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Goldman Sachs quants explain why they quit for crypto

Having achieved a job at Goldman Sachs, would you leave again for a start-up in the crypto space? The answer for some quants seems to be that yes, it's risk worth taking.

Big crypto players are hiring Goldman's quant talent. As we reported last week, Coinbase is building out a quantitative research team and Goldman Sachs is one of its big hunting grounds. Meanwhile, crypto market maker B2C2 just hired Sophie Tan, an equities cash algo strat from Goldman Sachs; Goldman quant Jackie Shen joined GSR as quant risk officer in January.

Goldman quants are going to smaller crypto firms too, though. In the process, they're typically getting significantly bigger job titles. Andrew Pesco was a vice president in quantitative investment strategies (QIS) at Goldman Sachs Asset Management in New York, until he became head of investment management at Domain Money, a platform that combined crypto and stock investing. Seraphim Czecker was a junior emerging markets trader at Goldman Sachs in London, before he became head of risk at Euler XYZ, a DeFi platform. 

Pesco and Czecker appear to have had their crypto epiphanies at Goldman around the same time. "In 2021, it became clear to me that there was enough activity in the crypto industry to build a career," Pesco tells us. "The pandemic drew forward a lot of technical innovation - a lot of products got started in terms of Blockchain innovations. The group I was in at Goldman was entrepreneurial, but I could see a lot of growth opportunities in crypto, and I wanted to be part of a team building the financial infrastructure of the future." 

At Euler XYZ, Czecker is busy helping to construct what he describes as, "an efficient protocol that allows you to lend or borrow pretty much anything you want, using crypto-based assets as collateral.” Like Pesco, he says he started thinking seriously about leaving Goldman around the start of 2021. "I realized that DeFi is about a lot more than just Bitcoin," Czecker explains. "If you want to create a liquid market on something, you can do it instantly; if you want to create a token index, you can just do it – you don’t need to get approvals. It’s possible to create markets immediately in a way that TradFi cannot do. In that regard, DeFi is vastly superior to TradFi.”

In joining Euler, Czecker has moved away from trading into more of a quantitative risk role and he now manages a team of quant analysts. "I traded emerging markets FX at Goldman," he says. "I am not a technologist – my role at Euler XYZ is to direct people on the research they should undertake and to help build the risk analytics systems relating to different assets on Euler. Our output is risk reports: we can make proposals to the Euler community, which has the ultimate power to decide."

Both Czecker and Pesco are hiring in their new incarnations. Pesco says Domain Money is "aggressively looking to grow," a statement that may seem a bit bold in light of the fact that he's only hiring four people for the moment, including one with fundamental equities and one with crypto investing experience and a "couple of analysts." At Euler, Czecker says he's looking for talented quants with a passion for DeFi.

As is invariably the case when it comes to crypto hiring, prior experience of actually working in crypto isn't really mandatory. "There are people like me who came from TradFi and who've spent a lot of time looking into crypto in their personal time," says Pesco. He says he receives around 12 resumes a day, from people working at Goldman Sachs and elsewhere. Pesco says crypto isn't the only attraction: "A lot of people at Goldman want to sit a bit closer to the retail investing community; today's technology offers the opportunity for investors to be a lot closer to clients." 

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Photo by Kanchanara on Unsplash

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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