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Onramp Invest Launches Crypto Platform for RIAs

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What You Need to Know

  • The Onramp Invest platform launch follows a beta test that was announced in April.
  • Ritholtz Wealth Management, Gemini Frontier Fund and Eterna Capital are among the first investors in the platform, Onramp says.
  • Challenges include reluctance by insurance carriers to cover advisors who dabble in crypto, Onramp CEO Tyrone Ross says.

The Onramp Invest alternative investment platform for RIAs has launched, with initial investors including Ritholtz Wealth Management and the first integration partners including Advyzon, Onramp Invest said Tuesday.

The launch follows a beta test that was announced by Onramp Invest last month. At the time, Onramp Invest CEO Tyrone Ross said he planned to launch the platform during the online Consensus 2021 conference that kicked off on Monday and told ThinkAdvisor that “pretty big names” would be among the group of 5-10 RIA firms expected to take part in the beta test.

There wound up being 17 RIAs in the beta test, including Ritholtz, Ross told ThinkAdvisor on Tuesday. “All were very impressed with our read only access that allows them to now see their clients held away assets and excited to see the trading process come to life. We also received incredible feedback on our pipeline and vision for our billing process,” he said.

Onramp launched a full suite of resources for its multiple crypto asset Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) that it said Tuesday were “designed to empower [RIAs] with the crypto asset knowledge and access they need to support the growing demand from their clients.” The new platform is out to first educate and then help advisors “navigate the rapidly evolving crypto marketplace” that has captured the attention of investors globally, it said.

The company also launched the Onramp Academy, in partnership with Galaxy Digital’s crypto funds division Galaxy Fund Management, Interaxis and CoinDesk (producer of the Consensus conference). The Academy was created to educate advisors, their clients and consumers about cryptoassets, helping investors make better strategic decisions, Onramp Invest said.

It is important that advisors “hear from people” in the crypto space through events including Consensus, Ross said during the event on Tuesday. “There needs to be books and research and data and conferences [because] the truth is a lot of this just hasn’t been there” for advisors until now, he explained.

One challenge that remains for traditional advisors, however, is that they still don’t know where to get educated on alternative assets and start offering them to clients, he said.

A potentially bigger challenge: Many advisors are telling Ross that their insurance providers won’t cover them if they offer crypto, he said.

“Our mission is to be the interstate of connectivity coordinating data flow and interoperability from the crypto-economy to traditional financial architecture,” according to Ross.

“As a financial advisor, I truly understand an advisor’s challenge when explaining a hot new financial topic to clients,” he said in the announcement. “We will give fiduciary advisors peace of mind, which they can then transfer to their clients.”

Onramp “sits at the intersection of financial and consumer technology and will leverage the talents of its team … to open doors and democratize access to crypto assets” including Bitcoin and Ethereum, it said.

Explaining his interest in Onramp Invest, Ritholtz CEO Josh Brown said in a statement: “As fiduciaries, we have to understand and quantify the role these assets play in our clients’ portfolios. Onramp is providing financial planners with the industry’s first solution to incorporate this essential information into our services.”

In addition to Ritholtz, other initial investors that have taken part in Onramp’s current funding round include Gemini Frontier Fund and Eterna Capital. In addition to Advyzon, Onramp’s early adopters and confirmed integration partners to date also include CF Benchmarks and Wealthbox, according to Onramp.

“Our integration with Onramp Invest gives advisors the ability to not just have a one-time conversation but manage these assets alongside more traditional options,” according to John Mackowiak, chief business development officer at Advyzon.

Separately, WisdomTree Investments introduced the WisdomTree +Crypto Model Portfolios that it said will be made available for advisors to view as an educational resource, including via Onramp Invest, with integration into Gemini’s crypto platform.

Ross told ThinkAdvisor last month that Onramp would be providing content with WisdomTree for advisors and that it was also “having discussions with WisdomTree now to build out some model portfolios for financial advisors with some really cool allocations with Bitcoin and Ether,” the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum open-source blockchain.

“We are working closely with them to get this done within the next month or so,” he said. WisdomTree did not respond to a request for comment at that time.

The new +Crypto Model Portfolios are “intended to serve as a resource for advisors to consider as they guide their clients who may be looking to participate, based on risk tolerance and other diligence considerations, in this evolving segment of the market,” Will Peck, WisdomTree head of strategy and emerging technologies, said on Tuesday.

WisdomTree has provided a license to Onramp for displaying WisdomTree +Crypto Model Portfolios on the Onramp platform to be accessed by advisors at their own discretion, according to WisdomTree. But “WisdomTree does not have an arrangement with Gemini, which is an Onramp relationship,” the asset manager said.

Also at Consensus on Tuesday, Daniel Eyre, CEO of Blockchange, a digital turnkey asset management platform (DTAMP) for advisors, said clients are driving increased demand for crypto. “Clients are saying to advisors, ‘we’re interested in digital assets; we’re more interested in it than gold and tech stocks in some cases.’”

These tend to be younger investors who “understand the underlying value of the technology and they’re ready to move their assets between advisory firms or asset managers to get what they’re looking for,” Eyre said.

Pictured: Tyrone Ross. (Source: Onramp)