Path to Asia? From UK

Set to graduate next year from a good semi target UK (think Durham/Bristol/Bath) studying humanities (History/Law/Philosophy). Have significant personal and family reasons to be in Asian region.

Current experience: incoming summer IB at no name boutique unlikely to lead to FT post grad, previous PE internship at LMM firm.

What is my best course of action to get to Asia? I assume SG is best situation for an english only speaker like myself - I speak Japanese at a very basic level (learning) but would probably need 1-2 years to become business proficient (N2+). Am also considering doing a Msc Finance for recruiting purposes if I strike out 2025 SA in London - what is the ranking/rep of Msc Finance programs for Asian finance recruiting?

Also i’m very much open to working in roles outside of IB (ER/AM/PE/S&T etc) but am unsure what is realistic from my non-STEM background and what is applicable in Asia


Based on the most helpful WSO content, your journey to Asia, particularly aiming for a finance career, involves a strategic approach given your background and aspirations. Here's a breakdown of actionable steps and considerations:

  1. Leverage Your Current Experience: Your incoming summer IB internship and previous PE internship, even at a no-name boutique and LMM firm respectively, are valuable. Highlight any transferable skills and experiences in your CV and cover letters. Tailor your narrative to showcase your adaptability, analytical skills, and understanding of financial markets.

  2. Language Proficiency: Your initiative to learn Japanese is commendable and aligns well with your interest in the Asian market. Achieving a business proficiency level (N2+) will significantly enhance your profile, especially for markets like Japan. For Singapore (SG), English is widely used in business, making it a suitable option for English speakers. However, continuing your Japanese language studies will open more doors in the region.

  3. Consider a Master's Degree: A Master's in Finance can bolster your credentials, especially if you aim to strengthen your technical skills and finance knowledge. For recruiting in Asia, prestigious universities with strong alumni networks in the region are beneficial. Look for programs with a global outreach and partnerships with Asian institutions or firms. The reputation of MSc Finance programs can vary, so research and target those with a track record of placing graduates in Asian markets.

  4. Explore Diverse Roles: Being open to roles outside of IB is wise. With a non-STEM background, consider ER (Equity Research), AM (Asset Management), PE (Private Equity), and S&T (Sales and Trading). Each has its nuances in terms of skill requirements and market demand in Asia. For instance, AM and ER might be more accessible with your background, focusing on market analysis and investment strategies. Networking and informational interviews can provide insights into what's realistic and in demand.

  5. Networking and Applications: Start building your network with professionals working in Asia. LinkedIn, alumni networks, and finance forums like WSO are great platforms. Attend Asia-focused finance events or webinars to connect with insiders. Apply to roles that match your skills and interests, and don't hesitate to reach out to recruiters specializing in the Asian market.

  6. Consider Internships or Further Experience: If direct entry into a full-time role proves challenging, look for internships or contract positions in Asia. These can serve as stepping stones, providing local experience and further networking opportunities.

  7. Stay Informed and Flexible: Keep abreast of market trends and opportunities in Asia. The financial industry is dynamic, and new roles or areas of growth may emerge. Being flexible and open to different paths can ultimately lead you to your desired destination in Asia.

Remember, persistence and a strategic approach are key. Tailor your applications, continue enhancing your skills and network, and stay informed about the Asian financial markets.

Sources: Being an Asian in finance in the United States, Being an Asian in finance in the United States, I Need You, WSO + Its Time To Move - Asia Job Search, Any Asian/Non-Diversity Males on This Forum? Future Career Concerns, Moved to Japan and failed – a “wolfy”(WSO user) story

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

I have read similar posts so will chime in - but why Japan? I think people easily fall in love with the idea but the society isn't as picturesque as it seems to be painted out; the Japanese work practices/dynamic is considered quite unhealthy and would definitely pose a culture shock to a foreigner. If you have an interest in the country learn their language by all means, but I've seen on here before that Asian countries tend to prefer speakers at a native level so it may be tough in this regard too. I may be wrong on the latter, however.

SG is a great alternative but again there is the logistics of actually becoming a citizen which you will have to look into yourself. People can fall in love with the idea but I would definitely suggest reading into the cultural element and ultimately, a visit to the country yourself if that's possible to actually understand if it is feasible for you to move permanently. Because sometimes it isn't, and it would be better to find that out before you commit your future there.


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