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Q&A with Joanna Perkins

30 June 2017

Joanna Perkins is the chief executive of the Financial Markets Law Committee.

Joanna Perkins

You're talking to a friend of a friend at a party. How do you describe what you do?

Well, if I’m trying to avoid becoming a social outcast I’ll probably ‘finesse’ things a bit and say I run a small think tank. Otherwise I just dive straight in with ‘Hi! I’m the CEO of the Financial Markets Law Committee (FMLC), a small educational charity which liaises with experts, government institutions and regulatory bodies in the UK and overseas to identify and resolve issues affecting the administration of financial law and regulation.’ 

What was your first job?

Probably a baby-sitter as a teenager. My first real job at age 22 was lecturing in the law department at Durham University. I was quite fresh-faced at the time and on my first day the students mistook me for an admissions applicant!  

Career highlight?

Oh that’s easy! My first year at the FMLC, back in 2004. It was (and still is) my dream job. If anyone asked me politely ‘How are you?’ I’d bounce back at them with an incredulous ‘What do you mean, how am I? I have the best job… I’m on top of the world.’

What are you working on at the moment?

Ah, it’s 34 degrees outside and I’d love to say I’m working on my tan!

We are a small team so I do a lot of everything. My priority is our work on Brexit, with two papers examining the UK’s access to the EU single market post-Brexit in the wings, almost ready for publication. I’ve travelled a fair bit recently to participate in discussions on various topics - benchmarks (Paris), Brexit (Luxembourg) and possible new EU conflict of law rules for securities (Brussels) - and I’ve also given speeches here in London in the last fortnight on the new EU Benchmarks Regulation, FinTech and Brexit. The FMLC's research covers a broad spectrum of issues of legal complexity and is at the cutting edge of regulatory developments: digital currencies, financial benchmark reform, EU data protection, and sovereign debt restructuring.

Share some great advice you've been given.

‘Never choose the fish option on an aeroplane or the salad option in a pub.’ (A good friend)

‘I’m afraid work must intrude.’ (The late, great Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber; Die Hard 1988)

Can you recommend a local lunch or coffee spot?

The far too exclusive Bank of England canteen… where the faux-Waldorf salad (no walnuts) is to die for.

How do you relax?

With considerable difficulty…

What's your pet hate?

I don’t hate pets, I just can’t commit to one.

Favourite city?

Troy... gullible but trusting.

No? You mean…?

Ah. I visited Venice for the first time last year (as a guest speaker at a conference) and fell in love.

What book is on your bedside table?

Simon Schama’s Landscape and Memory.

What needs to happen to get more women into leadership roles?

Women who have managed to get to the top of their fields, and who understand the trials of balancing a career and family, should look for practical ways to encourage other women into leadership positions.

If you hadn't become a solicitor, what would you have done?

Beyond a brief teenage flirtation with the idea of opening a little coffee shop, I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer (cue the usual 'barrista-to-barrister' joke). If I hadn’t passed my finals, I like to think I would’ve had an exciting career designing lego minifigures. I can still make killer choc-chip cookies though!


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