Based in Ireland, Tara O'Reilly is recognised as a leading lawyer by both Chambers & Partners and Legal 500. She is also one of the leading lawyers in the ETF space and is a leadership member of the Irish chapter of Women in ETFs and a former member of the EFAMA ETF working group.
She began her legal journey with a business and law degree at University College Dublin in Ireland and from there worked at William Fry. We ask about her life in ETFs.
How did you get into the ETF industry?
Tara O’Reilly: I was acting for BGI in its acquisition by BlackRock and after the acquisition, I was engaged by BlackRock to act for the iShares range.
What has been the defining/proudest moment of your ETF career?
TO: I have been fortunate enough to be involved with ETF providers which have driven innovation in ETFs. This has allowed me to be involved in many ETF firsts. I have worked with providers in bringing to market the first factor funds, synthetic funds, long/short and leveraged funds and I created the legal framework for the single settlement model for ETFs, the ICSD model.
What has been the proudest moment outside of your career?
TO: The arrival of each of my two beautiful daughters.
What are your goals over the next five years?
TO: To reach a point in my life where I don’t have to have goals!
What do you do in your spare time?
TO: I will let you know when I get some!
How do you anticipate the ETF industry will evolve in the next ten years? OR Do you think the ETF industry is missing anything?
TO: ETFs have evolved significantly in the last ten years and as ETFs continue to grow and innovate, they will remain under the scrutiny of regulators. The current focus of the scrutiny is around market infrastructure and participants, liquidity and investor protection. Continued engagement with Regulators will be essential to ensure the response to ETF development is an informed one and an appropriate balance is achieved between allowing innovation and being mindful of investor protection.
What challenges does the ETF industry currently face?
TO: The definition of an ETF has changed with product innovation. What was sold as a simple transparent vehicle for market cap exposure is now seen as a wrapper for the delivery of any strategy that can fit within the ETF rules. This is a significant shift and it is essential that there is sufficient disclosure and education to ensure investors know what they are buying, particularly as the retail market continues to be a target.
How does your company differentiate itself from its competitors?
TO: We have a depth and breadth of ETF advisory experience that is unique in the market. Having been active with ETFs since they first arrived into Europe, we have seen the development of the product, the day to day issues and the regulatory challenges and so can bring an informed but pragmatic approach to any proposals or issues arising for ETFs.
What is your favourite ETF and why?
TO: I love all of my ETFs equally and it would be impossible to choose between them.