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Tokyo stays steady: A review of recruitment in 2010

If you had to describe 2010 in three words, you wouldn’t go far wrong with “steady, yet unspectacular”. But mediocre looks pretty good after the horrors of 2008 and 2009. So what were the hiring highlights? Read on.

Equity analysts

2010 saw high demand for equity analysts, both senior and junior, across all sectors. “Firms competed to lure top-ranked senior analysts who brought a loyal base of clients along. Other hiring drivers include new entrants to the market, including one major Japanese firm who launched an institutional platform this year and managed to hire more than 15 senior analysts in six months,” says Richard King, managing director, Michael Page International.

Lionel Kaidatzis, operations director at Morgan McKinley Tokyo, says in particular there was significant demand for IT and finance equity research analysts, and as a result retention of talent was a problem for a number of firms.

“A better performing Nikkei, the traditional movement into buy-side positions, as well as the regular merry-go-round meant there was high demand for analysts in a candidate short market. In order to find new talent, there has been an increasing trend for clients to find candidates from business related backgrounds, and many junior analysts have come from private equity, M&A and strategic consulting backgrounds,” he adds.

Valuation control

Several financial institutions were in the limelight for mis-marking trading positions in 2010, with underdeveloped valuation control units partly to blame. The result was a rise in demand for valuation control professionals.

“Many firms were (and are) looking to build out their valuations teams to ensure they are providing accurate data for reporting purposes. We expect to see continued demand for these professionals,” says Kaidatzis

Operational functions

After a nightmare 2009, there was some return in demand in operational functions. “While this mini recovery cannot be attributed to strong growth, we did see a bit of a bounce back from over cutting in the previous year. In addition to this, increased attention to risk management in front-to-back processing and various adjustments required due to off-shoring saw a constant demand for high quality candidates,” says Kevin Naylor, finance team leader at Wall Street Associates.

However, candidates with long and stable “processing” experience still saw the demand for their skills decline. “In contrast, we saw candidates with project management skills, good technical knowledge of products and strong communication skills coming out on top. This trend should continue in 2011 as firms demand more bang for their buck in operations,” says Naylor.

Trilingual candidates

In areas where demand was on the rise, trilingual candidates were coming to the fore. Within equity analyst hiring, Kaidatzis says there was “a significant increase in demand for trilingual candidates within the bank’s, as the equity research functions in Japan are becoming more Asia-centric.”

Naylor saw a similar trend in operational functions. Candidates in demand tended to have strong Japanese and English language skills, but hiring managers were increasingly wowed by candidates with a third language, such as Mandarin.

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