Name: Mark Dearlove
Title: Country Manager and Representative Director, Head of Markets Asia Pacific, Barclays Securities Japan Limited
DoB: Nov. 5, 1966
Years in Japan: 17
For Mark Dearlove, Barclays Japan country manager, to be living in Japan when the banking group is celebrating 50 years since beginning Tokyo-based operations in 1969 is fortuitous. There is, however, a coincidental backstory that suggests his current circumstances were almost fated.
He shows a photo; in it, a woman stares defiantly at the camera. Clutched in her hand is a cloth bag labeled “Barclays, $25.” The woman is Dearlove’s mother, dressed up as Bonnie Parker of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde. Moreover, she’s attending a costume party in Tokyo.
“This must’ve been taken about 1969,” said Dearlove. “I don’t know if they got that from whomever Barclays’ first manager was, but it must have been about the time that Barclays was set up here in Japan.”
Feeling “very lucky and very privileged to be the country manager here at Barclays when we’re celebrating 50 years,” Dearlove himself was born in Tokyo and lived in the city until age 10. His family was based in Tokyo at the time his father was posted at the British Embassy, starting out in Shimokitazawa before later moving to the embassy compound.
Remembering Tokyo as a very safe city, Dearlove enjoyed the freedom to travel around via train and subway like many other Tokyo children who rely on them to go to school. “That’s one of the great things about Japanese society and culture, that freedom that you had as a young kid,” he said, smiling.
His parents would later move overseas while Dearlove attended boarding school in the U.K. He knew, however, that he would eventually return to life abroad due to the confidence and comfortableness stemming from growing up in a foreign country. He welcomed being independent and in an environment where English wasn’t the lingua franca.
“I would say to anybody who has an opportunity to live and work overseas, try to do it. I realize people have different commitments at various times, whether it be family, parents, children, spouses, et cetera. Opportunities don’t just fall off the back of a lorry,” he said. “But I encourage everyone if they have the option to do it, to give it a go.”
Dearlove wasn’t, by his admission, “a very good student,” somewhat because “the way I was being taught didn’t resonate with me.” A series of incidents saw him fall into banking almost by accident.
Morgan Stanley opened an office in London and Dearlove successfully applied for a job as a filing clerk. However, it was the trading floor, with its energy and exciting atmosphere, where he wanted to be. A series of support roles and learning about trading functions saw Dearlove eventually transferred there.
At the same time, he began letting management know that he was willing to work in Japan. It was leading up to the heady days of the bubble economy and “I just knew that Japan was somewhere I wanted to go,” he said.
“One of the things I say to colleagues here is that you need to own your career. Don’t wait for your manager to tell you what to do,” said Dearlove. “This is particularly relevant in Japan. Even if you can’t follow that dream, you need to make sure people are aware of what you want to do.”
One of the most satisfying aspects of his role is giving support and advice to newcomers to the company. ” I’ve been at Barclays for 23 years, so that allows me to help navigate the organization, because of the fit and familiarity. For some of my colleagues who either have only ever worked in Japan or are new to their careers at Barclays, I can give them that insight and that accessibility around our organization,” he said.
Transferred to Tokyo at 23, Dearlove was charged with setting up and managing the JGB repo business. He then joined Credit Suisse before returning to London. Japan’s lure, however, was strong and Dearlove was pulled back into its orbit.
He returned to Tokyo, but this time with Barclays and his wife and children, leaving only again for their 17 years of schooling in London, to establish the firm’s JGB repo functions.
“Barclays was very much a kind of a niche player those days. And this was the first step of building out our franchise and being a player in the yen market. Before that, we’d been a specialist in providing the Japanese with access to the U.K., the European and U.S. markets. Now we were trying to compete against the Japanese in their own yen markets,” he said.
Back in Japan with his wife and in his current Barclays role, Dearlove remains circumspect about the opportunities, risks and challenges currently facing the financial sector and cites Brexit as an example. “The British financial services sector is constantly asked by the embassy ‘If and when the U.K. is on its own, what would you want to have in a trade agreement with Japan? What kind of access do you want?'”
“The reality is that the Japanese banking financial sector is very open and pretty much a level playing field, so the ability to do business in Japan is relatively straight forward,” he said.
Instead, the challenges Dearlove sees Tokyo having as an international financial center is attracting overseas talent because of taxes, including comparative tax rates and an inheritance tax levied on long-term non-Japanese, and a lack of English language. “I think one challenge for a lot of people here is the ability to get a diverse set of people who want to come and work in Japan,” he said.
Banking career spans Japan and the UK
Born in Tokyo, and growing up primarily in Japan and the U.K., Mark Dearlove’s career spans 35 years in the financial industry. Most of his employment has been at Barclays, where he currently serves as Japan country manager and representative director, and head of markets for Asia Pacific. He also is a member of the bank’s Asia-Pacific Executive Forum and Markets Executive Committees. In London, he spent 17 years working in Barclays’ liquidity and treasury functions, most recently as head of treasury execution services. Prior to working at Barclays, Dearlove worked at both Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley at their London and Tokyo offices, respectively. He is committed to various charitable causes and is an active supporter of the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Trust. His hobbies include watching live music.
The Big Questions is a Monday interview series showcasing prominent figures who have a strong connection to Japan.