It’s unlikely that ETFs holding Bitcoin or other digital assets directly will see the light of day soon. But two crypto fund advocates speaking at the Morningstar Investment Conference argued over how that delay may impact investor adoption.
“The beauty of ETFs is that they plug in seamlessly into the way financial advisors work,” said Matt Hougan, chief investment officer at Bitwise, as reported by sister publication Ignites.
And when advisors get access, Hougan expects uptake to be quick. ETF availability, he said, will “be a game changer and open up the market significantly.”
In part, that’s because professionally managed ETFs are a lot more palatable to advisors than selling cryptocurrencies directly. Advisors selling Bitcoin for example, have to explain to clients – and justify to regulators – decisions like how they chose their crypto custodian, Hougan said. ETFs, by contrast, sit neatly in traditional brokerage accounts or fee-based advisory platforms.
Hougan, who chaired the Inside ETF conference and ran the ETF.com website prior to joining Bitwise, did acknowledge that many clients of advisors already are investing in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies—often without telling their FAs.
But Tyrone Ross, CEO of Onramp Invest, argued that making direct crypto access easier is the key.
Crypto “is a godsend” to people underserved by traditional banking and financial services, he told Morningstar attendees. So-called stablecoins, which are backed by an official currency or gold, can be transferred on the blockchain and get into people’s hands more quickly than moving cash through traditional money wire services.
Regardless of when, how, or even if Bitcoin ETFs come to the fore, Hougan and Ross offered advisors tips on navigating the crypto conversation with clients, Ignites reports.
First, advisors can fulfill their fiduciary duty by helping clients understand how their current crypto holdings fits in with their overall goals and risk tolerance, Ross said. And advisors should brush up on the nuances of each digital asset technology and assess how each matches with an individual client’s needs.
“We need to break the idea that these are currencies and [instead] need to think of them as technologies that enable us to do new things,” Hougan said. “And then you can either evaluate those technologies and decide what you think is best, or you can buy a diversified basket of them in an index.”