We need to shine a light on some of the strong women in our society today, to instil confidence and hope in today’s youth, especially women. In the context of Asia today, ‘Kristi L. Swartz’ is one of the most inspirational women in the realm of business. She’s a very successful businesswomen, an expert in corporate law and financial technology i.e. fintech, a serial entrepreneur and a humanitarian. She’s also well-recognized as a leading figure in Asia’s legal industry, having invested many years of her education and professional life to the field.
Kristi is the founder and managing partner at ‘Swartz, Binnersley & Associates’, a bespoke legal firm helping a niche clientele within the emerging fintech industry. It’s situated in Hong Kong and was set up in December 2018, intending to nurture the bright potential of niche fintech firms. Although it’s only two years old, they have supported the growth of many successful clients and they have also received many honourable recognitions. Let’s look further into this multi-faceted success story.
Tracing Kristi’s Journey
Kristi’s upbringing, education and professional background have together shaped her successes. “I grew up in a typical American neighbourhood, like the ones you see in the movies. I was raised by my grandmother and my mother. These very strong women gave me confidence and courage to aim for the stars. They also gave me support and encouragement to keep going when the journey became turbulent. I credit these strong female figures in my life, for instilling in me a sense of determination to achieve my dreams,” she says.
From a young age, Kristi aspired to an international corporate lawyer. To make this dream come true, she took many bold steps. She travelled to London and then later to Hong Kong to pursue her higher education interests. Being an overseas student and unaware of the local customs, she faced many challenges. But thankfully, her mother’s words of encouragement and support helped her to keep going. Later, upon completing her education, she decided to settle down and begin her legal career in Hong Kong.
“I spent my early years in practice working for international firms before making the move to go in-house. After my stint as an in-house lawyer, I realised there was a gap in the market for a niche corporate finance firm and this inspired me to form ‘Swartz Solicitors’ in 2006. With hindsight, this may have been yet another bold move, because this was one of the first female-led law firms in Hong Kong,” Kristi says.
As she worked hard in her first company, Kristi was able to build a strong client portfolio and earn good reputation as well. Along the way, she received a taste of the responsibilities within leadership. Having excelled in them, she maintained similar leadership responsibilities, in most of her upcoming endeavours. So, she has come to believe that entrepreneurship is her calling or destiny.
Nurturing the Growth of Innovative FinTech Companies
“I formed ‘Swartz, Binnersley & Associates’ to cater to my bespoke and niche clientele. So far, my practice has focused on financial technology and regulatory matters. I saw an opportunity to create a new kind of law firm that can service a new kind of client. A key driver for our firm is ‘innovation’. We are pleased to support business looking to disrupt the current financial ecosystem,” Kristi says.
Swartz, Binnersley & Associates is an emerging legal firm, nurturing the growth of fintech companies through grassroots-style legal assistance. “Being a startup ourselves, we understand the road bumps and pain points of entrepreneurs and emerging companies. We enjoy sharing their journey, guiding clients through the growth process, equipping them with the tools needed for success. We have had the pleasure of supporting a number of Hong Kong’s home-grown fintech unicorns from inception. Our client portfolio also consists of notable established companies and banks who operate on a global platform,” Kristi says.
Although the firm is recognized as a young start up, it’s been recognized by prestigious awards within the legal industry. “We are honoured to be recognised by ‘Chambers and Partners’, ‘The Legal 500’ as well as ‘Asian Legal Business’ for our young and burgeoning fintech regulatory practice. These accolades have been an incredible confidence boost in that my vision to start Swartz, Binnersley & Associates was indeed the right move,” Kristi shares.
Within the firm, Kristi leads the firm’s corporate department, specialising in fintech and regulatory concerns. On the whole, the firm believes in seeing their clients’ business as their own. Whether it’s an international client or a local one, they spend time to ensure the best service and nurture their growth. Their willingness to help and their expertise have earned them a reputation for nurturing trailblazers including Hong Kong’s first robo-advisory firm, Hong Kong’s first equity crowdfunding platform for professional investors and SoFi Securities.
Approaching a Brighter Future
“Community service is at the heart of Swartz, Binnersley & Associates. I have been very privileged to have been supported throughout my career. Without the kindness afforded to me, I would not be in the position that I find myself in today. A personal mandate of mine is to give back to those who need the support. I do this in a variety of ways, from pro bono work though Swartz, Binnersley & Associates as well as personal support to organisations that are close to my heart,” Kristi says.
Kristi along with the firm, have been continually participating in helping members of their community like children living in poverty, vulnerable girls and the underprivileged population, in a variety of ways. They help organizations like ‘Faith in Love Foundation Limited’, ‘Global Women Connect Limited’ and ‘Suicide Prevention Services’, amongst many others. Kristi, in particular, as the co-founder and ambassador of a few such organizations, devotes time, energy and efforts to help those in need. She’s also an avid supporter of the University of Texas, her very first university. She also participates in mentoring programs to foster the development of bright young women.
Having practised in Hong Kong for nearly two decades, Kristi has developed into an industry leader, well recognized through many awards for herself as well as her firm. “The plan for Swartz, Binnersley & Associates is relatively simple: keep delivering excellent client service. We want to build an international platform able to service clients around the globe. We have built a solid foundation as well as garnered industry recognition. We simply need to build on this,” she concludes, hinting at a brighter future.