Coinbase has poached a BlackRock director to become its head of pensions, signaling the cryptocurrency trading platform’s growing emphasis on public and defined benefit plan clients.
Institutional Investor has learned that Anthony Bassili, former BlackRock director and head of the iShares U.S. pensions team, joined Coinbase in March as its new head of pensions.
Bassili isn’t Coinbase’s only recent hire from a traditional financial firm. Roger Bartlett, the former global co-head of operations at Goldman Sachs’ global markets business, jumped ship earlier this year to become the crypto platform’s vice president of global financial operations, Institutional Investor reported in March.
The two are part of a wave of talent departing large investment managers and banks for the crypto economy, recruiters and crypto managers say.
Bassili had spent his career at traditional institutions, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., before joining BlackRock nearly nine years ago. He first worked as a vice president of portfolio management and business development, and then was promoted to the director role, his LinkedIn profile shows.
Although pension funds have been trepidatious when it comes to cryptocurrencies, some are slowly starting to integrate digital assets into their portfolios.
The Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund added Bitcoin and Ethereum to its portfolio in 2021, Institutional Investor previously reported. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority has also invested in cryptocurrencies, ex-CIO Sean Bill said at the Alts LA conference in March.
For its part, Coinbase has been operating an institutional business since 2018, when it partnered with a SEC-registered broker-dealer to create an institutional custody operation, which it then supplemented with lending and margin financing products, over-the-counter trading, algorithmic orders, and research products for institutions.