Success Stories

HS Group Japan Cayman Interview (January 2023)

Johannes Kaps HS Group Japan Cayman
Director, Branch Representative
Interviewer: Financial Services Agency
(December 2022)

Company Profile
Company: HS Group Japan Cayman
Established: June 2022
Main Business: Financial Instruments Business (Investment Advisory and Agency Business)
Financial Instruments Business Operator: The Director–General of Kanto Local Finance Bureau (FIBO) No. 3352

The logo of HS Group Japan Cayman: HS Group Japan Cayman

Q1. Congratulations on your completion of the Investment Advisory and Agency Business registration. Could you give us an overview of your company?

HS Group and its affiliates ("HS Group") is an independent, institutional investment firm providing long-term capital and strategic guidance to alternative asset management firms with its headquarters, HS Group HK, located in Hong Kong. It is licensed with the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong for the Regulated Activity of Type 9 Asset Management; registered as a non-EU Alternative Investment Fund Manager with the U.K. FCA; and files with the U.S. SEC as an Exempt Reporting Adviser.

HS Group’s strategic investments in emerging managers to date have been based primarily in Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, Princeton, New Jersey and London. HS Group Japan Cayman (“HS Japan”) has completed an Investment Advisory Business registration in Japan in order to explore investment opportunities in emerging Japanese alternative asset management firms. With the new license in Japan, HS Group hopes to identify potential investment opportunities with asset management firms based in Japan.

Based on an investment advisory agreement, HS Japan will provide investment advisory services to HS Group HK relating to Japan focused/dedicated hedge funds and other alternative investment strategies through the Japan Branch.

In addition, HS Japan will represent and hopefully expand the HS Group brand in the Japanese financial and alternative asset management community.

Q2. What was your impression about the all-in English registration process by the Financial Market Entry Office (FMEO)?

We were informed about FMEO’s all-in English registration from one of the firms who had previously completed the registration in English. Our impression of the English registration process was overall very positive. All of the interviews and the materials submitted to the FMEO for review were conducted and drafted in English, which was extremely convenient for a foreign firm without native Japanese speakers on staff. We were quite impressed about FMEO’s quick responses and well prepared questions at the meetings. To the extent there were any discussions or documentation that required Japanese language skills or interpretations of the Japanese Financial Instruments and Exchange Act, the FMEO communicated directly with our attorneys, which was also very helpful.

Q3. What is your impression of using Financial Start-up Support Program by JFSA and Tricor Japan?

The Financial Start-up Support Program was instrumental in what was generally a smooth set-up and registration process of our Japan branch office and advisory business. Tricor provided clear and useful guidance regarding the Program, and also assisted us with numerous tasks such as visa procurement, payroll and corporate secretarial services.

We were a bit concerned that the timing for visa processing might be prolonged but ultimately Tricor were able to assist in a timely manner.

Q4. How does HS Japan work together as a team with employees based in different parts of the world?

From the very outset of our business, we recognized that HS Group employees will need to travel quite extensively in order to fulfil our investment mandate, and we set up our IT infrastructure and communications, governance framework and policies and procedures to support travel and remote access.

We have a close knit team that has been working together for many years now with almost no turnover so we are very accustomed to collaborating and working closely together even if we are not in the same physical office space.

In addition to our communication by daily emails or at least once a week video meetings, we have roles as various committee members to discuss and decide important matters. The committees are “Investment Committee”, “Advisory Services Committee”, “Compliance Committee”, “Valuation Committee” and “ESG Sub-Committee to the Investment Committee”, and we meet separately on a consistent and regular basis.

Pictured from monitor: Anna Klavins (Chief Compliance Officer at Japan Branch), right side of monitor: Johannes Kaps (Representative in Japan at Japan Branch)

Q5. What are HS Japan’s visions for the future?

Initially our plan is for Johannes Kaps to be the sole representative of HS Japan, but over time, as we will get more involved in the local alternative asset community and hopefully discover more investment opportunities, it is very possible that one or two more employees will be hired to support the research activities of our Japan office.

We are proud of the fact that HS Group has grown to become one of the largest Asia-based strategic seeding firms and hope to continue our work helping emerging managers launch and build their businesses, in particular with a Japan focused manager that has a presence in Japan. We hope to be viewed as a positive contributor to the alternative asset management industry throughout Asia.


“Mr. Kaps, how is Japan’s living environment as an expatriate?”

Many people know that Japan is famous for travelling from the perspectives of good food, beautiful nature, and cultural experiences. Needless to say that we all have iPhones and Google Maps, and thanks to the World-cup Rugby and Tokyo Olympics, now the metro signs are all in English, so it is easy for someone who doesn’t read Japanese to travel anywhere by train. The Metro Card or Suica is very useful because I don’t have to check how much money it takes to go to my destination. Many restaurants have English menus and people are used to having foreign visitors, so it is much easier to integrate. I hear that several new international schools are opening, so that would also increase options for expatriate families move into Japan.

In addition, a recent change in the immigration law has allowed expatriates working for registered financial institutions in Japan to bring two domestic helpers and nannies from overseas to Japan, which would be instrumental for those families with young children.


Johannes Kaps
HS Group Japan Cayman, Branch Representative
HS Group (Hong Kong), CEO and Co-Founder

Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of HS Group (Hong Kong) Limited, Chairman of the Advisory Services Committee, a member of the Investment Committee. He is responsible for managing the business and affairs of HS Group (Hong Kong) Limited within the guidelines established by the board of directors of HS Group Ltd., of which he is a director and voting shareholder. He is also responsible for the Firm’s Advisory Services, designed to help HS Group’s partnerships plan, build, run and grow institutional hedge fund businesses. Mr. Kaps has 26 years’ experience in finance, primarily based in Asia.

Prior to founding HS Group, Mr. Kaps worked in the Global Securities Services sales team for Asia Pacific at Goldman Sachs based in Hong Kong. He joined Goldman Sachs in 1999 and was named Managing Director in 2008. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, he worked at Morgan Stanley for two years as an analyst in the investment banking division, and also worked at a private investment banking firm, Gruppo, Levey & Co., for one year as a senior analyst specializing in the consumer, industrial, media, multi-channel retail and marketing services sectors. He earned a BA in International Relations and German Literature from Brown University in 1996. He is native in English and fluent in German and Japanese.