Whether it’s stocks, bonds or even Bitcoin, everyone is looking for the best place to park their money. But all of those investment vehicles are subject to an almost-endless list of regulations.
That’s why securities lawyers like Kathryn Fuller, a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, exist to help the main players in the investment industry comply with the law. Her clients include the financial institutions and independent investment firms that create and sell investment funds, and the investors who buy them. Here, she gives us an inside look at her job.
How would you help a financial institution set up a new fund?
Fuller’s first step is to chat with her client to learn about the investment strategy that underlies the new fund. “Sometimes,” she says, “a client wants to trade in ways that are not permitted by the rules.”
For example, a bank might want to launch a fund made up of bonds around the world. And it’s convinced that a particular government’s bond is poised to net a killer return. So it wants to load up on that bond. The problem is, that’s against the rules: no single bond can comprise more than 10 percent of a given fund.
In this case, Fuller has two options. One, break the bad news to her client and force them to rejig their strategy. Or she can ask the regulator to grant her client an exception. To achieve that, she would have to prove to the regulator that the bond in question is highly safe, and has almost no chance of going bust.
How do you spend your workdays?
“A significant amount of my time is spent on the phone with clients,” says Fuller, who typically works weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
When she’s not on the phone or writing emails, Fuller reviews drafts of legal documents written by junior associates and students working at the firm. Occasionally, she takes her clients out to lunch or events they’re interested in to maintain good relationships. (Recently, she brought a client, who’s a huge fan of former U.S. president Barack Obama, to see him speak in Toronto.)
What sort of personality would excel at your job?
“Someone with strong interpersonal skills,” says Fuller. “This isn’t transactional like M&A, where you speak to a client every day for three months and never again. My relationships with clients are day-in and day-out, Monday through Sunday, whenever they need my advice.”
What do you love about your job?
“It’s a deeply satisfying practice because you get to be a trusted advisor to your clients beyond just pure legal matters,” says Fuller.
She and her team of lawyers know the ins and outs of her clients’ businesses, and all the individuals working there. Fuller makes herself available to her clients whenever they need to bounce business ideas off of her. Many of them have stayed with her for quite a while, because she’s so indispensable to their business. “It’s amazing to have clients who have been with me for 10 or 15 years.”