Michael A. Watkins, Esq.

Advisory Board


Michael is President and General Counsel of Financial Markets Consultants LLC, which provides business, regulatory compliance, and public policy support to financial industry firms, professionals, and trade associations. He brings more than 30 years of legal experience as an attorney specializing in banking, securities and derivatives law. This includes more than a decade of management experience, as a general counsel or deputy general counsel, leading in-house legal departments of financial institutions including a stock exchange and at a Fortune 100 bank.

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) specializing in broker dealer, investment adviser, and public finance law. He next worked at Shawmut Bank, a Fortune 500 company (now Bank of America), as capital markets and corporate finance counsel.

Michael joined First Union in 1999 as Equity Derivatives Counsel, and in 2000, was promoted to Deputy General Counsel and head of its 40-person Corporate, Securities and Regulatory Law practice group. He continued in that role following First Union’s acquisition of and name change to Wachovia, becoming a Fortune 100 company that included the fourth largest U.S. retail bank and the third largest U.S. broker dealer (now Wells Fargo). While serving on its senior management team, his responsibilities included coordinating the company’s reporting obligations under Federal banking and securities laws, and its government affairs activities across the U.S. and in 30 foreign countries where it conducted business. Wachovia recognized his leadership by awarding him its Collaborative Achievement Award in 2004. In addition, Michael received an award from the U.S. Department of Defense recognizing his efforts to preserve jobs in Wachovia’s 400-employee Legal Division for “employee-reservists” called to active military duty during the Iraq Conflict.

Michael joined National Stock Exchange (NSX) in 2006 as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary and helped lead its demutualization, restructuring and sale to a consortium of Wall Street investment banks. During this period, NSX (now Cboe Global Markets, Inc.) pioneered a series of SEC Regulation NMS market innovations, including the successful launch of the first electronic trading platform designed specifically for algorithmic trading.

Michael has served on the board of directors of organizations including an investment holding company, a large credit union, political action committees, a public TV station, a nonprofit technology company, and an Urban League affiliate. He also has been Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Banking Law Subcommittee on Securities Activities; a member of the ABA Futures and Derivatives Law Committee; and an American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow. 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.