Traders are quitting top Wall Street jobs because they’ve made so much from cryptocurrencies

Whether cryptocurrencies and the technology that powers them will reshape the financial system remains to be seen. What’s not in doubt is their ability to transform the career paths of bright young minds on Wall Street.

Adrian Xinli Zhang was climbing the ranks at Deutsche Bank AG in New York when he discovered Bitcoin. The 29-year-old made enough money trading digital currencies in his spare time to leave the German bank in March, the same month he was promoted to director, people familiar with the matter said.

At Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Jonathan Cheesman, 36, and Justin Saslaw, 28, are among at least three front-office employees in New York who quit the bank this year after making personal profits from cryptocurrencies, said people with knowledge of the situation, asking not to be identified. In London, Asim Ahmad pocketed enough from investing his savings in Ether to walk away from BlackRock Inc. 

“I’m in a position where it doesn’t make sense to work at BlackRock anymore,” said Ahmad, who advised pension funds on investments in alternative assets and hedge funds while at the world’s largest asset manager. “The one-day volatility of my portfolio is higher than my salary, so if I get a few investments right then I’ll have made the same as my yearly wage and everything else on top is a bonus.”

Officials for BlackRock, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs declined to comment on their employees’ investments or their departures.