What's your name and job title?
Jamie Bang – Lawyer in Global Markets.
What did you study? When did you graduate?
I studied a Bachelor of Commerce with a Bachelor of Laws and graduated from Macquarie University in 2016.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Seoul, South Korea and moved to Sydney when I was around seven years old. In terms of important stages in my life, I would mark it against the two jobs I held whilst studying at university: one as a sports coach for juniors and the other as a collections officer for a Big 4 Bank. I am still unsure as to which was more ruthless – the cheeky teenagers that needed dividing and conquering or the hostile customers in debt that needed to meet their repayment obligations! However, both were equally fulfilling and taught me the spectrum of advocacy methods as well as the number one factor for successful communication (eg listening).
How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?
I was fortunate enough to have had experiences at an accounting firm as well as in top tier law. When the decision had to be made, I interviewed for the Graduate Programme at Ashurst to start in 2017. I have been at Ashurst for over two years now.
How did you choose your specialisation? Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?
At a high level, I chose Global Markets because of the balance it provides me between transactional work, which calls upon commercial awareness and legal analysis. The product offering in the structured finance space is wide and varied, and so the application of the law to such a broad range of financial instruments is always challenging and engaging. Since the nature of structured finance work is premised upon design, I enjoy such opportunities to critically consider ‘why’ certain things should (or should not) be done, which has, in turn, created an accelerated learning environment.
What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?
The interview process was quite memorable to say the least! I distinctly remember the difficult questions that, with the benefit of hindsight, were designed to test my ego and ability to step through a rational thought process (eg How would you go about solving this XYZ problem?). To that end, I think it is always important to consider yourself in the shoes of the interviewer when hiring a junior: ‘Would you work with someone who is too proud to ask questions and has a preference to fake knowledge?’, ‘Would you work with someone who asks only questions without having the confidence to have an attempt at finding the solution themselves?’ and ‘Would you work with someone who does not really understand why they want to work in that particular field or firm?’ Considering the interview from this angle will largely help you to anticipate key questions that may be asked and help facilitate more meaningful engagement with the interviewer.
What does your employer do?
Ashurst is a leading multinational law firm and a trusted adviser to corporates, financial institutions and governments worldwide.
What are your areas of responsibility?
As a lawyer in the Global Markets team at Ashurst, my responsibility to facilitate transactions that involve structured financing solutions. As an example, whilst acting as drafting counsel for the originator, we will negotiate and document the terms of securitisation deal.
Can you describe a typical work day? What was the last thing you worked on?
It is difficult to describe a typical day at a law firm, which changes in accordance with the deal cycle and workflow. In terms of common day-to-day tasks, I would note internal meetings, stakeholder calls, drafting and reviewing documents, and the religious lunch-time runs. In the most recent deal, where we advised a cornerstone investor in the world's first issuance of bonds via blockchain, we liaised with all parts of the firm to deliver quality advice to our client in respect of this emerging area. For example, our London team, with prior experience with blockchain experiments in the European capital markets space, provided invaluable guidance as did our Digital Economy Transaction (DET) team (formerly known as the TMT team).
What are the career prospects with your job? Where could you or others in your position go from here?
Structured finance offers specific skills that are nonetheless highly transferable throughout the world. Having the opportunity to work in Global Markets at a leading multinational law firm such as Ashurst means there are abundant opportunities in all sorts of directions (including outside of law and outside of structured finance). I think due to the complex nature of the work products, the most valuable skill I am developing is learning how to learn (and doing so quickly).
From Global Markets at Ashurst, one could move to another law firm overseas, move in-house to a corporate or a large bank, or even to start-ups (eg think Judo Capital or Brighte, both of which established their securitisation programmes with Ashurst).
Could someone with a different background do your job?
The only prerequisite to any job is genuine curiosity and willingness to learn (assuming the baseline that you are intelligent, competent and sociable!). We have successful lawyers from non-finance backgrounds so rest assured!
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
A professional basketball coach and a ski-instructor in the off season.
What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?
I most love this job because it allows me to work with extremely intelligent people who inspire me to push my own boundaries. In terms of the day to day tasks, I enjoy picking up the phone to speak with the client or the counterparty to settle and negotiate a running issue. As applicable with most other jobs, the best satisfaction comes from putting out fires and closing out assignments over which you have full control!
What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility?
Do you have to work on weekends? Are the stress levels high? The biggest limitation of my job is that it heavily relies upon self-driven learning to overcome some of the more complex financial concepts which underlies our legal work. Beyond understanding the legal issues, the job requires an extra mile to understand the commercial drivers that underpin the various financial products. But for confidential equity derivatives to strategically acquire stakes in a listed company by the Monday morning (where instructions are provided to the lawyers on a Friday afternoon to work whilst the market is closed), I would say that working weekends is a rarity in Global Markets.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?