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Goldman Sachs & JPMorgan quants keep leaving for crypto

Once upon a time quants and strats would leave investment banks to become entrepreneurs or work in technology firms. Recent moves suggest the preferred exit is evolving: quants are increasingly leaving for crypto. 

With bonuses paid, quants from Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and elsewhere have been spotted leaving for crypto firms.

The exits include Guofan Hu, a former executive director level quantitative researcher from JPMorgan, who's just joined Coinbase as a senior quantitative researcher. In the past three months Coinbase has also hired Yibo Ma, a former executive director level systematic trading desk strat from Goldman Sachs, and Yiping Xing, a former credit risk modeler from Goldman (who came via hedge fund ExodusPoint). 

Coinbase is hiring 6,000 people in 2022, of whom 2,000 will be in product, engineering and design, so its appetite for quants is hardly surprising. Coinbase is building a team under Yao Ma, its head of data science quantitative research who joined from hedge fund Millennium Management last year. Ma was a strat at Goldman in a previous existence.

Coinbase is far from the only crypto firm chasing banks' quant talent.

Rival crypto exchange, Gemini, recently poached Toby Wade, the head of primary research and predictive analytics at Bank of America; he's now the firm's Florida-based head of machine learning.

Crypto market maker GSR is also ingesting quant talent, having added ex-Goldman quant Jackie Shen as its quant risk officer in New York in January, and Akhil Nanda, Credit Suisse's former algo trading validation head, in December last year.

In January, Chris Perez, a former MD of market risk and quantitative analytics at Goldman in New York, joined BlockFi, a Jersey-City based provider of crypto wealth management products backed by Galaxy Digital.

Kyle Downey, the former Morgan Stanley managing director in electronic trading, is also out there hiring quants to build a digital asset risk management platform at Cloudwall Capital, his fintech firm. Some quants can be hesitant about the move. "The lack of good risk models, something my company aims to address, leads to a lot of questions about to properly value digital assets," says Downey. "But we only need a few rebels;-)," he adds.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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