Dear Justy Dog,
A big bark out to you and your column. Love it. Any plans for a movie deal?
I have a so-so career going. I’m a mid-level associate at a big 4 Japanese firm. If I’m honest with myself, partnership is not an option and I’m ok with that.
My problem is that I do finance work and that has slowed down the past several years and there doesn’t seem to be that many in-house finance jobs these days either. And, when I interview for non-finance inhouse jobs the hiring manager assumes I’ll just stay until a great job with a bank comes along. And truthfully, I can’t say he’s wrong but I also don’t think it’s that easy to get a “great job with a bank”. I would prefer to use my skills in the finance industry but I’m not sure it’s the most stable choice or if it’s even possible given that there seem to be more bengoshi interviewing for the few jobs that come up than ever before.
What’s a hard working Bengoshi to do?
Frustrated in Finance
Dear F ‘n F,
Sniff, sniff back at you. Thanks for reading. I like your thinking on the movie. Snoopy could play me….
Your problem is not a new one. First and foremost I caution patience and advise to keep interviewing for jobs in banking & finance as they come up. You are correct that the competition for jobs is tough in finance. That’s because the Big 4 are slowing the rate they make Partners and Bengoshi are becoming readily available to the market at large. I understand the competition is tough but keep trying.
Maybe you need to do the “two-step” – that is get a job in a lesser role or a less desirable bank and use that experience to move into a more preferred role in the future. It’s not risk-proof but nothing is in our lives. And I’ll go one step further (even though I don’t know you) and suggest you embrace the risk. Remember you are a Bengoshi and it’s unlikely you are ever going to starve or not be able to provide for your family. Look for the slightly contrarian option that is finance but not quite finance. And give Hiroshi Kurosaka a call for a confidential consultation. Hiroshi was the first recruiter in Japan to focus on Bengoshi careers and no one is more serious about listening and giving good advice as Hiroshi. (You could call him a Bengoshi’s best friend !)
But’s there’s another idea, (and it’s slightly contrarian but I’m surprised that it is)…do you like stability, good pay and getting in on the ground floor of a growth trend? Well, then, what about seriously looking into Compliance? I know, you are a proud bengoshi and never saw yourself being a Compliance officer. But…
Get over it.
Work is work and if you can be great in something you will likely enjoy it more than something you aren’t fully enjoying – that’s just how your human brains are wired.
The world is changing and if you look globally you will see that the most senior people in the biggest banks that are covering compliance are lawyers. Why? Because lawyers are able to bring the greater regulatory view into the role and see a bigger picture. Further, they get promoted faster than non-qualified compliance officers because they speak the same risk and regulatory language the General Counsel uses. Also, there’s a shrinking and disappearing line between the legal and compliance functions these days with the dominance of regulatory concerns – locally and globally.
Bengoshi in regulatory and compliance roles really hasn’t become fashionable in Japan yet – but it will. Don’t wait until everyone else is doing it, strike out on your own and take charge of your career. It’s your best chance to be a big fish in a growing pond.
Let’s a grab a bone together soon and talk about those movie rights.