“I can’t tell you how discouraging it is,” Young said. “I’ve lost count of the number of resumes that I’ve sent out. In the last year and a half, I must have gone to fifty interviews. It’s always the same story. For some reason, my qualifications just don’t fit. Even before Japan’s earthquake and the nuclear crisis, everyone was cutting back here. Now it’s gotten worse.”
Married with a newborn daughter, Young, an American, would like to stay in Japan.
“I’ll keep hunting for the time being,” he said. “But I have a feeling that sooner or later, I’ll have to throw in the towel and start looking in Europe or North America.”
Young is lucky. He has international mobility, something Japanese employees of foreign and Japanese brokerages don’t have. Major domestic securities firms as well as overseas brokerages with operations in Japan are all cutting back because of dropping profitability due to the worldwide constriction of the stock and bond markets. The waning investment activity has resulted in foreign firms shrugging off the high yen and seeking easier markets, forcing security companies across the board to cut employment.
Mitsubishi YFJ Morgan Stanley Securities will let go of about 20% of its employees in October as “early retirement.” This follows a similar cutback in February of this year. This means that somewhere between 1,200 and 1,300 employees will leave the company.
Mizuho, Merrill Lynch and UBS AG are also all cutting back.
“We’ve noticed a recent increase in the number of candidates from these firms who have placed their resumes on some of the job boards that recruiting firms use,” said Joe Peters, a Tokyo-based recruiter and managing director of an executive search firm.
Some firms have also begun to close down branch offices. Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley, which by May of 2010 had already reduced its number of branches from 103 to 75, is looking to close another 5 to 10 locations.
At the same time, Japanese and foreign firms continue to move Asian area operations out of Japan to locations with greater growth potential. Although Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has frequently warned that Japan’s industry risks hollowing out as more and more Japanese manufacturers move overseas, Japan’s position as the financial leader of Asia appears increasingly threatened as both Japanese and foreign brokerage firms seek greener pastures in other Asian countries.