Crypto Accounting Jobs – Why Consider, Who’s Hiring, and How to Land One
November 11, 2022
Crypto Accounting Jobs – Why Consider, Who’s Hiring, and How to Land One
Crypto Accounting Jobs? Now? Really?
Maybe you’re reading this thinking, “Seriously? You’re going to publish a report on crypto accounting jobs now — in the midst of one of, if not the worst, meltdowns in the history of crypto?”
And we get it. We’ve been working on this guide to web3 accounting jobs for quite some time now, but we seriously considered holding off on publishing given the (as of this writing) recent situation with FTX.
Even so, we determined that now is the best time to drop this report.
Allow us to explain.
The promise of web3 is an open, permissionless, and trustless financial system. The catastrophes of the last year—Terra, Three Arrows Capital, Celsius, and now, FTX—prove that the industry has a ways to go before fulfilling that promise.
We propose that one way to fix the flaws plaguing the web3 ecosystem is to bring more of the right people on board.
Web3 needs more pragmatists, people that are willing to ask difficult questions like,
“Why does FTX have its own exchange token?”
“What actually happens with customer funds once they’re deposited?”
“What’s the quality of FTX’s collateral?”
Those people already exist. They’re the accountants, the financial analysts, the risk managers—the back office finance and accounting professionals. The only problem is these professionals need training. Thus, we have another reason for our timing: bear markets are for building. Why not build a better back office?
A Tidal Wave is Coming
You will inevitably hear naysayers proclaiming, once again, that crypto is dead — a passing fad destined for the ash heap of failed experiments. Remember, the Internet was once declared a fad too:
If you believe crypto is just a fad, think again. Don’t take our word for it; take a look at the numbers:
There are over 221 million cryptocurrency users worldwide — up from 5 million in 2016 (Statista). That’s an 884% growth rate.
About 145 million American adults — about 56% of the U.S. adult population — say they own cryptocurrency or have invested in crypto in the past. (Motley Fool)
Users of the largest crypto exchange, Binance, trade over $76 billion worth of cryptocurrency every 24 hours. (CoinMarketCap)
A tidal wave of new digital assets is coming online, and most professionals are either obliviously unaware or painfully unprepared.
“Accountants are easy to find. Accountants that understand digital assets, on the other hand—that’s nearly impossible.”
The owner of a boutique crypto tax firm recently expressed her frustration with the talent bottleneck that plagues much of the industry. She explained that she started out hiring CPAs and then taught them crypto. Now she employs professionals that know crypto and teaches them accounting because it’s easier.
If you’re an accountant or finance professional, gone are the days when being “proficient in Microsoft Excel” will propel you through your career. LinkedIn Economic Graph’s recent “Future of Skills” report shows that top skills could change anywhere from 39% to 44% by 2025.
Between 2021 and 2025, we would likely see three new skills in the top skills for a job. If you’re skeptical that web3-related skills will make that list anytime soon, know that “Cryptocurrency Trading” and “Bitcoin Mining” found their way to the 2021 Top Skills list for Finance in the U.S.
Data published by Udemy Business in their 2022 “Workplace Learning Trends Report” shows a similar trend. “Cryptocurrency” and “Solidity” ranked among the top five surging skills in finance and accounting, with “Cryptocurrency” up 331% and “Solidity” up 127% from 2020 to 2021.
Our financial system is changing, which means finance and accounting as we know it is changing. For those who are aware of and prepared for this change, amazing career opportunities lie ahead.
For you skimmers out there, make sure you skim to the bottom. There’s a surprise for you there.
The Method to the Madness (Methodology)
In preparing this Crypto Accounting Jobs Report, we analyzed over 300 accounting and finance job listings across 64 prominent web3 companies and protocols. We began by classifying each company into one of eight sectors, then looked at job descriptions, locations, required skills, and other relevant data.
Not surprisingly, there is very little public salary data for crypto accounting jobs on the web. For future reports, we plan to secure this data by surveying individual companies, but until then, we’ll rely more heavily on anecdotal evidence.
Why Work in Web3?
A few weeks ago, a fellow accountant reached out via LinkedIn asking to get my thoughts on a job offer he was entertaining. The offer was for a Controller position at an up-and-coming blockchain protocol, but he was relatively new to web3 and crypto and wanted advice on working in the industry.
I told him that I was biased, but in terms of risk vs. reward, the rewards far outweigh the risks.
“Worst case scenario: you go work for this protocol with substantial VC funding, they struggle to compete in the crowded market, burn through their cash in two years, and you get laid off. Even then, you get paid a great salary to master crypto accounting, make a bunch of connections in the industry, and move on to the next Controller or CFO position where you’re a top candidate.”
Sure, this story serves as anecdotal evidence—something we’ll have to rely on a bit since it’s our first web3 accounting and finance jobs report—but we’ll attempt to move deeper into the realm of the empirical. Let’s see how the pay and perks of web3 jobs stack up against the base case of a Big4 accounting job.
The Base Case: the Big 4
Before proceeding, let’s develop a base case to benchmark crypto accounting jobs against. We’ll use the Big 4 since they collectively employ close to 1.2 million people worldwide.
I was once one of the unfortunate crowd that eventually lost their souls to the Big 4 meatgrinder. Don’t get me wrong: the Big 4 isn’t all bad. You get a globally-recognized brand on your resume and an inside view into how a variety of businesses operate but is it really worth it?
The Big 4 – A common critique is that the Big 4 doesn’t pay nearly enough to compensate for the 60-80 hour weeks accountants put in for 4-5 months of the year. At the average Associate’s salary of $59,750, you’re making about $21 per hour. That’s comforting to know that the Doordasher coming to deliver your dinner at 10 p.m. is making more than you (about $25/hour).
Crypto Accounting Jobs – As mentioned above, it’s really tough to find salaries posted for web3 accounting jobs. That said, the companies we spoke with seem determined to fix the pay problem plaguing the public accounting profession. One of them hired an entry-level employee with no accounting experience, trained them from scratch, then raised their pay to $75,000 after only one year.
Another common criticism of the Big 4 is that all your hard work goes to stuffing the partner’s pockets. A few of the web3 services firms we looked at offer even their entry-level employees profit-sharing incentives on top of their base salary. It’s also very common to see crypto companies offer handsome non-salary compensation in the form of equity, profit-sharing, and tokens.
Crypto Accounting Jobs – Of the roughly 300 job listings we looked at, about one-third were fully remote positions. Other noteworthy perks include payment in crypto, stellar training programs, generous home office equipment stipends, and discounts to company products and services.
Who’s Hiring for Web3 Accounting & Finance Jobs?
If you want to land an accounting or finance job in web3, it helps to have a lay of the land. Saying that you want to “work in crypto” is about as vague as saying “I want to work in tech.” What sector of web3 do you want to work in, specifically? Yes, you could start your search by looking at common names like ‘Coinbase’, but you’d only be scratching the surface of what’s out there.
Fortunately for you, we’ve segmented the industry into eight distinct sectors:
Blockchains & Protocols
1. Blockchains & Protocols
Five years ago, no one would’ve believed that you could work for an organization that has no board of directors, is primarily governed by code, and processes 77% of Coinbase’s trading volume with 33x fewer employees. In 2022, this is very much a reality with the emergence of DeFi protocols like Uniswap (the one I’m referring to here). This sector includes Layer 1 blockchains, Layer 2 scaling solutions, and dApps (decentralized apps) building on top of those blockchains.
In traditional finance, prime brokers sit between institutional investors and the market and offer an array of services, including custody, trade execution, risk management, lending services, capital introduction, and consulting. While we do see prime brokers from traditional finance starting to dip their toes in crypto, the digital asset prime services sector is largely dominated by a new set of players. Unlike their well-established traditional counterparts that act as a ‘one-stop-shop’, digital asset firms tend to offer one-off services.
Everyone has at least heard of the companies in this category. Even my 80-year-old grandmother recently asked me what a “Coinbase” was after seeing the name plastered all over an NBA team’s court. Crypto exchanges primarily facilitate the trading of cryptocurrencies and NFTs but continue to expand into other offerings like prime services and digital wallets.
Just because web3 boasts a novel set of innovative technologies doesn’t mean it’s suddenly immune from paying taxes, undergoing audits, and complying with regulations. While all the “cool kids” are off building blockchains and dabbling in DAOs, professional services firms are tailoring their offerings for clients holding digital assets. The big firms appear to be aggressively expanding their digital asset practices; however, the rise of web3 creates opportunities for smaller, more agile firms to beat out the Big4 oligarchy.
The infrastructure sector covers a lot of ground. Players in this space provide a wide range of services, often to blockchains and protocols, to help develop, secure, and scale blockchain applications. You can’t talk about web3 without mentioning performance and security.
Traditional financial services players are adopting digital assets at an unprecedented rate, and we’re starting to see it reflected in their hiring. For instance, BNY Mellon announced it would begin custodying customers’ crypto last month. Goldman Sachs also appears to be going all in on blockchain and digital assets. Fidelity, one of the largest asset managers in the world, even has its own digital asset management arm, Fidelity Digital Assets.
Web3 changes fast, and there are a lot of cool companies out there that are true ‘category creators.’ Some companies simply can’t be grouped into a specific sector yet. For example, there are media companies like CoinDesk covering the space, NFT developers like Dapper Labs, and market research players like Messari.
How do I get a job in web3?
If you take anything away from this report, hopefully, it’s this: those who are truly looking to make a switch from traditional to web3 accounting and finance have a lot in their favor, even in a bear market. As mentioned above, the recent news about FTX’s implosion is a major setback for institutional trust in the movement, and of course, it’s bad news for all the people who used to be employed at the company. But at the risk of sounding glib, some of my best career opportunities have come from previous jobs not working out.
The fact is, there are still a lot of solid web3 companies and projects out there that desperately need solid talent—even during this downturn.
So what can somebody looking to make the switch from TradFi to web3 do? Here are some tips.
1. Learn the basics.
Crypto and DeFi are about more than just finance OR the next generation of Internet technology. To truly understand their impact, you should dig into the history of money, economic policy, the internet (web1, web2, web3), and social governance. Understand the problems with these legacy systems; think from first principles by actively challenging the assumptions you think you ‘KNOW’ to be true. For example, rather than assume that paper currency (fiat) is the best form of money, ask what makes money, money.
According to a McKinsey Global Survey, nearly nine in ten executives and managers say their organizations either face skill gaps already or expect gaps to develop within the next five years. These skill gaps are particularly prevalent in the digital asset industry.
Learn how to apply your existing skills to web3. If you’re an accountant, learn accounting for digital assets. If you’re in finance, learn how to read on-chain data. If you’re an attorney, learn about entity structures for DAOs.
3. Join Discord and Telegram groups
In web3, everything begins with a community; most live in Discord and Telegram. The majority are open groups, so find a few that interest you and get involved. At first, it’s okay to just observe. Ask yourself how you can contribute to the community, then get involved! Join conversations, meet people via DMs, and participate in events.
4. Share what you learn.
Posting your thoughts on public forums like Twitter and LinkedIn can be very daunting—trust me, I know. It’s like jumping into cold water—you just have to dive in.
Start by commenting on other people’s thoughts or posting your opinion on a recent event. You probably learned A TON from steps 1-3, so share those most valuable pieces as clearly as possible.
5. Do the work before you land the job.
This is my favorite hack for landing an incredible job. Start by finding a protocol/company you like and find out what they need help with. Either reach out to someone at the company or use a bounty site like Flipside Crypto, Layer3, or VoiceDAO.
Then, go and do the work. If they need someone to clean up their books, offer to do it on a contract basis. This presents a low-risk way for both you and the company to feel each other out. Present your high-quality work, then ask them if you can do this full-time.
What if I’ve already done all that?
Here’s your reward for skimming to the bottom.
If you’re already on the hunt for your next opportunity in web3 accounting and finance, you’re in the right spot.
My team and I recently launched the Multisig Job Board, a meticulous curation of companies doing solid work in digital assets. These are companies who get it. These are the companies building the foundation of our next financial system.
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