Growing Gemini with Kristen Mirabella
Kristen Mirabella is a Director in Business Development for Gemini Trust Company, leading Gemini’s Infrastructure Solutions Team. Prior to joining Gemini, Kristen managed the FinTech and Bank/Broker-Dealer Regulatory Businesses at Shearman & Sterling. She also previously focused on capital raising and third-party distribution of Multi-Strategy, Credit, and Real Estate Private Equity Funds at Och-Ziff Capital Management.
Kristen started her career at Goldman Sachs Asset Management as a Relationship Manager for the distribution of traditional and liquid alternative investment strategies across the Wealth Management space.
Eve #WealthWednesday Highlight 70: Kristen Mirabella, Director of Business Development - Gemini
What was your first investment?
My first-ever investment was in TradFi. I started my career at Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Our role was to make our mutual funds accessible to those in the wealth management space and we managed relationships with the largest broker-dealers. My entry point into financial services was with a group of strong women who helped me understand what makes certain types of investments available should look like - an ideal experience for a 20-something-year-old who was just trying to understand the space. I graduated during the financial crisis and there were no jobs. The idea of getting a job alone felt like a miracle. That fact that it was Goldman Sachs felt very special because, at the time, we had this impression that the smartest people in the world are being hired there. I still look up the women who hired me and I think they truly understood why I was there. They knew I was hungry for knowledge, wanted to work hard, and would do anything to understand what we were building. I love being on that team. I credit everything to the women who hired me and they’re really good friends of mine as of today.
How/why did you get into your space?
I loved my time at Goldman - it was an amazing place to start a career but I knew that I was also interested in alternatives and how that side of the asset management business was growing. I got an opportunity to do investor relations at a large hedge fund. That further opened my eyes as to what distribution actually meant, as well as how to utilize a network in order to scalably reach a certain type of market. When I left that hedge fund, I realized that a pivot into FinTech would be interesting given the timing and the types of platforms that were becoming really hot at the moment. They were the types of platforms that I wanted to use to invest, and it was interesting to wonder where were they going, how they were built, and what distribution might have meant for platforms like that. I ended up managing a FinTech business at a large law firm. I started to hear certain teams on the bank and broker-dealer regulatory side of things. Talk about the questions that they were receiving from clients, and we were trying to strategize around how these teams could become thought leaders in the FinTech space. There were a ton of questions I’d come across about blockchain and Fintech, and how some of these banks could consider becoming involved was really fascinating. That's how I started to learn about crypto.
I felt extremely lucky when I got the call about a Business Development role at Gemini. When I first heard about Gemini, it sounded very exciting, and I understood that it was an exchange. I got to the interview, knew this would be the opportunity of a lifetime, and have not looked back since. It was one of the best career decisions I've ever made. 5 years later, Crypto still interests me because there's so much to do and build. It's still early, and there are many different types of roles that someone in business development can play in order to make an impact - not just on their immediate team but within the ecosystem as a whole. The ability to make an early mark on something might be how what got me into crypto, but it's also what still keeps me going today.
What role do you play in the wealth space and why is it important?
Crypto presents an interesting global opportunity, anyone who is familiar with crypto knows that. It presents the opportunity to create a democratized approach to wealth generation and management and that should open anyone's eyes to why crypto is fascinating. To get there requires builders, an understanding of how many directions this can go, and an understanding of the steps that need to be taken now to make sure we're growing in the right direction. There have to be reliable rails and a safe starting point.
While Gemini certainly welcomes the opportunity to bring retail investors directly to our own platform, a number of people who have not yet stepped into the crypto realm are maybe just waiting for their existing brokerage account to offer access to the asset class. Knowing that investors may want to use platforms that they're familiar with, Gemini provides the rails for platforms to build crypto access into their product set. . Our team can walk a platform’s developers through integration on a consultative basis. Questions our team typically asks include: What does bringing crypto into your offering look like? How can it be different? Should we be more creative about it? What are the required tools our goal is to make it as efficient and seamless as possible?
What do you believe is the most exciting thing you’ve learned and want others to know?
Crypto and the concept of web3 are new and we are in the early stages of it. Everyone has the tools to work with a good idea, try to start a company, and help build from the ground up. Everyone has the ability to step in and offer their expertise, allowing others to understand why merging some parts of traditional finance into crypto can make sense, especially when tools available in a web3 context can help create efficiencies across certain traditional structures. I think everyone would agree that there is no shortage of good ideas. We all possess the ability to step into this space if there's excitement and urgency to help build.
Is there a person or a company that’s really inspired you?
There are two women whom I admire greatly. First is Sarah Morton, she's building a platform called Meet Ami. She is in the camp of people who want to make investing easier, especially where crypto is involved. Creating seamless access for the people responsible for managing your investments. She's extremely smart, and is someone who has been able to bridge her knowledge and expertise into the wealth space. I couldn't be more fascinated by what she and her team are building.
Rachel Nabers works on a platform called Solo401k. She and her team have built a platform allowing investment in retirement to be easier. Their tool makes retirement investing no-nonsense and crypto's involved in the backend of that as well.
What advice would you give to someone getting started?
If you're interested in offering crypto in your platform or even building a platform from scratch where crypto is your main offering, reach out to my team at Gemini. We can help you through the points of connectivity, share documentation, and we can help you envision how your offering could look in the future. My recommendation would be to understand the regulation around your specific type of platform, especially on the custody side of things. Gemini's core offering is around custody, as we are a trust company regulated by the New York Department of Financial Services. There are regulatory bodies in some states that now say if you’re not a trust company, you cannot custody of certain types of funds. Considering your potential longer-term requirements is a great place to start - as well as understanding what type of guidance you need, and understanding how structured you need to be to ensure strength in the future of your offering.
How can we stay in touch?
You can follow me on LinkedIn, or you can also email me at [email protected] If you are someone who wants to entertain the concept of building, I'd love to be a resource and help anyone who's thinking through this journey and trying to establish what their starting point could be.
Have thoughts on this week’s topic or questions for me or Kristen? Post your thoughts in the comment section. Until next week. 🙂
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DISCLAIMER: The thoughts and views expressed in this video do not constitute financial or investment advice.
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