Oliver von Landsberg-Sadie (Executive MBA, 2011) spent nearly 20 years working in investment banking before founding the business banking challenger BCB Group with fellow alumnus Oliver Tonkin (Executive MBA, 2011). BCB Group is Europe’s leading provider of business accounts and trading services for the digital asset economy. We caught up with Oliver to find out more about how his career has developed since leaving the Business School (formerly Cass).
Oliver explains that the Business School stood out as a leading provider of an Executive MBA, “one big highlight was the strong emphasis on entrepreneurial training and influence” as someone with aims to eventually start his own business, it was this supportive network which led Oliver to choose the Business School. This decision certainly paid off as when it came to starting his own business, he found a business partner in a fellow Business School alumnus, “we are two co-founders from the same cohort!”
“It was surprising to me how much of what we learnt was so immediately applicable.”
Having graduated in the wake of the subprime loan crisis, Oliver took some time before taking the next step in his career. In 2017 he took the opportunity to leave his career in investment banking to start up his own enterprise: BCB Group was born. In the very early stages of the company, Oliver discovered just how useful his studies would be: “it was surprising to me how much of what we learnt was so immediately applicable. When you’re in it, when you are experiencing the course, you never really know which bits are really going to be of use in practice.” It was this depth of knowledge, alongside his prior experience, that helped him achieve his goal of moving from ‘salary man’ to a business owner and CEO.
“That little pivot became a defining feature of what we are now”
Initially BCB Group served the high net-worth market assisting people who wanted a well-informed way to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. However, they quickly discovered the issues with moving cryptocurrencies bank to bank. Oliver explains, “we ended up looking at the best regulatory path to solve this problem, first for ourselves… and secondly to extent that solution to the wider industry. We got a financial institutions license and a payments license. That little pivot became quite a defining feature of what we are now”.
“Cryptocurrency is the ultimate blend of the world of finance and the world of technology”
Oliver was drawn to the industry through the appeal of the constant innovation within the space, “to me, cryptocurrency is the ultimate blend of the world of finance and the world of technology”. He believes that cryptocurrency is the future. For Oliver, it is the “pure fintech nature of it that caught my attention and keeps me going. Everything we see today in the financial world will eventually have a crypto copy – we are trying to build tools to make that quicker and easier”.
Giving some advice to anyone who is looking to get involved in the industry Oliver says, “the cryptocurrency world is accessible to everybody which marks it out from other industries”. He goes on to add “my advice to anyone wanting to get started in cryptocurrency is to dabble with it yourself, to do your research with your own hands because you can… it doesn’t require anything other than curiosity”. Having said that, he explains that you must “be prepared for a rocky ride”, as with any innovative industry it isn’t the smooth path!
“We would happily entertain conversations with current students or alumni who are looking for something exciting!”
It is an exciting time for BCB Group. Along with many other heavily online companies, they have been somewhat positively impacted by the pandemic. Throughout lockdown the company have daily morning calls, including Wednesday quizzes and ‘shout out Fridays’, to maintain those close working relationships. They are expanding rapidly and are always looking for people at all levels of seniority with the drive and commitment to get stuck into the industry. Oliver tells us “because we know and love the Business School we would happily entertain conversations with current students or alumni who are looking for something exciting!”
Thank you, Oliver, for taking the time to speak to us!