Meekal Hashmi: Old Mutual Asset Managers

A move in-house has seen Old Mutual Asset Managers head of legal Meekal Hashmi find his niche. By Julia Berris

The seduction of hedge funds is what gets Old Mutual Asset Managers (Omam) head of legal Meekal Hashmi up in the morning.

It seems that the former Clifford Chance associate has found an in-house environment that suits him down to the ground.

“The great thing about hedge funds and working with the guys here is that the people involved are superintelligent and enthusiastic about what they do,” he says. “We license one or two hedge funds a year, so it gives me plenty of opportunities to work on something that I really enjoy and find interesting.”

Omam is an asset management company geared towards both private and professional investors incorporating a range of products, including unit trusts, hedge funds, open-ended investment funds and offshore funds.

The company was established as a South African mutual society 150 years ago. It was first listed on several stock exchanges, including London and New York, in 1999.

“The firm has a rich past and has developed with the times to incorporate the latest trends and developments in funds. This is why I enjoy being here. I’m heavily involved in cutting-edge innovations,” Hashmi says.

Coming up to one year in his job at Omam, Hashmi has made it his mission to develop an in-house team that works closely with the people responsible for developing and managing funds.

Having worked for Baring Asset Management for four years before joining Omam, Hashmi was a dab hand at dealing with the legal complexities of funds.

“Baring was very interesting for me, but it was very different to what I’m doing now,” Hashmi says. “This is a very large organisation which employs a very wide range of people. I think I’ve managed to mould and develop the legal team here and that’s a great achievement.”

During his time at Omam, Hashmi has been given the opportunity to advance and develop the company’s legal provision in a way he feels is appropriate to the wider company. As part of the senior management team, Hashmi has a greater commercial input in decision-making company-wide.

Being given a certain amount of freedom to create a legal team in a way that he sees fit has been a challenge that Hashmi has enjoyed getting his teeth into.

“Anyone can come up with ideas here. I’ve felt that I’ve been able to make suggestions and throw in ideas and they’ll be listened to and considered,” he says.

Before his time in-house at Omam, Baring and Citco Group, Hashmi qualified and worked in private practice, starting his legal career as a trainee at Trowers & Hamlins. After two years he moved on to magic circle firm Clifford Chance.

“After qualifying I worked in the corporate practice in Clifford Chance,” Hashmi says. “It was great because I was able to learn so much and experience working on exciting deals at a very successful and well-respected law firm.”

Despite experiencing working in a large, international firm, Hashmi felt an inclination to move out of private practice and take his career in a different direction.

“Everybody’s different. Some people are suited to private practice completely and others to in-house. It’s not necessarily that one’s better than the other, but each has different attributes,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed working in-house and it’s definitely were I should be.”

Becoming a lawyer was something Hashmi had considered for some time and was very much drawn to while growing up. He describes the diversity and reach of law as the key attraction for him and for many other people considering a career in this area.

He concludes: “Whatever interest you have you can find an area of law that satisfies it. If you’re interested in music or sport you can gear your career towards these interests. It’s challenging and exciting and I think it offers something for everyone.”

Meekal Hashmi
Head of Legal
Old Mutual Asset Managers (Omam)

Organisation: Old Mutual Asset Managers (Omam)
Industry: Asset management
Head of Legal Meekal Hashmi
Reporting to: Chief operating officer Paul Nathan

Company turnover : $11.8bn (£5.9bn)
Legal spend: Approximately £1.5m
Total number of employees: 188
:Legal capability: Three, plus five in compliance
Main Law firms: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Bird & Bird, Dillon Eustace, MacFarlanes, Ogier, Simmons & Simmons
Meekal Hashmi’s CV

1989 – Psychology (BSc), Edinburgh University;
1992-94 – College of Law;
1994-95 – International Banking Law, London School of Economics
Work History:
1995 – trainee, Trowers & Hamlins;
1997 – associate, Clifford Chance;
1999 – legal counsel, Citco Group;
2002 – general counsel, Baring Asset Management;
2006 – head of legal, Omam