Should legal and compliance teams be separate?

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Judy Wong, Tricor’s Group general counsel

Legal and compliance should “work hand in hand together” as a lot of compliance requirements have a legal angle, says Judy Wong, Tricor’s Group general counsel based in Hong Kong.

“Some would say that legal and compliance should be separate because they’re different lines of defense. But I would say that legal and compliance should be together. So that we can have better oversight and ensure that we comply with regulatory and legal requirements,” she says.

Wong, who joined the Hong Kong-based business support services provider last year, is busy building a legal and compliance team. “The legal function in Tricor is comparatively new. There was no legal team before I joined,” she says.

Now, Wong has three members in her team at the group level and legal representatives and lawyers based in local offices across Asia Pacific.

In-house counsel have to be all-rounders, she says. “As an in-house, you really have to understand the entire business of your company, the needs to tailor something specifically for the company to help it grow even further.”

As a female in-house counsel, Wong says there is always gender inequality. “If we stop seeing people as men or women then we can stop these layers of discrimination … everyone is working very hard to improve themselves to move up and to exceed.”

“I’m interested in understanding the challenges that other women lawyers face. I have a lot of friends who are female lawyers. I think, nowadays, I would see that we are competing with each other whether you are a man or a woman. As a human being, we always compete, that’s the nature, it is a good thing that we have competition, that’s how we grow.”

“To get work-life balance is difficult because all the legal work is demanding, we have to face a lot of challenges … So, I think it’s all about priority … once you set the priorities, you will work in accordance with it, and then you will have a balance,” she says.

Tricor recently acquired Richful Deyong to expand its business in China, which marks Tricor’s sixth acquisition since UK-based Permira Funds’ investment in the firm in 2017.