| ANZ Bank, Hong Kong
Head of legal, Asia
Ben Hamilton joined the Hong Kong offices of Australian bank ANZ as head of legal in May 2012 and has since worked hard at ‘changing cultures and approaches to legal matters’ within the team. His cooperative approach, along with his method of finding ‘common-sense solutions’ in order to reach agreements, has been extremely effective when dealing with regulators. He explains that recent years have ‘been a period of intense change’ due to the regulatory environment in the region, the effects of which have made up a large part of the legal team’s work and caused the overall business to reposition their regional strategy. Hamilton has put significant effort into establishing relationships and ‘building networks around the region’ providing an important local knowledge base to feed back in to the regional management committee, of which Hamilton is a member. In addition, his role includes overseeing legal matters across 15 countries and liaising with the CEOs of each of the relevant entities. The countries he looks after contain a ‘disparate spread of cultures, laws and economic development’, requiring a tailored approach that highlights the level of versatility that is required from Hamilton and his team. In terms of how to approach issues in these often very different jurisdictions, Hamilton relies on his instinct and excellent business acumen, explaining that ’while some jurisdictions, like Hong Kong, are black and white, others have less well established frameworks’ to work within. His advice to aspiring general counsel is as follows: ‘Challenge, and don’t be afraid to challenge. Don’t follow the crowd and always try to look at the big picture, particularly as a transactional lawyer. Don’t just think about booking revenue on that one deal, but consider things in totality; legal, credit and reputational risk of that particular industry, it’s supply chain, how your shareholders and regulators may view it, now and in the future, and how this may affect your business going forward.’ Hamilton moved in-house in 2006 following a successful career in private practice with CMS in London and King & Wood Mallesons in Australia and Hong Kong. His first in-house role was at Deutsche Bank where he served as part of the global markets department’s legal team.