After forging formidable careers in the crucible of finance - major Wall Street financial services firms Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and UBS - financing and investment banking pros Derek Peterson, Ruth Epstein, and Morgan Paxhia have created a bold new path to the Wild West of the cannabis industry.
In his article "From Wall Street to Weed: How the Financial Crisis Lit Up the Pot Industry", Reuters writer David Randall floats a controversial theory: exceptional Wall Street talent "might not have ever left traditional finance if not for the lingering damage of the 2008 crisis."
While Peterson tells of recognizing opportunity in the "Apple Store"-sized numbers being put up by cannabis businesses while Wall Street friends were losing everything during the crash, bringing your MBA to the cannabis party is anything but obvious.
"Despite the growth prospects, many financial professionals are still too leery of federal law, which considers marijuana an illegal drug, to take a job in the industry until there are clear signals from Washington or a change in the makeup of government, said Ruth Epstein, a partner at San Francisco-based BGP Advisors, a business advisory firm that focuses on companies in the cannabis sector."
Epstein suggests that her Street-experienced cannabis finance peers have one quality in common: the courage to seize opportunity.
"People have really been scared away from investing and to a large extent that same mentality is keeping the talent away," said Epstein, a Harvard Business School graduate who spent nearly 10 years on the corporate finance desk at Goldman Sachs. That, in turn, has "created a massive opportunity for someone who understands finance and is willing to be out on the vanguard."
Image source: Reuters