As a part of our ongoing initiatives for our ‘Women in Alternatives’ programme, our Director of Funds and Corporate Nicola Le Brocq recently sat down with Leanne Wallser, Head of Investment Funds and Corporate at JTC Law, to discuss her experiences as a woman working in the alternatives space.

What does being Head of Investment Funds and Corporate at JTC Law entail ?

The Investment Funds and Corporate Practice is integral to the expansion and evolution of JTC Law. My role as head of Investment Funds and Corporate entails working together with the senior team to build our strategy, define our values and determine the future direction of the law firm. As you can imagine, the role is incredibly exciting and varied.

A large part of my focus is on building and developing trusted relationships with our clients, overseeing the highest levels of service across the work that we do, identifying new opportunities in the market (whether for us or for Jersey) and looking for new ways that we can work alongside the broader JTC Group business, or with our other key intermediaries, to offer our clients a personal, responsive and tailored approach to our legal services.

Why do you like working in alternatives?

I have advised clients who are involved in alternative assets, such as private equity, real estate, venture capital, infrastructure and debt, for over 20 years and it was only once I started in the industry that I really understood how critical the flow of capital into these areas is for economies around the world. The complexity and unique nature of alternatives requires innovative thinking, flexible products, and an ability to support sophisticated strategies. This is exactly the skill set that Jersey’s finance industry has been built around and the reason for its continued success.

As a lawyer working in this field, I have been able to work on a real variety of intellectually-stimulating work. One day you might be closing a multi billion pound private equity fund, or working on a real estate transaction that you know will physically alter the London skyline. On another day, you might be launching an infrastructure fund to help develop communities across the globe, assisting a new venture fund driving early stage business, or structuring products which will create a more sustainable way of living. Every business has its own story, and a legal role supporting alternatives enables you to work on personalised solutions that will help all types of businesses to achieve their goals. It can be very rewarding for those reasons.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenges in your industry?

While recent times have obviously been challenging for a variety of asset classes, and managers have had to navigate issues around raising capital, liquidity and valuations, the growth of private capital over the last two decades has been remarkable and the long-term drivers for growth in private markets remain intact. Jersey continues to be a domicile of choice for many alternatives because of its stable legal and political environment, flexible regulatory products, robust financial infrastructure, speed to market solutions and leading professional service ecosystem. Our challenges are likely to be the same for other international finance centres, namely continuing to adapt to evolving international regulatory standards, making the necessary advancements in technology and sustainability, ensuring we remain competitive in our products, and continuing to attract and retain our level of skilled professionals – all of which are necessary to continue to support the range of alternatives we service on a daily basis.

How have things changed for women in alternatives since you joined the sector?

There is, without doubt, a noticeable increase in the number of women entering and advancing in the alternatives sector. I actually don’t remember any specific events or networks aimed at advancing women’s careers when I started out. The more recent shift in flexible and remote working arrangements, improvements in parental leave entitlements and the Covid pandemic have obviously had a massive part to play in the progress we are making for women but I think it’s the fact that the change now reflects the way we all want to work, and that it is a societal shift that has made a difference. There are still a lot of biases out there but many businesses have, and are, working hard to create an environment that recognises the benefits of diversity. Those who have already know that with a variety of contributions and a diversity of people and ideas we do build better communities, teams and businesses.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career like yours? 

You can’t expect to always walk into your dream role on day one of your career, so I think it’s really important to look for the opportunities to learn and embrace them, but also be able to take a step back regularly and look at whether the business you are working for supports your own values and aspirations and is taking you where you want to go. A career in law takes a lot of commitment and can be very demanding at times, so it is crucial that you keep an eye on the bigger picture and continue to balance the needs of your family, relationships, health and well-being along the way to make it sustainable. What success looks like for each of us is very personal, but if you work with people in a place where you feel inspired, supported, valued and purposeful, you will feel far more energised to go further.

Women in Alternatives Hub

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