Advisory Board
rodney abstone
Michael A. Watkins, Esq.

Michael has over 30 years of experience in banking, securities, and derivatives law, including more than a decade of experience, as a deputy general counsel or general counsel, in managing the legal departments of leading financial institutions including a publicly-owned Fortune 100 bank and a privately-owned stock exchange.


His career began in 1980 in Washington, D.C., as a regulatory lawyer with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and later with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). In 1988, he joined the law firm Day, Berry & Howard (now Day Pitney LLP) specializing in broker dealer, investment adviser, and public finance law. He later joined Shawmut Bank, a Day, Berry client and a publicly-owned Fortune 500 company, as its in-house capital markets and corporate finance counsel. Michael joined First Union Corporation in 1999 as its in-house equity derivatives counsel and was promoted to Deputy General Counsel and head of its corporate, securities and regulatory law practice group. He continued in this role following First Union's 2001 acquisition of and name change to Wachovia Corporation, a publicly-owned Fortune 100 company which included the fourth-largest U.S. bank and third-largest U.S. broker dealer (now Wells Fargo).


While serving on the senior management team at First Union/Wachovia, its 400-employee legal department received an award from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association for promoting diversity in hiring and vendor contracting. In addition, Michael personally received an award from the U.S. Department of Defense, recognizing his efforts to preserve jobs for employee-reservists called to active military duty. In 2006, he was appointed General Counsel and Secretary of National Stock Exchange, Inc.,a privately-owned corporation later acquired by Chicago Board Options Exchange.


In 2010, Michael formed Financial Markets Consultants LLC, which specializes in resolving regulatory compliance, corporate governance, and government relations issues for financial firms and professionals resulting from the 2009 financial crisis and subsequent reforms to U.S. financial services regulations mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.


Michael has served as a director or trustee for a number of for-profit corporate entities and nonprofit organizations, including treasury management subsidiaries, political action committees, wholesale and retail credit unions, a public television station, a nonprofit technology company, and a National Urban League affiliate. He is a member of the American Leadership Forum, the American Bar Association (ABA) Futures and Derivatives Law Committee and has served as Chair and Vice Chair of the ABA Banking Law Subcommittee on Securities Activities.


Michael earned an A.B. from Princeton University (Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs), and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.

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