Renewed Energy in the Tokyo FX Job Market

Renewed Energy in the Tokyo FX Job Market

Yoshiki Kumazawa 02 Aug 2017

For the first time in a long time the Japan FX job market is coming alive.

New headcount is popping up across Japanese, European and even some US financial institutions, and line managers are impatient to onboard new talent. 
These go beyond sales roles into FX trading, structuring and quantitative strategists. But who is hiring and why? Here is a brief overview of what the banks are looking for in their FX divisions.

Who is hiring?

Since April 2017 the European banks have been leading the charge in creating new headcount for FX sales positions. At least six new headcount have opened up, primarily for FX sales roles, as well as some replacement hires.
Japanese financial institutions have been a bit more conservative the first half of the year, but now we see several of the big houses seeking FX traders, sales and more. 
US banks have had a financially tough start to the year, and thus on the whole have had few openings, certainly no new headcount. There is occasional interest in bringing new analysts on board, but no urgency to hire. 

English is key

The common thread connecting these Foreign Exchange front office roles together has been the need for exceptionally high English fluency levels. Most gaishike FX sales and trading teams have direct reporting lines into APAC and other regions. Business is moving quickly and APAC needs FX bankers in Tokyo that can move with it. Some banks are even prioritizing English over Japanese language skills, or over deep FX product knowledge. 

In addition, Japanese banks prefer trilingual applicants, ideally with English, Japanese and Mandarin language skills. 

Strict experience and product knowledge requirements equal a lean candidate pool

After language skills, Tokyo financial institutions are seeking a specific combination of experience and FX knowledge. Applicants with 5-10 years experience are most highly desired. These FX sales bankers should have at least 3-7 years of FX knowledge as well as have a background working with derivatives. The banks know there aren’t many bankers with this profile, and the person who possesses these skills will find multiple opportunities available to them. 

Corporate vs Institutional Coverage

Most of the roles that have opened in 2017 are focusing on institutional sales, although a couple of corporate roles are available. The institutional sales business is making a revival, and this is the area where most hiring managers are seeking new talent. 

What do these trends say about the market?

European banks are making a come-back in the Foreign Exchange market after heavy restructuring. There is renewed interest in the institutional sales business. Additionally, several European firms are looking to make their FX platform more competitive and more aggressive.

Japanese banks are mobilizing and also looking to break deeper into their competitors’ territory, specifically with institutional (hedge fund) sales. With the US banks in the midst of a quiet year, Japanese banks view this as an opportune time to spread their wings and strengthen their platform.


To view jobs within the FX job market, click here.


Yoshiki Kumazawa's picture
Senior Manager | Financial Services Front Office Recruitment