Big banks ‘getting in the game’ of hiring crypto talent

Demand for cryptocurrency and blockchain talent is soaring, as big banks make a big push into the as-yet unregulated space. According to LinkedIn, U.S. job postings for “crypto” and “blockchain” positions have skyrocketed 615% in August, compared to the same period last year.

“We’re seeing this across the big banks and that’s really the sea change over the past few years,” Devin Banerjee, LinkedIn’s editor-at-large of business and finance, told Yahoo Finance. “Big banks were the ones kind of hesitant and scratching their heads over adoption of cryptocurrency and the need for crypto talent, but now they’re getting in the game.”

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon publicly expressed his doubts about bitcoin (BTC-USD), the largest cryptocurrency with a market cap of $1.17 trillion, as recently as last month in an interview, calling it “a little bit of fool’s gold” that has “no intrinsic value,” that regulators would “regulate the hell out of.” Yet despite Dimon’s skepticism, the bank started offering clients access to half a dozen crypto funds in July.

Crypto talent hiring by major financial services firms rose 40% in the first half 2021, compared to the same period last year, according to LinkedIn data. The site projects these firms are on pace to add more than three times as many workers with experience in digital assets to their payrolls in 2021 than they did in 2015.

JPMorgan Chase, BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Capital One, UBS, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, and Barclays are the major financial institutions hiring the most crypto talent for a mix of roles ranging from sales professionals to workers designing crypto offerings for consumers and engineers building blockchain platforms for banks.

In another sign of Wall Street’s broad embrace of crypto, the first bitcoin ETF, ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO), started trading last month.

“There is technology that needs to be built [for big banks], that underlying blockchain ledger technology. So software engineers are in huge demand. Crypto is also a product that needs to be sold and marketed and explained to customers and clients, so sales and marketing roles are also on the rise,” said Banerjee.

Security positions are in high demand too, says Banerjee. “Security is so important around crypto assets. These are clients’ assets, clients’ money that they’re moving around the world so security architects are also roles that we are seeing on the rise.”

While banks are rolling out compensation bumps to crypto experts that can be 50% higher than the pay of their peers in non-crypto-related jobs, operating in a regulated environment may be a bigger obstacle in attracting talent.

“Banks have a lot of regulatory responsibilities and burdens,” said Banerjee. “They want innovative talent, but they want to make sure that talent is accustomed to working within the bounds of existing regulatory frameworks because the banks do not want to step outside of those bounds.”

While compensation packages at big banks may be attractive, crypto experts may be well served in heeding this advice before taking the plunge.

“If you’re that job seeker, you have to recognize that you are stepping into the legacy world of finance to work on the future of finance,” said Banerjee. “That’s a little ironic, so you want to do your full due diligence.”

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