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Fidelity quietly promotes digital assets execs following key departure in senior ranks

Fidelity quietly promotes digital assets execs following key departure in senior ranks
Fidelity head Abigail Johnson has been longtime supporter of Bitcoin and other digital assets
  • Senior exec Chris Tyrer left key position in January
  • Manuel Nordeste and Cynthia Lo Bessette promoted to new posts in digital assets unit

Ever since Chris Tyrer announced he was leaving his position as a top executive in Fidelity Digital Assets in January, market watchers have kept an eye out for who would replace him.

And there’s little wonder why — of all the TradFi institutions making a play in cryptocurrencies, none may ultimately be as influential as Boston-based Fidelity Investments.

Crypto trailblazer

“This role is massive,” Sam Wellalage, founder of recruitment firm WorkInCrypto.Global in London, told DL News. “The role will be quite a big piece of how Fidelity will move into web3, blockchain, and tokenisation. And it’s going to be part of the economics of the whole crypto space going forward.”

Fidelity, with some $4 trillion under management, has long been a trailblazer in developing cryptocurrencies as a bona fide asset class attracting a new generation of investors.

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After a hiring spree, its digital asset unit reached, or perhaps exceeded, the 500-person mark this year as the company snapped up new personnel during the crypto winter. Tom Jessop has been the president of Fidelity Digital Assets since January 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile.

NOW READ: Fidelity may beat hiring goal for a 500-strong crypto unit in finance land grab

So who is replacing Tyrer in this big job? It’s still under wraps, but there may be a few clues.

Tyrer, who had the title Fidelity Digital Assets: Head of Institutional, Head of Europe, posted a public farewell from the firm in January. In the meantime, digital assets executive Manuel Nordeste has been quietly rising through the ranks, and one insider confirmed to DL News that Nordeste has taken on some of Tyrer’s former responsibilities.

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‘The role will be quite a big piece of how Fidelity will move into web3, blockchain, and tokenisation’

The company promoted London-based Nordeste, a vice president, to lead European business development late last year. Nordeste’s title doesn’t match Tyrer’s previous one, and it’s unclear which responsibilities he’s undertaken; a formal announcement on his shift in duties hasn’t been made.

Nordeste isn’t the only one in the digital assets division who got a promotion. Earlier this year, Cynthia Lo Bessette became head of Fidelity Digital Asset Management, according to her LinkedIn profile.

NOW READ: Secretive trading firms that pile into crypto are ‘first sign’ of mainstream adoption

Before that, she was Head of Asset Management Legal and Digital Assets Legal, an expanded role she held for 10 months after almost four years as head of Asset Management Legal.

“It makes sense for them to promote internally,” said Wellalage, who hunts for candidates in crypto for hedge funds and startups and has never worked with Fidelity. “If somebody’s already in that ecosystem, and is familiar with how they’ve built up that business.”

‘Critical’ space

All this shuffling indicates that Fidelity is still committed to expanding in crypto, even as other big financial institutions retreat from the sector amid a US regulatory crackdown.

Christian Staub, managing director for Fidelity International’s European business, told Financial News earlier this month that the digital assets space is “critical” for the company.

“We see a lot of opportunities around trading, settlement, and tokenisation,” he told the news organisation. “The infrastructure of our industry will be disrupted by some of these ventures.” (Fidelity International operates separately from Fidelity Investments and manages its own crypto business.)

NOW READ: How the FTX collapse marks the start of a ‘migration’ to TradFi

On January 31, Tyrer wrote in the LinkedIn post: “After nearly four years, today is my last day. I joined with a mandate to set up and run the international business. I later took on additional responsibility as president of Fidelity Digital Asset Management before leading our institutional offering.

It’s unclear where Tyrer is going. It’s customary in the UK financial industry to receive a paid, three-month break after leaving a role, dubbed gardening leave. Gardening leave is a way for companies to avoid mingling client business with rival firms that poach talent. The end of April marked three months after Tyrer’s departure date.

Fidelity and Tyrer declined to comment. Nordeste and Bessette were contacted for comment.

A previous version of this story incorrectly said Chris Tyrer was head of Fidelity Investments’ digital assets unit.

Have a tip about TradFi executive moves? Contact the author at tristakelley@dlnews.com.