November 23, 2022

Conference Organizer TradFi Hosts First Crypto Event to Meet Demand

  • Traditional alternative investment conferences are integrating digital asset programming into their lineups at a breakneck pace
  • Event organizer expects digital asset event to be biggest every year, outpacing interest in conventional investment strategies

A veteran alternative investment conference organizer is hosting his first cryptocurrency conference as interest from institutional investors shows no signs of abating.

Roy Salsinha – CEO of Carmo Companies – has extensive experience in organizing meetings for deep-pocketed investors focusing on hedge funds, venture capital funds and private equity opportunities.

Although he has worked to create digital asset content in previous conferences, the next Institutional Crypto Conference in New York is Carmo’s first event focused entirely on the emerging cryptocurrency asset class.

“It’s impossible to be bearish about this, looking at how many institutional investors are about to enter this asset class,” Salsinha said, adding that he was surprised at the number of participants signing up. “I learned that this is a whole new world where credit investors are no longer separated from equity investors. It’s like there’s this next generation that’s going to look into crypto allocations, ranging from family offices to pensions to top-tier endowments.

A private equity investor who is not authorized to speak to the media said the conference was a rare and compelling opportunity to bring together big investors to “exchange knowledge and share best practices”.

The source added that the existing conference slate has been slow to get crypto into the queues, though the likes of Miami’s Context and iConnections have hosted crypto speakers and panels with turnouts that have increased. exceeded those of traditional long/short equity portfolio managers.

“I think, generally speaking, it’s a huge investment opportunity, and every day you have more and more traditional growth capital, with venture capitalists launching new dedicated vehicles to invest in the asset class,” the executive said.

Katherine Molnar, chief investment officer of the Fairfax County Police Officers Retirement System, said it will be crucial for Carmo to strike the right balance between traditional financiers getting into digital assets and crypto-native ventures. avant-garde.

Molnar, who has encryption allocations verified and directedbecoming one of the first pensions to do so, said it tends to be “more impressed” with crypto-native investors because we “probably have more to learn from them.”

“I think if you are approaching this for the first time, the supply [managers] is a huge challenge,” Molnar said. “There is not, in my view, a concerted cap-intro setup, as you have in [traditional finance].”

“For the allocator who may not have any exposure and just initially trying to figure out who the players are, you have a lot of different ways to get into that area and then a bunch of managers you never have heard about,” she said. “It lets you put them in the same room to see who’s worth your time.”

Another pension fund CIO, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said he was also more interested in “cutting edge” digital asset natives who will likely end up “being more successful in the business.” space than some of the traditional managers we know”.

“What is different is doing [due diligence] on these blockchain funds,” the chief investment officer said. “It’s a different ball game to do operational due diligence on them, from custodial agreements to counterparty risk.”

Ryan DeMattia, founder of crypto asset manager Coindex Capital, told Blockworks that there is a large “community” interested in digital assets made up of traditional financiers who can make an event like Carmo possible, ranging from accountants to registered investment advisers.

And such events provide a level of interaction that isn’t possible with Zoom calls, he said.

“It’s a very relational business,” DeMattia said. “It’s really about fostering and developing relationships with people, and because of that, I think the ability to do that face-to-face, in person – it just gives you a little bit more than video never can. We’ve tried Zoom a bit, but our most impactful and meaningful conversations have been the ones we’ve had in person.

A multi-manager trader who is not authorized to speak to the media tells Blockworks “there is no shortage” of crypto conferences, including Bitcoin2022, but it is always possible to create an event institution-focused – and it starts with landing top-notch speakers and well-heeled investors.

That’s why fund managers are willing to shell out sometimes exorbitant fees to attend, while sponsors get in for free.

“It has nothing to do with Bitcoin Miami,” Salsinha said. “These guys are not going to a conference in Miami for crypto. This is really aimed at institutional investors… We expect this to be our biggest event every year going forward.

The setup posed new challenges in terms of restoration for sponsors interested in crypto, but without much experience in due diligence or investing in the asset class.

The conference, scheduled for April 18-19 at the Metropolitan Club, brings together more than 250 attendees who collectively manage approximately $5 trillion. Executives from pension fund operator Fairfax County Police Officers Retirement System, private equity firm Thoma Bravo, multi-manager operator Evanston Capital, K2 Advisors and Morgan Stanley are expected to attend.

Blockworks agreed not to identify a number of other institutional sponsors in attendance whose crypto transactions are not yet public.


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  • Michael Bodley

    Chief Editor

    Michael Bodley is a New York-based editor for Blockworks, where he focuses on the intersection of Wall Street and digital assets. He previously worked for the institutional investor newsletter Hedge Fund Alert. His work has appeared in The Boston Globe, NBC News, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post. Contact Michael by email at [email protected]