Bankers Who Quit Over Crypto Have No Regrets Amid Collapse: ‘I’ve Never Looked Back, Not a Day’

Bankers leaving traditional finance to capitalize on the digital asset boom have instead been greeted by a new “crypto winter”.

Former employees of JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup were among those affected as crypto exchange Coinbase cut 1,100 positions and rescinded 300 job postings, while Gemini, and BlockFi took action. also reduced falling prices and deteriorating economic conditions. booming sector.

But some senior bankers who have made the jump in the past year say they have no regrets. This is not about “HODL” or “buying the dip” – terms used by crypto evangelists as prices fall – but about a longer-term faith in crypto and the belief that the sector needed a turnaround, according to four people who jumped into space.


“I’ve never looked back, not a single day,” said Kyle Downey, who left a 17-year career at Morgan Stanley in October to start Cloudwall Capital, a New York-based fintech company, which builds a digital asset risk management system.

Chris Perkins left Citigroup, where he led a team of around 725 people as co-head of futures, clearing and FX brokerage, in September last year. He is now chairman of crypto investment firm CoinFund, which has just recruited a new global talent manager to help it with its next phase of growth.

Perkins said he didn’t want to sound “deaf” to crypto issues, but added that the industry has been through “many cycles”.

“We are very convinced that there is a material opportunity in this space,” he said. “In a bear market cycle, this is the perfect time to put your head down and build. Good companies will emerge with a solid foundation.

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In an email to staff announcing job cuts, Coinbase chief executive Brian Armstrong said that “we appear to be entering a recession” and that could lead to a “crypto winter.” The company, which has grown to 6,000 employees from 1,250 at the start of 2021, has grown too quickly, he added.

Crypto lender Celsius Network hired restructuring lawyers on June 15 in a bid to resolve its financial issues after it froze customer withdrawals.

But as rivals cut spending, crypto platforms Binance, FTX and Kraken all said they would keep hiring. Binance will hire another 2,000 employees, according to its chief executive, Changpeng Zhao, who said in a Tweet from June 15 saying it was a “bloodbath there”. “Squat down. Make sure you can last.

Sebastian Widmann, who worked in Japanese bank Nomura’s digital assets team for four years before leaving in September to become head of strategy at digital asset custodian Komainu, said the firm still aims to reach 100 people by the end of the year, but this could be accelerated or slowed down depending on market conditions.

“The narrative around digital assets has not changed. Each cycle creates an opportunity to build back better and will cause some bad market players to leave, while strengthening legitimate projects,” he said. “Regulators have become more aware of the digital asset space and are more likely to act to establish rules to govern As a regulated digital asset custodian built by institutions for institutions, this is a positive for us.

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Arianna Luna launched Campsor Capital, a market-neutral crypto hedge fund in April after about 11 years in banking roles. The current volatility and “dislocation” in the market has helped the fund make money, she said, even though it’s “hard to navigate” right now and some peers are tumbling.

“Investors who have never invested in crypto are asking more and more questions, but funds in the sector are still pursuing their allocations, even though there is more scrutiny in the due diligence process,” said she added.

Stay with ‘tradfi’?

Over the past year, more and more bankers have left traditional finance roles for crypto. Some, frustrated with the pace of adoption within their own organizations, feared missing out on an upcoming boom, while others sought a big payday in an industry where six-figure starting salaries were slightly ahead of offers. banking.

At the same time, banks such as JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have set up new digital asset teams to tackle the sector in anticipation of more institutional adoption. With the fall in crypto assets, some employees choose to stick to what they know.

A trader, who said he was considering joining a crypto trading company, decided instead to stay with his current employer to work on their digital asset team. A US bank staffer whose bid was rescinded by a crypto firm said he now aims to stay in banking, while another said he was taking a break and “ weighed my options”.

“I still get queries from people in commercial positions every day,” Perkins said. “For people who have descended into the rabbit hole of crypto, the opportunities remain, even if in some cases they are not immediate. We are long-term investors and we look to the horizon.”

Downey said his business is fully funded and “all hiring has been completed.” He is “100% ready to build the business”. He said conversations with crypto hedge funds, start-ups and banks lead people to ask “when will it come back” instead of “if”, as happened during the last crypto crash in 2017.

“There is a presumption that this is a correction and that the market and the ecosystem will come back stronger,” he said. “It could take a while, or it could bounce back quickly like it happened after March 2020: no one can say for sure. But it’s coming back strong, of that, I’m quite sure.”

Perkins and Widmann said the current crisis will prompt regulators to act on crypto, which will benefit companies looking to bridge the gap between traditional finance and the so-called defi sector.

“There are two tailwinds — regulatory risk mitigation and institutional adoption,” Perkins said. “Our job now is to build an ironclad foundation for when market conditions improve.”

“In a situation like this, whoever can hold their breath underwater the longest wins big,” Downey added.

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Bankers Who Quit Over Crypto Have No Regrets Amid Collapse: ‘I’ve Never Looked Back, Not a Day’

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