Fintech Women You Should Know: Sheetal Parikh
As associate general counsel and vice president of compliance solutions, Sheetal Parikh works with Treasury Prime’s bank and fintech clients to develop compliance solutions and support them on regulatory compliance matters. Prior to joining Treasury Prime, Sheetal led the Legal and Compliance teams at Synapse where she oversaw legal analysis on new product development and product construct, commercial and vendor agreements and regulatory compliance. Previously, she served as Senior Director of Compliance and Regulatory Counsel for PLS Financial Services, as Vice President of Legal & Compliance for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, and as part of the Securities and Commodities litigation group at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP.
Tell us a little about your family background — Why did you choose to go into law and why financial services?
As the daughter of Indian immigrants, I learned at an early age that education is a privilege. Having witnessed firsthand the dedication and relentless work ethic of immigrants like my parents, I aspired (and still aspire) to do something impactful. I feel so blessed to come from a strong, loving family and have quality friends that support each other fiercely and are not afraid to share hard truths.
Some of my earliest memories of learning about advocacy was in a sixth grade mock trial when I was assigned to represent the Earth and specifically the ozone layer. I am pretty sure I had no idea what that meant but I do remember loving the entire process from getting educated on what caused the hole in the ozone layer to formulating meaningful arguments. While I didn’t always know that I wanted to be an attorney, it became a natural trajectory in college as I became more interested in social sciences. I initially dreamt of championing issues of equality and social justice as a civil rights lawyer, but growing student debt motivated a bit of a pivot. I decided to enter private practice at a law firm, where I worked in the Securities and Commodities Litigation group, my first exposure to financial services. Working on high stakes securities fraud cases in the age of Madoff and heightened regulatory scrutiny on banks and brokerage firms really helped me understand the complexities and safeguards necessary when dealing with people’s money. This has been a theme that has stayed with me during my time in Morgan Stanley’s legal department and especially now in fintech.
What is it like working in a male dominated field?
Being a woman of color in financial services and the law, two traditionally homogeneous fields, has definitely presented challenges at times. I remember early in my career being told that some of the law firm partners did not feel comfortable working with me because they did not know how to pronounce my name and being asked to come up with a nickname. While these challenges certainly were disheartening at times, I realized that being underestimated can sometimes be a good thing. It motivated me to be extra prepared and diligent in my work. I often learned that there were not any ill intentions or animus in these behaviors: it was just a result of a particular person’s experience and individual circumstance. I hope that some of these challenges have helped me apply empathy and appreciate different perspectives in processing similar challenges today.
What do you do at Treasury Prime and what do you like most about what you do?
Having worked in both a traditional financial institution like Morgan Stanley and in fintech, I love acting as a translator of sorts between our bank partners and fintechs. I often analogize it to my experience as a first generation South Asian American where I frequently find myself navigating and translating between two different cultures. I am the associate general counsel and VP of compliance solutions at Treasury Prime. In that capacity I am helping build a compliance offering that enables fintechs to establish viable compliance programs while serving as the regulatory counsel/product counsel for the Company. I hope to be able to assist our General Counsel with review of contracts as well. I love that this role allows me to leverage my legal and regulatory background while also supporting and engaging with fintech and bank customers. Undoubtedly my favorite part of the job is the fabulous team that I get to work with on a daily basis. I have had the privilege of working with several talented teams in the past but this is truly the first time I have worked with such brilliant people who are also amazing humans. It is humbling for sure.
Got any advice for other women about working successfully in tech?
Embrace your authentic self and view your differences as a strength and not a weakness. You need to respect yourself before you can garner respect from others. And in moments of struggle try to remember that we stand on the shoulders of many great leaders who have paved the way for each of our opportunities and those that will continue to blaze the trail.
What’s a fun fact you’d like to share about yourself?
I am a fraternal twin, born 13 minutes after my twin sister. According to doctors, our heart beats were synchronized so my parents were surprised to meet me when I was born. The running joke in the family is that those 13 minutes were the last moments of silence that my parents remember . . . and that I haven’t stopped talking since. :)
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