Matthew Iwamaye, Esq.

Assistant General Counsel & Director @ Bank Of America Merrill Lynch

Alma Mater: New York Law School | 646.855.5975

Matt Iwamaye serves as Assistant General Counsel & Director, supporting Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s equities sales and trading businesses. Matt has served as Assistant General Counsel & Director since September 2011. In his role Matt provides legal and regulatory guidance to the Bank’s equities business, including the cash and electronic sales and trading desks, as well as the Bank’s alternative trading systems. Additionally, he works closely with the equities businesses to develop new business initiatives in a manner consistent with the applicable legal and regulatory framework. Matt also guides the equities businesses through various regulatory and litigation matters.

Prior to his role as Assistant General Counsel & Director, Matt served as Vice President, Senior Compliance Manager, in Bank of America’s Regulatory Inquiries group. In his role as Vice President and Senior Compliance Manager, Matt was responsible for responding to regulatory inquiries from securities regulators such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Prior to that, Matt worked as an Analyst, Regulatory Compliance, at Barclays Investment Bank.

Matthew received his J.D. from New York Law School, and is admitted to practice in New York. He received his B.S. in finance, Cum Laude, from the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, in 2003. Matt also serves as the President & Executive Board Chair for the Pipeline to Practice Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to fostering diversity in the legal profession.

Get to Know Matt

Post-Marathon – despite the smile, I am in extreme pain!

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your 21-year old self?

Never be discouraged or embarrassed to admit you do not know the answer to something. I think this is good advice both in your personal life, and especially when practicing law. From a personal perspective, life is way too complex to try and jam it into some nice, neat blueprint. You’re going to be confronted with hurdles and obstacles, some of which will be so new and seemingly complex, that you’ll feel lost. I personally used to feel a little bit inadequate when that happened, as if being a “21-year old adult,” I should have it all figured out by now. When I learned to view not knowing how to solve something as a challenge, instead of a stop sign, I learned how to problem solve, think outside the box, and attack issues head-on!

From a legal perspective, the law is dynamic, and always changing. In broker-dealer/securities law, there are entirely too many rules and regulations for someone to know them all like the back of their hand. When you are advising your clients there will inevitably be situations that implicate rules and laws that you’re not overly familiar with. The best lesson I learned – and it was hard as a young attorney because you never want to come across as not being knowledgable – was that people appreciate honesty. And the best answer I learned to give was, “You know what…that’s an interesting question. I know it’s important to you that you get an answer, but I have to be honest…I don’t know the answer right now. But, give me a few hours, a day or two, and I’ll dig in, figure it out, and we can discuss.” That answer exudes confidence – it tells your client that you’re confident enough in your abilities to learn something new, and come back and advise them competently.

Hawaii is our favorite spot!

What is your favorite quote and what makes it so meaningful to you?

“Ya Gotta Believe!” Admittedly, this is because I am a tortured Mets fan, where “believing” has not paid off since the Mets won the World Series in 1986, but hey…

In all seriousness, though, “ya gotta believe” in yourself. I graduated law school in 2008, during the height of the financial crisis. Not having gone to a top 25 law school and wanting to work for an investment bank, I was definitely at a competitive disadvantage. But, I chose to “believe” in myself – in my ability to network, in my willingness to take jobs that were a little off of the beaten path to where I wanted to go, and in my ability use those opportunities to impress the right people. I “believed” that if I could just get my foot in the door at an investment bank by accepting contract work, I could shine, force others to notice me, and earn a full time role. And it worked! Never give up on yourself.

If I’m not on the golf course, then I’m usually at the gym doing some sort of Olympic lift!

What is your social media “guilty pleasure” — who/what do you follow on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook that you find fascinating, and why?

I probably follow over 100 golf accounts on Instagram – mainly instructional accounts – because my golf swing is always a work in progress (and it definitely needs work!). I got into golf late – March 2018 – and I am obsessed. I think what I love about it is the precision – how one thing a half an inch off, or a half a second later/earlier, can make all the difference in your ball strike. So, I am always hopelessly searching for that magical golf tip that is going to make everything right. Has yet to happen, and starting to think it never will . . . but, “I gotta believe!”

If you weren’t in your current job, what would be your dream job? 

Definitely a Master Sommelier. I love wine – not only because I love a good glass of red wine, but because there’s so much history in wine, and I’m a big history nerd. Wine’s origins go back to ancient civilizations, and there are so many interesting stories behind each vineyard. Wine is so much more than crushed grapes – it’s really a collection of stories from those who produced it. Wine is a big hobby of mine now – I recently earned the Level 1 Award in Wine from the WSET, and am starting Level 2 in the near term, with Level 3 planned afterwards!