One week after Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley said we will “never see a fund from Vanguard on Bitcoin,” popular wealth manager Ric Edelman is crying foul.
Vanguard and the wirehouse firms that have pledged to stay away from cryptocurrencies “will be eating those words,” Edelman said before 3,000 RIAs and other guests at Thursday’s opening session of the TD Ameritrade LINC 2018 conference in Orlando.
“We are seeing a lot of dumb statements out of Wall Street,” explained the founder and executive chairman of Edelman Financial Services. “Executives there are in denial about cryptocurrencies and blockchain. It’s just denial … [and] they do not understand the technology, when they make comparisons between it and tulips and Beanie Babies.”
Denial is not a good approach to this emerging asset class, Edelman and other executives say. “Those in this room, too, have clients asking about this — right — and they are getting … the typical … response about it being a fad or bubble and that it’s too risky and to stay away. Clients want a better answer,” said Edelman.
“Blockchain promises to transform major elements of the financial system,” Friedman said, such as improving efficiency in settlements. “It has the promise to rip out a lot of infrastructure that is now causing a lot of friction.”
(Vanguard announced in December that it was launching a blockchain-based mutual fund platform.)
‘Such a Bubble’
TD Ameritrade President and CEO Tim Hockey said he “takes issue with one thing” that Edelman told the crowd.
This area “is such a bubble,” Hockey explained. “There is froth, and there are some bad actors … It is a range and will sort itself out over time. Winners will come out of it and losers, too.”
Still, he added, “You cannot ignore the underlying technology.”
(In December, TD Ameritrade began offering Cboe’s Bitcoin futures to some retail investor clients.)
For advisors, Edelman said, this development means “you have to get informed and make decisions about the appropriateness [of this emerging asset class] and not put your head in the sand.
“We are assuming we have seen this before. We have never seen any of this exponential technology before,” he explained.
Edelman acknowledges that this is “the Wild West” with legitimate and scam actors. But the advisor and author insists that advisors need “to educate themselves” about Bitcoin and many of the 2,000-plus other tokens and currencies based on distributed, cryptographical technology, like Ethereum.
For the moment, he suggests investors treat the asset class “like a lottery ticket and put 1% of their assets into it — if that.”
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