Rutherford is back with the second instalment of our Crypto Talks series, where our crypto recruitment specialists sit down with key regulatory players in the digital asset space to discuss the current climate within the sector.
For our second interview, we sat down with the Head of Compliance, MLRO at Copper.co, John Bratowicz, to discuss the evolvement of the compliance role within decentralised firms, key risks, and the future of digital asset companies.
For someone looking to move to a crypto firm – what are the key risks and differences to consider when moving into that space?
The top risk I'd identify is the lack of certainty, there is no way to prepare for the spontaneity and chaos. It sounds cliche but the industry truly is moving so quickly in numerous directions and ways that it is definitely not something you can predetermine or be ready for when entering it. Saying that, it's the last place that could be considered boring at least.
How do you see compliance teams evolving within the crypto space over the next few years?
I think the teams will grow significantly over the coming 1-2 years. Finance/banking saw a massive increase in numbers on the risk/compliance/controls front following the 07/08 crisis.
I think the difference here will be the growth, it will be more intelligent and organised within the crypto space, as opposed to just throwing bodies at problems.
Blockchain-based transaction monitoring, sanctioned activity, and 'unhosted' wallets, all entail problems which require critical thought, not simply reporting mechanisms and more governance.
What mistakes have you made when hiring in the crypto space? What are the learnings you made from those mistakes?
Having experienced a significant hypergrowth scenario, hiring could not have happened quickly enough. Moving in proportionate alignment with the business and industry has proven quite difficult and is an area that could have seen some improvement.
However, speaking to the point about intelligent growth, I was fortunate to have hired all the right people, not just people.
What are the skills and traits a crypto Compliance Officer should have? Is there anything specific a hiring manager should be paying attention to?
At this point a crypto firm looking to grow, remain relevant and maintain a sustainable trajectory means that everyone from top to bottom and vice versa needs to be committed entirely, put up with a good level of uncertainty, and be delivering tangibly on the mission. Crypto is not a space whereby people can simply show up to work and get by.
What are the key risks for any firm to be aware of in the crypto space from a regulation/compliance perspective?
What people need to be aware of in this context is that they should not underestimate the large significance of small things. A firm's overall success is a collection of small successes and a lack of attention in one area could undermine the entire mission.
Without understanding that the spirit of regulation needs to be applied in order to futureproof the business against stricter regulatory applicability, things will fall behind. The opportunity cost of backlogs and clean-up initiatives is more often than not greater than anticipated.
With MiCA approaching, how do you see it affecting compliance hiring?
The MiCA requirements will have knock-on effects on all crypto businesses. Hiring will be needed, expertise will need to be adapted, and compliance programmes will see broad changes. In that, senior compliance officers will quickly become much more relevant, at least in firms that want to succeed.
How do you see the regulatory landscape changing over the next 12 months?
It seems like there's a general sense that regulation will determine a lot of the future of the industry.
If more and more institutional players continue getting involved, as we've seen to an extent over the last 12 months, more capital will be behind the support of the industry and its adoption across traditional finance. This capital might be anticipated to support more sustainable changes and include things like an expansion of lobbying efforts and the ability to impact the legislative landscape.
In the end, I do think regulation will be a good thing, but it will be an age-old example of how much of the 'good' gets regulated out in an effort to prevent the 'bad'.
If a move within the crypto world is of interest, or if you wish to hire a Compliance professional for your digital assets firm, read our compliance crypto/digital assets salary survey for an understanding of current compensations and hiring trends, or for confidential chat get in touch with Rutherford’s consultants.
Our team of crypto compliance recruiters have an extensive database of specialists in the space as well as strong expert knowledge, allowing you to secure the best talent in the field.
Our Crypto Compliance Consultants
Jackson Baker, Director
020 7870 7409
Georgina Housden, Associate Director
020 3778 1252
Jack Merriott, Consultant
020 3778 0846