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Work dominates life for bankers in Japan

Work-life balance (WLB) is starting to gain a foothold in Japan, but just how important is it to the country’s beleaguered bankers?

Michael Craven, a senior manager at People Services International, says when choosing one job over another WLB is just one of many contributing factors that candidates consider.

Warwick Pearmund, a senior consultant at Boyd & Moore, says WLB is not at the top of most bankers’ lists in the current subprime-shaped recruitment environment. “I think people are quite happy just to be in work,” Pearmund says.

Ravshan Kayumov, consultant at recruiters Legal Futures, agrees that WLB is not a big issue for candidates. He says it’s also a low priority for banks: “They are more concerned with survival in the current market situation.”

Which finance jobs are the most conducive to a good WLB? Kayumov says back office and middle-office jobs in small to mid-size asset management firms are best suited to candidates who like to head home early.

Life at the large foreign securities firms is the least balanced option. “The formula is: the bigger the company, the longer the working hours,” Kayumov explains.

Pearmund, a former trader, says traders and sales traders often escape the long hours, but most i-bankers regularly work 12-hour days.

And even when the office day is done, Pearmund says many bankers in Tokyo go out entertaining clients. “When I was working in London we’d go for lunch with clients and not come back. You entertain in the evenings here.”

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