Bankers are flocking to the cryptocurrency industry as both principals and employees of related companies, fund managers, and as individual traders. Amid the rush towards this decade’s green financial pastures, one office of one bank stands out, Deutsche Bank Hong Kong.
Deutsche Bank’s foray into investment banking began with its acquisition of Bankers Trust. The firm then proceeded to ditch its conservative German roots, and import the biggest swingers in the industry. A clique of Merrill Lynch bankers were brought in. Their ring leader was Anshu Jain.
The culture was cowboy. My Hong Kong summer internship interviews in 2007 illustrates this point.
The first round of interviews was in Philadelphia. In my second 2-on-1 interview I met the man who’s team I would intern on that summer. I had just returned from my semester abroad in Hong Kong. He asked me why I loved Hong Kong, and I said I loved clubbing. I then rattled of a list of my favourite establishments. He would later tell me, that’s what sealed the deal for me in his mind.
That night I took the whole Deutsche contingent to my favorite dingy Philly late night EDM club. It got messy.
In 2007, financiers thought they were gods. Hong Kong has never regained the energy I felt that summer. I interned on the Equity Derivatives sales desk. HR nicknamed this desk the Snake Pit, because of the aggressive personalities that worked there.
The 2008 graduate training program in London featured similar aggressiveness. Deutsche offered an all expense paid trip to London for three months for all incoming graduates. The Japanese grads were the most intense. One grad got so drunk, and vomited so hard, he was hospitalised with a broken rib.
That is a taste of how the youngins were trained at Deutsche. The firm fostered an aggressive culture focused on partying hard, and making money. Unlike more demure banks, no one at Deutsche was shy as to why they were in the game. Making money was the goal, and no one was censured for being too flashy.
As the financial services industry entered a secular decline after the 2008 GFC, Deutsche people scattered to the wind. Deutsche lied to the German regulators about the value of its assets in an effort to avoid becoming recapitalised by the taxpayers. In hind side, that was the dumbest move ever. Their competing American banks gladly took TARP funds, paid huge bonus, and repaired their balance sheets. Deutsche limped along, and is one of the worst performing banks since the crisis.
The Deutsche Hong Kong reunion was ignited by Bitcoin. For some reason, this particular office is very well represented in the Bitcoin industry. The individuals I will list all went through the graduate training program, and our Deutsche stints all overlapped.
Arthur Hayes, CEO of BitMEX, member of the 2008 graduate class. I worked in Absolute Strategies Group, and then Global Prime Finance as a delta one ETF, futures, and swaps trader.
Greg Dwyer, Head of Business Development at BitMEX, member of the 2009 graduate class. He worked on the commodity structuring desk in Singapore, and then worked with me on the delta one ETF market making desk.
Nick Andrianov, Risk Management at BitMEX, member of the 2007 graduate class. He worked on the Flow and Exotic Index Volatility trading desk.
Andrew Rizkalla, Trading Lead at Paycase, member of the 2008 graduate class. He worked on the Program Trading and Facilitation desks.
Kayvon Pirestani, Director of Institutional Sales at Coinbase, member of the 2005 graduate class. He worked on the Equity Derivatives Sales desk.
Gavin Yeung, CEO of Cryptomover, member of the 2010 graduate class. He worked on the Program Trading and Facilitation desk.
Neelabh Dixit, co-founder of Cryptomover, member of the 2013 graduate class. He worked on the Portfolio Trading desk.
Donald Day, CTO Bletchy Park Asset Management, member of the 2009 graduate class. He worked as a quant strategist for the Absolute Strategy Group.
The are two other Deutsche Bank HK former employees who did not wish to be mentioned.