|LIFE IN JAPAN
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
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
Alison Pockett spoke to Richard James.
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