The Compliance Monthly: A CONVERSATION WITH JESSICA WINCHELL, VICE PRESIDENT FOR COMPLIANCE AT BROWN BROTHERS HARRIMAN TRUSTEE SERVICES IN IRELAND

1.     What is your background, and how did you get started in compliance and ethics?

I was a German major during my undergraduate studies but worked in financial services for a year. I then began a Master’s program in Russian and Eastern European Studies and a Ph.D. program in political science. I shifted to law school because I wanted to work directly with these topics rather than studying them academically. One reason I chose Temple Law was the depth of courses it offered in business, financial services, and tax law. As a student, I interned in-house at Northwestern Mutual and in compliance at Deutsche Bank. Compliance was a perfect fit for my interests in financial services, international relations, and law. After completing my J.D. and LL.M., I worked for Deutsche Bank, first as an associate in an Americas Compliance Policies and Issue Tracking & Reporting role, and finally as an Assistant Vice President as a Global Markets Business Line Compliance Officer and in a Compliance Regulatory Reform Strategy role. I then joined Brown Brothers Harriman as a Vice President for Compliance, first working in New York and now in Dublin.

2.     What do you like most about working in the field?

I most enjoy the diverse issues I get to work on. I cover the markets businesses from a global product perspective, so I am dealing with an array of global laws, rules, and regulations on a daily basis. The changing shape of the marketplace, businesses’ products, and the regulatory landscape means there are always new questions to consider. Finally, I really like working on a global scale, combining my passion for law, business, and global studies.

3.     Beyond law, what are the most important skills to be successful in compliance and ethics?

Soft skills are essential: being an active listener that successfully engages with different types of people to reach the best outcome is critical to being an effective Compliance Officer. You need to be able to understand what is happening to the business, how to find solutions given the regulatory framework, and how to work well on a team. You need to be able to speak both the languages of business and law persuasively to bring everyone on board. And an innate desire to learn is also important.

4.     How has compliance and ethics evolved since you started and what will shape it in the future? 

Compliance programs in financial services have evolved since the financial crisis. There has also been increasing acceptance that compliance is key for long-term success in business—not just a box to tick. I think that this view will only deepen particularly in light of the ESG [environmental, social, and governance] movement, which underscores the importance of considering how outcomes are achieved.

5.     What has changed during the pandemic, and what are some of the long-term impacts of the pandemic on compliance and ethics?

Working from home has raised new potential issues—for instance, how do you protect confidential information when people are working from their living rooms? Controls to mitigate these risks are still evolving and will likely continue to do so.

6.    How did your experience at Temple Law prepare you for your career in compliance and ethics?

Professor Porrata-Doria’s Securities Regulation course provided me with a baseline for understanding US regulatory framework, while Professors Abreu and Monroe’s tax courses gave me confidence to navigate complex global tax issues.  Even my time working as a research assistant for Professor Hollis remains relevant through issues arising in the UK due to Brexit.  The Office of Career Services was instrumental in helping me land my first compliance internship, and the administration supported me in designing a 3L study abroad program to study International Business & Corporate Law in England.

I am happy the Center for Compliance and Ethics offers classes, practicums, internships, and networking opportunities to help students learn more about the discipline of and possible career paths in compliance.

Beatrice Raccanello (LAW ’10) serves as the Director of the Center for Compliance and Ethics. Her interest in compliance started in 2015 when she was a member of the Steering Committee of the Center for Compliance and Ethics to assist with the initial launch. She is eager to continue leading Center activities in providing student and professional education programs, fostering academic research and thought leaderships, and advancing the public-private sector dialogue in this rapidly evolving area.

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