HOUSE, Issue 31

Welcome…to the latest edition of House. This month we have seen a surge in Q4 hiring in both Europe and Asia Pacific within banking , asset management, corporates and law firms, with a particular focus on data and technology hires.

The global proliferation of privacy roles in the last 6 months, largely in anticipation of GDPR and new cyber laws in Hong Kong, Singapore and China, has been a notable theme and we examine this in depth.

Finally, we have also seen a real increase in law firms in Hong Kong hiring partners with regulatory litigation experience, specifically those with experience dealing with large corporate cases, suggesting the corporate sector will see some real regulatory scrutiny come the new year.

If data is key and privacy is King, do I now need an IT qualification for compliance?

Regulatory scrutiny of the way banks use data is not new, in fact it seems some time ago that MIFID II addressed the more perfunctory subjects of research data provenance and suitability to the end user. While this year, through the EU’s GDPR, the financial sector has been forced to address not only the ‘what’ and ‘ how’ of data storage but the ‘why’ too.

Compliance and Financial Crime professionals are increasingly being asked to walk a line between regulatory understanding and the technicalities of operational compliance. In a financial ecosystem where data rules and the aim is to leverage that asset in the production of flexible and innovative product’s, machine learning is having an increasing influence. Facebook, Alibaba and Amazon have all made moves into the Financial services sector, moves underpinned by the belief that the huge swathes of data they hold can be a differentiator. With the new European Payment Services Directive, PSD II, set for 2018, allowing for the automated sharing of data between financial services institutions, questions continue to be raised around data privacy and some fear the increased exclusion for more risky consumers.

The aforementioned regulations should make customers far more aware of when and how their personal information is used but increased reliance on technology means a far tougher time for monitoring teams to make sure data is managed properly at all times. Recently we’ve seen senior privacy hires at BlackRock, Thomson Reuters and RBC in London and DBS in Hong Kong, reflecting an increased focus across the industry.

Outsourcing also raises privacy concerns, with Toronto Dominion coming under-fire for sending much of its KYC operations to India - even though a location may be fully safeguarded and compliant, many argue simply adding another server exponentially increases the risk of cyber-attack. Investment in RegTech continues to rocket and as a record number of central banks become involved in DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology), we risk creating systemic weakness through reliance on one technology and the company that produces it. AI now makes trades, speaks to customers and tells us what documents we need to complete a transaction.

So if we take our increasing reliance on data analytics technology and acknowledge that regulators react retrospectively to a market that must move quickly to gain a commercial edge, an understanding of technologies and their capabilities will be key for the compliance professionals whose task it is, to set the guidelines and parameters within which these technologies work.

Law firms hiring regulatory litigation experts

Law firms across Asia are looking to beef up their regulatory litigation teams. High profile cases including GSK and ZTE, in the region, have highlighted the need for a local presence and the war for talent has really heated up.

Ropes and Gray have been a target of their competitors, in response to the great work they have done and the reputation that their Partners have built in the region. Cori Lable has joined Kirkland and Ellis and Patrick Sinclair has joined Davis Polk. Meanwhile, Ropes have promoted Geoff Atkins to Partner.

Several other US and European law firms are in the market for Partner level hires, suggesting there will be several cases in Asia to hit the press in the near future. This means increased hiring in the corporate sector and a continued fight for associate level talent within law firms.