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Hiring gets slowly into gear at J-banks

Things are on the up at Japanese banks. Well, most of them at least.

Japan’s largest bank, Mitsubishi UFG Financial Group, returned to profit in the first quarter with net gains of 75.9bn yen, as did Daiwa Securities (17.9bn), Nomura Holdings (11.4bn) and Japan’s third largest bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (72.8bn). But will profit create hiring?

Kaori Yamamura, a banking consultant at Hays, is one recruiter who says that hiring among Japanese firms has started to slowly pick up. “Hiring had been frozen at many firms, but now they are beginning to hire again. That isn’t expansion, though, but replacement hiring and upgrading,” she says.

Yamamura says her firm has seen quite a few back and middle-office vacancies in securities recently, as well as some roles in asset management, but front-office hiring is still weak.

“Firms are still not generally hiring for front office roles like traders, although we did have a junior front office role recently and there is a feeling that may pick up later in the year,” she adds.

What about comp? Despite most J-banks returning to profit, don’t expect salaries to improve. “They are still low,” Yamamura comments. Many Japanese firms have also cut overtime opportunities and will likely be giving out low bonuses.

Yet that doesn’t mean hiring standards are dropping. “The client side is still very picky. Candidates have to have exact experience and the process is longer,” she says.

Finally, spare a thought for Mizuho Financial Group. The country’s second biggest bank has been left standing alone in the corner at the first-quarter profit party like some acne-ridden nerd, after reporting a fourth consecutive quarterly loss of 4.4bn yen. And it seems Mizuho is gearing up for more rough times ahead.

“In light of factors including the current financial market turmoil and global economic downturn, we have been putting more priority on ‘strengthening of stable capital base’ in order to prepare for a further adverse business environment,” the bank said in its first quarter results statement.

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