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Private banker who moved to crypto has no regrets

Given the problems of crypto exchange FTX and the resulting fall-out for the fintech sector as a whole, this may not seem the best of times to join a fintech company, but one ex-private bank employee who made the move has no regrets. 

Shaun Lin, Head of Digital Asset Wealth (Asia) at crypto infrastructure service provider OSL, worked in senior roles at Julius Baer & Co and UBS before deciding to take the plunge into fintech more than 12 months ago.

While his timing coincided with a market downturn that’s seen OSL’s Hong Kong-listed shares decline 86%, Lin says the experience has been worthwhile.

“For personal learning it has been an amazing journey and I couldn’t have asked for more,” Lin says, reflecting on his experience at the Singapore based company. “But it has been a really tough time, the market has been down and some firms have been downsizing, and we’ve had to do more with less, which means everybody has had to work a lot longer and a lot harder than what we anticipated at the start of the year.”

Lin says he chose to work at a relatively established fintech rather than a start-up because he wanted to focus on serving institutional clients.

“I didn’t want to be spending many months in the development phase with those smaller firms,” he says. “I wanted a firm that had an offering that was up to 70% of what the market was expecting so that I could work with the clients to tell the firm how to get to the final 25% to 30%.”

Lin concedes that he would have been compensated more handsomely if he remained in traditional finance.

“Financially, banks still pay the best, but in terms of opportunities to learn and innovate and solve soft problems, fintech is still the better way to go,” Lin says.

Recruiters say moving to a fintech can have advantages. “They are less hierarchical and more agile,” says Melody Leow, a Senior Consultant Banking and Financial Services at Ambition in Singapore. “You do have a broader coverage and you are not so siloed, you can cover across the business. It amounts to a more integrated look at what’s happening.

“With the recent news of Twitter and Facebook laying off staff, it goes to show that job security is the same everywhere, even if you join a small outfit or a big fintech firm, it’s not like your job is 100% secure,” Leow adds.

Lin advises choosing your crypto employer carefully.  “A lot of smaller companies which existed six months ago don’t exist today. And that’s not for lack of trying or the quality of people, it’s just that the market is in consolidation phase right now and there is no need for thousands of tech firms, so only the fittest will survive.”

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