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Ric Edelman: This Asset Class Is 'the Best Investment Opportunity' Since the Internet

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Ric Edelman announced a new chapter in his career earlier this year, when he said he’ll step down from his role as chairman of financial education and client experience at Edelman Financial Engines by year-end to serve as a strategic advisor to the firm and remain on its board of directors.

Edelman’s main focus now is on his Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals, which he founded in 2018, as well as DACFP’s Certificate in Blockchain and Digital Assets program.

We caught up with Edelman Thursday to gauge which trends are top of mind for him, as well as how he spends his leisure time.

1. What market indicator, industry statistic, regulatory change or advisor trend are you watching most closely right now and why?

The adoption rate of digital assets. This new asset class is growing at an exponential rate and represents both the best investment opportunity since the invention of the internet and the best practice management opportunity for financial advisors since the invention of ETFs.

2. How has it been changing recently (2021) and how do you expect it to change (2022)?

The price of bitcoin has risen 40 million percent since inception in 2009, and many expect it to continue rising at an exponential rate for the next decade. Yet only 14% of advisors have recommended digital assets to their clients, although 26% say they plan to do so within the next year.

Adoption rates will also grow exponentially, and within two years, inclusion of digital assets within client portfolios will be ubiquitous.

3. What would you suggest advisors do now about it?

Most advisors know little to nothing about blockchain or digital assets. They don’t understand the technology, its application in global commerce, the investment opportunities available or how to adopt all this into their practice management.

Advisors must attain fluency in this topic — and that means they need to get their Certificate in Blockchain and Digital Assets via the course created for advisors by the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals (DACFP).

It’s an 11-module online self-study course they can complete in a weekend, and the sooner they do this, the sooner they can improve their practice and the advice they provide to their clients.

4. Who or what critical source of information do you track online to keep up with this trend?

There are dozens of daily resources. Most of them are free, and we provide a listing of them in the DACFP Yellow Pages.

5. Are you changing any of your work habits at this stage of the pandemic? 

I’m now working from home permanently, aside from travel to conferences and meetings. Efficiency and productivity have risen dramatically while improving the quality of life at home.

6. What’s your favorite hobby?

Creating and building companies is far more fun than sudoko, so that’s where I spend most of my time. But I enjoy chess, billiards, poker and other games, too — and my wife Jean and I love to travel and to entertain as well.

7. What are your charitable interests?

My wife and I are involved in many philanthropic activities. They include:

  • The Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. We’re building a world-class museum and visitor center that is the only site in the world that allows schoolchildren to dig for fossils — and take home whatever they find. Construction is underway; the grand opening will be in May 2023. It’s a $73 million project.
  • The Ric Edelman College of Communication and Creative Arts. We’ve provided a $10 million endowment for scholarships, and I’m serving as a distinguished lecturer for both the CCCA and the College of Business, teaching students in such topics as entrepreneurship, leadership, investment management, personal finance, crypto, and career development.
  • The Edelman Planetarium at Rowan University. The facility reveals the stars to thousands of schoolchildren every year, getting them excited about science to help them consider a STEM career.
  • Jean Edelman Riding Arena at the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program. The organization serves children with disabilities, veterans with PTSD and physical limitations and others.
  • We’re active in the fight against the world’s No. 1 health care crisis. I’m a member of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative, and my wife and I are engaged with several other major organizations leading the cause, including USAgainstAlzheimer’s and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation.
  • Funding Our Future Coalition. I created this nonprofit, now the largest coalition ever formed on retirement security, in conjunction with the Bipartisan Policy Center. My proposal, RISE, would eliminate poverty in retirement for all future generations, and is getting increased attention on Capitol Hill.

8. What book are you reading now and why?

  • “Remember: The Science of Memory and The Art of Forgetting,” as it’s relevant to our work on Alzheimer’s disease.
  • “Cyber Republic: Reinventing Democracy in the Age of Intelligent Machines.” Technology is changing every aspect of life on our planet. The more we understand this, the more we can serve others.
  • “Metabolical: The Lure and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition and Modern Medicine.” Wealth and health are closely linked; we must be knowledgeable about both subjects.
  • “Fewer, Richer, Greener: Prospects for Humanity in an Age of Abundance.” It furthers my knowledge of exponential technologies and how they are reshaping life on our planet.
  • “Archives of the Universe: A Treasury of Astronomy’s Historic Works of Discovery.” I have a great interest in the history of astronomy, the world’s oldest science.
  • “The Autobiography and Andrew Carnegie” and his essay, “The Gospel of Wealth.” The world’s richest man led the way to a philanthropic life.
  • “Man’s Search for Meaning.” It’s relevance is self-evident.

9. Do you have any special activity you’re focused on as we near year-end?

My new radio show premieres on January 1, so we’re excited to launch with the New Year!

10. Is there any other piece of advice or insights you’d like to share?

Most advisors have been in the field for decades. They’re operating very successful practices, managing lots of AUM, and clients are happy. It’s easy to become complacent.

But it’s important for advisors to understand that what got them to this point won’t be enough to help them retain their current clients, generate competitive returns for their portfolios, or attract new clients. Advisors need to become knowledgeable about blockchain and digital assets, and DACFP is the sole organization created to help them.