Ex-Citi MD in crypto: “I could have left banking a lot sooner"
Chris Perkins had several big jobs at Citigroup. After joining the bank from Lehman in 2008, he became Citi's global co-head of futures, clearing and FX prime brokerage businesses. Last month, however, Perkins got out of banking. He's now president of CoinFund, a New York based crypto asset investment firm. His only regret? That he stayed in traditional finance for so long.
“I think about the fact that I could have left banking sooner a lot. I’m having so much fun in this new role that I question why I didn’t leave," says Perkins. "I began thinking of making the move into crypto in 2017. However, I had a young family, and I wasn’t ready to take the risk."
Now that Perkins has left Citi, he's focused on building out a team at CoinFund. "We are in the market for five hires currently and expect our hiring to continue," he says. "When I joined the firm, 35% of our employees were women, and I am excited to build a diverse workforce. I want to hire the top talent globally: the best lawyers, the best IR professionals, the best research analysts. This is what I am going to hunt for.”
CoinFund combines venture capital funds that make seed investments in the crypto space with a hedge fund trading liquid crypto assets. Perkins says his experience of navigating emergent regulation in Citi's derivatives business is applicable to the crypto universe as it matures. He absolutely refutes Ray Dalio's assertion that crypto will be destroyed by increased regulation: "Bitcoin and Ethereum have been deemed commodities in the US and are regulated as such. They’re two assets for which we clearly understand the regulatory framework already.”
Perkins is a philosophical crypto evangelist. "When you innovate ledgers, an explosion of new thinking tends to happen,” he says, pointing to the invention of ledgers in ancient Mesopotamia, and the emergence of double-entry bookkeeping in Florence. "- Arts and innovation flourished." The emergence of distributed ledgers is driving a new revolution, says Perkins: "We’re now seeing an explosion in value, innovation and creativity across different areas."
Citi trader Matt Zhang left this month to set up a crypto fund and describes crypto as his "passion." Perkins says banks are in fact full of people like him. "There are a lot of true crypto believers sitting in banks right now. They tolerate their day jobs to race home at night at and weekends to play the crypto space.”
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