Culture and Talent

6 bankers who left this year to lead startups

  • A number of prominent bankers moved to lead startups this year
  • Bankers' pivots to startup is part of a trend that sees startups and banks collaborating more, and this includes exchange of staff members between the two spheres

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6 bankers who left this year to lead startups

It’s never been easier to start your own company.

Simply creating a company has become faster and more affordable with APIs and other new technologies — giving way for more ideas to be realized and get to market. And in financial service specifically, companies have embraced a partnership approach, understanding they can innovate faster and more cheaply by hiring a small, scrappy vendor than by trying to innovate inside their slow, old organizations.

Those financial institutions have their share of talent encouraging new ideas and agility, but as any of them will tell you, there’s always a lawyer or compliance officer in the way telling them to slow down on the innovation. So it is unsurprising to see their most forward-thinking leaders ditch their ivory towers and make a leap into startup life.

Here are six of the more high-profile bank leaders to watch in 2018.

ts people 2Goldman Sachs’ Tom Jessop left his job as global tech development head in April for Chain, a blockchain startup whose technology allows big companies like Citi and Visa to securely and swiftly move distributed data, like a financial asset. Chain CEO Adam Ludwin called Jessop the first banker he’d met “who truly understood blockchain.” Jessop now runs Chain as president.
ts people 3Catherine Flax, who ran commodities, foreign exchange and local markets for BNP Paribas Americas, moved to become CEO of Pefin, an AI-driven financial advisory service. Pefin, the contraction of “personal finance intelligence,” claims to go beyond just robo-advice by using machine learning to offer financial planning and investment advice through a chat interface. Flax has spent almost three decades as a senior roles in the banking sector, including a role as JPMorgan Chase commodities CEO.
ts people 6This fall Dan Kimerling left his post at Silicon Valley Bank, where he was head of API banking, open platform and R&D for two years. Now, he’s beginning a top-secret-for-now role in venture capital and living the dream, he told Tearsheet this fall. He likes working with startup founders, coaching and mentoring them and he’s ready to be back in his element after two years at a bank. Kimerling got to SVB through its acquisition of Standard Treasury, the startup he co-founded with Zack Townsend that pioneered the idea of an open banking world.
ts people 1

Ian Lee, former blockchain lead at Citi Ventures and co-founder of the bank’s blockchain-enabled cross-border payments solution, left this year to launch DAICO, which stands for Digital Asset Investment Company. He has also joined DEO CoLab, a research lab supported by a consortium of financial institutions and other corporations like Ford and Duke Energy, as an executive in residence. Lee’s background in blockchain fits with the CoLab’s mandate to use human-centered design and emerging technology like blockchain, AI, the Internet of Things, AR and VR to prototype and build new business ideas.
ts people 4Hu Liang launched Omniex this summer, an institutional platform for the investment and trading of crypto assets, as CEO. Liang previously worked at State Street and founded the bank’s Emerging Technologies Center. There, he was focused on blockchain and crypto assets. Liang has stressed that he’s not building a blockchain application, but “a traditional financial services application that can serve the needs of anybody looking to be involved in crypto assets, whether that’s holding it for the long term, whether that’s trading it for the short term, whether that’s transforming it or using it for a rail for something else.”

ts people 5Heather Tuason, former svp of risk management at Capital One left the bank to become chief product officer at online lending and investment platform StreetShares. Tuason is a veteran of the banking industry, and as svp of small business at Capital One, led the development of online banking and mobile applications and Her current venture focuses on extending credit to small businesses owned by veterans and their families. Streetshares will also allow the public to participate in supporting the veteran-owned businesses with products like Veteran Business Bonds.”It’s time for veterans and the military community to have fully mobile, fully digital, next-generation financial products,” she said in a statement.

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