Expectations of today’s banking law professionals are changing. Clients, policymakers and shareholders are demanding greater insights into emerging areas within today’s financial markets. They don’t just want to know about indemnities and derivatives — they also want the latest information on laws and regulations in cryptocurrency, online banking, blockchain and fintech. More than ever, lawyers need to possess the acute, advanced knowledge and skills to help navigate financial institutions into the future.
Boston University’s School of Law has a graduate programme that specialises in the rapidly changing landscape of financial services law. With a faculty composed of practising industry figures, students at BU Law’s LLM in Banking and Financial Law have practical, topical and polemical content delivered in dynamic classroom discussions.
The top-tier and established law school welcomes talents from varied academic and career paths into the course. Whether you are looking for advanced career training or want a more focused career direction in banking law, BU Law’s LLM is the first programme of its kind in the United States. It’s designed to equip you with the knowledge, skills and experience to excel in the ever-evolving field of financial services law.
Cornelius Hurley, Executive Director of the Online Lending Policy Institute, Inc., reflects the calibre of BU Law faculty members who are there to guide students. From how to handle the regulatory bodies, to the transactional, and compliance needs of financial services clients in today’s global economy — faculty are there to help students navigate the changing currents.
Hurley, a Harvard Business School and Georgetown University Law Centre alum, teaches the course “From Financial Crisis to Fintech”. Interdisciplinary and incisive, it’s a course that benefits from his vast experience in government and working in the industry. It’s a course built on his 17 years at BU Law, on his involvement in research and on every high-level fintech conference he’s spoken at and attended.
“To function effectively today in business or law requires a basic understanding of the US financial system and of the capital markets. Key to that understanding is an appreciation of the role financial crises have had in shaping our economy,” Hurley explains.
“The Panic of 1907 yielded the Federal Reserve System, the Great Depression produced the Glass-Steagall Act and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Great Recession resulted in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic is currently being written and cast in the shadow of seemingly limitless debt.”
In 2020, banking law was already in the midst of rapid globalisation and digitisation — now it has a new factor shaking things up: the coronavirus pandemic. BU Law lecturer and President and Chief Operating Officer of Washington Trust Company Mark K. W. Gim foresees “significant challenges” arising from this crisis, with a combination of economic recession and ultra-low interest rates affecting the earnings outlook of banks and other financial intermediaries. This is already in addition to the losses they may suffer due to increasing borrower defaults, impeding their ability to help economies recover and resume growth.
“Combined with the post-financial crisis growth of alternative bank-like intermediaries (aka, shadow banks) across the world with less regulatory oversight than banks, the improved health of the global financial system is clearly at risk — and the implications for risk, return and bank management is more important than at any time in the last dozen years,” Gim explains.
BU Law students stand to benefit from such deep insights and more from Gim, responsible for executive strategies and investment funding portfolios at America’s oldest community bank. His course — “Central Banks, Commercial Banks and Financial Markets” — aims to give students an understanding of how the attitude of banks, customers, investors, regulators and central bankers are in constant flux. In times of strong economic activity, these different groups are looking for growth and are willing to accept risks. When downturns hit — and they do — these players will shift their outlook, emphasising safety and risk avoidance.
In theory, it makes sense to be more cautious, but according to Gim — it’s actually counterproductive. “That shift in attitudes often produces less than optimal outcomes for the economies affected — boosting growth when times are good, and lengthening recessions when times are bad,” Gim says.
Like most BU Law courses, Gim’s classes are hands-on affairs. Students are expected to review current news stories, policy statements and economic forecasts. These are sourced from financial stalwarts like Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, from central banking bodies like the Federal Reserve, and global organisations like the World Bank, the Bank for International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund.
“These readings are related directly to the issues that bankers and policymakers face in managing their daily business. Whether the subject is the duration of a low interest rate environment, the projected future path for loan losses resulting from COVID-19 and the subsequent impact on bank capital ratios, or the unintended consequences of higher capital requirements for financial intermediaries, students taking this course will be better prepared on the reasons why current events are shaping the behaviour of bankers, and how they can help those bankers formulate effective responses to changing times,” Gim says.
Craig Kaylor, the Vice President for Compliance and CRA at PeoplesBank, teaches a course on consumer financial services, presenting students with an overview of the laws relating to traditional and innovative consumer financial products and services. This includes the impact of the Great Recession, the subsequent Dodd-Frank Act that held financial service providers accountable and how this has shaped not just every federal financial regulatory agency, but every element of the country’s banking industry — from regulators, to creditors, to consumers.
Having worked as a liaison between financial institutions and regulators for over 20 years, Kaylor offers astute understanding of the real-world issues and problems that attorneys and compliance professionals face on a daily basis. This can be anywhere from consumer protection practices, to dealing with regulatory bodies and compliance, to ensuring that consumer laws are not overlooked, which can lead to regulatory and reputational issues. Kaylor trains students on how to comprehend and deal with these variables, bodies and personalities effectively.
With the rise of cryptocurrency, Kaylor muses that consumer protection and compliance will become even bigger issues in banking. “Lawyers will have to have a better understanding of technology like blockchain and be prepared for an ever-changing legal and regulatory landscape,” he says. “There will be more consumer protection statutes that arise as more consumers use cryptocurrency.”
As a BU Law LLM in Banking and Financial Law student, you’re set to receive more in-depth observations and insights such as these. As a BU Law graduate, you’ll be set for countless opportunities in this lucrative sector. Learn more here on how to transform your professional standing today.