From Politics to Law – Elizabeth “Paige” Baumann ’90

From Politics to Law – Elizabeth “Paige” Baumann ’90

Interviewed by Bella Blumenschein ’21

 

BB: What have you been up to ever since you left Trinity?

 

PB: I graduated in 1990 and went straight to law school at Tulane. I originally wanted to study international law, possibly go into Foreign Service, because I’d always been interested in politics. While in high school, I actively participated in the Model UN program run by Harvard for two years and Model Congress for one year. I was also on the debate team and thought these activities would be good experience for a future lawyer or politician.

I decided to major in political science with a concentration in international relations. Professor Walker Connor was my advisor. I took a few very interesting classes focused on the Middle East since Professor Connor taught them. I also took a number of classes with Professor Albert Gastmann. In the fall of my junior year, I studied in Strasbourg, France, with a fantastic program run by Syracuse University.  One reason that I chose that program was because I had taken French in high school and during my first two years of college, and I wanted to immerse myself in France to further strengthen my French-speaking skills. The other reason was that Strasbourg is the location of the Council of Europe and the International Court of Human Rights, which interested me because I wanted to specialize in international law after law school.  In retrospect, I wish that I had double majored in Political Science and History because I was very interested in both areas, and Trinity’s History Department was notably strong during my time at Trinity.

When I got to law school, I found another passion—maritime law. Tulane had (and likely still has) the best maritime law program in the country. I grew up in a historical seaport sailing and I was on the crew team in college, so it seemed like a natural fit for me. It also had an international nexus as well.

Post-law school in 1993, I moved to San Francisco to work for a maritime attorney, which unfortunately ended after a few months, and I transitioned to Charles Schwab. After six years in San Fran, I decided to move home to the Boston area and I was fortunate to receive two job offers. One offer was from a maritime firm on the Cape, which would have allowed me another opportunity to practice in an area that I had studied in law school and for which I had a lot of passion, and a second offer from Fidelity Investments, which was the more practical choice since I had been working in the financial services industry for almost six years. I went with the latter choice since I had a lot of law school debt and I don’t regret my decision. In September 1999, I started in an entry level position in the Corporate Compliance Department, working on compliance issues in support of Fidelity’s clearing business. In 2001, I started to work on an anti-money laundering (“AML”) project, which became my new passion and the project transitioned into a role that was instrumental in developing the various AML programs at Fidelity. Over time, I kept expanding my responsibilities and being promoted. In 2012, I was appointed Fidelity’s Chief Anti-Money Laundering Officer. I am still in that role today and I have been with Fidelity approximately 20 years. It isn’t what I would’ve expected to be doing back at Trinity or Tulane, but I love my interesting and very challenging job; I thought I was going to be a lawyer, but I use my legal degree every day. My favorite job responsibility is advocating the financial services industry’s position on the AML regulatory regime with the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and with the regulators, such as the SEC and FINRA. Politics affects my job because, depending on which party is in power, they generally want more (Democrats) or less (Republicans) regulations, which generally also impacts the AML regulatory regime.

 

BB: What would you say was your biggest accomplishment ever since leaving Trinity?

 

PB: I think the role that I am doing now. The financial services industry has been deputized by the U.S. government to, among other things, prevent, detect, and report suspicious activity, including potential money laundering, terrorist financing, and other types of financial crimes. By complying with the applicable AML requirements, we protect our firms, employees, and customers. I lost a close friend in the terrorist attacks on 9/11 so if we, as an industry, are able to detect and report potential terrorist financing that could prevent future attacks, then we are also protecting society as a whole. I am also particularly passionate about protecting individuals from elder financial exploitation, which has been an increasing and concerning trend in recent years.

BB: What would you say is something that you learned at Trinity that helped you build the career you have now?

 

PB: Because of Trinity’s liberal arts education, I took a lot of different classes, including those focused on religion, art history, French, politics, etc. That diverse education helped me translate my passions into a long and rewarding career, and will help me figure out where I want to go next in my life. Something I wished I had learned at Trinity or at Tulane is that there is more you can do with a legal degree than be a practicing lawyer. I am living proof of that! I am very grateful for the education that I received at Trinity (and at Tulane) and for mentors that I have had along the way. I try to pay it forward by mentoring others, whether they are currently in school or have graduated, since connections are critical part of building your career.

 

BB: What is a hobby or passion you would like Trinity to know of?

 

PB: I am very passionate about travel and I do a lot of different types of international and domestic travel, including challenging hiking trips. I like challenging myself not only in my professional career, but also in my personal life too. As part of a liberal arts education, you learn to foster your many interests, which molds you into the person that you are and will become.