Forget banking, crypto is now where the talent and money are.
Take Pujeet Manot — the sort of hire the world’s largest banks choose over the tens of thousands of applicants vying to get through their doors every year.
Armed with a master’s in economics from the London School of Economics, Manot, 24, could have easily chosen the well-trodden path into dealmaking or the trading floor.
Top investment banks did come knocking, but he was enticed by the crypto industry instead. Manot now works on strategy and securing new partnerships in business development at Tempus Finance, a startup that allows users to get yield on crypto assets.
“Banks expect you to spend at least a year or two in the same role. But what if I don’t like it?” He said. “In crypto, you can work on something for three or four months and move around. There’s growth in every single direction and almost zero hierarchy. ”
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Manot — who was also president of a 4,000-strong multi-university learning community called London Blockchain Labs — symbolises a growing trend.
While more senior finance execs have flocked to crypto, younger talent is veering away from Wall Street to join in, too. They are tempted by six-figure starting salaries, rapid career progression, quarterly bonuses and crypto token options that could soar in value.
“Big banks used to say they’re competing against Google or Facebook,” said Benjamin Nudel, who worked in FX sales at banks including BNP Paribas and HSBC before launching VC firm Hindsight Crypto last year. crypto or using their experience to move across. ”
Starting salaries at crypto firms have increased to around £ 100,000, according to graduates who made the move. Combined with bonuses that may include coins or other digital assets, total compensation could amount to double the base salary. Even after a flurry of pay hikes, entry-level banking salaries are around £ 70,000 at top Wall Street firms.
For talented young quant traders, total compensation can start at around $ 400,000, according to specialist recruiters.
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“Salaries might have been a negating factor from moving to a crypto firm from an investment bank, but the salaries are pretty much the same, if not the same now, which wasn’t the case even 12 months ago,” said Ross Budgen, 23, who spent two years at Bank of America and Commerzbank before moving to digital assets custodian Copper in February.
There are other perks. At the bottom of crypto trading firm Alameda Research’s online recruitment form, after filling in their emails and indicating whether they would like to work as a trader or a software developer, candidates are asked if they are open to working from The Bahamas.
The number of crypto startups has surged over the past year and the nascent nature of the industry means that there are few with deep experience.
B2C2, a crypto trading firm in London, has grown from three employees in 2016 to 46 in 2021, according to filings. Similarly, Elliptic, a London blockchain analytics provider, has expanded from a team of nine in 2016 to 51 in 2021.
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Meanwhile, as crypto moves from being the’Wild West’ of the financial sector and attempts to become more mainstream, demand for talent from traditional banking backgrounds is growing.
Formal banking backgrounds are prized at crypto firms
Sebastian Widmann, 25, worked in the digital assets team of Japanese bank Nomura for four years before leaving in September to become head of strategy at Komainu, a custodian for digital assets that looks to encourage more institutional interest in the sector.
The firm is aiming to grow from 30 to 100 by the end of the year, and has seen interest from “bankers, traders, sales people, compliance and lawyers” at traditional institutions, he said.
Widmann said old-school bank backgrounds are key. As crypto matures, firms want help unravelling the “complex bureaucracy” of large investment banks and to gain access to the right people.
“We are getting a lot of inbound queries from juniors in banks, but also senior people, heads of functions, managing directors, who are looking to re-architect their careers,” he said.
Demand for talent is surging across the board — from startups with a handful of employees and custodians aiming to take advantage of more institutional interest in crypto to giant hedge funds that are looking to expand their crypto strategies.
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For those used to banking’s rigid recruitment methods, the barriers to entry into a crypto career are low.
“It is an extremely competitive market and it really is a race to find the right talent,” said Widmann. “There are no assessment centers, interviews are quick and there’s no depth of skill-set, as the sector is so young. It is an extremely competitive market and it really is a race to find the right talent,” It is really more about a cultural fit and a can-do attitude. ”
“If you have the hunger and the knowledge you can reach out to any crypto founder on social platforms and they’ll talk to you,” said Manot. “I chatted to one founder for half an hour and he said,’Why not join my team?’I was approached for a job at a bank, but then asked to go through four rounds of interviews where I had to please every single person. ”
Headhunters are in tune with the crypto trend
Jim Brownwood, head of the digital assets team at headhunters The Omerta Group, said compensation for quant traders has more than doubled since 2019. Everyone wants them — hedge funds, investment banks and now crypto firms.
A mid-ranking quant trader role in banking will pay about $ 500,000 total compensation, he said. “Many are happy to move and keep compensation flat in return for profit share or equity” at startups, he said, while traders can expect a 50% premium at more established platforms.
“The pay is a draw since it can match or even exceed that offered by well-performing hedge funds,” said Tana Parker, group head of human resources at B2C2.
Banking won’t go away quietly. Top banks attract tens of thousands of applicants for a few hundred entry-level roles — Goldman Sachs alone received a record 236,000 for its internship this year, CNBC reported.
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Now, however, juniors are gradually viewing crypto as a starting point, while others see banking as a launchpad into digital assets.
“I got bored” in banking, said Nudel. “You learn the job quickly and can get very comfortable. When I started out, there were eight traders on my desk; by the time I left, there was one trader with a graduate. It’s an unstable career. ”
Manot added: “Crypto is a lot more exciting, and is offering jobs that pay as much and are a lot more chill.”
Seasoned traders are also making the crypto leap
Jonah Van Bourg, 36, worked at Goldman Sachs, Barclays and Lehman Brothers, before moving to head up trading at Cumberland, the crypto arm of electronic trader DRW.
“I’m one of the more seasoned traders that has made the jump,” he said. “I would have preferred to have done this at a younger age, like many of the people we’re hiring are doing.”
A key attraction for many of the people contacted by Financial News was the chance to get paid in crypto tokens. Many said they have numerous ventures, often working part-time, and are receiving different “protocols” in the hope one pays out big — while admitting there’s a chance they could shrink to nothing.
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“My personal conviction is to give everyone equity in the company,” said Widmann. “It attracts the right sort of person — we don’t want people here for a year looking for a big salary. We want people who are here for the long-term. ”
Some switching careers admit that it is still a leap of faith.
“The challenge of entering a space that is unknown, working with other people also entering that space, is a good challenge,” said Budgen.
“The demand for a move into crypto is increasing exponentially,” said Brownwood. “Twelve months ago, three out of every 10 candidates would have been open to a move. Now it is more like six out of 10.”
To contact the authors of this story with feedback or news, email Paul Clarke and Béren gère Sim