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Japan – Active financial sector seeking top talent

22 October 2013

Japan’s banking sector shows more consistency, predictability and demand for skilled professionals than it has for several years, according to recruitment firm Hays in Japan. Another significant trend is the return of operations functions that were previously off-shored, or flagged for off-shoring, to Tokyo.

Jonathan Sampson, Regional Director of Hays in Japan, said: “The market is active, hiring is consistent and we are seeing a constant flow of new roles. This trend has continued for more than six months now.”

“As we approach the end of the year and recruitment deadlines loom, many hiring managers are going out of their way to arrange multiple meetings on one day in order to fast track the process. The approval process is also generally faster, and firms are hiring multiple people within the same department.”

“Given the higher number of roles and competition, candidates with in-demand skills often receive multiple offers, and more counter-offers. Front office roles in both the buy and sell side remain abundant, although they are more focused at the junior to mid-levels, while compliance remains a hot area,” says Jonathan.

According to the latest Hays Quarterly Hotspots list of skills in demand, the following skills are sought in Japan’s banking sector:

Rates Derivatives Trade Support – Given the shortage of skills in the fixed income operations area, demand is high for talented middle office candidates, and employers are showing more flexibility on the type of people they will consider.

Banking Operations – These candidates are sought in response to the increased number of foreign participants (institutions) using the Zengin domestic credit transfer system, as well as recent regulatory changes.

Investment Trust Management (ITM) related Sales & Marketing professionals – Sales and marketing skills are sought in response to the new tax-free investment scheme NISA (Nippon Individual Savings Account). Many AM firms are trying to strengthen their mutual fund sales teams by hiring new salespeople and those with experience in making marketing sales promotion materials in order to gain better market share.

Compliance (Anti-Money Laundering/Financial Crime Prevention) – Many securities firms do not have dedicated AML Compliance Officers, and therefore these responsibilities have been divided between existing officers. This has prompted the need for additional headcount with a more general focus. In addition, regulatory sanctions issued in the USA and UK require global financial institutions to take a pre-emptive stance so as to avoid further issues in other jurisdictions. For Japan this translates into a commitment towards consolidating the compliance and audit departments.

FX Sales - Throughout the year there has been a strong increase in demand for currency sales, both institutional and corporate. This is mainly due to the strength of the Yen and general confidence in the economy.

Equity - We’ve also seen a number of new roles for Cash Equity Sales, Sales Trading, as well as Equity Research, and it seems like the trend will continue for the next year.

Fixed Income - A number of major firms are looking to hire talented rates and credit sales and marketing professionals, ideally at the junior or mid-level so that they can train them up to their specific company culture. 

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