Learning new languages?

I had taken Japanese up till intermediate level few years back. Now that I had started working, I’ve been comtemplating if I should continue learning Japanese to attain at least JLPT 2. At the same time, I’m learning Bahasa Indonesia. Right now, I’m fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, and English - standard stuff for folks in Singapore. I’m really keen to jump into IB to do M&A. However, I graduated with a finance degree last year from a non-target school, meaning I’m kicked out of the fast track to IB. So after graduation, I joined a mining firm’s corporate development M&A team as an analyst for 1 year and left when there were no more deals in the pipeline. Currently, I’m doing valuation advisory.

My plan is to learn new languages and so that I can deal with foreign markets whereby the additional languages would give me an edge. I’m also “pigeonholed” in an industry niche, being the Mining, Oil and Gas “expert” associate in my current firm’s advisory dept as I had deal experience in those area. So hopefully those 2 combination would give me an edge… or not. I have no illusions of jumping into a BB now, just a MM or boutique is fine.

My questions are…

Will this work?

Does proficiency in multiple languages gives you an edge to jumpstart a career in IB?

Is JLPT 2 even moderately enough for a foreigner to understand FS in Japanese?

I also hope that additional languages will value-add my CV when I’m applying for good MBA (hopefully a good academic reset button) in a few years time, coupled that with the quinessential GMAT score and references. Of course, I’m not trying to get ahead of myself as I plan to work hard and pass my CFA level 3 examination next year first. Meanwhile, I’m also working on networking in the industry. However, I have to know if there’s something wrong with my perception of IB hiring to think that this is an okay idea to push forward. Can any folks please enlighten me?


You looking to stay in Singapore?

I’m born and bred in Singapore. Have no qualms working anywhere else in the world.

HI, OP. Learning languages might help make your resume a bit more interesting, but I don’t think it will really help you switch to IB. For what it’s worth, I believe there are other careers that you can pursue that are just as rewarding.

What you were doing - corporate M&A sounds more interesting

JLPT 2 is not even close to proficiency fool and how would learning Japanese even help you. It’s a difficult and useless language.

Ohai: Thanks for the advice! You are right, there are other careers which are equally rewarding. But doing M&A advisory is what I had set out to do. A goal without a plan is just a dream, and I really don’t want this to be just a dream…

Palantir: Being in corporate development have some caveats. It is definitely interesting when there are deals in the pipeline, or when your company is looking to acquire. However, when there’s no deals in near future, you can sit in the office and idle for weeks. As a young chap fresh out of school, this isn’t the ideal situation for me. M&A advisory experience is also much more transferable. There was once I helped a HK IB analyst who was supposed to do a pitchbook for us. She can’t even do a proper pitchbook and find her way with excel, in the end I helped her with her pitchbook and some other stuff . The whole time I was liasing with her, she gave me the vibe that she can’t seem to work for nuts, but her CV will definitely look better than mine despite her working abilities. Or maybe she’s just faking it. I dunno… I just took it as a learning experience.

1BigStudMuffin: Really??? Damn… to think JLPT 2 is the second highest proficiency level. Been to a employment firm who specialised in helping Japanese firms in SIngapore. They told me that JLPT 2 is good enough… Thanks for the advice though! Now, I will not be complacent with just JLPT 2 and continue to JLPT 1!

Thanks for the advice! Thought being proficient in the languages of the major APAC economies would be good. I see that learning new languages is not gonna help value-add my CV much. I’m still gonna learn new languages even though I don’t gain anything from it career wise, doesn’t hurt me too I guess…

JLPT level 2 is pretty high! I passed it back in 2009. Can read newspapers and conduct business in it. The jump to level one is huge though. A lot of arcane grammar and kanji. At the end of the day, Japanese won’t do much for you though. Only looks cool on a resume.