New Northern Trust Unit Merges Crypto, TradFi Teams

$1.5 trillion asset manager’s new digital assets and financial markets division comes amid ongoing crypto sell-off

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Northern Trust | Source: Shutterstock

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key takeaways

  • Boundaries between traditional and digital markets “will only continue to blur over time,” says Justin Chapman, the new unit’s leader
  • Algorand executive calls the move by “a renowned financial institution” an important step for blockchain industry

Northern Trust has formed a digital assets and financial markets division, citing increased interest from clients in the development of digital markets.

The new group combines the existing teams responsible for digital asset markets and those focused on market access and insights across traditional securities — such as equities, fixed income, alternatives and private assets.

“Rather than create separate business lines, by aligning our focus on digital and traditional markets together, we can continue to develop services and capabilities that truly reflect and enable our clients’ evolving investment strategies,” Pete Cherecwich, the firm’s president of asset servicing, said in a statement.

Justin Chapman, the company’s global head of market advocacy innovation and research, is set to lead the newly formed unit.

“Traditional and digital markets already co-exist,” Chapman said in a statement. “And the boundaries between the two will only continue to blur over time.” 

A Northern Trust spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

Founded in Chicago in 1889, Northern Trust offers wealth management, asset servicing, asset management and banking to corporations, institutions, affluent families and individuals. In addition to its $1.5 trillion in assets under management, as of March 31, the company had $15.5 trillion in assets under administration and custody.

The new unit comes amid a crypto market sell-off that has left bitcoin’s price down 30% in the past two weeks and roughly 70% down from the asset’s all-time high last November. 

It also follows several moves in recent years by Northern Trust to dive deeper in the blockchain space. 

The company partnered with IBM in 2017 to build a blockchain based on the Hyperledger Fabric. The technology was made available to Switzerland-based asset manager Unigestion to manage the administration of its private equity fund. In 2020, Northern Trust and BondEvalue completed the first trade of a fractionalized blockchain-based bond.

More recently, Northern Trust collaborated with the venture arm of Standard Chartered to launch Zodia Custody, a crypto custody solution for institutions. 

Nina Tannenbaum, head of business operations at Algorand, called Northern Trust “a renowned financial institution,” noting that its new unit is an important step for the industry.

“Blockchain technology has the power to fuse traditional finance with the future of finance in a way that’s secure, scalable, and efficient,” Tannenbaum told Blockworks. “We’re happy to welcome Northern Trust to the Web3 ecosystem.”


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