Wells Fargo, Merrill to offer bitcoin ETFs to wealth management clients: Bloomberg

Clear investor demand for BTC funds has convinced some firms to make them available to clients, Edelman Financial Engines founder says

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Kristi Blokhin/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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Wells Fargo and Bank of America’s Merrill have begun offering bitcoin ETFs to some of their wealth management clients. 

Bloomberg first reported the news, citing unnamed sources. 

“Spot bitcoin ETFs are available for unsolicited purchases through an advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors or through our online WellsTrade platform,” a Wells Fargo spokesperson said.

Spokespeople for Bank of America’s Merrill arm didn’t immediately return requests for comment on the report. 

Brokerage giants Fidelity and Charles Schwab started giving investors access to bitcoin ETFs after their launch on Jan. 11. 

Vanguard, meanwhile, has called the investment case for cryptocurrencies “weak,” and users of its brokerage platform were blocked from buying and selling the funds.   

Read more: As spot bitcoin ETF volumes soar, Vanguard is blocking such trades

“Unlike stocks and bonds, most crypto assets lack intrinsic economic value and generate no cash flows,” a Vanguard spokesperson previously told Blockworks. “And cryptocurrencies’ high volatility runs counter to our goal of helping investors generate positive real returns over the long term.”

Ric Edelman, founder of Edelman financial services, has said he expects bitcoin ETFs to ultimately see widespread availability from most registered investment advisers (RIAs) and brokerage firms.

But wirehouses — such as Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo — are likely to be slower to offer such funds, he noted last month.

“Big firms are engaging, but their bureaucracies move slowly,” Edelman said Thursday. “Investment committees, and compliance and risk management officers, aren’t going to capitulate to pressure from the sales and marketing teams.”

On Wednesday, CoinDesk reported that Morgan Stanley was looking into offering bitcoin ETFs to some customers. A spokesperson for Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the report. 

In January, a separate section of Wells Fargo — Wells Fargo Advisors — began offering bitcoin ETFs to customers. However, clients specifically had to seek out such products, according to a report from Investment News. 

Bitcoin ETFs have put up record numbers this week, notching new highs for both trade volume and net inflows as bitcoin hovers around $60,000.

Read more: Bitcoin ETF inflows hit new peak Wednesday amid BTC price climb

The clear investor demand for these products has convinced some firms they need to offer them to their clients, Edelman noted. 

“The demand, along with rapidly rising prices, are spurring firms to accelerate their activities,” he told Blockworks. “Every day they don’t let their advisers allocate, they get complaints from both reps and clients, which serves nobody’s best interests.”

Updated Feb. 29, 2024 at 2:05 pm ET: Added comment from Wells Fargo.


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