Financial Narrative is proud to share the stories and accomplishments of our members. In this ongoing series, we’ll spotlight our members, what they’re doing with their careers and their views on current and emerging trends in financial marketing.
Today’s innovation-fueled digital expansion – from financial services to every aspect of our daily lives – is a source of great excitement for Marc Yaklofsky, Head of Communications & PR at Genesis, a leading full-service digital currency prime brokerage firm. Marc shares his focus on the expanding world of crypto, the evolution of NFTs and his process of building a comms function from the ground up.
You’ve recently joined the team at Genesis as Head of Communications and Public Relations, moving from the traditional financial services roles to the crypto realm. Tell us about the complexity of this transition and how you’ve navigated entering this new digital crypto.
Crypto is the marriage of traditional financial services and technology. Since I spent my entire career in financial services, most recently working with fintech firms, I’ve been able to manage the transition well so far. While the crypto industry is new to me, having that broad background certainly has been helpful.
That said, the industry continues to evolve quickly and requires close attention to the constantly changing technology, regulatory, and competitive landscape. That is what makes this space so interesting.
What aspect of the ever-evolving cryptocurrency space are you particularly excited/curious about right now?
What I find most exciting is that the industry is just scratching the surface of technology applications, wider adoption, and the breaking down of geographic and socio-economic barriers.
The use-cases are constantly expanding. Think about the evolution of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), for instance. As recently as a few months ago, the focus of NFTs were around celebrity endorsements and the escalating prices of “digital apes”. In some ways, they were a novelty. But firms are raising significant amounts of capital to build out an extensive NFT infrastructure. Fractionalized ownership of certain high-priced NFTs, similar to equities, is becoming more popular. This will lead to the development of an active trading marketplace. Being able to post NFTs as collateral in borrowing arrangements, like physical artwork, will soon follow. So, transactions that are common to other asset classes are being adapted and applied to cryptocurrencies.
You’re in the process of building a comms function from scratch. Can you outline the steps in this process and your approach at Genesis? What’s the biggest learning experience you’ve had?
Since starting out, my emphasis has been on balancing the strategic, procedural, and tactical elements: developing a clear vision, implementing formal processes around key components of the function, and executing the basic “blocking and tackling”.
One of the first things I did when I joined the firm was to go on a “listening tour”. That allowed me to build strong relationships across the firm–management, business heads, and corporate partners–as early as possible and hear different perspectives about the firm’s strategy. Those conversations have not only given me good insight into how the Communications team can most effectively drive clear, consistent messaging to advance the corporate objectives, but they also have helped create internal support for the function. From there, the focus is on devising a comprehensive communications plan, with near-term, mid-term and longer-term goals.
While the function is still in its infancy, maximizing available resources has been vital. I’ve been fortunate enough to have great partners at our PR agency, Vested, to help get the effort off the ground. Once the team demonstrates tangible value over time, there will be the ability to build out the function.
What advice would you give to a fellow financial marcomms leader who is looking to enter the crypto world?
Embrace the space. I truly believe it’s the new frontier. Read and research as much as you can, particularly the regulatory aspects. And, like stocks, the best way to learn the market is to be in the market.
What does a Perfect Day in New York look like for you?
It’s funny, but the answer has certainly changed over the past 18 months and has become much more simplistic. Right now, it’s being able to gather again with friends and colleagues face-to-face on a regular basis. Technology has been helpful throughout the pandemic, but it can’t replace in-person interaction.