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Wealth managers still in crypto ‘education mode,’ Fidelity says

LONDON — Most wealth managers and financial advisors are still in “education mode” on cryptocurrencies but demand for the emerging asset class among larger investors has grown, the boss of Fidelity Investments’ institutional arm said on Tuesday.

While some advisors and investment firms managing the fortunes of wealthy people have grown “sophisticated” and “comfortable” with cryptocurrencies, most are still getting to grips with the technology, Mike Durbin said.

“They know what they are doing, and more importantly their end investor base also knows what they are doing—but the vast majority are still in the education mode,” he added in an interview at Reuters Digital Assets Week.

Mr. Durbin’s comments give a snapshot of interest in cryptocurrencies at Boston-based Fidelity, whose $9.8 trillion in customer assets as of Dec. 31 make it one of the world’s biggest investment managers, amid heightened interest in digital assets.

Bitcoin powered to an all-time high of nearly $62,000 this month, the latest in a meteoric rise fueled by bigger US investors.

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency has soared eight-fold in the last year, sparking wider interest in digital assets from investors seeking yield in a world of ultra-low interest rates.

Mainstream companies and financial firms from Tesla Inc. to Bank of New York Mellon Corp. have embraced the emerging asset, sparking predictions that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will become a regular part of investment portfolios.

In 2018, Fidelity became one of the first mainstream investment firms to embrace cryptocurrencies, setting up a unit that offers cryptocurrency custody and other services for financial firms and corporations.

Interest in bitcoin and other digital assets would likely grow as “alternative investments”—which often includes real estate, private equity and hedge funds—increase in popularity, Mr. Durbin said.

“I think that the growth rate of bitcoin or digital assets will follow in that wake of broader alternative investments.

“There’s still work to be done there to help advisors understand portfolio construction with these kinds of expressions.” — Tom Wilson and Anna Irrera/Reuters

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