Blog

July 2, 2018
All Signs Point To Chicago Sitting Atop Crypto Space

The cryptocurrency business continues to grow and it might actually be reaching its highest level here in ChicagoWe're seeing a number of companies growing or moving to Chicago in that space. 

The reason for Chicago’s rapid ascension might be rooted in the first generation of crypto exchanges built by crypto enthusiasts. The primary objective for them was to build something accessible on the web that could not be hacked. Now, the next generation of exchanges is starting to compete in a world of institutional customers who value automation, high speed and high volume. What location features the largest exchange (CME), another very large exchange (CBOE) and just as importantly, quite a few trading companies that power these exchanges? That’s right – Chicago.  

So crypto exchanges are coming to Chicago partly because that's where customers in the high frequency space are who can help them. It’s also where the expertise is in terms of building ultra-fast trading systems and interacting with those exchanges in a very robust way.   

Why Isn’t New York #1 For Crypto trading? 

New York has a few high frequency trading shops, but by comparison to Chicago, the field is actually not that large. One could argue that the most visible company in high frequency trading is Virtu Financial, which is a public company. Last year, Virtu acquired a trading rival called KCG Holdings, Inc. for $1.4 billion. Even so, for the volume of the business that they do, they're a very small company in terms of number of people.  

In contrast, the high frequency trading business grew up” so to speak in ChicagoSo while some companies excel in High Frequency Trading in New York, it's not as prevalent. The east coast is much more focused on hedge funds. 

What Skills Are People In Crypto Looking For? 

People involved in crypto are looking for at least a basic understanding of high frequency trading – the kind of expertise that is hard to come by outside of Chicago. There is also a need among companies for some expertise in machine learning. This expertise is often very specialized because most traditional machine learning tools don't seem to work well in finance.  

What we’re finding is that the real key to a candidate’s success may be to come from one of the big machine learning shops and, while there, become familiar with the latest and greatest in technological environments versus coming from another trading shop where people have been more or less self-educated about machine learning. Therefore, it would appear that the expertise that one gains working on such advanced problems comes working at one of the “Big Four,” which these days is Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Because expertise on this level doesn’t come from reading books and blogs about the subject alone. 

At Roy Talman & Associates, we’ve not only been recruiting for the very best companies for over 30 years – we’ve become a trusted resource for financial trading firms. So as companies continue to establish or grow their presence in Chicago, they know they can turn to us as the one recruitment firm that delivers “best of the best” technical talent that can keep pace with areas that are taking off – including cryptocurrency. To arm your culture with the right talent at the right time, talk to our team at Roy Talman & Associates today.