Mariner Wealth CEO Marty Bicknell. Mariner Wealth Advisors CEO Marty Bicknell.

Overland Park, Kansas-based Mariner Wealth Advisors has become the first RIA to make the Eaglebrook Bitcoin SMA from cryptocurrency-focused investment firm Eaglebrook Advisors available to clients who want access to Bitcoin as part of their investment plans.

Washington, D.C.-based Eaglebrook “privately launched” the Bitcoin separately managed account “to a group of clients starting in March 2020, but this is the first time we are making it publicly available to RIAs and advisors,” Christopher King, the firm’s founder and CEO, told ThinkAdvisor on Tuesday.

Although Mariner was the only firm King said he could disclose that agreed to offer the Bitcoin SMA, he said he “should have more announcements soon.”

Other firms that have waded into the crypto waters include Fidelity Investments, which  disclosed in August that it planned to launch a Bitcoin fund for accredited investors, adding its establishment name and star power to the fledgling and often controversial asset class.

Mariner, which has 344 advisors across multiple U.S. locations handling more than $35 billion assets under advisement, wanted to “offer this new solution to clients … where Bitcoin fits into their overall wealth plan,” according to Marty Bicknell, the RIA’s CEO and president.

“Our desire to find new solutions is always driven by client need and we are looking forward to working with Eaglebrook on this new endeavor,” Bicknell said in a statement.

The Eaglebrook Bitcoin SMA “will allow financial advisors to allocate to Bitcoin in a simple and secure way,” according to Eaglebrook Advisors. Advantages of the offering include “tax optimization, direct ownership, and portfolio integration,” it said. “Eaglebrook streamlines client onboarding, movement of funds, trade execution, reporting data aggregation, rebalancing, and tax documentation.”

Demand for Bitcoin from advisors and their clients has “accelerated due to current trends, including the growth in investment demand from millennials and institutional investors, Bitcoin’s potential as an inflation hedge in response to monetary stimulus and the asymmetric upside of the investment,” Eaglebrook and Mariner said in their joint announcement.

Eaglebrook selected Gemini Trust Co. as the qualified custodian for the Eaglebrook Bitcoin SMA. The client’s Bitcoin is owned directly and “stored in an offline, institutional-grade custody account at Gemini,” Eaglebrook said.

CPA Program

Separately, Mariner said it expanded its CPA Alliance Program, adding Aaron Fulton and Robert (Bo) Anderson III as senior wealth advisors to collaborate more closely with its growing community of CPAs.

Since the official launch of the CPA Alliance Program in 2017, Mariner has “more than quadrupled the number of CPAs it is working with from 13 to 60,” it said.

Fulton is based in the Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota, and Anderson is based in Des Moines, Iowa.

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