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Sygnum’s Clients Team on Managing Expectations and Emotions in the Crypto Market

Sygnum's Executive Director of Clients, Jason French, and Relationship Manager, Michael Wei, sit down with Blockhead

All images by Blockhead

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In the fast-paced and often volatile crypto market, it can be challenging to keep track of your portfolio and its performance. Whilst returns can be promising, managing your expectations and emotions can be tough. What if you had someone that you could turn to for valuable industry insights? 

Enter Sygnum’s Clients Team. Co-founded by both Swiss and Singaporean founders, Sygnum is a global digital asset banking group that seeks to empower investors everywhere to own digital assets with complete trust. We sat down with Executive Director of Clients, Jason French, and Relationship Manager, Michael Wei, to understand how the firm manages its wide breadth of clients.

French has been in the Web3 industry for 11 years, with prior experience in an on-chain data and analytics firm that specializes in providing companies’ mid and back-office teams with the solutions needed to interpret on-chain trading data for reconciliation and order management purposes. He also worked in institutional custody for a custodian and has led multiple international sales and marketing teams to grow their APAC businesses.

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Prior to joining Sygnum, Wei served as the head of business development for a Singaporean startup that developed a world-class fund management infrastructure for tokenized assets. He started his career in 2017 as a commodity trader, where he was responsible for sales of physical copper and aluminum across Southeast Asia.

Both French and Wei are positioned in Sygnum’s Brokerage and Custody business in APAC, stationed in Singapore.

Helping Clients Remain Objective 

Sygnum goes beyond simply enabling clients to securely buy and store their crypto. Its brokerage desk offers clients a white-glove service and gateway to participate in the digital asset market without the same risks associated with exchanges that are loosely regulated or unregulated. Combined with its industry-leading research and educational resources, Sygnum empowers investors to make informed decisions in the dynamic and often confusing landscape.

"We have a very strong thought leadership and research team at the group level," explains Wei. "As the team that our clients reach out to first, we support them with a myriad of insights and resources to help inform their decisions.”

While Sygnum doesn't offer financial advice, managing client expectations and filling knowledge gaps are important tasks for any relationship manager.

Jason French, Executive Director of Clients

"During the bull market, clients may get swept up by the hype perpetuated by Crypto Twitter," French explains. "For us, it's important to keep our heads down and continue to improve our knowledge and services, and work with our clients to ensure they are maintaining an objective view of the market."

French elaborates that Sygnum sits in the intersection of Regulatory Compliance, Financial Services and Digital Assets Technology. Clients that make Sygnum their first port of call often cite the firm’s sterling reputation in security and trust. 

Which is why we took the regulated route from day one," French explained says. "We have only offered services that are explicitly permitted by regulators, initially under our banking license in Switzerland, and subsequent licenses in Singapore."

Making Safety and Compliance a Key Proposition 

Often dubbed the "Wild West," crypto has a notorious reputation for being a hotbed for scams and nefarious activities. Being viewed and counted upon as a safe haven for clients is crucial to Sygnum’s value proposition. 

"When clients choose Sygnum, they are getting more than just a digital asset service provider" Wei says. "We offer our clients peace of mind," he continues. "So when placing large orders, clients can rest assured that their assets are safe because they are kept off balance sheet and are bankruptcy-remote."

Security processes might seem arduous but are a necessary part of the process, Wei says. Sygnum comprehensively screens clients' wallets to ensure no dubious sources have interacted with them. Once their wallets are within Sygnum's system, the firm ensures that the wallet is processed and controlled by the client.

Michael Wei, Relationship Manager

"Because we're in crypto, we go above and beyond that of a typical financial institution to ensure everything is by the book," French adds. "And as part of the larger Sygnum group, we also inherit years of banking-grade security and processes."

The emphasis on safety and compliance cannot be understated. Sygnum has benefitted from the “resultant flight to safety” in the aftermath of FTX’s implosion and the collapse of Silvergate Bank and Signature Bank.

The group’s banking platform in Switzerland saw net new money inflows of more than US$800 million in the final six weeks of 2022. In the first quarter of 2024, the group announced that it had raised over US$40 million to fund its expansion into new markets and help it stay on course to enhance its product and service offerings.

Role as Sygnum’s Evangelists 

Sygnum might be winning the trust of customers through its regulatory compliance but establishing trust on behalf of the broader financial industry is another beast altogether.

"Part of our job is to evangelize and educate," French says. "Many in the traditional finance space remain skeptical of crypto because of what they read in the news about bad actors. But if you dig a bit deeper, the sophistication of on-chain forensics and immutability of the blockchain arguably goes beyond that of the traditional financial system." 

French believes that there is a demand for safe, secure access to crypto, even amongst customers of traditional institutions, and that Sygnum is primed to position itself as an industry leader in the B2B space.

"At Sygnum, we have developed our own internal capabilities to be a leader for this segment and provide it as a service to other large financial institutions that need to accelerate their time to market and provide their end-clients with the opportunity and access to digital assets," French adds. 

The group counts over 15 banks and financial institutions as clients of its B2B banking API offering. In November last year, Sygnum Singapore announced at the Singapore Fintech Festival that it has signed Bordier & Cie (Singapore) as its first B2B client The reach of the group becomes amplified each time such a partnership goes live. Case in point: PostFinance’s, Switzerland’s fifth largest retail financial institution, the launch of its crypto platform could potentially add a further 2.5 million customers into Sygnum’s fold. 

When compared to its counterpart in Zurich, which obtained its Swiss banking and securities dealer license in August 2019, Sygnum Singapore looks like it has a fair amount of catching up to do. The entity received the full Major Payment Institution Licence in October 2023. However, the duo is confident that the time for Sygnum Singapore to fulfill its potential cannot be more opportune. 

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“Sygnum was right from day one that we should embrace regulations and pioneer new activities around digital assets,” says French. “And we’ve never doubted that we were on the wrong course.”