is now changing explosively thanks to technology. Online trading, crypto assets, tokens, and AI – people’s relationship with finance is becoming more and more complex and their options are expanding, which is a good thing. But this means that practical financial education and interfaces that make it easy for everyone to access finance will become all the more important. 

Kuno: For a future that cannot be foreseen, the biggest thing to avoid is forcing yourself to do something because you are scared. We live in a nonlinear world where change, once it occurs, can expand at an accelerating and exponential rate and it is impossible to see when it will end. We must remain calm and steady. That is why the feeling I get from Seimei-san being the real deal is good. I hope the atmosphere she creates will permeate and make Monex a company that is not afraid to confront what it does not understand.

Innovations that change society are often born from minority ideas. (Kuno)
Innovations that change society are often born from minority ideas. (Kuno)

A Paradigm Shift is Created from People's Desire for the Way Things Should Be

Makihara: As you said, we cannot predict the future, so it is important to follow a vision and boldly step forward. However, because our industry is regulated, we tend to be conservative. With its growth in operations and structure, Monex Group has gradually become slower in some respects. Of course, we have to strictly adhere to compliance, but there is not a single example of a good idea that came from asking for help from the top. We need to set aside considerations about regulations for a moment and create a vision for the future. Up until now, we have moved forward guided by Matsumoto-san’s vision. I think combining that with Seimei-san’s vision will give the company even greater momentum. 

Kuno: I think there will be a new paradigm shift ahead. A paradigm shift is driven in large part by people’s desire for how they want things to be. Recently, the mood of the world, including the United States, has changed. Especially among post-millennial generations, it is often said that meaningful experiences are more valued than economic impact. For Monex Group, creating meaningful experiences means democratizing finance through financial education and better access to finance, and supporting individuals in their effort to live better lives. In that sense, Monex Group has the potential to become a leader that can change the whole of society.

Creating a Platform that Brings Out the Potential of Individuals

Kuno: In my opinion, the world is currently at a deadlock. Nations, companies, and even individuals are overcome by a sense of stagnation and hopelessness. The simplest way to break through such a situation is to harness the strength of people who have never been at center stage. Innovations that change society are often born from minority ideas. Indeed, Matsumoto-san himself was a minority 25 years ago. And now I hope Seimei-san will bring to the forefront and draw out the potential of minorities, such as women and younger generations, who have yet to fully reap the benefits of finance. Just as Seimei-san talks about creating “everyone’s Monex,” I hope this company will become a platform that maximizes the strength of everyone.

Makihara: For that to happen, DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) will become all the more important. To create innovation, it is important for people with different experiences and different personalities to come together. When everyone is similar, only standard, uniform conclusions are reached. Unconscious biases take hold and blind spots are created no matter how many discussions are held.

Kuno: If the world evolved in a linear fashion, there would be no great danger following what was done in the past, even with blind spots. However, when we talk about living in a world that we cannot foresee, we have to eliminate blind spots with new perspectives and new thinking or face potentially fatal consequences. That is why it is so important to create an ecosystem where minorities can express their thinking confidently. In that ecosystem, a leader makes decisions, everyone trusts that leader’s intentions, and follows. It would be ideal if Monex Group can grow and thrive based on such a relationship of trust.

Makihara: With DEI deeply rooted in Monex Group’s culture, I believe it can accomplish that. I hope that board members and employees will have the flexibility to be the first to pursue what is needed in the future and to link this to innovation for lasting growth.

Jun Makihara
Independent director of Monex Group since 2006. Has long been involved in the investment banking and internet-related industries. Is supporting the management of the Group with his expert knowledge of finance and internet businesses.

Sachiko Kuno
Independent director of Monex Group since 2023. In addition to successfully developing two new drugs as a scientist, has experience as a serial entrepreneur who led IPOs in both the United States and Japan. Is focused on nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs and has won high regard for her social contribution efforts.