If you’re a senior banker or hedge fund manager looking for a place to invest your spare cash, Yann Murciano, the former head of base metals trading at Morgan Stanley, believes he can help out.
Since leaving Morgan Stanley last year, Murciano has quietly been running Blend Network, a fintech start-up and peer-to-peer lender that he says – ambitiously and as a slight to his former employer – he wants to turn into the “Goldman Sachs of P2P”.
On the face of it, as a P2P lender, the Blend Network is not an original idea for a fintech firm. It lends money to companies and individuals who are struggling for finance from traditional bank lenders, at a rate of 8-15%, from a pool of investors. But around two-thirds of the people lending the money are City workers.
“We have a lot of bankers and hedge fund guys lending on our platform. It’s rare in the current climate that you can find an investment with low volatility that returns more than 10%,” says Murciano.
Murciano was head of base metals trading at Morgan Stanley until his exit in June last year. He worked at the firm for ten years, having joined in 2006 from ABN Amro where he traded FX options. He is one of a number of senior Morgan Stanley commodities staff to leave over the past 18 months as the bank retreated from the asset class. Others include Amrik Sandhu, its EMEA head of commodities, who left to found his own commodities trading and advisory firm, InsideOut Advisors and Peter Sherk, the former co-head of commodities at Morgan Stanley, who is now CEO for North America at energy trader Mercuria.
“As a trader, I started out in FX options then moved to precious metals which was a less mature market at the time. A lot of FX traders did the same move. Precious metals options became more mature, I then moved to base metals. I was always looking for less efficient markets. I believe they offer more opportunities to traders,” says Murciano.
“This was ten years, ago, and commodities is clearly not a safe place to be. Right now, I believe that fintech is the new bull market.”
Murciano says that thing that sets Blend Network apart from other P2P lenders is his extensive investment experience and the fact that he has a wealth of City contacts willing to invest their money. He also has Ivor Freedman, a 76-year-old former retail banker, on board to who do the more traditional banking element of organising loans. The firm employs seven people.
Murciano says the biggest adjustment has been the change of pace. “When you work on the trading floor, you’re used to people responding to your emails within two minutes. Working for a start-up in the retail space is a bit of a culture shock.”
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