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Career Story: Legal Counsel And Compliance Advisor To Asset Management Firms

Legal Counsel And Compliance Advisor To Asset Management Firms

Job Title: Regulatory Counsel

Type of Company: I work as a lawyer in the legal and regulatory group of a holding company of asset management firms. I provide legal and compliance advice to roughly 26 affiliated companies. My company assists each manager with day-to-day back office operations and succession planning so they can focus on managing money.

Education: BS, Finance and Marketing, Boston College •• JD, Tulane University School of Law

Previous Experience: I worked as a fund accountant for a year , a compliance analyst at Scudder Stevens and Clark for four years and an associate at a large law firm for seven. In the four years after that I served as director of compliance at a couple of investment management firms.

Job Tasks: I provide general legal and compliance advice to management at various asset management firms. I help them draft policies and procedures, analyze legal issues and create new products.

I typically negotiate investment management agreements, work on new fund documents and help the compliance people advance new policies and procedures. Every day is different, it just depends on what's going on at a given firm.

I also monitor what's going on from a legal and regulatory perspective in the investment management industry and write news letter-type postings so that we can keep each management company informed. For example, after the Bernie Madoff scandal, Congress and the SEC began looking at ways to change the regulation of investment advisers. I monitor these developments and brief our management companies on what's coming up so that they can make sure that their policies, procedures and business practices are in line with the changes in rules. Where necessary, I help them draft new procedures and train staff so they remain in compliance.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is that I deal with a number of different legal and regulatory matters every day and every day is different. I get to help companies get things done. I'm viewed as a partner, collaborator and problem solver.

The worst part of my job is the commute; it's forty minutes each way. But I love what I do!

Job Tips: Make sure that you get both legal and financial experience. Working for a mutual fund complex is very helpful. Practical advice only comes from people who have done something other than working for a big law firm. Its one thing to know what the law requires, its another, more valuable thing to be able to understand the challenges of adapting business practice to a law. Keep in mind that the business objectives should drive the decision. The legal analysis is only one element of the operational backdrop, it's not the driver.

Additional Thoughts: What surprises me the most is how much change is going on in the field. It's exciting and helps keep things interesting.

One thing that I missed out on was getting my MBA. Not that one's strictly necessary, but my company would have paid for it and it is useful to understanding the asset management business model and identifying growth opportunities. The job isn't just about being a lawyer, it's about helping the business navigate the opportunities from a legal and compliance perspective.

The key personal "qualities" for success in this career are a keen understanding and curiosity. You have to identify compliance failures and legal loopholes that present operational risks to the business an spotting them takes a sharp eye; curiosity and continued questioning help you to figure out ways that breaches can occur and allow you to implement stronger procedures and controls.

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