I am sat in the Bank’s auditorium waiting for my colleague to speak. We became friends on the same induction day five years ago, but she was soon identified and fast-tracked to Section Head.

The hundred or so delegates: clients, competitors and press have filled the room to hear about the Investment Strategy from our Derivatives Division. With turmoil in the markets and so much money sloshing around the City, everyone is seeking sanctuary, a strategy, a story, a fund, somewhere…anywhere, to safeguard their mind-boggling wealth.

Today marks Sachiko’s debut in the public world of finance but she will be last on, once President Ito and his Senior Executives have spoken – an uninspiring hierarchy of dark suits, crisp white shirts and nondescript ties.

Her floral print blazer and pale pink blouse offer relief, some colour, hope, perhaps a different perspective to the male dominated recurring mistakes of the past.

The panel of ten speakers in turn make the short walk behind their colleagues to the podium, the corporate green luxurious deep pile carpet providing enough bounce to encourage them along. The dark wood panelling behind commands authority, reminding us all this briefing is serious.

Sat at the end of the panel nearest to me a few rows back, she is next to speak and fiddles with the necklace that Koichi bought her, hanging loosely around her slender body. Posted overseas with a promise of a shared future back in Tokyo, he was quick to propose and claim her. She surveys the room rubbing the dimple in her neck, feeling the contours of her exposed collar bone for answers.

Then it is time: the room bursts into applause for today’s final speaker. She sits forward, then stands and with instinctive nods to the room and a bow to Ito-san, like she has performed this routine all her life, she is off, her tightly bobbed black hair twitching on the short walk to the platform and a promising future.


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