My Financial Experiences: Six differences between NY Wall Street Financial Firm vs. Japanese Financial Firm

As you know, the photos are all about my cosplays, but for the time being, I was a fund manager for 10 years after graduating and was working on Wall Street in New York.

I would like to write what I felt from that experience, what is the difference on NY Wall Street business culture from Japanese Finanical Firm.

*And I guess here more foreign friends must read this article, so I am happy that you get better understand that how Japanese typical bigger firm are doing as the business culture on them.

By the way, this is just my thought from a few years ago, and I didn’t see all the companies, but I would like to leave about my experience as a buy-side fund manager, spending time surrounded by American colleagues in the investment section of a major U.S. foreign finance company, working with people from various companies on Wall Street (They are mainly hedge funds, PE funds and investment bankers on sell-side).

1. “There is no drinking culture.” like Japan

In Japan, we sometimes go out for a drink after work.
In NY there is almost no drinking communications there.
Of course there is a Cacktail Party, but it will be finised soon.
“I’m having dinner with my family.”
“My family’s waiting.”
And finished shortly and go home.

In Japan, I think that girls bar meeting still exist.
When I was working in Japan, there were some beautiful women who came to sell new investment products, perhaps to attract old men in charge of divisions.

First of all, there is no such culture in NY.
(It is pity but in Japan it is still there)

There is no culture of men drinking as business with women (halfly sexial meaning such as above girl’s bar) until late at night.
In addition to a corporate culture that is stricter than that of Japan in terms of sexual harassment, and it is natural for women to raise their voices when something happens in US, men do not take such risks.

2. Thinking much of efficiency

I think this may be an exception for investment banks that are engaged in M&A, but basically, in US they finish their work and leave earlier.

Also, there is no culture that you can’t go home until your boss is going home.
(In Japan, it is pity but we still have such a culture……)
It’s a kind of recognition that people who work for a long time means “useless” in US.

But instead, they wake up very early in the morning.
They do all important meetings and business meetings in the morning or at lunch time.
In Japan, there is a culture of working late at night for business dinners and business dinners, but in US it’s the opposite.

When I was in US, the questions I was asked the most is,
“Japanese are workaholics?”

My colleagues always think, “Which company shall I go to next?”.
Continuing to work at one company permanently is rare in US, on the other hand, in Japan it used to be the mainstream that people work one company permanently.
So salary negotiations are pretty rational and aggressive, so to speak, “Because I contributed so much in xxxx, it is natural to receive xxxx”. That’s normal.

In Japan, it is not like that, if you are American and if you do that in Japanese firm, maybe the boss must be super surprised!!!

3. MBA

“Do you have an MBA?” They don’t ask stupid questions.
Because everyone has it.
Basically, many people have an MBA from Harvard or Columbia because of New York.
As it is a financial institution, there are many people who have an MBA of Wharton too.

It feels like the conversation starts with “So, which MBA do you have?”.

4.Not all fair

It is often said in Japan, “America is fair and has broader values!” but maybe it’s not totally as it is in financial institution.
I felt there is a strong emphasis on educational background, and also very materialistic.

By the way, I graduated from Keio University, but nobody knew about Keio University.
And I think it is same with Tokyo University.
I studied at Cambridge University for a while in college and it was recognized.

Even for women, there are still some barriers to promote, it is still less than Japan though. I also heard that Asian people have that too on prpmotoion (And the Bamboo Ceiling suggests this.).

5. Direct and there still some flattery too

It is true that they say “It you have no opinion, you are not existing.”
In Japan, it is important to keep peace, and as a result, there are many cases that people are reluctant to express their opinions, but it is different in US.

Also, in Japan, bigger firms, ordinary employees are not even allowed to express their opinions directly to department heads or executives.
But in US “as long as it makes sense”, you can give your opinion to heads or executives.
However, it is only when it makes sense.

And there is flattery.
People flatters the heds that they wants to get in.
This is straight and it is easy to understand. The way is different from that of Japan.

6. Talking about their private normally

I think Japanese people clearly separate the inside from the outside.
In US share both inside and outside, so it’s normal to take your partner to a home party.

So they must know very well about the family of their co-worker, and everytime they say each other, “What did you do this weekend?”.
In Japan, sometimes it is recognized as too personal a conversation, but it’s normal in US.

They also have a better understanding of LGBT than in Japan, so it is also common to bring a gay partner.
(In Japan, it gave people a big surprise and some very conservative people may ignore )

My name is Hikari, Japanese Cosplayer in Tokyo. Cosplaying for +20yrs and Otaku. Have been to over 50 countries and can speak Russian/Indonesian a little (learned by Homestay) too. Also as Equity Analyst/Economist. Glad to meet you here!