Questions & Answers
Thought Leaders 2018 - Interview with José Eduardo Queiroz
Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
I’ve graduated from both business and law schools, and initially I thought that law would be a good asset to develop a career as a professional in the financial market, which was my plan in the early years of my professional career. I worked in banks for a couple of years in interesting areas, such as equities trading, equities research and corporate finance. It was the early 1990s and by that time, a lot of things started to change in Brazil. A more stable macroeconomic environment, the opening of the financial markets to foreign investment, privatisation, and the passing of important reforms instilled a new pattern of economic activity in Brazil and brought the country back into the dynamic of a global economy.
All these changes created new demands and new opportunities for the legal industry. The entire corporate practice would have the chance to develop and become similar to what we already had in more relevant markets at that time, with expertise associated with the business and financial environment being more required. I had the opportunity to join the firm as a trainee and develop a lawyer’s career since then.
You have been involved in a number of landmark transactions, but what would you say was the most challenging case you have ever worked on?
It’s very difficult to pick one case that stands out as the most challenging. Landmark cases are always very interesting and give us exposure to the market, making us proud. But small, low-profile cases can also surprise and turn out to be very challenging indeed.
What are the biggest challenges facing the banking and finance sector in Brazil?
In my opinion, the biggest challenge has to do with the financing of the potential economic growth we’ll have in the years to come. Our financial system is very stable and sophisticated and offers every type of financial product and service one can imagine. The challenge is to foster financing for both companies and individuals in a more sustainable form. New technologies and new players can have an important role in that.
To what extent do you think the fintech industry is revolutionising the financial sector?
I think it’s not only the fintech industry that is revolutionising the sector, but it is the use of technology in general, both by fintechs and traditional financial institutions. Technology can broaden the reach of the financial system with lower costs and, if well managed, less risk to the financial agents and to the financial system.
You have a lot of experience in M&A transactions. How has Brazil’s recent economic downturn impacted deals in Brazil and what do you expect now the economy is said to be on the rebound?
It has affected certain strategic moves and greenfield projects, but is has also raised a lot of opportunities in terms of divestment and attractive prices. I’m not sure that the net result in terms of M&A transactions is negative. With the rebound we will probably see a bigger number of strategic transactions, with the economic growth to come in the next few years. However, I also believe that there’s a continuing interest in the country due to its relevance in terms of the size of the market and its importance in the global economy. This feature of our economy is present despite the macroeconomic trend.
How do you expect the regulatory landscape for the financial sector to develop over the next few years?
Certainly, there will be a focus on regulation of new technologies and how to adapt these new developments to the regulatory framework. I do not see the capacity for more deregulation, but for different approaches from regulators on relevant issues that were not that important in the past. Data privacy control is a good example of a new regulatory frontier that will impact the regulation of financial markets.
In your opinion, what are the most important characteristics to be a successful lawyer?
The most important characteristics to be a top-tier lawyer are to have fun and develop strong relationships. Law is a difficult profession in which you handle very important and strategic issues from clients and you are always under pressure. It is easy to get annoyed in this environment. Having fun and being interested in learning more about your client and how you can help them is key.
How does the firm ensure it stands out from the competition?
At our firm we never stop challenging ourselves and thinking about how we can continue to improve. We always want to do better for the clients, with our partners, associates and professionals.