Alison Pockett

Alison PockettOccupation:
Managing Partner
Time in Japan:
3 and a half years

I originally came out to Japan to join two long-standing colleagues of mine at a brokerage here in Tokyo, but after six or seven months we began to feel that it wasn' the right company for us and so decided to go it alone. Over a period of time our company, and our reputations in the financial services industry, grew, and then in May of this year we formed a joint venture with Tresidder Tuohy International, which is a subsidiary of the Tresidder Tuohy group in Hong Kong. As a result of that partnership we're now probably the largest and strongest financial services company in Tokyo.

This is a very interesting time to be involved in finance in Japan. The current crisis in the Japanese financial sector doesn't actually affect our business directly because we deal in personal investments for foreigners living in Japan, and these investments tend to be offshore and on a global basis rather than Japan specific. Where it does affect us is when we have clients who get paid in Japanese yen?and not all our clients do?and who want to save in their home currency. Obviously they are getting worried about how the worsening exchange rate is affecting them, so I am advising those clients to switch now because I think that the yen is going to depreciate even more against the dollar. Of course that's just speculation; you never know what will happen until it actually happens.

As well as being a managing partner in a company, I'm also the current president of Foreign Executive Women (FEW), an organization that helps foreign businesswomen living in Tokyo. There are many successful women here who have seized the opportunities available in Japan?and having lived in quite a few countries around the world, I have to say that Japan really is a land of opportunity?and have established their own businesses, which is great to see.

For me, one of the most positive about living here is the number of good friends I've made since I first arrived, some of whom are the best I've ever had. Also, as a single woman, I enjoy feeling safe, and life here is always fun. Of course we all have our down times, but at the end of the day I wouldn't choose to be anywhere else right now.

In the future I would like to get to know the Japanese better. I know that I am being held back by my inability to communicate, and I realize that I should be able to speak more Japanese by now, but I have found it very difficult to get to grips with the language, even after taking lessons. I would also like to see more of the country; it's such a beautiful place and I look forward to having the opportunity to travel more extensively here.

Whether I'll live in Japan for the rest of my life is open to question, but all my business is in Tokyo at the moment and so this is where I will stay for the foreseeable future.

Alison Pockett spoke to Richard James.

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