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Wall Street’s woes slow down recruitment in Japan

The crisis in the US finance sector is creating a climate of increased caution within the Japanese hiring market. Both employers and candidates are treading carefully. “Candidates are becoming more cautious. If they have a stable position, they are unlikely to move on,” says Kyoungjin Lim, manager, finance technology at Pinnacle Consulting Group.

Pete Millett, director, People Services International, adds: “I’ve certainly heard of some candidates who have had offers pulled by firms not directly involved in the current crisis, as banks have assessed and reassessed their own risk exposure during recent days.”

Lehman Brothers staff are considering their options following the recent Nomura promise that it will keep all Asia-Pacific employees on board. Lim says most foreign banks in Tokyo are waiting to see what happens with the Nomura deal and are not taking on many Lehman people just yet.

“But,” adds Lim, “although there is no obvious movement at this early stage, some of the Japanese banks have begun interviewing Lehman candidates now that top talent from that firm is more available.”

The Bank of America takeover of Merrill Lynch isn’t expected to generate much staff movement. Millett says: “Personally speaking, I wouldn’t expect this takeover to lead to many job losses in Japan over the coming months, because BoA doesn’t have a lot of staff on the ground in Japan as of yet.”

Foreign bankers who decide to jump ship will face a tough Tokyo job market. “Certainly, in the current market conditions, and depending on their area of expertise, non-Japanese candidates who are not fully bilingual might find it quite difficult to find an equally attractive role in Tokyo in a timely manner, and some may even need to consider positions in other Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore, or in their home countries,” says Millett.

Lim says bilingual Japanese are still sought after and have the option of working for both local and international banks.

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