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Too many techies have left Tokyo, forcing banks to get generous in bid to replace their ranks

Japan isn’t immune to the dour global climate, especially with the impact of the March catastrophe still reverberating. Nevertheless, there are some bright spots in the country’s financial recruitment landscape.

One of these is banking technology. Matthew Caddick, managing director, Aptitude Asia, says there has been “continued demand” for senior IT talent to replace people who left following the disaster.

The most sought after technology roles are supporting and developing software for front office revenue-generating areas. Caddick says “all big players” are seeking replacement, upgrades or strategic hires.

How tough is it acquiring talent? Well, for expats it depends if their families can be persuaded to move. Japan is typically seen as a much harder sell than Hong Kong or Singapore. Caddick says: “There are still a number of candidates who won’t move to Japan to work because of concerns over safety.”

Guaranteed and generous

However, there are definitely plus points in moving from Singapore or Hong Kong to Tokyo. For one, firms are quite willing to pay one-year guaranteed bonuses for senior hires.

Moreover, salaries in Japan are usually more generous than in the other two Asian cities. Caddick says: “Typically, most firms offer a salary increase of 20 per cent if you move from Singapore or Hong Kong, along with some tax equalisation, it will be interesting to see if firms will pay more to compensate for uncertainty over safety for expats families in particular.”

Candidates also benefit from the strong yen, although more senior candidates will start to insist that pay packages are pegged to another currency in case of exchange rate fluctuations, he says.

While firms are hunting for banking tech candidates, it’s not a jobs bonanza. Caddick notes that year on year, recruitment volumes have dropped. And even though there isn’t a glut of candidates, firms continue to remain highly picky about whom they employ, he adds.

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