Leslie Ankney, Communications Lead
Welcome to Eight Questions, where we profile individual members of the Anchorage Digital team, diving into their career paths, what brought them to crypto, and what makes them tick. Why eight? Because it’s the number of decimal places a bitcoin can be divided into. It’s also the last single digit number in a Fibonacci Sequence, and we like that.
Next in our series, meet Jennifer Hunnewell, who recently joined Anchorage Digital to scale up our marketing initiatives and further connect our digital asset services with the needs of traditional financial services institutions. Prior to Anchorage, Jen spent over 20 years in the institutional investment management industry at two leading privately-owned asset managers. She led marketing at GMO (Grantham, Mayo, van Otterloo) and served as a Managing Director at Wellington Management, one of the largest asset management firms. At Wellington, she had several roles including leading the firm’s global fund product development effort and running a global communications team. We’re proud to welcome Jen to our team.
- You’ve spent the past two decades in traditional asset management; What brought you to digital assets?
I believe that a healthy market for digital assets will broaden financial access and I have been fascinated by how crypto has gained retail adoption first and is now expanding to institutions. Typically, alternative asset classes, like hedge funds and private equity, have gone in the opposite direction. They were initially reserved for the most sophisticated institutional investors, and then over time, were made available to individual retail individuals. It was important for me to enter an asset class that was shifting the narrative towards greater financial access and inclusion.
That said — institutions will need to follow, and having seen how more traditional markets and financial services firms work, they’re going to need a trusted and regulated partner like Anchorage to work with them to bring digital asset products and services to their clients. I’m very excited to help be that bridge.
2. What got you interested in crypto and Anchorage?
Even as recently as a year ago, I had little exposure to crypto and blockchain, but that all changed starting in 2021. After experiencing such a high growth phase in active investment management early on in my career, I knew I wanted to find another high growth industry, ideally in fintech. Of all the different fintech sectors I researched, crypto and blockchain technology stood out the most. Crypto’s accessibility to unbanked individuals aligned with my values and blockchain’s utility as a more effective way of transferring data appealed to my business sense. I started learning about players in this space, and my focus on finding an institutional, client-focused firm brought me to Anchorage. As I learned about Anchorage’s superior tech, regulatory approach, and collaborative culture, the firm felt like the right place for me.
3. Your family just got a new puppy about two months into starting your role at Anchorage. Are there any parallels between raising a puppy and starting a new role in a new industry?
Yes, our family adopted our first dog, a puppy, right around when I started at Anchorage. With our new puppy, my family and I are effectively taking a hands-on crash course in how to raise a healthy and happy dog. It is very exciting, but can be pretty overwhelming at times, especially to my 11 year old. This is actually pretty similar to starting in a new role at Anchorage. Every day, I’m energized by learning something new about our industry, our firm and our clients. For me, as a continuous learner who, as an adult, has learned how to ski moguls, play tennis, wrangle cows — and hopefully take good care of a puppy, being at Anchorage for the last few months has been like continuous learning on steroids. This is a great place for people who want to continuously learn something new, even if at times it can feel overwhelming.
4. What’s a misconception you’ve heard in traditional markets about crypto? As a marketing professional, how do you counter this narrative and help finance professionals understand Anchorage?
My experience at Anchorage is very different from what I see on TV. Most TV shows portray crypto as unregulated and anonymous. In contrast, the reality isn’t so sensational. If you look at the process Anchorage has gone through, from being regulated by the OCC to meeting our SOC 1 requirements, we’re much like any other financial services company or bank in our approach.
The industry is moving very quickly and it is challenging for traditional financial services professionals to keep pace. One thing that sets Anchorage apart, is that we often spend time with our traditional financial services clients and educate them about digital asset markets, trading dynamics, blockchain technology, and security nuances that are specific to crypto. We understand that the majority of our newer clients aren’t crypto-natives and we seek to be the trusted advisor that provides sound counsel around this new market.
5. What’s it been like joining the Anchorage team remotely?
I’m an extrovert so I was a little nervous about developing relationships 100% virtually, but our collaborative and creative culture really comes to life in every interaction. It has also been easier than I thought to get to know people while simultaneously balancing home and work lives. As a working parent in a dual career household, who works from home, I need to be at a place where it is welcomed when one of my kids “participate” in a video call. If the global pandemic has taught me anything, it is that carving out time for all of my roles in life — head of marketing, mom, wife, daughter, sister and friend — matter. At Anchorage, I feel like I can bring my whole self to work.
One of our cultural hallmarks that reinforces that we all bring our whole self to work every day, is a session that we have at our weekly company-wide meeting called Anchoring Ourselves, where a different member of the team shares a personal story or lesson. That’s been a great way to learn not only about our company culture, but also about the many diverse experiences and perspectives that come together to build the best solutions for our clients. In the short time I have been here, I have learned about a long distance motorcycle ride in the Himalayas, lessons in building confidence from dirt biking wipe-outs, and how a veteran sees crypto’s long-term potential in promoting peace.
6. It’s interesting for a head of marketing to have both sales experience and a CFA. Can you tell me about how both of those play into your approach to marketing?
When it comes to institutional marketing, I view marketing’s role as creating content-rich marketing programs designed to deepen client relationships and grow our business. We are looking to become trusted advisors to our clients — and offer them tailored solutions to meet their needs. Having a strong investment background helps me connect our solutions to the real-world challenges many of our clients are having. In addition, my past sales experience helps me better understand our clients’ perspectives and how we can provide them with the best custom solution to achieve safe and secure access to digital assets.
7. What has stood out most to you about the Anchorage approach to marketing? To clients?
Anchorage has a very strong marketing foundation. We are frequent contributors to the media on the broader crypto ecosystem, we are viewed as the leader in crypto security and we are a sought out advisor-practitioner to governing bodies on regulatory matters. Additionally, we have developed deep partnerships with many of our clients. We offer our clients customized solutions as well as a white-glove client experience that really sets Anchorage apart.
8. What’s it like being part of the Anchorage marketing team? What are you looking forward to in the coming months?
I feel I have the best marketing job in the digital asset space. Anchorage is a client-focused forward thinking company with superior tech, and an amazing vision for the future. We’re healthy and growing, regulated, and a real trusted advisor to our clients. To be at the helm of the marketing team fills me with gratitude. We have a terrific team who’s brought us to where we are today, and we’re ready to grow. While today our team in marketing is relatively small, we’re all growing together and each bring a different perspective to the table.
Interested in working with Jennifer on the marketing team? Anchorage is hiring for a variety of roles, check our job opportunities here.
Holdings of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets are speculative and involve a substantial degree of risk, including the risk of complete loss. There can be no assurance that any cryptocurrency, token, coin, or other crypto asset will be viable, liquid, or solvent. Nothing in this communication is intended to imply that any asset held in custody by Anchorage is low-risk or risk-free. Digital assets held in custody are not guaranteed by Anchorage Digital Bank National Association and are not FDIC-insured.