By Oscar Johnson
Whether keen to count cash - someone else’s or your own - or a born broker Japan’s bank and finance markets may have your number. The writing on the wall is hard to miss. The industry offers a wealth of potential success for companies and the career minded alike. If you have what it takes, chances are there’re several firms out there eager to take you on.
Like the economy, banks are bouncing back and tighter regulations are breathing new life into them and the financial service sector. As a result, many firms are kicking their recruitment efforts into high gear. It only adds to widespread confidence that long-term sustainable growth for the industry is on the horizon. All that’s uncertain is what role you’ll play in these markets as they continue to gather steam.
Many Japanese banks are showing clear signs of having shirked their bad-loan legacy and are eying staff increases to expand retail and other services as 7 million baby boomers are set to start retiring in 2007. While regulatory pressure from within and outside of the finance market has been bearing fruit to meet the demands of increasing global competition. The renewed confidence in Japanese banks is also buoyed by the growing number of success stories staring savvy foreign investors who have made proverbial lemonade out of some of the industry’s post-bubble-economy lemons.
“Shinsei Bank was rescued by US fund Ripplewood Holdings and is now worth $9.5 billion (1.1 trillion yen). US buyout firm Lone Star also turned around Tokyo Star bank, which is now worth $2.2 billion (262.7 billion yen),” the UK-based Financial Times reported this month. Even former Nippon Credit Bank has bounced back since investors snatched it from a government auction block in 2000. Reborn as Aozora, debt investor Cerberus has since amassed a 61 percent stake in the bank, which media reports say may make a 30-percent initial public offering in November that would raise its value to more than $10 billion (1.2 trillion yen). Some of the new funds will go to hire more staff.
So what’s it at all mean for those mulling a bank job in the Land of the Rising Sun? It’s not just Aozora that’s earmarking funds for new salaries. Consider this: A recent Asahi Shimbun report notes that mega bank Mizuho Financial Group Inc. employed 2,350 new recruits in April - nearly double that of the previous year. It’s planning to take on an additional 2,388 for fiscal 2007. While Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ will triple its quota for new hires to 2,000 and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. eyes recruiting 1,400 employees, up from 995 this fiscal year, for fiscal 2007.
Japanese financial service institutions are also looking for new staff to join them for an anticipated major turnaround. Last year’s privatization of Japan Post is expected to free up large sums of capital over the long term for management at firms in the industry, many of which began, “aggressively expanding infrastructure and recruiting for new talent” last year, notes a 2006 salary survey by Robert Walters. The Asahi Shimbun reports that Nikko Cordial Securities will hire 1,000 recruits in fiscal 2007, about 400 more than this year. It will be the first time in nine years that the regular spring enrollment will reach 1,000. The paper also notes that Daiwa Securities is aiming for 1,400 new recruits, the largest number in the nation's securities industry for next spring. The number will top 1,000 for the first time in 15 years, following Japan's asset-inflated economic boom. Daiwa will also add customer services to its list of job classifications for new recruits.
So what are the hot jobs in this sector? The Robert Walters survey says that because regulatory officials are clamping down on Japanese firms to meet global standards, 2005 saw a high demand for staff specializing in legal, compliance and risk functions. Annual salaries ranged from 6 million yen to more than three times that depending on experience. Product development, sales and marketing are also hot - not only in alternative/hedge funds boutiques but also in private banking. Asset management has expanded and is expected to continue to do so in future years. “As a result,” the report notes, “we are seeing our clients shorten their interview process and offer better incentives to attract the best candidates.”
In industry and commerce-related accounting and finance, salaries range from 4 to 5 million yen for accounts assistants to up to 25 million yen for a finance director of a large organization, the survey says. While investment banking jobs start at 7.5 million to 11 million yen and top out at 25 to 50 million yen a year for directors with 10 or more years of experience. But don’t just take my word for it; see what kind of job opportunities you can bank on at: http://www.careercross.com/en/021900_banking_finance.html.