A Conversation with John O’Connell, Goldman Sachs

On the C&L Society’s Commitment to DE&I

SIFMA’s Compliance & Legal Society is the leading forum for compliance and legal professionals working in the financial services industry. With a rich 50-year history, it provides a unique opportunity for industry leaders and regulators to come together to share information and collaborate with the goal of ensuring our capital markets are the most fair, transparent and ethical in the world.

This month, we sat down with John O’Connell, Chair of our 2023 Annual Seminar. John is the global head of the Regulatory Practice Group at Goldman Sachs. He has served on the C&L Society Executive Committee since 2017 and has been a passionate advocate for the Society’s efforts to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive financial industry. In this note, John opens the nomination process for our 2023 DE&I Advocate Award. 

Can you describe why the C&L Society has made a commitment to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion?

Diversity, equity and inclusion are core to the mission of the SIFMA C&L Society. We believe it is our responsibility, in our leadership positions, to ensure that all voices are heard. One of the ways we accomplish that is by striving to be inclusive in everything we do. That ranges across a host of categories, including representing the varying business models, firm sizes and viewpoints of our member firms. We are constantly seeking to broaden our understanding of diversity and expand how we think about it. 

Providing a platform for individuals to have a voice enables them to have an impact. We want to hear all those voices and see all those faces. We want to lift up those who need to be lifted up. We want full participation. 

 To achieve such an important goal, we must identify and recognize those individuals who have worked so hard to make change. We established the annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advocate Award to publicly recognize those individuals and their contributions. In 2022, we honored Jacqueline LiCalzi and Chris Lewis. Jackie and Chris have set the bar. Now, we want to hear from you who should be the recipients of the 2023 Award. 

 What are you looking for in a DE&I Advocate Award nominee? How do you make a nomination? 

 The DE&I Advocate Award celebrates legal and compliance professionals who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to building creative solutions that address diversity, equity and inclusion inequities in the financial services industry and ensures the next generation of leaders reflects our diverse society. Nominees may include any legal or compliance professional working for a financial services firm, outside counsel, regulator, or vendor that supports the industry. 

 To make a nomination, please complete this application form. All the details you need are included therein. We’re looking for individuals how have made a clear and measurable impact. We want to hear about your nominee’s approach to solving DE&I-related issues as well as specifics around an innovative, unique or creative approach to tackling a DE&I initiative. 

The deadline to submit a nomination is Tuesday, November 1. 

When will the Award be presented?

The award will be presented at the C&L Annual Seminar, to be held in San Diego on March 12-15, 2023. We hope you’ll join us there! Last year’s inaugural LGBTQ+ cocktail party was a highlight of the event, as was our Future Leaders reception. Your nominations and participation in these events are what creates a culture of inclusion and, hopefully, encourages others in turn.

The inaugural LGBTQ+ Reception at the 2022 C&L Annual Seminar, noted by attendees as a “highlight” of their Seminar experience.

Registration for the 2023 Annual Seminar opens next week! What does this year have in store?

The current regulatory environment is keeping us all busy, to say the least. We are seeing what feels like a real wave of initiatives and a more aggressive approach in terms of rulemaking, exams, inquiries and enforcement.  

This comes as no surprise to anyone who attended our 2022 C&L Annual Seminar. Listening first-hand to our mainstage regulatory speakers, I heard a clear shift in tone and came away with an understanding that the regulatory environment would be more aggressive. This has proven true to date. 

What insights will we gain in 2023? You’ll have to be there to find out! Registration for this year’s Seminar will open on Thursday, September 29. 


John O’Connell is Managing Director at Goldman Sachs and Chair of SIFMA’s 2023 Annual Seminar

To receive our monthly C&L Society Update and more, please create or manage your profile at my.sifma.org. To view upcoming events for compliance and legal professionals in the financial industry, please visit www.sifma.org/events.