By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor
Kazuhisa Miyagawa, chairman and CEO of Manufacturers Bank, has an expansive vision for the institution as it marks its 60th anniversary this year.
Manufacturers Bank first opened its doors in October 1962, with an office on Ninth Street in Downtown Los Angeles.
The bank specializes in the needs of California middle-market businesses, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, importers, exporters, and service companies, including small businesses and professionals. It is a subsidiary of SMBC Americas Holdings, Inc., a bank holding company wholly owned by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.
Miyagawa assumed the position of chairman and CEO in January 2021. Before that, he served in Indonesia as deputy CEO of PT Bank BTPN TBk.
A graduate of Gakushuin University in Tokyo, Miyagawa has spent the majority of his career overseas. Prior to Indonesia, he was in Seoul, South Korea as the general manager of the Global Korea Corporate Banking Department, SMBC Seoul. His experiences have given him a unique perspective on the needs of the clients the bank serves.
“I’ve been pretty much a person who has lived outside of Japan. It’s quite an inspiration for me to experience different cultures, nationalities, and different people,” he told **The Rafu Shimpo.**
When he informed his colleagues and clients in Indonesia about his new position, many of them shared positive views of Los Angeles and many had business and personal ties to the region.
“A majority had good reactions when I shared my next destination. They’d say, ‘Miyagawa, where are you going?’ I said, ‘I’m going to L.A.’ They said, ‘Wow, nice.’ That can be translated as meaning that this market is a destination where many Asian people are pursuing opportunities,” he said.
When Miyagawa came to Los Angeles in 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic was in one of its deadliest phases, with 6,411 deaths in Los Angeles County and many non-essential indoor business operations closed. Safety was a priority as the bank worked to help its customers keep their businesses open.
“One of the challenges was to make sure our employees were safe. We instituted work-from-home right after the pandemic started. We also tried to maintain our bank services for our clients to be sustained by programs such as the government-sponsored Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and assisted with the Small Business Administration (SBA) debt forgiveness process,” he said.
When Manufacturers Bank opened in 1962, most clients came from the apparel industry. Miyagawa noted that the bank has expanded greatly over the decades, now serving many customers in the quick service restaurant industry as well as commercial and small-business lending specialty banking, commercial real estate lending, fiduciary, trust and estates, international services, and cash management services.
As it looks to the future, the bank is pursuing opportunities beyond Southern California to other regions. It currently has branches in Beverly Hills, Brea, Encino, Glendale, Newport Beach, San Jose, Torrance, and Newport Beach.
“We are making a medium-term strategy plan starting in 2023 to improve and transform our current expertise,” Miyagawa said. “In terms of size of companies, our clients are mainly middle-to-small corporate customers. Now we are keen to pursue opportunities to be part of syndicated loans, which are larger than our existing portfolio. We’re always thinking of what will be sustainable growth regardless of environmental fluctuations.”
One new aspect the bank is pursuing is Jenius Bank, a new digital banking division that will launch in 2023, targeting the 25-to-44-year-old market.
“This is an all-online business aimed at not just the California market, but nationwide. Transactions from opening an account, borrowing money, and placing deposits will be made on a smartphone. Customers will not need to come into a branch. It is a different business model,” Miyagawa said.
Since arriving in Los Angeles, Miyagawa has also participated in activities within the Japanese American community. He recently attended the welcome reception for Consul General Kenko Sone and events with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California. JCCSC was one of two organizations honored at the bank’s 60-year celebration.
“We would like to continue contributing to society and, of course, the Japanese American community is one of our focuses,” he added.