We ask a law firm partner a series of rapid-fire questions about their career. This time: Cristean Yazbeck, the head of Rockwell Olivier’s financial services practice.
Which firm are you with?
Rockwell Olivier, Sydney office.
When did you join that firm?
3 February 2014
When were you made a partner of that firm?
I joined Rockwell Olivier as a principal/partner.
Which firm were you at most recently?
Prior to joining Rockwell Olivier, I was managing director of Hamilton Blackstone Lawyers, a boutique firm specialising in financial services law. Hamilton Blackstone Lawyers merged its practice with Rockwell Olivier. I’ve worked in-house at CBA and Perpetual, and with Ernst & Young and HWL Ebsworth.
What practice group are you with?
I am the Head of Financial Services at Rockwell Olivier.
What has been the most significant change to your practice area during your career?
Financial services is synonymous with change, particularly following the GFC and the high-profile collapses of a number of investments. With change comes opportunity, but also complexity. Anyone who has been involved with FOFA (Future of Financial Advice), for example, can attest to that!
The globalisation of financial services is a wonderful opportunity for our region, for which Rockwell Olivier is well placed.
What has been a major career highlight for you?
Becoming principal/partner is, of course, a personal highlight, but my most satisfying moments have come where I felt that I have made a direct and real contribution to the achievement of my clients’ goals. Influencing legislative and regulatory change is also rewarding.
What do you like about being a lawyer?
The intellectual stimulation of legal practice is certainly a highlight, and the personal satisfaction that comes from achieving real solutions for clients. Lawyers are often accused of sitting in their ivory towers, but in financial services I am able to participate across all stages of the financial lifecycle, from the creation of a product or fund, to the financial advice given to a client, and to the distribution of the client’s investment upon their death.
What do you find challenging?
The pace at which the law continues to evolve, particularly in financial services, certainly keeps me on my toes. And I am always challenging myself to think beyond being a financial services specialist – as a good financial services lawyer needs to know about trusts, equity, tax, contract, corporate, and privacy law as well.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Family time is important to me, and I especially enjoy daddy-daughter dates with my nine-year old, though I can’t grasp her current fascination with ‘loom bracelets’. I like to swim, and I’ve participated in the 24-hour Mega Swim for the past five years, which raises funds for multiple sclerosis. I also enjoy squash (the sport, not the vegetable!). I’m a sports fanatic, and play online fantasy football probably to the point of obsession.
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