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‘Law Is Not Magic’

As a financial services executive, Kevin Carome ’82 deals with regulations every day and does so with judgment—not wizardry.

Photograph by Caitlin Cunningham

Kevin Carome ’82 has no tricks up his sleeve. The senior managing director and general counsel at financial services giant Invesco Ltd. wants colleagues to understand that legal maneuvers will not solve a problem related to compliance or regulations. “People find it helpful to know that there are judgment calls that need to be made, that law is not magic,” he explains.

“In a highly regulated business, you’re subject to a lot of specific laws and regulations,” says Carome, who has served in his current position since 2006 and has been with the company since 2003. “And if you just read them on the page, they seem to be clear. But when you start to apply them to specific business situations, you find that they’re not clear.”

Carome’s responsibilities include legal, compliance, internal audit, government affairs, and security for Invesco, which manages more than $900 billion in assets and employs 7,000 people across the globe. “All of those functions I have responsibility for overseeing have a twin mission in a company like Invesco. First is service to internal clients in the organization. The second mission is to operate as part of the overall control environment.”

To accomplish those goals, Carome must be both student and teacher. “On any given day, you can have a whole wide variety of problems to solve, some of which you can anticipate and some you can’t,” he says. “One of the things I like about it is that I’m constantly required to learn new things of one type or another: a new law, a new regulation, a new business practice.” In turn, Carome, based in Atlanta, must ensure that his staff of 500 people worldwide are equipped to handle what’s coming next. He says that when he thinks of his job responsibilities, people management comes first.

“One of the things I like about [my job] is that I’m constantly required to learn new things of one type or another: a new law, a new regulation, a new business practice.” —Kevin Carome

One of Carome’s primary responsibilities is educating employees about the gray area when it comes to risk. “We have to agree on the degree of risk we’re going to take, try to be prudent so we don’t take too much. It’s never black and white. Regulators sometimes move the goal post, so it’s complicated, but if you get it wrong, you face the consequences, you address the problem, and then you move on.”

Carome launched his career with Ropes & Gray in Boston in its corporate department and then, by “happenstance and circumstance,” ended up moving into the financial services industry. “I did a variety of things, mostly deal work, but I didn’t do financial services law, per se. Toward the end of my time at Ropes & Gray, I did a deal that involved a money management company. When I needed to make a move, a colleague of mine mentioned a job opening at Liberty Financial Companies, which was a small money management firm. They were looking for a lawyer with a range of skill sets, a deal lawyer to help them go public, a general corporate lawyer, and someone who knew US mutual fund law. I had all the skill sets except US mutual fund law. They took a flyer on me and I ended up over the course of eight-and-a-half years ultimately succeeding the man who hired me to become the GC of that company. That company got sold by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company in pieces. My job went away and I ended up with a job at what has become Invesco.”

Carome’s job responsibilities require frequent travel across the globe. When he lands in the UK—where he lived for a year as a teenager and developed a love of football (soccer in the US)—he often meets up with fellow football fans and takes in a Manchester United game. The team is his favorite, and he tries to never miss watching its games, though he admits, “Sometimes work gets in the way.”

Even so, Carome’s enthusiasm for the industry and his job have not waned over the years. “I don’t know when my last day of working will be,” he muses, “but I’m sure I’ll learn something new that day that I didn’t know before.”