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Wintermute says losing star hires to banks isn’t such a bad thing

Wintermute says losing star hires to banks isn’t such a bad thing
“We’re actually seeing really good talent going back to TradFi,” said Wintermute co-founder Yoann Turpin. Credit: Rita Fortunato/DL News
  • Wintermute co-founder Yoann Turpin says he's seen talent go to TradFi.
  • Turpin said there's an upside: "Now, we have champions on the other side."
  • The moves come as big finance firms pile into the crypto industry with ETFs and other offerings.

Big finance players including BlackRock and Fidelity are ramping up efforts to expand their crypto offerings to a broader swathe of consumers.

That means they’re seeking more hires with crypto experience to help them do it.

Yoann Turpin, co-founder of digital asset trading firm Wintermute, said he has seen top staff leave for non-crypto firms such as banks and hedge funds.

“We’re actually seeing really good talent going back to TradFi,” Turpin said, using a portmanteau of traditional and finance.

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It’s among the “unforeseen effects” of big institutions entering the crypto space, he said.

Turpin, who made the comments while on a panel at CCData’s CCDAS conference in London last week, said the flurry of applications for spot Bitcoin and Ethereum exchange traded funds is a sign of “more third-party validation” of the industry.

“It’s good and bad,” he said of the job moves. “It’s bad, because we lose some good talent here and there. But it’s really good, because now, we have champions on the other side — who know the company, the good culture that we have — who can then champion us at banks and so on in terms of just familiarising those institutions with crypto as well.”

The surge in crypto prices during the pandemic lured bankers to the industry in droves.

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Even as cryptocurrencies crashed last year, many stayed put.

That trend may be shifting.

Among the recent departures was long-time Goldman Sachs managing director Danielle Johnson, who left Galaxy Digital over the summer — a year after she joined from Credit Suisse.

Shortly after Johnson’s departure Galaxy lost its head of Europe, Tim Grant, amid a reshuffle.

Grant has since launched a family office, Deus X Capital, which will invest in institutional capital markets, fintech, and digital assets.

In January, Galaxy also lost Chad Berner as its co-head of global electronic crypto trading. Berner had joined from Bank of America, where he was head of electronic foreign exchange trading.

He joined Wells Fargo as co-head of global electronic foreign exchange trading.

Talent from bankrupt crypto firms have also found new homes in traditional finance. BlockFi’s former communications manager, Rachel Willis, joined BNY Mellon’s digital asset team as chief of staff in April.

BNY Mellon also tapped former Zodia Custody CEO, Maxime de Guillebon, as its head of digital asset product earlier this year.

De Guillebon was succeeded by former Bitstamp CEO Julian Sawyer, who has clocked up experience in places like Accenture and Starling Bank.

Others moved in 2022, like Gemini’s head of communications, Carolyn Vadino, who joined BlackRock last summer.

The moves come as institutions pile into crypto.

Bosses at banks, hedge funds, asset managers and other finance firms are increasingly hiring seasoned professionals for their crypto units, a Coalition Greenwich report last month found.

Almost a quarter, 24%, of these firms say they have a senior role dedicated to digital assets.

Big institutional moves are helping overall sentiment in the crypto sector.

Market analysts suggest that crypto has become a new battleground in a war for young, tech-savvy investors. And marketing and image is key.

Turpin, who has held trading roles at finance firms including market-maker Optiver, echoed this idea.

The ETF push is “probably less impactful in terms of generating new money coming into this space,” he said.

“It’s probably a more effective battle in terms of branding, and in terms of understanding of new money coming in.”

And the lift in sentiment doesn’t just help investors.

Turpin said: “Everyone needs a bit of comfort, especially when you come from TradFi to actually go into the crypto space.”

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