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Not much IT recruitment action, unless you can add value

IT roles at banks are still trending overseas, but some recruiters are seeing new opportunities in Tokyo for techies.

Karim Hakam, manager, technology recruitment at Wall Street Associates, says instead of replacing headcount in Japan, many firms are expanding headcounts in Hong Kong or Singapore.

But while many pure IT roles are going abroad, some firms in Tokyo are now recruiting people with technical skills for business-facing roles, acting as middlemen between traders and the more remote tech teams.

Hakam says this new kind of position often commands a better salary because it’s seen as adding more value to the business. “It’s not just people with strong business skills in demand for these roles. Those with the best technical skills have also been making the transition,” he adds.

For some, language skills are also important, for others not. “Language requirements depend on the perspective of managers and the end users. On the equities side, many departments are quite international and English skills are more important. On the other hand, within fixed income, for example, Japanese skills tend to be important,” says Hakam.

Banking IT hiring is currently split almost equally between expanding existing headcounts, replacement hiring, and the conversion of technical roles to business-facing roles.

Hakam says hiring is concentrated at a junior to mid level. “It will probably be six to 12 months before we start seeing senior-level regional roles, either in Japan or covering Japan from Hong Kong or Singapore,” he adds.

Several other recruiters contacted for this article say they are getting very little IT activity in Tokyo.

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