Monday, August 24, 2009

Japanese banks and overhead

Japanese banks seem to have an enormous amount of extraneous support staff. The floor I'm on often has 3 to 4 receptionists (none of whom I have ever seen on the phone), plus 3 to 4 people in the break room kitchen. Certainly 1 or even 2 are necessary to take room bookings and orient people who are new to the floor, but why do you need 3 or 4?

As for the kitchen, getting me a glass of water yesterday took 2 people (one from reception to go into the kitchen to get it from one of the people who works there), and she seemed very surprised when I was happy to wait there and wouldn't let her bring it our team room down the hall.

These seems to be to be a ripe head count reduction consulting opportunity. At my firm's office in New York, a team of 2 handles answering the phone, booking rooms, greeting visitors, and checking in every employee so they know who is in the office that day. At another firm, the guy at the front desk was also the travel agent, on top of all of the other tasks.

While it is a pleasure to see several smiling faces every time I enter the floor, if I were a shareholder, I'd start asking questions...

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