Laura Salvatori, Anson Funds’ GC, has found satisfaction in straddling the cross-border world

Employed by the Canadian entity, her services embrace all Anson's US operations

Laura Salvatori, Anson Funds’ GC, has found satisfaction in straddling the cross-border world
Laura Salvatori: GC roles attract people who like being jacks of all trades and rolling their sleeves up

Based in Toronto but with her “heart in New York,” Laura Salvatori, Anson Funds’ general counsel, has found satisfaction by straddling both worlds.

Anson is a privately held alternative asset management company founded in 2003, with offices in Toronto and Dallas. Composed of several hedge funds, each with a unique investment strategy, Anson has over US$1.5 billion in assets under management and deals primarily in publicly traded equity and debt securities globally.

“I’m employed by the Ontario entity, but my services cover Anson’s US operations,” Salvatori says. “I oversee all the legal, litigation, risk, and regulatory matters for the funds.”

After getting a Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialty in finance at the Schulich School of Business, Salvatori decided to attend law school at Osgoode Hall.

“I liked the idea of working with corporate transactions as counsel, where I could creatively execute the plans and visions of business folks,” Salvatori says.

After completing her second year at Osgoode, Salvatori split her summer between Stikeman Elliott LLP in Toronto and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in New York.

“That’s when I discovered that my heart was in New York, and I didn’t want to leave,” Salvatori says.

Things couldn’t have worked out better. Weil offered her a full-time position starting when she graduated from law school. But when the credit crisis forced the firm to defer hires’ start date for a year, she took advantage of the lag to article at Stikeman, eventually qualifying in 2010 in Ontario and New York.

During Salvatori’s tenure in Weil’s capital markets department, the firm seconded her to Goldman Sachs’ investment banking legal group.

“I really liked it and eventually joined Goldman’s corporate governance department,” she says. “That was the beginning of my in-house career.”

Salvatori’s successful tenure at Goldman saw her emerge as vice president, assistant general counsel. In 2016, however, personal considerations took her back to Toronto.

“My mother had passed away, and I thought that it was probably time to come home, be with my father, and support the family emotionally,” Salvatori says.

On her return, she became GC and senior VP, Human Resources at Match MG, a leading North American private equity-owned marketing agency headquartered in Connecticut, boasting several US offices and a large Toronto office.

“There was lots of acquisition activity at Match, and that made me feel like I was missing out on the business side of transactions,” Salvatori says.

In 2019, the GC position at Anson came up, and Salvatori jumped.

“I was keen on getting back into the investment space and getting involved on both sides of the border,” she says. “Given my New York call, I really liked dealing with US matters, counsel and counterparties.”

Staying on top of regulatory matters from the Ontario Securities Commission in Canada, the US Securities and Exchange Commission Canada, and the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, is an integral part of her work. Yet Salvatori also spends significant time drafting and reviewing investment documents, day-to-day operational business contracts (“Everything from real estate to services research data”) and agreements with counterparties and brokers.

She also manages the various pieces of litigation that engage Anson at any time, works with outside counsel on strategic issues, and drafts and reviews court filings. Finally, her job embraces corporate governance for the various boards involved in Anson’s management companies and hedge funds.

All this, and mainly on her own.

“While we have compliance people who are lawyers, a compliance manager in Toronto is the only dedicated compliance manager who reports to me,” Salvatori says.

So how does she manage?

“I make do without much support because I really like my job, find it interesting, work with amazing people, and I’m continuously learning in a way that makes things very exciting. When you view work that way, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.”

Salvatori thrives on it.

“Becoming a GC early in one’s career attracts people who like being jacks of all trade and rolling their sleeves up.”

Work-life balance, she adds, is no problem.

“It’s a fluid exercise. It doesn’t mean I don’t look at my emails when I go home or, on the other hand, that I’m always thinking about work. I am where I need to be at any given time, and because I care so much, the balance never feels disproportionate and tends to work itself out.”

Muneeb Yusuf, Salvatori’s husband and father of the couple’s young daughter and the second child they expect in September, is uniquely positioned to understand. After all, he’s GC at League, a data-driven and cloud-based health operating system and platform ranked as one of the top 50 fintech companies in the world by KPMG.

Salvatori’s philosophy on dealing with challenging times, like the pandemic period, is simple.

“We’re in an environment where things change on a daily basis, so having to pivot is just the way we work here. The key, as a lawyer, is to be flexible but anchored, so I stick to core principles relating to risk tolerance and the manner in which we operate. When things get uncertain, it’s important to keep both feet on the ground and not throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Indeed, the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 produced record-breaking years for Anson’s flagship funds.

“That proves how important it is to stick to your principles,” Salvatori says, who counts her part in these accomplishments as among her proudest achievements.

Also in that category are Salvatori’s part in structuring two unique vehicles: the first allowed employees to participate as investors in the firm’s flagship fund, a daunting achievement considering the onerous regulatory restrictions involved, and the second was a Sharia-compliant fund launched in the United Arab Emirates.

“The employee participation fund was great because it allowed our people to align themselves with the fund’s successes, which I believe is a critical alignment, and the Sharia fund was very different structurally from anything else we’ve done.”

From a more personal perspective, Salvatori counts among the highlights of her career her recent appointment to the New York City Bar Association’s securities regulation committee.

“I’m perhaps the only non-resident and certainly the only Canadian on that committee, which is an esteemed practitioners group composed mostly of US attorneys. And it gives me the ability to make sure I’m fully involved and up-to-speed on what’s going on in New York, which is the headquarters for many of the legal areas in which I practise.”

One of Salvatori’s primary preoccupations is the SEC’s shifting focus to heavily regulating the private fund space, including hedge funds and private equity.

“There is a slew of proposed regulations as well as some that have recently passed. While they will not necessarily impact how we operate, they will affect our reporting obligations and how we deal with risk and metrics. My job is to ensure that we’re in a good position to meet these obligations in a way that’s not disruptive to our business.”

And her crucial goal for the next year?

“Continue learning. That’s always a goal for me.”

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