Managing other people's money in volatile times can be stressful.
So, what to do?
For Noboru Yamaguchi, senior executive adviser with Nomura Securities Co. Ltd.'s fiduciary service research center in Tokyo, the answer has been calligraphy.
Mr. Yamaguchi came to that 3,000-year-old art “not so early” — in 1997, at age 54, as he was making the change from an 11-year stint as a top executive in the London and New York offices of the Japan Travel Bureau Corp. to an eight-year stretch as the JTB pension fund's executive managing director and chief investment officer.
But perhaps that was just in time.
Taking the now $1.3 billion pension fund's helm for a span that included an Asian financial crisis, turmoil for Japan's economy and financial system, three years of post-tech bubble pension losses and structural change for Japan's pension industry (which Mr. Yamaguchi, as chairman of Japan's Corporate Pension Network, helped negotiate), it amounted to “a stressful business life at that time,” he said.
Asked by a JTB colleague to join twice-monthly classes taught by a master calligrapher, Mr. Yamaguchi agreed, finding the practice of that art three hours a day on weekends helped provide a better “right brain, left brain” balance to his life.
Perhaps in line with the amount of stress he was facing, Mr. Yamaguchi quickly ascended the 10-step rankings of Japan's calligraphy system, passing required examinations at each stage, to become a master calligrapher himself in 2008 — yet another moment in capital markets when having a means of moderating stress proved handy.