Years before he became chief compliance officer (CCO) of retail, advice, and solutions (RAS) and distribution at Prudential, a national sales organization that encompasses more than three thousand financial professionals, advisors, and fee-based financial planners who offer clients a broad range of financial solutions, Hasan Ibrahim was a student weighed down by hefty reading assignments. Ibrahim complained about the workload to his maternal grandfather, a factory worker who had immigrated to the United States from Cuba. In response, his grandfather—a parental figure who has had a lifelong influence on Ibrahim—invited him to the factory for an afternoon of hard labor.
“At the end of the day, he looked at me and said, ‘Would you prefer to keep reading books or do you want to do this for a living?’” Ibrahim recalls with a laugh. “Point taken.”
Today, Ibrahim never forgets to be grateful. His role at Prudential is the latest in a career defined by rapid advancement, courtesy of hard work and relationship building. That same hard work has garnered Ibrahim an in-depth understanding of law and the financial services sector that allows him to navigate the complexities of both those spheres at Prudential, as well as to bridge gaps between seemingly adversarial parties.
As the proud son of immigrants, Ibrahim knew from a young age that he would need to strive to get ahead. “My brother and I were taught as kids that you make your own destiny through hard work, hard work, and even more hard work,” he confirms.
Ibrahim channeled his energy into education, obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, a law degree from Seton Hall University, and an LLM degree from New York University. By the time he joined the firm Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP as a general litigator out of law school, he already had his eye on the financial services industry. “I would consistently pepper the head of the financial services practice on Wall Street to give me an opportunity, to give me some assignments, to give me anything,” he explains. He nailed the opportunity when it did come, and with that, launched himself into the world of financial services.
A mere two years later, Ibrahim nailed another opportunity: the chance to move in-house at global financial services and wealth management firm UBS. During his time at the firm, he not only climbed to roles such as chief privacy counsel for the Americas and deputy general counsel of the firm’s industrial bank, but also gained insight into the relationship between business leaders and their attorneys.
“I learned that it’s about being practical and definitive in your advice: mastering the subject matter, giving practical options, and steering the business toward a risk-smart option,” Ibrahim says. He credits his UBS mentors with helping him become a trusted partner in business dealings and empowering him to make the most of each opportunity.
Ibrahim sought out his own opportunities as well by continuing to volunteer for projects and responsibilities outside the scope of his role. “I developed all these skill sets in my toolbox. I exponentially grew my knowledge and my industry expertise,” he says. “And at every step, I was working hard, garnering results, and building trust from partners and peers.”
“My brother and I were taught as kids that you make your own destiny through hard work, hard work, and even more hard work.”
Searching for a company where he could continue to grow, Ibrahim landed at Prudential in 2014. He carried his results and intelligent risk-driven approach with him and deepened his focus on building internal and external relationships to support the business. “The strongest relationships are built on transparency and authenticity,” he notes. “If someone knows where I’m coming from and what I’m about, that’s the critical key factor for me.”
Ibrahim has used his knack for building strong relationships to bridge the traditional divide between industry and regulatory entities. After getting both sides into the same room, he highlights their shared client-centric philosophy to show that their interests do in fact align.
The lawyer places equal value on internal relationships. He recognizes a need to empower his teams: in his first days in his previous role as vice president and chief legal officer, he made certain his team was aware of his approach. “I told them that if they used sound judgment and something goes sideways, it’s my problem. I’m the accountable party, and I will deal with it,” he says. “It worked amazingly. I got feedback from business partners within a month or two telling me that the team were like different lawyers because the empowerment enhanced their confidence to make decisions and provide practical advice.”
Today, as CCO, Ibrahim’s leadership style still plays a critical part in motivating the team. Emulating mentors from his own career, he stays true to himself while supporting his colleagues—regardless of whether they report to him. “There is no way that I could have gotten to where I am today without incredible mentors and others who voluntarily took time to support me,” he says. “And I want to pay that forward, especially as a lawyer of color and as part of the Hispanic community.”
To that end, Ibrahim offers his time, expertise, and connections to current law students at Seton Hall as well as to local grade-school students participating in mock trials. In addition, he remains active in the Hispanic Bar Association at the local and national levels. “It’s incredibly rewarding to give back through affinity bar programs and mentorships, both official and unofficial,” he says.
Ibrahim seizes every chance that he gets to make an impact by giving back, much like he has always swung for the fences in his career. And as he eyes the future at Prudential and beyond, he still keeps his grandfather’s lessons and other moments from his upbringing at the front of his mind.
“I started with nothing and without a safety net, so to me, every assignment and challenge is an opportunity,” the CCO says. “It’s always glass half-full.”
“Hasan is an excellent attorney and leader. He believes in building relationships and is always willing to take on the toughest challenges. We know his drive, commitment, and leadership result in strategic thinking that drives results for all involved.”
—Johanny Olmedo, Senior Director
Hasan’s deep intellect, excellent judgment, and collaborative spirit make him an exceptional leader and we are honored he chooses to partner with Debevoise.