A banking to the buy side to fintech career path – or just banking to fintech – is becoming as common as the tried-and-true banking-to-the-buy-side move.
Take Vikas Srivastava, the chief revenue officer of Integral, a fintech firm providing cloud-based workflow management and FX trading software to banks, broker-dealers and asset managers based in Palo Alto, California. After six years as the head of currency risk management at Barclays Global Investors (later acquired by BlackRock), Srivastava became a managing director at Citigroup, where he worked for close to 10 years. At the time, the bank was Integral’s biggest client.
“When I first got to know the firm in 1997, Integral was one of the first firms that could deliver a cloud-based system to price complex derivatives – the origin of the firm is foreign exchange technology, building the foundations of what is today called electronic FX,” Srivastava says. “At the time, there was no such thing as EFX.”
In the summer of 2007, Srivastava decided to leave banking to start his own technology-based hedge fund that implemented high-frequency trading, Cogence Capital. It goes without saying that his timing couldn’t have been worse. Despite persevering for three-plus years, in 2010 Cogence closed its doors and Srivastava joined Integral, a firm he’d worked with for around 13 years.
“I had a huge amount of fun with Cogence Capital, but the business didn’t scale as much as it needed to,” Srivastava says. “Looking at what I might do next, given that I’d known the people at the company for a very long time, it was a natural move.
“I wanted the chance to build new products, open up new client segments and take advantage of regulatory changes,” he says. “The idea of working at a Silicon Valley company that builds market-leading fintech products, I found that to be extremely exciting.”
Ever since Srivastava joined, Integral has been bringing on people from banks and the buy side, as well as computer engineers and other technologists, and that will continue in the coming year.
“We are always in the market for talent, and the skill sets we prioritize depend on which group we are hiring for,” Srivastava says. “We are always looking for top engineers, and it’s beneficial but not necessary for them to have some domain experience.
“We value experience with the technology that we use here, candidates who are familiar with the latest and greatest in low-latency trading, what it takes from a hardware and software point of view to make that happen,” he says. “We do look for people who can be technical account managers, who have business experience and technical knowledge, so they can fill the gap between the field and the genius developers.
“We have brought in some really smart people from the domain, people with experience in FX, trading, especially e-trading, salespeople with actual experience at banks, business development or e-commerce, innovators who can imagine and conceive of new products that address gaps in the market, from conception to delivery, and the capacity to bring it to our clients.”
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