Investment bankers are jumping ship to board the crypto train



“The combination of people with top-tier traditional finance experience and cutting-edge technology backgrounds was instrumental in providing that comfort level in making the move across.”Of his move to King River Capital, Mr Adams pointed to the potential for astonishing crypto returns.“Crypto-related companies and crypto markets can provide a quantum of returns like nothing we’ve seen before,” he said.Global experience“Some of the dubious projects can go to zero as rates rise and liquidity drains from the system, so detailed analysis and research is now more important than during a raging bull market where a rising tide lifts all boats.”Sydney-based pair Angus Crennan and Jesse Smythe recently dissolved their traditional multi-asset fund, returning a comfortable 8 per cent, to focus purely on digital assets through a new fund called Balmoral Digital.Mr Crennan has global experience, most notably as portfolio manager within Swiss insurance company Zurich where he was responsible for $3 billion across multiple assets, as well as the APRA Responsible Person supporting the $2 billion Zurich Superannuation Fund.“Valuing crypto assets is different from traditional asset classes, so fundamentally trained investors may initially struggle,” he said of the switch from traditional finance to crypto trading.“But an experienced money manager is able to look under the hood of the crypto market, segregate the different participants and find where best to exploit the inefficiencies that currently exist.”Crypto volatility remains the biggest attraction for money managers and traders. For those who use momentum as part of their strategy, crypto assets can swing wildly within a day, and for those with fundamental training, Mr Crennan said crypto assets could be thought of as a commodity or infrastructure.Digital Asset Capital Management, a Sydney-based firm that applies traditional finance arbitrage to the decentralised finance world, says the wave of talent moving across to digital assets is largely already fit-for-purpose.“If you’re intelligent enough to understand the trading between currency pairs then you can definitely upskill into digital assets,” Clint Maddock, director and founder of the fund, and former JPMorgan ECM banker, said.The DACM team, which last year poached former UBS asset management boss Bryce Doherty to head corporate development, is also hiring software engineers and developers who are looking for new opportunities beyond building and coding.“It doesn’t take too long to teach people and we are seeing a lot of people, not only from banks, but from Google and Microsoft, who are interested in crypto trading.” Mr Maddock said.But beyond the proprietary trading desks that use technology and quick thinking to find market inefficiencies lies the realm of yield farming, DeFi pools, DAOs and token issuance.Technical layerThis is the technical layer that underpins much of the longer-term venture capital investing that has piqued the interest of other traditional finance players.Henrik Andersson, founder and chief executive officer of Apollo Capital, is hunting for new portfolio managers and those to assist in setting up a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation, a type of software-run company.“We are getting a lot of people from traditional finance applying, but it’s hard to find people with the right crypto experience,” Mr Andersson said.“But it’s good that a lot of people are looking to make the jump. They clearly see a future in crypto.”The legitimisation of decentralised finance and crypto projects received a boost last year, following the Treasury’s agreement in principle to the majority of crypto-based recommendations contained within the Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre (ATFC) final report.Technical crypto experience aside, James Aitken, famed London-based Australian and financial markets expert, said the inefficiencies in crypto markets and the extreme volatility in digital assets would keep attracting a type of macro-trader.“There are some very famous people with some phenomenal trading skills that were once applied to trading high realised-volatility assets,” Mr Aitken said on a recent podcast interview, naming the US dollar/Deutsche Mark cross, or the US dollar/Japanese yen pairing, as crosses that “really whizzed around”.”They understand this is effectively a frontier market. They know how to respond, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of these storied macro traders have made more money out of investing in the infrastructure around crypto than they’ve made in their entire macro trading careers.“Those skills could keep harvesting enormous profits from those high realised volatility assets.”



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