Crypto has no place in private banking right now, says wealth manager

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Pictet Group, the Swiss wealth manager, is cautioning against crypto investments amid the recent industry turmoil.

“Crypto will be an asset class that we cannot ignore, but today I don’t think there is a place for private bankers and for private bank portfolios,” Tee Fong Seng, chief executive officer at the Geneva-based firm’s Asia wealth management arm, said on a panel at the Bloomberg Asia Wealth Summit in Singapore on Thursday.

The crypto industry has seen a meltdown this year amid crashing valuations, the failure of hedge fund Three Arrows Capital and other companies, and numerous attacks by hackers. Between Bitcoin’s November peak and late June, $2 trillion was wiped from the combined market value of crypto assets.

Banking giants shunned crypto for years – JPMorgan Chase & Co chief executive officer Jamie Dimon famously called Bitcoin a “fraud” in 2017.

But with the asset’s surge in the past three years, some started changing their stance. Most recently, Julius Baer Group said it is working on offering services in digital assets to its wealthy clients, while Fidelity Investments is preparing to launch a product that will allow Bitcoin investments in workplace retirement accounts. Citigroup Inc and Morgan Stanley have also begun helping rich clients bet on crypto.

Still, trading tokens remained challenging for many.

“If you look at the volatility for the last two years, you can make a lot of money, you can lose a lot of money,” Tee said, while adding that Pictet has a team monitoring the market. “The question is, when do we bring the clients into the picture?”


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