More traditional finance professionals finding their second act in crypto

Many leaving traditional finance careers to join the field of digital finance as it continues to ramp up

More traditional finance professionals finding their second act in crypto

The crypto industry may be currently just a fraction of the size of traditional finance, but digital finance is certainly in growth mode. LinkedIn data released in mid-April reveals net crypto hires increased by 73% last year compared to the previous year in the United States, while net hires in traditional banking businesses decreased by 1%.

A similar trend may be playing out in the Great White North. According to BNN Bloomberg, it's not difficult to locate examples of people leaving the financial services business for emerging decentralized finance companies in Canada, including senior executives from traditional Bay Street institutions.

One of them is Rod Bolger, who left Royal Bank as chief financial officer late last year, joined cryptocurrency lending company Celsius Network as CFO in February.

The increase of high-profile hires has helped to erode some of the stigma around the space, said Adam Dean, president of Dean Executive Search. “That changed the market perception of talent going into a space that was considered either off the radar or not fully understood or viewed as a bit of a third rail,” he told BNN Bloomberg.

Although the crypto industry is still evolving at a quick rate, there is increasing interaction with existing financial frameworks to make the shift from traditional finance easier.

What first attracted Jillian Friedman to the crypto world a decade ago was the prospect of creating a new, open-source financial system, but the fragile structures and lack of diversity in the early days pushed her into the traditional banking profession.

In a return to what she describes as a significantly transformed sector, she just took on the post of chief operating officer of Ether Capital Corp.

Friedman said she was more comfortable joining Ether Capital because it is listed on the public Neo Exchange, which provides governance measures that set it apart from some of the industry's more shady areas.

“There's actually some similarities in terms of the level of rigour, professionalism, and standards that you would expect at other regulated financial institutions,” she said. 

Didier Lavallée spent the previous eight years with RBC, but his work in several areas in sales and business development prepared him for the startup world. After working in traditional banking with financial custody and foreign exchange, Lavallée has been struck by how outdated some of the current processes are.

"There's a lot of mechanics in the background that are incredibly manual, time consuming and quite frankly, ineffective ... And for me, there's absolutely no doubt that blockchain technology will massively change the way our financial industry works."