In the financial services world, the compliance work overseen by legal counsel has grown in prominence and importance.
Banks and investment firms have been dealt a slew of new regulations – so much so that some small banks in Memphis and beyond say they’re now at the limit of the compliance costs they’re able to pay for. For other firms, expanding the company infrastructure to include new compliance and legal capabilities is a natural byproduct of business growth and staff additions.
Memphis-based Diversified Trust, a comprehensive wealth management firm with more than $4 billion in client assets, finds itself in the latter category.
Diversified has added lawyer Richard Chotard to its corporate leadership team. As Diversified’s new associate corporate counsel/compliance officer, he’ll oversee the firm’s compliance and regulatory processes and procedures.
Previously, Chotard spent more than eight years with Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. and Regions Bank. He worked as a compliance officer for Regions Bank’s trust department, then as an associate corporate counsel and first vice president for Morgan Keegan.
At Morgan Keegan, he provided legal advice on transactional, operational, litigation-related, regulatory and compliance matters.
Diversified CEO Sam Graham said Chotard brings a “dynamic” level of experience in managing compliance and regulatory matters in financial services. And Graham attributed the addition partly to being a natural outgrowth of adding staff and the increase in compliance workload that brings.
“We’ve had a fair amount of growth in our personnel,” Graham said. “Just looking at the numbers, in the last three years we’ve increased staff by about 60 percent. Part of our growth has been about making sure we’re building our corporate infrastructure with dedicated staff to do certain things. We have several attorneys and people with legal backgrounds in our shop, but they have other duties.
“We’d been looking for about a year for someone for this. Richard was recommended to us, and he’s tailor-made for what we’re looking for.”
Chotard got his law degree from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta. He serves on the advisory board of and acts as a mentor for the Memphis Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Leadership Forum, and he’s a member of the board of directors of the Wolf River Conservancy.
Beyond the necessary compliance tasks, the component of Diversified’s work that includes trusts and estates also goes hand in hand with the skill sets and know-how of a lawyer. Diversified’s other clients include individuals, multi-generational families, single-family offices, foundations, endowments and retirement plans.
“We are in a spot now where we’ll be 20 years old in roughly a year,” Graham said about Diversified. “We’ve left the stage of being in just one or two markets. I would describe us now as a Southeastern midsized comprehensive wealth management firm with a trust company core. That seems to be a sweet spot where we fit well with what clients are looking for. We’re situated competitively to continue to grow, and we don’t see a plateau anytime soon.”