[Ask Me Anything] Using your Law Background in Consulting - A Career in Financial Regulation, Governance, and Risk

RSB99

Standard Member
Jan 17, 2022
7
18
Hi everyone,

I learnt many crucial skills on this forum over 2 years ago. This post is simply to pay it forward and hopefully spark an interest in a career path you (as law aspirants) may not have immediately considered.

This post is for you if you have ever wondered about careers outside of the law where your law degree and work experiences are valuable.

This post is based on a career switch I planned and achieved over the past 12 months.

I switched from a law background (law degree + legal work experience) to securing multiple offers in management consulting specialised in financial regulation, governance, and risk.

If you are interested in learning about what a career as a consultant in financial regulation and risk entails, reply to this thread and ask me anything.

If there is sufficient interest, I will be happy to write a follow-up post in this thread outlining my story, my background, motivations to switch, and what financial regulation is more generally. Happy to respond to any specific questions as well.
 

RSB99

Standard Member
Jan 17, 2022
7
18
Thanks for the questions and comments! @George Maxwell @Rijul Shah @jo123

Here is a short piece to begin.

My Background

I completed my undergraduate law degree in 2021 and am currently pursuing a corporate law and financial regulation focussed LLM.

In terms of work experience, I have completed a US law firm summer vacation scheme, a Magic Circle first-year scheme, a Big-4 firm in-house legal and risk internship outside of the UK, and a policy research internship. I had more work experience, but I specifically chose these 4 for my applications. This is because consulting CVs are one-page long.

In the 2021-22 application cycle, I only applied to management consulting roles focussed on financial regulation and risk. I secured two offers, and two further invites to final interview which I did not pursue.


What is financial regulation and what do consultants in this field do?

Simply put, financial regulation is the collection of rules and policies that is imposed on all financial institutions (FIs) in a given jurisdiction. Some common FIs include retail banks, investment banks, investment managers (such as hedge funds and private equity firms), brokers, insurers, etc. The policies are developed and enforced by regulators. For example, the two main UK financial regulators are the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulatory Authority. These regulations exist to maintain financial stability and minimise systemic risk. Financial services is one of the most regulated sectors in any jurisdiction. This is because the stability of financial services impacts every other sector and the broader health of an economy.

What does the job involve? My upcoming consulting role involves a wide range of sub-practices within financial regulation.

Some examples include:

  • Helping financial institutions (FIs) plan for and implement key financial sector legislation and regulatory requirements (the list is long and varied!) into their business models and ensuring compliance
  • Reviewing the corporate strategy with which an FI is governed and ensuring the mechanisms comply with standards expected by the regulators
  • Helping FIs manage their relationship with regulators or train senior management on handling regulatory examinations
  • Optimising internal processes of FIs to minimise risk and aid compliance (often using technological solutions)
  • Advising FIs on their market conduct and any emerging reputational risks.

Answers to @jo123 and @Rijul Shah

Q. Do you need numerical skills?

Ans - Depends. Yes, because most consulting hiring processes involve some degree of basic math tests. This is mainly because some areas of financial regulation such as financial risk require strong numeracy.

No, because other areas such as regulatory advisory, governance, and non-financial risk (which I intend to pursue) mainly require an ability to interpret regulations and spot how it might affect an FI’s business model and internal controls. You may be able to see the use of your legal skills here. However, the application process might demand some numeracy regardless.


Q. How do you get your foot in the door?

Ans - Same way as any professional services career. Consulting fairs, speaking to consultants, open days, and internships. You must also research and find out which firms practice financial regulation/risk and offer them at the graduate level.

Happy to answer further questions!
 

djqb

Legendary Member
Sep 6, 2020
288
592
Hi @RSB99, thanks for this super insightful thread!

If you don't mind me asking, after having completed, among other things, a vacation scheme with a US firm, what were your motivations for pursuing a career switch to management consulting in financial risk & regulation?

Furthermore, during the management consulting recruitment process, were you asked to discuss these motivations entailing a potential career switch? (and if so, how did you go about this - do you think you faced any issues explaining your motivations to pursue a career in financial risk & regulation?)

Thank you so much in advance!
 
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Jaysen

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  • Feb 17, 2018
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    Hi everyone,

    I learnt many crucial skills on this forum over 2 years ago. This post is simply to pay it forward and hopefully spark an interest in a career path you (as law aspirants) may not have immediately considered.

    This post is for you if you have ever wondered about careers outside of the law where your law degree and work experiences are valuable.

    This post is based on a career switch I planned and achieved over the past 12 months.

    I switched from a law background (law degree + legal work experience) to securing multiple offers in management consulting specialised in financial regulation, governance, and risk.

    If you are interested in learning about what a career as a consultant in financial regulation and risk entails, reply to this thread and ask me anything.

    If there is sufficient interest, I will be happy to write a follow-up post in this thread outlining my story, my background, motivations to switch, and what financial regulation is more generally. Happy to respond to any specific questions as well.

    This is very kind of you to share, thank you!
     
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    RSB99

    Standard Member
    Jan 17, 2022
    7
    18
    Hi @RSB99, thanks for this super insightful thread!

    If you don't mind me asking, after having completed, among other things, a vacation scheme with a US firm, what were your motivations for pursuing a career switch to management consulting in financial risk & regulation?

    Furthermore, during the management consulting recruitment process, were you asked to discuss these motivations entailing a potential career switch? (and if so, how did you go about this - do you think you faced any issues explaining your motivations to pursue a career in financial risk & regulation?)

    Thank you so much in advance!

    Good question. @danieljonesqb

    Why did I switch?

    I will be perfectly honest here. I felt that I would not enjoy doing the tasks I did on my vacation scheme for many hours a day. For context, I also completed my summer vacation scheme during the peak of the pandemic and was not converted because of my answer to two questions in the exit interview (frustrating I know).

    Going back to the point about the tasks - my tasks, along with the tasks of more senior people, involved doing a large amount of paperwork for corporate transactions. This is expected as a large part of your client ‘deliverables’ as a transactional lawyer are contracts. I simply was not excited to work for the foreseeable future in a paperwork-driven job. I also never enjoyed litigation. However, I enjoyed the exposure to the key business context of the work and the client advisory element. I also enjoyed law in academia so I did not want to give up on my legal skills altogether.

    In this context, financial regulatory consulting seemed to combine the best of both the business and legal worlds. Financial regulation, in general, is a very multi-disciplinary subject and you can witness lawyers, economists, stats and quant specialists, and even coders in the field.


    My answer to the ‘why consulting over law?’ interview question

    It leads on from the points I made above. In specific, I stressed on three primary reasons.

    I desired to work in a role where I could directly make a difference to the business model of a client.

    For example, if I am advising an investment bank as a financial regulatory consultant, I could advise on how the bank should be governed, the internal controls that should exist, help senior management modify business strategy to accommodate upcoming legislative changes etc. This would be opposed to a transactional lawyers’ contract-drafting driven job. Even if I worked as a financial regulation advisory lawyer, my role would be restricted to simply interpreting legislation for clients.

    Consultants enjoy significantly more exposure to clients due to the nature of their job.

    If you are a consultant, you will enjoy a huge amount of exposure to your clients. In fact, you will often work directly in their offices (called ‘working on-site’ in consulting). You will also travel extensively, nationally and internationally, to complete these commitments. For example, in my first year, my firm mandates up to 25% of my year going towards travelling to network offices and client offices in Europe (pandemic permitting). Such deep exposures to multiple clients over let’s say 5 years is hugely enriching for your skill set.

    I wanted a profession that was not limited by jurisdictional boundaries and was truly international.

    Law firms often talk about how ‘international’ their work is - and it is - but there exist practical limitations on it. For example, you cannot really advise clients on the domestic law of other countries due to local attorney regulations. In reality, this makes the cross-border mobility of the profession poor. However, management consulting is not a regulated profession. As long as you have the business acumen you can work anywhere in the world. This is because my advice does not constitute ‘legal advice’ that is regulated but rather ‘business advice,’ even though there is overlap in fin. reg..

    A bonus justification that only applies to financial regulatory consulting is that my ability to interpret regulations and advise financial services clients on their impact is already strong because I come from a corporate law background.

    Happy to clarify anything else!
     

    Lumree

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  • Jan 17, 2019
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    Hi @RSB99, thanks for starting this thread! I’ve thought about consulting but have always struggled to find what opportunities are available and therefore really decide if it’s something for me.

    For background, I have quite a techy/creative background. I understand there are technology consultants graduate roles out there but finding them is what I struggle with. As a graduate, careers fairs are a bit trickier for me. Do you have any suggestions for good places to understand, very generally, what consulting jobs are out there and how to search for them?
     
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    RSB99

    Standard Member
    Jan 17, 2022
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    Hi @RSB99, thanks for starting this thread! I’ve thought about consulting but have always struggled to find what opportunities are available and therefore really decide if it’s something for me.

    For background, I have quite a techy/creative background. I understand there are technology consultants graduate roles out there but finding them is what I struggle with. As a graduate, careers fairs are a bit trickier for me. Do you have any suggestions for good places to understand, very generally, what consulting jobs are out there and how to search for them?
    Thanks for the question. @Lumree

    Your first step should be just expanding your knowledge of which consultants practice the area you are interested in. An easy way is to consult firm rankings (sort of like university rankings). For example, Financial Times annually publishes a list called 'UK's Leading Management Consultants.' It lists the best firms by industry/ practice area. Here is a link to the 2021 list - https://www.ft.com/content/c02c6de5-7e9b-4fc2-b153-cbf5f02655ad

    Once you have the names, you can start visiting their websites individually to see if they offer graduate roles. A shortcut to finding which ones actually offer graduate jobs is to google booklets from consulting fairs recently held at universities. While you may not be able to attend the fair itself if you have already graduated or did not attend that university, accessing the booklet gives you the exact details of who is hiring and what they need.

    For example, here is LSE's 2021 Consulting Fair booklet - https://issuu.com/lsecareers/docs/consultancy_fair_2021_brochure; and here is Oxford's 2020 Consulting booklet - https://www.careers.ox.ac.uk/files/mancon-fair-booklet-2020pdf

    Once you have this information, start emailing the firm directly with your queries or messaging people on LinkedIn who currently work in the positions you want. Beyond this, it will be up to you to assemble a list that suits your exact interests using this info.
     

    RSB99

    Standard Member
    Jan 17, 2022
    7
    18
    Hi! How is it different from what financial/regulatory/advisory lawyers do? Dont they advise on key regulations as well?
    Great question @ASaspsolicitor7

    The simplest way to explain this is - a consultant's job in financial regulation is a lot broader and business-oriented than a financial regulation advisory lawyer.

    You are right in pointing out that an advisory lawyer who works in the financial regulation practice of a law firm also advises on key regulations.

    However, a financial regulatory consultant not only interprets and advises on the regulation's impact (like a lawyer), but goes beyond by helping the client to implement it within the business. This can be through amending the client's operating model to ensure abidance with the regulation, drafting internal policies and procedures / conducting regular checks to make sure they are working, training senior management to engage with regulators, etc.

    Here is a side by side comparison of the career descriptions of a real lawyer and consultant that I have copy-pasted from their respective firm websites.

    Financial regulation advisory partner from a Magic Circle firm

    X's practice includes all aspects of financial markets regulatory advice for broker-dealers and investment banks. X advises investment managers, private banks, hedge funds and private equity funds on regulatory issues affecting them.

    Consultant from a global consulting firm specialised in regulatory compliance and governance

    Z draws on his extensive public- and private-sector experience to advise financial institutions on regulatory compliance. Z has carried out board-level reporting on regulatory issues, oversaw policies and standards for business conduct and product governance, set up market-abuse controls, and helped lead firms' regulatory relations.

    Hope this makes sense!
     

    Lumree

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    Thanks for your thorough reply! I've done some initial digging and a lot of 'intern' roles are geared towards current students rather than graduates. Is the same as training contracts, whereby they focus on students in the recruitment process, but the role is actually open to graduates too, or is 'intern' not the right position I should be looking for? Sorry for such a basic question!
     
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    RSB99

    Standard Member
    Jan 17, 2022
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    Thanks for your thorough reply! I've done some initial digging and a lot of 'intern' roles are geared towards current students rather than graduates. Is the same as training contracts, whereby they focus on students in the recruitment process, but the role is actually open to graduates too, or is 'intern' not the right position I should be looking for? Sorry for such a basic question!
    @Lumree

    On average, I would say consulting as an industry is more friendly to direct graduate role applications that law. Naturally, some firms will prefer you to come through the internship route, there are plenty others that will accept a direct graduate job application. 'Training contracts' are just a term unique to law. All other industries just call them 'graduate schemes' or something equivalent. There is no concept of a recognised 'training period' in consulting like there is in law. However, many firms will run their 'graduate scheme' for 2-3 years (similar to a TC) and make you study towards a qualification relevant to your practice.

    Hope this helps!
     
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