Business Brain Showa-Ota provides its clients with a full range of services, from business process consulting (e.g., issue identification and system implementation support) to system development, adoption, and maintenance. Founded in 1967 by a certified public accountant, the company expanded its business by providing business process consulting services to clients of accounting firms. As of June 2021, the company had about 30 CPAs on staff (3.5% of its consulting and system development employees) and specialized in consulting and system development in the accounting field, such as providing account settlement support through its (in-house) CPA consultants (Consulting and System Development segment).
The company also provides business process outsourcing (BPO) services through which its clients outsource payroll and accounting operations to the company (Management Services [BPO] segment).
In FY03/21, the company reported revenue of JPY29.1bn (+2.6% YoY) and operating profit of JPY2.4bn (+13.1% YoY). The Consulting and System Development segment contributed to 74.3% of revenue and 78.1% of operating profit, while the Management Services (BPO) segment accounted for 26.9% of revenue and 21.9% of operating profit.
In its Consulting and System Development business, the company’s main clients are medium-sized companies with sales of between JPY300bn and JPY500bn. In FY03/21, it had about 900 clients (+6% YoY), with revenue per client of around JPY23mn (-5% YoY). The infrastructure sector, which includes construction companies, accounted for about JPY3.0bn (approximately 14% of revenue) and the mobility sector, which includes major automakers, accounted for around JPY2.0bn (approx. 9%).
The company is able to boost revenue per client by first undertaking consulting and system development in the accounting field for new clients, then expanding its service area to other departments such as procurement and purchasing within the same client. The accounting department of a company gathers all information related to procurement, sales, and other departments. Participating in the planning, design and development of the accounting system enables the company to identify issues in the operations and systems of other departments.
In addition, the company operates a call center and dispatches system engineers to client sites for maintenance and servicing. Thanks to that, the company is able to identify issues with client systems and make new proposals to capture new orders. As client companies rebuild their systems every five to six years, the company is also able to take on system update orders from existing clients (over 90% of revenue came from existing clients in FY03/21).
While the outsourced software development market grew by 27.5% over the five years from FY2014 to FY2019, the company’s revenue rose by 150% and operating profit doubled over the same period. According to the company, its integrated service offering covering everything from consulting to system development has been successful. It also noted that its focus on higher margin work amid the market expansion was one of the factors behind its improved margins.
In its Management Services (BPO) segment, the company mainly provides payroll and accounting services. As of FY03/21, it had about 600 clients, with revenue per client at around JPY13mn. Its BPO business includes advanced tasks such as account settlement and disclosure material preparation.
However, clients do not outsource this work to the company unless it leads to lower costs. As a result, the OPM in this business was 6.7% in FY03/21, lower than the 8.7% for the Consulting and System Development segment. Offsetting the lower profitability of the segment is its higher revenue stability. Valuing this stability, the company aims to raise the revenue of Management Services (BPO) to 30% of the total revenue.
In FY03/21, the company reported revenue of JPY29.1bn (+2.6% YoY), operating profit of JPY2.4bn (+13.1% YoY), recurring profit of JPY2.5bn (+10.5% YoY), and net income attributable to owners of the parent of JPY1.7bn (+15.6% YoY). Orders amounted to JPY28.1bn (-5.9% YoY) and order backlog was JPY9.9bn (-9.3% YoY). The drop in order backlog reflected the absence of large orders as seen in FY03/19, while revenue rose YoY on the back of a buildup in backlog from end-FY03/20.
The company switched its accounting standards from Japanese GAAP to IFRS in FY03/21. In October 2021, the company revised its full-year FY03/22 earnings forecast. The revised forecast calls for revenue of JPY32.0bn (+9.7% YoY), operating profit of JPY2.5bn (+13.6% YoY), pre-tax profit of JPY2.5bn (+8.1% YoY), and profit attributable to owners of the parent of JPY1.6bn (+3.0% YoY). Revisions were made to reflect the success of measures aimed at improving profitability, quicker-than-expected recovery of system investments by target client companies, and growth in information security consulting business.
In May 2021, the company announced its medium-term management plan, setting its 2030 targets at JPY100bn for revenue (+13.1% CAGR) and JPY10bn for profit (+16.3% CAGR), and its 2023 targets at JPY40bn for revenue (+11.1% CAGR) and JPY3.4bn for profit (+15.6% CAGR). Profit here refers to operating profit under Japanese GAAP (excluding non-operating profit and loss). The company aims to raise the revenue mix of Management Services (BPO) to 30% with an overall ROE target of 10%.
Integrated service offering that covers everything from system consulting to development, which makes it easier to reflect client requests compared to competitors and has resulted in higher client satisfaction.
Specialization and advantage in system development in the accounting field built on a long history of consulting in collaboration with an accounting firm, as well as its account settlement support services by CPA consultants.
Ability to boost revenue per client through developing systems for accounting departments that tie into all business operations, which helps to identify operational and system issues in other departments, and can be linked to new proposals.
Focus on stable revenue leads to lower margins compared to peers.
Issues with project management capabilities as seen in past unprofitable projects that have had a substantial impact on business results.
Difficulties in effective cross-selling between the Consulting and System Development segment and the Management Services (BPO) segment as the clients’ department in charge differs.
|Gross profit margin||19.7%||19.0%||20.1%||19.1%||17.6%||16.9%||19.1%||21.2%||21.1%||21.9%|
|Operating profit margin||5.5%||4.9%||5.9%||5.7%||4.3%||3.6%||4.9%||6.9%||7.8%||7.5%||7.8%|
|Recurring profit margin||5.6%||5.1%||6.0%||5.8%||4.5%||3.3%||4.8%||6.7%||7.8%||7.9%||7.8%|
|Per-share data (split-adjusted; JPY)|
|Shares issued (year-end; '000)||18,092||18,092||18,092||16,000||16,000||16,000||16,000||16,000||16,000||16,000|
|Treasury shares ('000)||3,246||7,846||7,935||5,564||4,959||4,838||4,370||4,345||4,269||4,195|
|EPS (fully diluted; JPY)||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||139.8|
|Dividend per share (JPY)||6.0||7.5||9.5||11.0||14.0||15.0||17.5||20.0||27.5||30.0||34.0|
|Book value per share (JPY)||390||485||527||576||597||624||661||731||827||943|
|Balance sheet (JPYmn)|
|Cash and cash equivalents||4,713||4,943||4,890||5,265||5,104||4,160||5,628||6,707||7,108||8,919|
|Total current assets||8,275||8,302||8,678||8,929||9,482||9,445||10,897||12,054||13,812||15,787|
|Tangible fixed assets||116||201||177||177||245||359||304||329||328||285|
|Investments and other assets||1,805||1,710||1,697||2,252||2,481||2,919||2,856||3,156||2,926||3,625|
|Total current liabilities||2,626||2,638||2,735||3,125||3,349||3,822||4,207||4,382||4,696||5,648|
|Total fixed liabilities||1,689||2,502||2,376||2,190||2,294||2,195||2,458||2,953||2,887||2,941|
|Total net assets||5,977||5,160||5,550||6,379||6,998||7,231||7,930||8,791||10,043||11,562|
|Total liabilities and net assets||10,291||10,300||10,660||11,693||12,642||13,248||14,595||16,126||17,627||20,151|
|Total interest-bearing debt||18||998||639||431||226||116||14||373||292||395|
|Cash flow statement (JPYmn)|
|Cash flows from operating activities||815||615||422||1,120||255||202||1,781||1,079||938||2,667|
|Cash flows from investing activities||-378||612||-73||-524||-354||-427||-12||-230||-468||-669|
|Cash flows from financing activities||-700||-397||-502||-135||-61||-419||-301||129||-269||-186|
|Total asset turnover||150.9%||155.2%||162.0%||164.0%||168.8%||177.8%||168.9%||161.6%||168.5%||154.4%|
On November 15, 2021, Business Brain Showa-Ota Inc. announced that the listing of consolidated subsidiary Global Security Experts Inc. had been approved.
On the same day, Tokyo Stock Exchange Inc. approved the new listing of the company's consolidated subsidiary, Global Security Experts Inc. on the TSE Mothers Index.
Name: Global Security Experts
President and Representative Director: Shiro Aoyagi (passport name: Shiro Suzuki)
Address: 1-15-1 Kaigan, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Capital: JPY636,244,690 (including capital reserve)
Business: Security-related operations
Issuance and sale through a public offering: 150,000 shares
Secondary offering through an underwriter: 450,000 shares
Secondary offering through an over-allotment option: 90,000 shares
Current number of shares held: 2,700,000 (73.1% stake, total shares outstanding: 3,692,700)
Number of shares held after the new issuance of shares upon listing: 2,250,000 (58.6% stake, estimated number of shares outstanding: 3,842,700)
The number of shares issued and the estimated number of shares issued include issuable shares. The estimated number of shares issued does not include the number of shares to be issued in a third-party allocation via an over-allotment option (maximum of 90,000 shares).
The company expects the listing to have only a marginal impact on consolidated earnings.
Business Brain Showa-Ota announced revisions to its 1H and full-year FY03/22 earnings and dividend forecasts.
The company thoroughly implemented measures to address unprofitable businesses and underperforming projects to improve profitability, and these measures proved successful to a certain level. In addition, investments by target client companies recovered faster than the company had expected (it had expected recovery from Q3 FY03/22 onward) as a result of progress in COVID-19 vaccinations worldwide, leading to greater-than-expected growth in the information security consulting business.
Business Brain Showa-Ota’s dividend policy is to pay stable dividends while comprehensively taking into account profit distribution commensurate with its earnings performance and internal reserves for strengthening its financial position. The company therefore revised up its year-end dividend forecast for FY03/22 by JPY2 to JPY34 per share, in accordance with the revisions to its full-year FY03/22 earnings forecasts.
|(JPYmn)||Q1||Q1–Q2||Q1–Q3||Q1–Q4||Q1||Q1–Q2||Q1–Q3||Q1–Q4||% of Est.||1H Est.||% of Est.||FY Est.|
|Gross profit margin||21.0%||21.4%||21.9%||22.7%||23.6%|
|Operating profit margin||7.5%||7.8%||7.5%||7.5%||7.8%||7.7%||7.8%|
|Pre-tax profit margin||8.1%||8.1%||7.9%||7.8%||8.0%||8.0%||7.8%|
|Profit attributable to owners of the parent||336||670||1,554||342||752||100.3%||750||47.0%||1,600|
|Gross profit margin||21.0%||21.8%||22.7%||24.5%|
|Operating profit margin||7.5%||8.1%||7.5%||8.0%|
|Pre-tax profit margin||8.1%||8.2%||7.8%||8.2%|
|Profit attributable to owners of the parent||336||334||342||410|
|By segment (cumulative)||FY03/21||FY03/22|
|Consulting & System Development||5,267||10,699||21,680||5,532||11,402|
|Consulting & development for accounting system||3,414||6,816||13,329||3,269||6,688|
|System development for the financial industry||1,196||2,372||4,824||1,332||2,670|
|Information security consulting||514||1,190||2,916||845||1,902|
|PLM support solution||211||449||875||147||347|
|Management Services (BPO)||1,785||3,593||7,823||1,950||3,856|
|HR & payroll outsourcing||725||1,438||3,272||757||1,444|
|Outsourcing services for global companies||319||636||1,421||448||927|
|Outsourcing services for foreign companies||209||413||875||200||403|
|Operating profit margin||7.5%||7.8%||7.5%||7.5%||7.8%|
|Consulting & System Development||431||951||1,691||410||904|
|Operating profit margin||8.2%||8.9%||7.8%||7.4%||7.9%|
|Consulting & development for accounting system||437||780||1,224||299||618|
|Operating profit margin||12.8%||11.4%||9.2%||9.1%||9.2%|
|System development for the financial industry||12||68||119||43||105|
|Operating profit margin||1.0%||2.9%||2.5%||3.2%||3.9%|
|Information security consulting||-29||69||231||87||208|
|Operating profit margin||-||5.8%||7.9%||10.3%||10.9%|
|PLM support solution||19||66||118||-16||10|
|Operating profit margin||9.0%||14.7%||13.5%||-||2.9%|
|Management Services (BPO)||90||146||502||146||265|
|Operating profit margin||5.0%||4.1%||6.4%||7.5%||6.9%|
|HR & payroll outsourcing||106||203||410||63||111|
|Operating profit margin||14.6%||14.1%||12.5%||8.3%||7.7%|
|Outsourcing services for global companies||-36||-132||-62||47||103|
|Operating profit margin||-||-||-||10.5%||11.1%|
|Outsourcing services for foreign companies||-3||11||64||4||14|
|Operating profit margin||-||2.7%||7.3%||2.0%||3.5%|
|Operating profit margin||3.7%||5.7%||4.4%||4.5%||5.4%|
|By segment (quarterly)||FY03/21||FY03/22|
|Consulting & System Development||5,267||5,432||5,532||5,870|
|Consulting & development for accounting system||3,414||3,402||3,269||3,419|
|System development for the financial industry||1,196||1,176||1,332||1,338|
|Information security consulting||514||676||845||1,057|
|PLM support solution||211||238||147||200|
|Management Services (BPO)||1,785||1,808||1,950||1,906|
|HR & payroll outsourcing||725||713||757||687|
|Outsourcing services for global companies||319||317||448||479|
|Outsourcing services for foreign companies||209||204||200||203|
|Consulting & System Development||431||520||410||494|
|Operating profit margin||8.2%||9.6%||7.4%||8.4%|
|Consulting & development for accounting system||437||343||299||319|
|Operating profit margin||12.8%||10.1%||9.1%||9.3%|
|System development for the financial industry||12||56||43||62|
|Operating profit margin||1.0%||4.8%||3.2%||4.6%|
|Information security consulting||-29||98||87||121|
|Operating profit margin||-||14.5%||10.3%||11.4%|
|PLM support solution||19||47||-16||26|
|Operating profit margin||9.0%||19.7%||-||13.0%|
|Management Services (BPO)||90||56||146||119|
|Operating profit margin||5.0%||3.1%||7.5%||6.2%|
|HR & payroll outsourcing||106||97||63||48|
|Operating profit margin||14.6%||13.6%||8.3%||7.0%|
|Outsourcing services for global companies||-36||-96||47||56|
|Operating profit margin||-||-||10.5%||11.7%|
|Outsourcing services for foreign companies||-3||14||4||10|
|Operating profit margin||-||6.9%||2.0%||4.9%|
|Operating profit margin||3.7%||7.5%||4.5%||6.3%|
Orders were up YoY. Revenue remained robust in the information security consulting business following on from FY03/21, although revenue declined in some businesses. In addition, revenue in outsourcing services for global companies were strong from the start of FY03/22 while system development for the financial industry showed signs of recovery, leading to higher revenue YoY. Gross profit rose in line with revenue growth.
SG&A expenses came in higher owing to increases in personnel and advertising expenses, as well as expenses associated with relocation of the head office.
On October 28, 2021, the company revised its 1H and full-year FY03/22 earnings forecasts. Progress versus the revised 1H forecast was 100.2% for revenue, 100.6% for operating profit, 100.4% for pre-tax profit, and 100.3% for profit. Progress versus the full-year FY03/22 forecast was 47.0% for revenue, 46.7% for operating profit, 48.2% for pre-tax profit, and 47.0% for profit.
Revenue breaks down as follows: JPY6.7bn (-1.9% YoY) for accounting system consulting and development; JPY2.7bn (+12.6% YoY) for system development for the financial industry; JPY1.9bn (+59.8% YoY) for information security consulting; and JPY347mn (-22.7% YoY) for PLM support solution.
Segment profit breaks down as follows: JPY618mn (-20.8% YoY) for accounting system consulting and development; JPY105mn (+54.4% YoY) for system development for the financial industry; JPY208mn (+201.4% YoY) for information security consulting; and JPY10mn (-84.8% YoY) for PLM support solution.
Revenue breaks down as follows: JPY1.4bn (+0.4% YoY) for HR and payroll outsourcing; JPY927mn (+45.8% YoY) for outsourcing services for global companies; JPY403mn (-2.4% YoY) for outsourcing services for foreign companies; and JPY1.1bn (-2.6% YoY) for on-site BPO.
Segment profit breaks down as follows: JPY111mn (-45.3% YoY) for HR and payroll outsourcing; JPY103mn (loss of JPY132mn in 1H FY03/21) for outsourcing services for global companies; JPY14mn (+27.3% YoY) for outsourcing services for foreign companies; and JPY60mn (-6.3% YoY) for on-site BPO.
For details on previous quarterly and annual results, please refer to the Historical financial statements section.
|(JPYmn)||1H Act.||2H Act.||FY Act.||1H Act.||2H Est.||FY Est.|
|Cost of revenue||11,110||11,675||22,786||11,485|
|Gross profit margin||21.4%||22.3%||21.9%||23.6%|
|Operating profit margin||7.8%||7.3%||7.5%||7.8%||7.9%||7.8%|
|Pre-tax profit margin||8.1%||7.7%||7.9%||8.0%||7.6%||7.8%|
|Profit attributable to owners of the parent||670||883||1,554||752||848||1,600|
In October 2021, the company announced revisions to its full-year FY03/22 earnings forecast. The revised forecast calls for revenue of JPY32.0bn (+9.7% YoY), operating profit of JPY2.5bn (+13.6% YoY), pre-tax profit of JPY2.5bn (+8.1% YoY), and profit of JPY1.6bn (+3.0% YoY).
Compared to the previous forecast, the company raised its forecast for revenue by JPY1.0bn, operating profit by JPY400mn, pre-tax profit by JPY400mn, and profit by JPY250mn.
The company thoroughly implemented measures to address unprofitable businesses and underperforming projects to improve profitability, and these measures proved successful to a certain level. In addition, investments by target client companies recovered faster than the company had expected (it had expected recovery from Q3 FY03/22 onward) as a result of progress in COVID-19 vaccinations worldwide, leading to greater-than-expected growth in the information security consulting business.
The following comment is based on the company’s previous forecast. Shared Research plans to update this section after interviewing the company.
In the Consulting and System Development segment, the company expects accounting system consulting and development revenue to come in flat YoY, with revenue for system development for the financial industry rising YoY driven by orders secured for its Fund Wrap System. Additionally, it forecasts information security consulting revenue to continue to grow YoY.
For the Management Services (BPO) segment, the company forecasts higher revenue YoY as the business is essentially a recurring revenue business, losses from unprofitable projects in FY03/21 have been written off, and measures to improve an underperforming subsidiary are progressing well.
|Results vs. Initial Est.||FY03/17||FY03/18||FY03/19||FY03/20||FY03/21|
|Revenue (Initial Est.)||23,000||23,200||24,000||26,000||-|
|Results vs. Initial Est.||0.1%||1.3%||3.4%||9.4%|
|Operating profit (Initial Est.)||1,000||1,000||1,200||1,750||-|
|Operating profit (Results)||817||1,159||1,723||2,214||2,200|
|Results vs. Initial Est.||-18.3%||15.9%||43.5%||26.5%|
|Recurring profit (Initial Est.)||1,020||1,000||1,200||1,700||-|
|Recurring profit (Results)||751||1,135||1,653||2,219||2,312|
|Results vs. Initial Est.||-26.4%||13.5%||37.7%||30.5%|
|Net income (Initial Est.)||620||600||740||1,000||-|
|Net income (Results)||440||733||994||1,460||1,554|
|Results vs. Initial Est.||-29.1%||22.1%||34.3%||46.0%|
The company prepares its earnings forecast based on information collected from employees working on-site. While revenue forecasts are highly accurate as they reflect client contracts and order backlogs, profit forecasts are made conservatively, taking into account the risks involved in system development. As a result, actual revenue generally deviates little from the company’s forecast, while profit lines from operating profit down tend to deviate widely.
Business Brain Showa-Ota announced its medium-term management plan in May 2021, which lays out its long-term targets of JPY100bn in revenue and JPY10bn in profit by 2030. Profit here refers to operating profit under Japanese GAAP (excludes non-operating profit and loss).
The company believes that its revenue target of JPY100bn by 2030 is important from a branding standpoint, noting that clients feel more comfortable working with large companies, which in turn would make it easier to raise prices. It also believes that scaling up the business will help with securing large development projects, which tend to be more profitable.
The company’s basic strategy is to boost revenue, and it needs people to accomplish this. Its biggest talent shortage is in people who can step up and become project managers when it secures new projects. Its definition of a project manager is someone experienced in the entire system development process, who can negotiate with clients and manage on-site operations. The company needs a project manager for each client contract it secures, and the challenge lies in figuring out how to develop project management talent. It provides both classroom training and on-the-job training to help employees acquire accounting knowledge as well as specialized knowledge of the products they handle.
The medium-term targets do not include M&A activities. In terms of capital allocation, the company plans to invest in M&As aimed at securing personnel and in new technology development. It is also looking into acquiring BPO* companies with a sufficient client base.
*BPO stands for Business Process Outsourcing and refers to the outsourcing of a company’s business processes to an external company.
Outsourced operations generally do not include a company’s core operations, but more often are non-core operations that do not directly contribute to profits, operations for which the outsourcing company has no in-house knowledge, and operations of back office departments such as general affairs, accounting, finance, procurement, human resources, recruitment, and call centers.
The company has defined seven action items that will form the foundation of its business.
(1) Promote mutual understanding and coordination of services among group companies: The company aims to drive sales by promoting mutual understanding of services within the group.
(2) Acquire services and technologies to expand coverage: Business Brain Showa-Ota plans to identify services and technologies that are missing in its business, and hire people and study these missing parts internally. If there are packaged software products that can make up for the services the company lacks, it may form alliances with the companies providing them. Aside from packaged software, if the company lacks necessary know-how or technology, it will form alliances with companies with the know-how and technology to jointly capture orders.
(3) Further improvement of quality: The company’s service quality has stabilized and it no longer produces major losses, but minor quality issues still occur. Losses have often been caused by unclear definitions when determining requirements with clients, unreasonable project timelines, and taking on projects in areas where the company is not well-versed. The company aims to prevent these issues by providing stable quality.
(4) Strengthen BBS branding: The company has a 50-year history centered on its expertise in accounting systems and aims to raise its corporate profile. It believes that greater name recognition will be an edge in recruiting, making sales pitches, and pricing. To boost its profile, the company has been making video commercials, changed its logo, and increased its news distribution. Since the company is in the systems industry, it plans to produce commercials aimed at increased exposure on YouTube and other online news sites.
(5) Expand group client base: The company has not noticeably expanded its new client base. It plans to undertake activities with the intention of increasing new clients going forward.
(6) Deepen ties with clients: In addition to (5), the company aims to boost its share of work from each client by going beyond accounting systems to handle other system projects.
(7) Boost proposal capabilities: Implementing (1)–(6) requires strong proposal capabilities. Employees working on-site contributed to making creative proposals in the past, but the company plans to conduct in-house training sessions going forward. It is working to unify the group image, such as by using the same logo when running a promotion.
The company’s target management indicators call for a consolidated operating profit margin of 7%, ROE of 10%, and Management Services (BPO) segment revenue mix of 30%. The Consulting and System Development segment produces high margins, but is susceptible to economic fluctuations as it is affected by capital investment trends of client companies. On the other hand, the Management Services (BPO) segment is a stable but low-margin business. The Management Services (BPO) segment accounted for 26.6% of FY03/21 revenue.
Business Brain Showa-Ota provides its clients with a full range of services, from consulting to system development, adoption, and maintenance. The company was founded by a certified public accountant and had about 30 CPAs on staff (as of June 2021), with expertise in system development in the accounting field. When a company adopts a new accounting standard, it needs to revise its accounting system to comply with the new standard, and revising a system also requires revising business processes. This is where the company leverages its in-house CPAs’ expertise in business management, as well as in financial and managerial accounting to provide consulting and system development and maintenance services for accounting and other back-office operations.
The company starts by working with new clients in the accounting field, then expands its services to include procurement, sales, and other finance-related areas. All information, including transaction data, are collected in the accounting system. Accordingly, the company is able to identify issues, such as the inability to capture information with an existing sales management system, for processing in the accounting system. This is one example of how the company expands its services from accounting systems to other systems. Systems are rebuilt every five or six years. The company dispatches system engineers to client sites for maintenance work and operates call centers to identify issues and make new proposals. In addition to maintenance and servicing, the company is also focused on BPO.
In the upstream process, for example when introducing an accounting system, Business Brain Showa-Ota makes proposals to streamline accounting operations by referring to examples of other companies. The company believes that installing a system is meaningless if the system does not boost efficiency, and hence provides consulting services to help clients operate efficiently. With a wealth of reference points from other companies, the company also provides examples of how other companies carry out operations. As streamlining operations involves changing workflows and procedures, the company proposes labor-saving solutions to clients, including solutions that incorporate AI and robotic process automation (RPA).
In addition, the company also provides business process outsourcing (BPO) services, through which its clients outsource payroll and accounting operations to the company. The BPO business goes beyond simple tasks and includes advanced tasks as well. This makes it necessary for the company to first provide consulting services and then streamline operations.
As an example, for expense reimbursements, the client writes receipts and sends over the data, and a simple BPO task involves checking the receipts, the data, the amount, and the date. Taking this a step further would include breaking the reimbursements down by individual, creating graphs, and checking for errors. The company also compiles figures and prepares parts of its clients’ annual securities reports. This requires accounting knowledge to sort out which expenses are entertainment expenses, office expenses, etc., but the company is able to handle this operation as it has people with the appropriate skillset. Typically, BPO companies simply handle the same work that the client is already doing; however, advanced BPO services include consulting to understand the client’s business and figure out how to organize and take over the work.
Business Brain Showa-Ota’s BPO offices are located in Kumamoto, Niigata, and Shizuoka prefectures. The company believes that having Japanese staff in Japan is more appropriate for providing high quality services.
The company has local subsidiaries in Thailand and Vietnam that provide consulting services to Japanese companies operating in Southeast Asia. The local subsidiaries mainly provide systems and frameworks that enable their Japanese clients to view and control local figures in Japan.
Having BPO services has become an advantage when introducing consulting services. This is because an increasing number of clients are concerned about future labor shortages and would prefer to outsource rather than handle all administrative tasks on their own. Meanwhile, the company recognizes that its cross-selling rate for BPO and system development clients is low at below 10%. The BPO and consulting and system development businesses were established separately, and have been operated separately. Also, the departments in charge at client companies are different between the two businesses. The Consulting and System Development segment works with system and planning departments, while the BPO business works with on-site accounting and human resource departments. Working with HR departments in the BPO business almost never leads to discussions about systems. However, there are cases where system implementations lead to discussions about shifting toward shared services (where a company consisting of multiple group companies and divisions consolidates and centralizes some of the work performed by back-office departments), and then to discussions about implementing BPO services.
While many companies offer either the consulting service or the system development service, the company offers an integrated service ranging from consulting to system development.
Depending on the client’s needs, it may undertake consulting or system development only, but in most cases takes on both. The same consultant handles everything from requirements definition and basic design to development.
Sometimes, client companies ask for sales pitches for consulting and system development separately. This is because system development costs can be lowered by soliciting bids for system development after the consultation phase. Separating the consulting and system development phases also lowers system development costs by putting the company that drafted the system design against system development companies. Meanwhile, since companies that only offer consulting services do not go beyond creating the design, there are many cases where client companies cannot go through with system development as the costs get prohibitively high when the system development company enters the picture.
One of the benefits of an integrated approach is that the company remains realistic in the consulting phase with an eye on system development and will not design a glamorized system that it cannot deliver. In addition, the integrated approach helps prevent misunderstandings and removes the need for clients to explain the same thing twice. The company focuses on a narrow area of systems, specializing in accounting systems. It believes that its expertise, technology, and knowledge in accounting is superior to those of its competitors.
For new clients, the company starts with consulting on accounting systems, and gradually expands into other areas that also involve numbers (i.e., finance-related), such as procurement and sales. Many companies in Japan need to introduce systems to streamline operations to address labor shortages stemming from the declining working population, and this presents a business opportunity for the company. In addition, changes in accounting systems, such as the introduction of IFRS, and the trend toward paperless accounting in accordance with SDGs, which calls for electronic recordkeeping, also present business opportunities for the company. Demand also expanded when the J-SOX internal control reporting system was introduced in 2008. From 2020 onward, demand for information security consulting services has grown the most, fueled by the adoption of telework driven by the spread of COVID-19.
In the Consulting and System Development segment, the company determines prices by estimating costs based on headcount x duration x man-month while taking risks into account. It manages consulting and system development work on a segmented project basis.
GPM was only 23.8% at the parent in FY03/21, but the company aims to further improve profitability. The cost-of-revenue ratio was 76.2% with outsourcing costs accounting for about 45.0% of cost of revenue. Employees are a fixed cost, and in the system industry, where demand fluctuates, having too high of a fixed cost is a risk. As such, the company believes the optimal ratio of in-house personnel costs to outsourcing costs is around 1:1. As of end-FY03/21, the company had about 300 subcontractors.
The company does not promote any particular product, but rather forms alliances with other companies. It offers templates along with its own packages, which are customized and sold according to client needs. A template is like a component and is different from a package. Since each client has its own requirements, a number of core components are prepared without customization. These components are combined with other parts according to the client’s requirements, and the surrounding areas are customized for the system to work as a whole. This has the benefit of providing clients with the functions they need. Some of the company’s hallmark in-house developed products include the ACT series, its accounting system, and PLMconsole, a production management system for manufacturers.
Business Brain Showa-Ota also purchases packaged systems from external companies, primarily selling Biz Integral from NTT Data Biz Integral Corporation. The company opts for Biz Integral for clients looking for a relatively quick and easy implementation, and uses templates for clients who want something more tailored to their needs. The sales mix of packaged systems and template systems is split evenly, with no significant difference in profit margins. For packaged systems, the company does not just install software for client companies, but also custom develops related items centered around the packaged system. The cost of purchasing packaged systems does not account for a particularly large portion of cost of revenue, with development-related personnel costs accounting for a higher portion. Shared Research estimates that the cost of packaged systems accounts for less than 0.7% of cost of revenue, as it was not listed as a key line item in the company’s breakdown of cost of revenue in FY03/13, the last time it disclosed a parent-level cost of revenue breakdown.
The company provides system engineering services (SES) to the financial industry. SES refers to services that dispatch engineers to perform tasks such as system development, maintenance, and operation. The difference between SES and temporary staffing contracts is the reporting structure. Unlike temporary staffing contracts, where people work under the direction of clients, the hiring company (Business Brain Showa-Ota) is in charge for SES contracts. Costs primarily consist of personnel costs of the company’s dispatched employees. System development for the financial industry is a relatively low-margin business with an OPM of 3.9% in FY03/21, compared to 8.7% for the Consulting and System Development segment.
Malicious e-mails that spread computer viruses are believed to account for 90% of server attacks. The spread of COVID-19 has boosted adoption of telework, and attacks targeting vulnerabilities in VPN systems are also drawing attention. The company provides training services for employees of client companies to deal with these sort of targeted e-mail attacks. According to a survey conducted by ITR Corporation, the company’s email training service had the largest market share based on revenue in the targeted email attack training service market in Japan, for companies with 1,000—5,000 employees in FY2019.
The business model of information security consulting is different from that of accounting system consulting and development. For e-mail training services, pricing is based on the number of client employees. However, the company’s workload does not increase 100-fold when training a company with 10,000 employees versus a company with 100 employees. The process of creating a malicious email to be sent at the beginning of the training session is the same. The training business consisted of creating content and gathering about 50 people in a room for a training session prior to the pandemic, but there are no restrictions on the number of attendees now that the sessions are held online. Accordingly, the information security consulting business model has a higher marginal profit ratio, with margins expanding with scale.
While consulting and system development work is often done at client sites, information security consulting work is often done at the company’s offices or at client companies’ security centers.
The two main BPO services the company provides are HR-related payroll and accounting. It primarily handles HR-related services out of its centers in Shizuoka Prefecture and Niigata Prefecture, and accounting services out of Kumamoto Prefecture. In terms of overseas operations, the company has a subsidiary in Vietnam, which performs more standardized parts of the work done in the Kumamoto center. Overseas personnel costs are lower, making it more cost effective, but there are challenges when overseas staff communicate on accounting matters with Japanese staff, even if the company recruits people fluent in Japanese. For this reason, the company can only delegate fairly simple and routine tasks overseas. Its overseas operations handle simple tasks such as processing daily slips for deposits and withdrawals, while its Japan-based centers handle more sophisticated tasks such as account settlement. Japanese staff at the Kumamoto center handle account settlement and disclosure material preparation work to add value and charge higher prices in order to operate a profitable business in Japan.
The company is unique in that in addition to consulting, it also offers BPO services involving highly skilled personnel such as certified public accountants. CPAs are particularly proficient in preparing disclosure materials and performing tax calculations. Although the actual work is done by non-CPA employees, the company has established a system where CPAs are involved at key points and can provide appropriate advice and guidance.
The BPO business involves the company taking on work that was previously performed by clients, but clients will not outsource this work to the company unless doing so results in lower costs. For this reason, other companies often outsource their BPO work to Dalian, China, and other places where personnel costs are lower. However, as the company prioritizes service quality, it performs the work in Kumamoto Prefecture. Although GPM targets vary from project to project, the company aims for a GPM of 5–20%.
In the Management Services segment, the company’s outsourcing services for global companies have produced losses from FY03/19 to FY03/21. There are two underlying factors for this. One is that Payment Technology Japan, which the company acquired in 2018, has been operating at a loss. This has been rectified as Payment Technology Japan achieved monthly profitability during FY03/21. The other factor is that, in an accounting operations outsourcing contract with a major company, the company had expected to turn a profit by streamlining processes after accepting the contract, but was unable to do so and produced losses. The loss recorded in FY03/21 was attributable to the company booking a loss provision for this contract. As the contract spans five years, the company provided for loss of five years.
For its BPO services, Business Brain Showa-Ota typically signs one-year contracts. The company had previously signed five-year contracts, especially for large clients in its outsourcing business for global corporations, but switched to one-year contracts owing to the higher risk posed by five-year contracts, including changes in the business environment such as rising personnel costs. The company had originally only engaged in system development, which is not always stable as the business is susceptible to economic trends, but decided to start its BPO business as it felt the need to build a business that continuously generated revenue. To this end, the company had signed five-year contracts as it figured longer-term contracts would work better. However, when prices are set for five years, it may not be profitable down the line for various reasons such as rising personnel costs or changes in the clients’ business operations. With one-year contracts, prices can be negotiated when renewing the contract.
It is not easy for clients to switch to another BPO provider as switching costs are high, involving duplicate costs during transition. There are also times when the company turns down clients because it cannot agree on a price. Contracts are automatically renewed for payroll clients with 100–200 employees.
Business Brain Showa-Ota had approximately 1,500 clients as of FY03/21, of which 900 were Consulting and System Development clients and 600 were Management Services (BPO) clients. In terms of size, its Consulting and System Development clients are companies with sales of around JPY500.0bn. Dividing the Consulting and System Development revenue of JPY21.6bn in FY03/21 by 934 clients amounts to revenue per client of about JPY23mn. Revenue is calculated as headcount x duration x man-month, and this translates into a headcount of four or five people, a duration of about three months, and man-month of around JPY1.7mn (ranging from just under JPY1mn up to about JPY2.5mn for project leaders). The headcount on a project varies widely from 3–4 people to 100 people.
Projects involving a full replacement of large systems can span three years, generating revenue of between JPY3.0–4.0bn per project. Smaller projects can last about six months and generate revenue of around JPY30–50mn per project. If a project is just for consulting, revenue can get as small as JPY2–3mn. If a project to fully revamp a client system is expected to take three years, the company will first offer consulting services, then proceed with system development. After this, it will test the system and provide the client with training on how to use the new system. When going live, the company also provides call center support, which can bring total revenue to around JPY3.0bn.
Business Brain Showa-Ota does not pitch a JPY3.0bn price at the outset, but divides the project into phases, and breaks down the phases into even smaller contracts. While the company provides a rough estimate for the project, contracts are generally three to six months long, and extend up to around a year for system development. Even within these contracts, the company makes smaller contracts individually by function, such as for accounting function. In terms of contract size, a JPY50mn contract is considered large, with the largest contracts amounting to around JPY100mn. Splitting the contracts into smaller increments helps both the company and its clients mitigate risk.
Contracts for the preliminary stages of system development, such as requirements definition and design stages, are in the form of a delegation contract where the company works under the direction of the client. Program development contracts take the form of a service contract, with contract amounts determined based on deliverables. The company notes that while its peers use similar contract formats, it tries to make the portion under service contracts smaller to minimize risk.
In FY03/21, the Management Services (BPO) segment reported revenue of JPY7.8bn and a client base of around 600 companies, which puts revenue per client at about JPY13mn. Revenue per client varies by client. The company provides high-value BPO services to major companies from its Kumamoto center, supporting about a dozen clients with around 300 employees.
System consulting projects, such as vulnerability assessments, generate around JPY20–30mn per project. Email training produces about JPY3–4mn for clients with about 100 employees, and the training business yields around JPY200,000–300,000 per person.
The company has its own template software called PLMconsole, which it implements for clients. It is basically a production management system for manufacturers, with a client base currently consisting mainly of automakers, but the company is making an effort to introduce this to other types of manufacturers. Revenue per project is generally around JPY20–30mn.
The company breaks down contracts into separate phases and records revenue according to progress. The upstream consulting phase takes two to three months and the requirements definition phase* takes three to four months. System development is also divided into phases, such as the development and test phase. The company’s accounts receivable turnover in FY03/21 was 71.5 days. For some large project contracts, it takes about six months from recording revenue to receiving payment. Management Services (BPO) contracts range from one to five years, but the company records revenue on a monthly basis.
*Requirements definition is the process of clarifying what the user needs the system to do as well as the expected roles and effects of the system, and defining the necessary functions, performance, and other requirements to achieve the set goals.
The company’s primary target is medium-sized companies with revenue of JPY300–500bn. To broaden its target base, the company also provides IPO support to approach potential clients at an early stage. Its target is companies that do not have an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system*. Only large companies can implement SAP, one of the leading ERP systems, as it costs about JPY5–10bn. However, some of the company’s existing clients include major automakers to which the company specifically provides accounting-related support. Large companies either build their own systems or implement systems offered by major global systems companies. The company’s services do not include core systems** used by large companies as it specializes in back-office operations.
*An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a system designed to centrally manage all resources held by a company for effective management. By implementing ERP systems, companies can centrally manage various types of information, and all departments can access the same information.
**A core system is a system that incorporates the core functions of a company.
Sales via third-party channels account for about half of the Consulting and System Development segment revenue. The third party here refers to a company that serves as a middleman between the company and the end user. In this case, the channel company is the prime contractor and Business Brain Showa-Ota is the tier-one subcontractor, but the company often signs a contract directly with the end user. Channel companies choose Business Brain Showa-Ota because of its track record and expertise in accounting, as well as trust built with the person making the referral. Channel companies include major system integrators, manufacturers, system subsidiaries of financial institutions, and major auditing firms. Profit margins are lower for subcontracted work compared to when the company has a direct contract with the end user. Management Services (BPO) clients are all direct clients.
The revenue mix for FY03/21 consisted of 70.4% existing clients and 3.3% new clients in the Consulting and System Development segment, and 25.3% existing clients and 0.9% new clients in the Management Services (BPO) segment. On a consolidated basis, existing clients accounted for 95.8% of revenue while new clients accounted for 4.2%. In the Consulting and System Development segment, the top 10 existing clients contributed to 44.8% of segment revenue, with new clients accounting for 1.6%. In the Management Services (BPO) segment, existing clients contributed to 41.8% of revenue, with new clients accounting for 2.8%. These figures differ from the figures in the company’s annual securities report because they are simple sums that do not take financial adjustments into account.
In terms of client industries, the company has relatively high exposure to the infrastructure industry (e.g., construction companies) and the mobility industry (e.g., major automakers). Revenue from the infrastructure industry comes to about JPY3.0bn (13.9% of Consulting and System Development segment revenue) while the mobility industry accounts for about JPY2.0bn (9.3%).
CPAs, management consultants, and system engineers work closely together in the Consulting and System Development segment. In FY03/21, there were a total of 603 employees under the parent company, comprising about 30 CPAs, 50 business consultants, and 50 salespeople. The remaining 450 employees were system engineers, including system consultants, making up the largest portion of the employee makeup. The company starts with business consulting, then moves onto basic design, then to system development, adoption and maintenance, and finally over to BPO service implementation. As a result, it has fewer personnel allocated in upstream processes. Sales personnel handle all services and are in charge of the same client from start to finish. There are separate project managers and leaders for each phase.
The company categorizes its business domains within segments by subsidiary for easier tracking. The domains and major subsidiaries are listed below.
Business Brain Showa-Ota (parent) and BBS (Thailand) Co., Ltd. provide clients with a full range of services, from consulting on accounting operations to system development, adoption, and maintenance.
Financial Brain Systems Inc. provides system engineering service (SES) and other services for the financial industry, including banks and securities brokers.
Global Security Experts Inc. provides consulting services on information security, including vulnerability assessment services, training services for employees of client companies to handle targeted e-mail attacks, and training services for IT department personnel of client companies.
PLM Japan Inc. provides services centered on PLMconsole, an in-house developed package software aimed at improving product design efficiency, mainly for the manufacturing industry.
Business Brain Showa-Ota (parent) and BBS Outsourcing Service Inc. provide outsourcing services from their operations centers for human resources and payroll-related operations.
The companies provide outsourcing services including accounting and human resources operations and various card payment processing services to large Japanese companies with global operations.
EP Consulting Services Corporation provides accounting, finance, and other outsourcing services mainly to foreign companies with subsidiaries or branches in Japan.
On-site BPO involves going directly to a client’s facility to perform work. The service ranges from dispatching a few people to multi-person units (5–40 people).
|Consulting & System Development||11,954||12,777||13,679||15,086||16,327||17,124||17,056||17,819||21,386||21,612|
|Consulting & development for accounting system||10,195||10,815||13,210||13,260|
|System development for the financial industry||5,180||5,195||5,221||4,824|
|Information security consulting||1,222||1,303||2,253||2,916|
|PLM support solution||672||772||920||875|
|Management Services (BPO)||3,584||3,399||3,552||3,501||4,502||6,186||6,809||7,351||7,331||7,821|
|HR & payroll outsourcing||3,013||3,066||3,112||3,272|
|Outsourcing services for global companies||816||1,109||1,392||1,418|
|Outsourcing services for foreign companies||1,358||1,410||859||875|
|Operating profit margin||5.5%||4.9%||5.9%||5.7%||4.3%||3.5%||4.9%||6.9%||7.5%||8.3%|
|Consulting & System Development||822||665||830||945||705||868||747||1,258||1,718||1,875|
|Operating profit margin||6.9%||5.2%||6.1%||6.3%||4.3%||5.1%||4.4%||7.1%||8.0%||8.7%|
|Consulting & development for accounting system||472||933||1,289||1,343|
|Operating profit margin||4.6%||8.6%||9.8%||10.1%|
|System development for the financial industry||234||224||168||186|
|Operating profit margin||4.5%||4.3%||3.2%||3.9%|
|Information security consulting||-9||39||136||247|
|Operating profit margin||-||3.0%||6.0%||8.5%|
|PLM support solution||48||102||148||120|
|Operating profit margin||7.1%||13.2%||16.1%||13.7%|
|Management Services (BPO)||13||107||167||108||190||-57||412||468||387||526|
|Operating profit margin||0.4%||3.1%||4.7%||3.1%||4.2%||-||6.1%||6.4%||5.3%||6.7%|
|HR & payroll outsourcing||256||347||345||417|
|Operating profit margin||8.5%||11.3%||11.1%||12.7%|
|Outsourcing services for global companies||22||-76||-102||-78|
|Operating profit margin||2.7%||-||-||-|
|Outsourcing services for foreign companies||109||120||69||68|
|Operating profit margin||8.0%||8.5%||8.0%||7.8%|
|Operating profit margin||2.0%||4.0%||3.7%||4.7%|
The drop in profits in FY03/16 was primarily attributed to a large unprofitable project in the accounting system consulting and development business under the Consulting and System Development segment.
The drop in profits in FY03/17 reflected the acquisition and restructuring of BBS Outsourcing Service Inc. under the Management Services (BPO) segment. In addition to BBS Outsourcing Service producing losses at the time of acquisition, the company incurred restructuring costs as a result of cost-cutting measures such as downsizing data centers. The restructuring efforts bore fruit and BBS Outsourcing Service started posting operating profits from FY03/18 onward.
Factors behind the rise in OPM from FY03/19 onward are primarily attributed to the accounting system consulting and development business. The company has been able to selectively accept orders with better terms as a result of the increasingly noticeable labor shortage in Japan and higher demand. In addition, the company itself has felt the effects of the labor shortage and has raised its billing rate per person. Furthermore, it managed to secure large projects with relatively high profit margins because of their complexity.
|Consulting & System Development||21,473||21,680|
|Consulting & development for accounting system||13,297||13,329|
|System development for the financial industry||5,221||4,824|
|Information security consulting||2,253||2,916|
|PLM support solution||920||875|
|Management Services (BPO)||7,333||7,823|
|HR & payroll outsourcing||3,112||3,272|
|Outsourcing services for global companies||1,394||1,421|
|Outsourcing services for foreign companies||859||875|
|Operating profit margin||7.5%||8.3%|
|Consulting & System Development||1,771||1,691|
|Operating profit margin||8.2%||7.8%|
|Consulting & development for accounting system||1,342||1,224|
|Operating profit margin||10.1%||9.2%|
|System development for the financial industry||169||119|
|Operating profit margin||3.2%||2.5%|
|Information security consulting||137||231|
|Operating profit margin||6.1%||7.9%|
|PLM support solution||145||118|
|Operating profit margin||15.8%||13.5%|
|Management Services (BPO)||418||502|
|Operating profit margin||5.7%||6.4%|
|HR & payroll outsourcing||370||410|
|Operating profit margin||11.9%||12.5%|
|Outsourcing services for global companies||-82||-62|
|Operating profit margin||-||-|
|Outsourcing services for foreign companies||64||64|
|Operating profit margin||7.5%||7.3%|
|Operating profit margin||3.3%||4.4%|
|Consulting & System Development||12,107||12,544||13,684||15,183||16,411||17,129||16,983||18,023||20,420||21,486|
|Management Services (BPO)||3,584||3,400||3,552||3,510||4,520||6,185||6,814||7,378||7,720||7,633|
|Consulting & System Development||11,807||12,365||13,415||15,076||16,256||17,293||16,721||19,079||22,063||20,607|
|Management Services (BPO)||3,994||3,508||3,247||4,239||4,028||7,141||7,277||6,944||7,789||7,555|
|Consulting & System Development||3,240||2,843||2,660||2,707||2,712||2,927||2,728||4,073||5,498||4,791|
|Management Services (BPO)||1,102||1,394||1,267||2,199||3,587||4,790||5,479||5,338||5,415||5,156|
According to the 2020 Basic Survey on Information and Communication Industry published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the market size of Japan’s information service industry in FY2019 was JPY19.0tn (+2.5% YoY). The company’s business falls into the contract development software industry, which had a market size of JPY9.5tn (+5.6% YoY). The outsourcing cost per company was at JPY1.5bn.
|Number of companies||Revenue (JPYmn)||Revenue per company (JPYmn)|
|FY2018||FY2019||YoY (%)||FY2018||FY2019||YoY (%)||FY2018||FY2019||YoY (%)|
|Contract development software||2,386||2,383||-0.1||8,576,839||9,054,441||5.6||3,595||3,800||5.7|
|Information processing services||1,105||1,084||-1.9||4,557,174||4,649,348||2.0||4,124||4,289||4.0|
|Information provision services||210||207||-1.4||356,304||381,500||7.1||1,697||1,843||8.6|
|Market/public opinion/social research||100||105||5.0||250,496||181,300||-27.6||2,505||1,727||-31.1|
|Other information services||1,113||1,140||2.4||2,656,653||2,534,128||-4.6||2,387||2,223||-6.9|
The number of companies by prime contractor and subcontractor is shown in the table below. The overall distribution of companies is 49.2% prime contractors, 32.1% tier-one subcontractors, 14.3% tier-two subcontractors, and 4.4% tier-three and lower subcontractors (multiple responses accepted). The ratio of prime contractors increases with a higher capital base. For companies with a capital base of JPY300mn or more, the distribution was 62.8% prime contractors, 30.4% tier-one subcontractors, 5.6% tier-two subcontractors, and 1.3% tier-three and lower subcontractors.
|No. of respondents||By capital base|
|JPY30–100mn||JPY100–300mn||JPY300mn or more|
|Tier-three and lower||182||158||19||5|
Changes in the Japanese accounting system include the full-scale adoption of consolidated accounting, disclosure of quarterly financial results, timely disclosure of financial results, systemization of the Japanese SOX Act, and discussions on the introduction of IFRS.
The Japanese accounting system began prioritizing consolidated financial statements over non-consolidated financial statements from FY03/00. Until then, reports were mainly filed on non-consolidated basis, even though consolidated financial statements were made mandatory in 1978, and there were various criticisms of the inadequacies of the Japanese accounting system compared to that of developed countries such as the US. At the same time, preparing consolidated cash flow statements became mandatory, and full consolidation of subsidiaries became a requirement, except in cases where the subsidiary was deemed immaterial.
The series of moves to bring Japan’s accounting system closer to international accounting standards that began in the late 1990s, including the 1997 revision of the principles for consolidated financial statements, was referred to as the Big Bang of Japanese accounting. Shared Research believes these moves provided a tailwind during the company’s initial growth stage soon after its founding in 1997.
Submitting quarterly financial statements used to be voluntary, but the Tokyo Stock Exchange introduced its own rules requiring listed companies to disclose them in FY03/04. In addition, beginning in FY03/09, the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law mandated that quarterly securities reports be submitted to the Prime Minister within 45 days of the end of each quarter. Previously, financial statements were prepared twice a year, once for full-year results and once for interim-results. However, this was changed to four times per year, increasing the workload for accounting departments and other responsible departments.
The timely disclosure of financial results has been in place as a request from the Tokyo Stock Exchange since FY03/07. Until then, the common practice was to disclose financial results within 60 days of the end of the fiscal year, but this was changed to disclosing within 45 days. In addition, guidelines for preparing annual and quarterly earnings reports issued by the Tokyo Stock Exchange in February 2017 stated that “it is appropriate to compile the contents and disclose them within 45 days of the end of the fiscal year at the latest,” with an added request that “disclosure within 30 days of the end of the fiscal year is preferred.”
As mentioned above, the deadline for companies to prepare financial documents was shortened, and this has spurred demand for consulting services to boost efficiency of consolidated accounting systems as well as outsourcing services to take over the entire process.
The Financial Instruments and Exchange Law began tightening internal controls for companies in FY2008, modeled after the US Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act. Specifically, companies were required to submit an internal control report, which evaluates the internal control system necessary to ensure the appropriateness of financial information, within three months after the end of the fiscal year. This prompted companies that had previously used their own methods for preparing consolidated financial results to introduce external systems for consolidated financial accounting, as they were pressured to ensure the appropriateness of their results.
In 2009, the Business Accounting Council of the Financial Services Agency (FSA) compiled an interim report and approved the preparation of consolidated financial statements based on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) starting in FY03/10. The time frame for mandatory adoption of IFRS was initially planned for 2015 to 2016, but this has not been implemented and the timing of mandatory adoption is still not clear. In addition to IFRS differing significantly from Japanese accounting standards, the adoption of it will also make the preparation of footnotes and other information more complicated, which in turn is expected to boost demand for consulting services.
|Full-scale adoption of consolidated accounting||From FY03/00 closing||In 1997, consolidated financial statement principles were revised prior to the adoption. The shift from non-consolidated to consolidated accounting and preparation of consolidated cashflow statements were referred to as the Big Bang of Japanese accounting system|
|Disclosure of quarterly financial results||FY04/03 onward||Own rules of TSE. Became mandatory since FY03/09 after the Financial Instrument and Exchange Law was revised|
|Timely disclosure of financial results||From FY03/07 closing||TSE requested disclosure within 45 days of the end of the fiscal year, specifying that disclosure within 30 days is preferred. Previously, common practice was to disclose within 60 days|
|Systemization of Japanese SOX act||FY04/08 onward||Internal control system reform with the US SOX Act as a model, requiring listed companies to submit an internal control report|
|Introduction of IFRS||TBD||Voluntary adoption started in FY03/10. Mandatory adoption was initially planned for 2015 at the earliest, but was postponed|
In addition, as long as a company’s shares are listed on a stock exchange, it is bound to the timely disclosure system established in accordance with the rules of the exchange, and the company is required by law to submit an annual securities report to the Prime Minister within three months of the end of the fiscal year under the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law. Financial statements such as balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements are based on corporate accounting principles, but in reality they are in accordance with corporate accounting standards and guidelines for the standards prepared by the Accounting Standards Board of Japan (ASBJ).
New standards and guidelines are frequently released by the ASBJ, and companies are required to report their financial results in accordance with them. In some cases, this necessitates upgrading consolidated accounting systems, rather than simply maintaining it. In addition, preparing footnotes and researching examples of other companies must be done in accordance with the new accounting standards, and lacking expertise in either systems or accounting may jeopardize proper execution. This has created demand for maintenance services and outsourcing businesses.
Among the recently released corporate accounting standards, the Accounting Standard for Tax Effect Accounting released in February 2018, the Accounting Standard for Equity Method released in March 2015, the Accounting Standard for Business Divestitures in September 2013, and the Accounting Standard for Consolidated Financial Statements released in September 2013 are believed to have forced changes in the consolidated accounting process.
According to IDC, the digital-related business consulting market was worth JPY133.7bn (+29.3% YoY) in 2020. The growth was driven by expansion in digital transformation support projects that cover multiple domains among service lines ranging from strategy to operations, business improvement, finance and accounting, human resources and organization, and risk management. IDC predicts that the market will continue to grow at a high 30.1% CAGR from 2020 to 2025 with spending expected to reach JPY498.6bn by 2025, fueled by project scopes expanding in line with the scope of digital transformation, as well as an increase in ongoing support projects.
According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research’s future population projections for Japan published in 2017, the working population aged 15–64 was 77.3mn people in 2015 (60.8% of the total population), but is expected to decline to 45.3mn people in 2065 (51.4%; -1.1% CAGR).
|Total||Age (0–14)||Age (15–64)||Age (65–)||Age (0–14)||Age (15–64)||Age (65–)|
According to the 2019 survey on the supply of IT human resource by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the gap (shortage) between demand and supply of IT personnel is projected to be 300,000 in 2020, 360,000 in 2025, and 450,000 in 2030. This is based on the assumption that the demand for IT personnel will grow at about a 2.7% CAGR while labor productivity increases at a 0.7% CAGR.
Yano Research Institute estimates the total market size of BPO services (the sum of IT and non-IT-related BPO) at JPY4.3tn (+3.3% YoY) on a revenue basis in FY2019. The IT-related BPO market size was estimated at JPY2.6tn (+4.0% YoY) and the non-IT-related BPO market size at JPY1.8tn (+2.2% YoY). The economic downturn caused by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 had a negative impact on the BPO market, but this is being more than offset by a growing number of companies working to improve business efficiency and transform their operations through work style reforms and digital transformation efforts. In addition, companies are stepping up business optimization efforts alongside the adoption and expansion of telework as people refrain from going out, and this is driving up interest in outsourcing operations. As such, Yano Research Institute believes that the market as a whole is headed toward expansion with positive factors outweighing the negatives.
In the consulting industry, IT-related players include Accenture Japan Ltd (Japanese subsidiary of Accenture Plc [NYSE: ACN]), IBM Japan, Ltd. (Japanese subsidiary of IBM Corp. [NYSE: IBM]), and ABeam Consulting Ltd. (unlisted). Accenture and IBM Japan develop and sell core systems, but Business Brain Showa-Ota is not in direct competition with them as the company develops and sells back-office systems. Competing accounting firms include EY Strategy & Consulting Co., Ltd. (unlisted), Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting LLC (unlisted), and PwC Consulting LLC (unlisted). The company falls between IT consulting and accounting firms.
Consulting and system development work progresses in phases. The first phase is the consulting phase, where the ground design, which is an outline of how a system should be built, is created. After this, specific package systems are brought into consideration. Business Brain Showa-Ota competes with IT-related players and consulting arms of accounting firms in these areas. However, there is no direct competition as the company targets medium-sized companies with annual sales of JPY30–50mn while competitors target large companies. The company competes with other firms when they target large companies on the smaller end of the scale.
The system integration industry is divided into user-oriented, manufacturer-oriented, and independent sectors. The independent sector is further subdivided into custom developed system and package system categories, and the company falls into the custom developed system category. Competitors in the custom developed system category include NSD Co., Ltd. (TSE1: 9759), DTS Corp. (TSE1: 9682), TIS Inc. (TSE1: 3626), SRA Holdings, Inc. (TSE1: 3817), Ines Corp. (TSE1: 9742), Cresco, Ltd. (TSE1: 4674), IX Knowledge Inc. (TSE1: 9753), and Himacs, Ltd. (TSE1: 4299). The company competes in the system integration industry in the system development phase.
Business Brain Showa-Ota is unique in that it is better versed in systems than accounting firms and more knowledgeable in accounting compared to system vendors. Systems need to be operated and maintained after implementation, and the company provides these services. Further, systems need to be maintained and updated to reflect changes in regulations, e.g., annual changes in resident tax rates and income tax rates.
|Operating profit margin||10.7%||9.8%||12.2%||12.0%||12.0%||12.4%||13.0%||13.6%||14.0%||14.7%||14.9%|
|Revenue||System development (financial IT)||20,560||20,791|
|System development (industrial IT/social infrastructure)||29,746||30,254|
|System development (IT infrastructure)||7,651||8,052|
|System solution services||31,273||32,371||34,822||38,652||42,680||51,220||54,858||57,705||61,573|
|Operating profit||System development (financial IT)||3,398||3,597|
|Operating profit margin||16.5%||17.3%|
|System development (industrial IT/social infrastructure)||4,751||4,694|
|Operating profit margin||16.0%||15.5%|
|System development (IT infrastructure)||1,118||1,167|
|Operating profit margin||14.6%||14.5%|
|Operating profit margin||7.0%||8.1%|
|System solution services||3,434||3,219||4,371||4,644||5,126||6,362||7,103||7,845||8,547|
|Operating profit margin||11.0%||9.9%||12.6%||12.0%||12.0%||12.4%||12.9%||13.6%||13.9%|
|Operating profit margin||24.9%||29.9%||24.3%||37.9%||19.9%||18.0%||31.6%||31.6%||43.5%|
|Operating profit margin||3.3%||2.3%||3.4%||7.4%|
|Operating profit margin||10.7%||9.8%||12.3%||12.1%||12.1%||12.5%||13.1%||13.7%||14.1%||15.0%||15.2%|
|Operating profit margin||10.7%||9.8%||12.2%||12.0%||12.0%||12.4%||13.0%||13.6%||14.0%||14.7%||14.9%|
|Operating profit margin||3.9%||5.2%||6.6%||7.4%||8.6%||9.2%||10.0%||10.2%||11.3%||11.3%||12.0%|
|Operating profit margin||13.0%||13.6%|
|Operating profit margin||7.9%||10.3%||12.2%||12.8%||12.2%|
|Operating profit margin||12.3%||12.6%||13.2%||9.0%||10.6%|