2019 is the sixth year that the University of Tokyo and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) co-organize the summer internship as to help foreign students to experience the financial institutions in Japan. Thanks to the GraSPP Internship program, I got the precious opportunity to learn on site at this international mega bank and to experience the unique Japanese working culture.
The Institutional Client Department, Asia (ICDA) of SMBC acts as host for the internship program. I was told that Japanese banks are very conservative, especially SMBC, before this internship. But I was shocked by the very first day. People wore business casual instead of pressured black suits. They used English more frequently other than Japanese since they need to communicate with other branches from the rest of the world. Almost all of them had many years working experiences abroad and they were very receptive to share their experiences and friendly to offer help.
The internship started with kind welcome by the General Manager of ICDA and a discussion about ‘Give and Take’ so that the lectures would be adjusted to be better fit for our different personal objectives. For the first week, we talked with people from different teams of ICDA, such as the clearing group, the insurance group, the planning group and etc., regarding to their different job responsibilities and the projects in progress, and then we were arranged to have lunch with them. Within the relaxing atmosphere, we discussed about the trainee program, rotation opportunity and promotion system in SMBC and the differences between SMBC and other companies. The employees were all very kind and patient to explain all of our questions.
On the second week of the internship, we had lectures with people from other departments. We could learn from Transaction Business Planning Department about the well-designed world-leading clearing system. And we got to know the basic AI mechanism from the General Affairs Department for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT). There was one day dedicated to visiting SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. (Nikko), the security company held by SMBC group. At Nikko, we better understood the security market and had a chance to visit the trading room and to study from one of their best trader about foreign exchange strategies. We had our final presentation based on what we have learned during this 10-day period in front of all ICDA members at the last day of the internship.
I would strongly recommend this internship for students who are interested at working at banking sector in Japan, no matter Japanese or non-Japanese speakers. It is a lecture-oriented internship and focuses on experiencing the Japanese working culture and understanding the banking operation. SMBC is trying to get away from the image of ‘conservative’ to build up a brand new image among Japanese companies. Their philosophy ‘To know well, and to add value’ is impressive and will be beneficial to both bank inside and people outside.