Advisors Limiting Access to Spot Bitcoin ETFs

Mega RIAs join brokerage platforms in a cautious approach to crypto as Carson permits 4 spot bitcoin funds.

Jeff_Benjamin
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Wealth Management Editor
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Reviewed by: etf.com Staff
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Edited by: Ron Day

Carson Group’s decision to limit financial advisor and investor access to four of the 10 new spot bitcoin ETFs is described by one of the biggest cryptocurrency proponents as a responsible strategy in light of the funds' brief track record and inherent risks.

“This is a common approach among RIAs, and a smart one,” said Ric Edelman, founder of the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals.

Carson Group, a $30 billion mega registered investment advisory firm based in Omaha, Nebraska, narrowed the list of spot bitcoin ETFs for use by the firm’s advisors by weighing asset growth, trading volume and fees.

Those four funds are the $6.5 billion iShares Bitcoin Trust ETF (IBIT); the $4.76 billion Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin ETF (FBTC); the $1.18 billion Bitwise Bitcoin ETF (BITB), and the $100.6 million Franklin Bitcoin ETF (EZBC).

Grant Engelbart, vice president and investment strategist at Carson Group, said in an interview the narrowed list was approved by an “internal due diligence committee,” and that the decision was based on “a variety of metrics such as institutional adoption, ETF specific characteristics such as assets, expenses, trading characteristics, and firm history in the digital asset space.”

Mega RIAs Stay Cautious on Crypto

Merit Financial Advisors, an Alpharetta, Georgia-based RIA managing $10 billion, is also taking a cautious approach to the new spot bitcoin ETFs.

Merit chief investment officer Brian Andrew said they are following the lead of LPL, the nation’s largest independent broker-dealer.

"We are limiting purchases to the same products available on LPL,” Andrew said. “They currently are only allowing Grayscale funds. We are in the process of building a policy that will open up the number of funds available based on their volume, ability to track the spot rate and cost.”

In the immediate wake of the Jan. 11 launch of the spot bitcoin ETFs a number of major brokerage platforms refused or restricted access, including Vanguard Group, Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp’s Merrill Lynch, State Street Corp., UBS Group AG and Edward Jones.

Edelman said there are multiple reasons to limit access to the list of spot bitcoin ETFs that all launched on the same day last month.

“It’s more manageable for the practice and shows clients that you’re being both thoughtful and helpful,” he said. “Your due diligence process has done the work for them; improving your value-add to clients. No RIA makes every S&P 500 index fund available for use and there’s no reason to let advisors use all of the spot bitcoin ETFs, either.”

Jeff Benjamin is the wealth management editor at etf.com, responsible for coverage related to the financial planning industry. This includes writing, hosting podcasts, webinars, video interviews and presenting at in-person events.


Jeff is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years’ experience covering the financial markets. He has won more than two dozen national and regional awards for his reporting. He most recently worked as a senior columnist at InvestmentNews where he wrote about investment products and strategies, as well as the broader financial planning industry. Prior to that, Jeff worked as an analyst at Cerulli Associates where he researched and wrote reports on the alternative investments industry. Jeff also worked as a money management reporter at Dow Jones Newswires, where he covered the mutual fund industry.


Based in North Carolina, Jeff is a former Marine and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Central Michigan University.