Surge in Japanese professionals Seeking New Job Opportunities in Q3 2016

November 2, 20168:27 am546 views

There has been a surge in Japanese professionals seeking new opportunities as workers seek to shore up their job security in the wake of high profile merger activity. Job flow in Japan remained steady, with a 3% quarter-on-quarter increase. Combined with Q2 that saw a robust hike of 20% in jobs available, the two quarters indicate summer uplift in financial services jobs in Japan.

The uplift waned in August as the summer lull heralded a period of more modest growth. With some of Japan’s largest asset management institutions, including Sumitomo Mitsui and JP Morgan Chase, announcing hiring freezes starting in September, figures are unlikely to spike again in the near future.

Q3 saw financial services institutions Mizuho, Shinko and Diam merge to create the largest asset management company in Asia, called Asset Management One Co. Big business mergers are followed by periods of assessment to determine which roles to retain, reallocate or eliminate.

Q3 job seeker numbers were up an astronomical 133%, quarter-on-quarter. “The last of financial service bonuses in Japan are given out in Q2, making a Q3 surge in candidates standard,” said Richie Holliday, Chief Operations Officer, Morgan McKinley Asia Pacific. “The extreme surge we’re seeing is exacerbated by the high rate of mergers taking place which is causing professionals to worry about the job security.”

Permanent financial services jobs remained relatively steady, quarter-on-quarter, and showed a slight increase of 5% year-on-year, across the APAC region. Professionals seeking new jobs increased by 27% quarter-on-quarter and by 45% year-on-year.

Brexit, instability in the Middle East, military muscle flexing in the South China Sea and market fluctuations are making for global uncertainty that has employers and jobseekers alike unsure of what lies ahead. Nevertheless, Q3 employment data shows an overall resilient financial services employment market in the APAC region.

After a marked decline in both permanent and contracting jobs in Q2, Q3 employment numbers show a steady increase in the jobs market. Permanent positions increased by 3% quarter-on-quarter and 5% year-on-year, rising to a total of 16,095. Contract openings remained flat with a change of 1% quarter-on-quarter, decreasing only slightly by 3% year-on-year.

“It’s encouraging that despite so much uncertainty, we’re seeing a relatively stable employment market, with financial institutions continuing to release jobs” added Holliday.


Australia’s first full quarter since its new fiscal year began in July saw an 18% decrease in jobs available, quarter-on-quarter. Australia’s Q2 spike in jobs available absorbed the end of fiscal year sprint to fill positions, so as not to lose them in the following year.

Having avoided slipping into recession for over two decades, the Australian economy is ticking along, but a general malaise and political volatility make for a confused outlook.

Adding to the confused outlook is the Australian dollar’s strength, which is contributing to a revival in organisations looking offshore for investments, while the ongoing dominance of the Big Four domestic players make it difficult for international institutions to get a foothold on the national market.

See: Employers in Japan Struggle to Find Globally Aligned HR Professionals

Mainland China

Q3 was spent filling jobs with those who had registered their interest to move roles in Q2, contributing to 14% increase in jobs, and 39% decrease in professionals seeking new roles, quarter-on-quarter. As the financial sector in China gives bonuses in Q1, it is standard to see the bulk of professionals looking for a new challenge register with recruiters in Q2.

Signalling ebb in the Chinese gold rush, overseas businesses are showing less enthusiasm in setting up shop there. This trend is reflected in a new report by the China Sales Manager Index which found that the Chinese economy is growing at only half of the projected rate of growth.

The creation of a large amount of high net worth individuals means financial services are shifting their focus to domestic revenue sources, as opposed to international ones. Indeed, it is Chinese investors who are driving the fintech investments in the APAC region.

China, however, is not showing signs of looking exclusively inward. It was unaffected by the Brexit vote, and the China Securities Regulatory Commission is in negotiations for a bi-national financial services framework with Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority.

Hong Kong

As with Mainland China, professionals in Hong Kong received their bonuses in Q1, making the Q3 25% decrease in professionals normal. The 9% decrease in jobs available is indicative of a more disconcerting trend.

Home to a number of European businesses and the sixth largest stock exchange in the world, Hong Kong is particularly susceptible to global volatility. Of its regional counterparts, Hong Kong was dealt the greatest blow by Brexit, with some experts fearing it will lower GDP by a full percentage point.

Another factor stalling job growth in Hong Kong is the shift from traditional, location-specific work which is causing financial services institutions to reevaluate positions. Many of those roles, including support services, accounting and back office functions continue to move to more affordable locations such as the Philippines, India or Mainland China.


Singapore experienced uplift in both jobs and candidates in Q3. Jobs available increased by 35% and professionals seeking new opportunities by 58%, quarter-on-quarter. The uplift is fuelled primarily by the continuing fintech surge. Fintech is an essential part of Singapore’s financial services employment market, comprising 50% of revenue in 2016.

The government’s recent stance on limiting the amount of foreign nationals that organisations can hire has raised alarm bells, as the demand for highly qualified practitioners to support the fintech surge is high.

Though the government is not expected to eliminate existing jobs or expel people currently working in the country, the government’s new, protectionist stance is causing foreign professionals to worry about about their long term job prospects in Singapore. In the short term, however, Singapore’s excellent quality of life keeps it an attractive place to live and continues to attract top talent globally.


APAC economies are, by and large, in good shape. The recruitment sector is relatively young in many of the markets, particularly in places like China, leaving the door wide open for job seekers to forge their careers how they want to, without having to conform to more structured, conservative markets.

Unlike other emerging markets like Russia and Brazil which were expected to boom, the APAC region has lived up to its promise of economic growth and wealth creation. Enthusiasm to chase the proverbial dragon remains strong, even in these volatile times. What has shifted is that the direction and growth is less clear than it was before, and the instability is making for murkier waters as global trade winds shift.

Also read: Japan Accelerates its Go-Digital Drive, Demand for Big Data Specialists on the Rise

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