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March 3, 2024
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What financial advisers are saying about the new bitcoin ETFs


Late last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission somewhat begrudgingly approved a spot bitcoin ETFs. If you’re not up on your finance acronyms, that stands for exchange traded fund — you can think of it as a very easy way to invest in bitcoin from your brokerage account, no blockchain required. A “spot” fund invests in the asset directly, as opposed to making bets on futures contracts.

Whenever I write about bitcoin, I usually mention the price — about $42,000 right now for one — and then say something like “please consult your financial adviser” right afterward.

So in light of the news of this new route for bitcoin investment, I consulted with some financial advisers about what they’re telling their clients.

I asked certified financial planner Paul Brahim how frequently his clients ask about bitcoin.

“Yeah, it’s easier to ask if there are any clients who haven’t asked about bitcoin, right?” he said. “It’s been an ongoing dialogue since bitcoin emerged, how many years ago?”

Brahim is a managing director at Wealth Enhancement Group. Before the spot ETFs, Brahim could kind of brush off bitcoin. He would tell clients it’s risky and unregulated, and if you lose the keys to your crypto wallet, you’ve just lost all your money.

Now he will tell clients something like, “If you want some bitcoin in your portfolio, that’s fine, let’s just make sure it’s an amount of money more appropriate for roulette than retirement.”

“Let’s put this in the casino capital category as opposed to core,” he said.

Matt Hougan at Bitwise Asset Management said he’s been getting lots of calls from financial advisers about the spot bitcoin ETF his firm launched last week. But he doesn’t expect to win over the crypto-skeptical overnight.

“They’re gonna study it for months and months and months before they tiptoe into the waters,” he said.

Hougan said he expects adviser attitudes toward bitcoin to follow a similar trajectory to when gold first got an ETF in 2003.

“We called people who invested in gold ‘goldbugs.’ We talked about tin foil hats. They gathered in dusty convention halls off the Strip in Las Vegas to talk about this barbarous relic,” he said. “But the ETF moved that mainstream.”

Hougan said bitcoin ETFs aren’t for everybody. That may include many ESG investors — people who want to deploy capital with environmental, social and governance goals in mind.

“We’re in the Boulder, Colorado, area, so of course almost everybody is ESG investment interested,” said Dan Yerger, president of MY Wealth Planners. “That is actually a big hindrance for it.”

As of 2022, over 50% of bitcoin mining was powered by coal and gas.

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