So why set up AH Advisors? If I’m honest with myself, I didn’t want to remain in the business of playing it safe. The opportunity to set up my own business, gain my own clients, broaden my knowledge and be a positive force within the industry, was too good to ignore.
With a first-hand understanding of the pain points of in-house lawyers and operational executives working within the asset management industry, I see an opportunity to ease their burden, help them advance their commercial objectives and communicate internally. I’m also a believer in using technology to assist in that process, and that is whyI am partnering with DRS to build a solution specifically for funds and their managers to automate the monitoring of ongoing obligations to investors and distributors.
The pressure on us all to do more with less resources continues at pace, and will be particularly acute as the world recovers from COVID-19. As a result, in-house lawyers are often asked to wear multiple hats, with legal, operational and often senior management responsibilities. With that comes additional pressure.
To me, successful in-house lawyers are those that are able to add value by embedding good practices and helping their businesses to avoid costly mistakes; they are able to identify, explain and price both legal and operational risks; and they can engage with specialist legal advisors efficiently and at the right time. AH Advisors can help in this regard.
I believe that a flexible legal solution, that of being able to call on a trusted legal advisor that is already one of the team, without the fixed overheads of a salaried employee, has a bright future. Effectively, your “in-house” counsel on-demand, remotely and/or in person; either supplementing the in-house legal team or playing the part for businesses without.
Of course, the success of any such arrangement depends on the strength of the relationship and the willingness of the business to embrace such advisors into their teams and workstreams. But we have learnt to embrace remote-working for employees; it’s a small step further to engage flexible legal advisers too.
The fund industry has its own, unique set of challenges, particularly given the fiduciary nature of the relationship between a fund’s manager and its investors. Conflicts of interest inevitably arise and regulators are right to take a keen interest in how managers mitigate such conflicts. Whilst I don’t believe it is the job of legal or compliance teams to be the guardians of such conflicts – that requires ownership from senior management – in-house counsel can play a valuable role in identifying, disclosing and mitigating any such potential conflicts.
I’m excited at the prospect of growing AH Advisors. I’m under no illusion that the next few months and years will most likely feel like a roller coaster. But I know, whatever the outcome, I won’t have any regrets.