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Are Japanese bankers going global?

Japanese banks have been increasing their overseas investments lately but they aren’t the only ones going global: it seems more Japanese bankers are inclined to develop their careers with time abroad.

Paul Ridley, a division manager in Robert Half’s financial services group, says with many banking operations migrating to other Asian centers, especially Hong Kong and Singapore, Japanese finance professionals are being forced to become more flexible in their location choice in order to further their careers.

He adds: “Especially when bankers get to a senior stage in their career they often seek regional roles, many of which are based in Hong Kong, Singapore and, to a lesser extent, Sydney.”

Youngsters keen on a spell abroad

At recruiter TopMoneyJobs, group managing director Mark Pink adds that although the number of Japanese working abroad in finance is still small, bankers in the under-40 age bracket are increasingly keen to try a few years overseas, especially in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Career-wise, what are the pros of time overseas? Donald Eddy, manager of corporate finance and real estate at Robert Walters, says some Japanese opt for foreign shores because it will boost their market value when they return to Japan.

Pete Millett, director at People Services International, believes J-bankers increasingly recognize that overseas work experience is a pre-requisite for entry into many types of senior roles within foreign banks based in Japan. Pink adds that foreign firms in Japan especially welcome returnees for front office, legal and compliance roles.

Missing traditional manners

But J-bankers should beware, as Millett says overseas experience can have its drawbacks for people returning to J-banks: “The increased assertiveness and communicativeness of the Japanese banker upon returning home often does not endear him or her to colleagues or managers, who may feel that the banker lacks traditional Japanese business manners, modesty, or has an inflated sense of self. Japanese bankers who have often experienced a vastly wider degree of autonomy and responsibility overseas, and have often gained a large number of new skills and exposures, often end up poorly utilized and often seek solace and recognition in foreign firms within a relatively short time after their return to Japan.”

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