Wall Street Banker Quits to Advise ICO Startups

April 7, 2018
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Brian Wirtz must have been a fish out of water at Credit Suisse Group AG. The investment banker for the bank’s tech, media and telecom group was more interested in evangelizing cryptocurrencies than he was traditional deals, and most likely that made him the odd man out at a firm as traditional as Credit Suisse.

Wirtz is leaving the Swiss bank where he was employed for nearly five years to start his own venture advising ICO companies with a focus on those issuing security tokens, according to Bloomberg.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Wirtz in his role at Credit Suisse was an “investment banker focused on helping crypto core teams achieve their strategic missions.” Wirtz previously described himself as the head of blockchain advisory at the bank, which should serve him well when advising ICO startups. He further calls himself a “director blockchain, cryptoasset, investment banking,” but the bank couldn’t contain his ambitions.

Here’s what you should know about Wirtz

  • He’s been engaged with bitcoin since 2012
  • He “brought it with him to Credit Suisse in 2013”
  • He fought for six months  to sign a bitcoin mining company at the bank

His move to advise ICO startups is a boon for the industry. He’s previously explored themes such as where the industry is in the cycle as compared to the rise of the internet as well as how companies should be investing in blockchain technology.

Security-Token ICOs

As far as Wall Street banks go, Credit Suisse is on the outskirts of the nascent crypto market, having hosted cryptocurrency conferences for institutional investors in major US cities that inspired hundreds of bitcoin enthusiasts. Even Wirtz once said that Credit Suisse “was leading the charge among bulge brackets for cryptocurrencies.”

But Wirtz is setting out for green pastures, with plans to launch a startup seemingly to advise security-token ICOs, which gives more regulatory heft to the deals versus utility tokens.

It’s a step that should bolster confidence among ICO issuers, as a banker who has been engaged with major tech deals is lending his experience to new coin issuance, where regulators have been circling amid a Wild West environment. He’s accustomed to working with regulated securities and therefore will provide a certain amount of compliance that quite frankly the market probably needs.

Wirtz gave Credit Suisse the opportunity to become more engaged with cryptocurrency-fueled deals, according to the report. But for all of his good intentions, Wirtz couldn’t accomplish all he wanted within the confines of a major investment bank and a CEO, Tidjane Thiam, who is still apprehensive about cryptocurrencies. Credit Suisse is investing in blockchain, but so is JPMorgan, and the league tables have yet to identify the rankings among cryptocurrency deals.

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