Vanguard’s New CEO Affirms No Plans to Launch Bitcoin ETF Despite Industry Interest

Salim Ramji, the newly appointed CEO of Vanguard, has confirmed that the company will not reverse its decision to refrain from launching a spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).

In a recent interview with Barron’s, Ramji, who previously headed BlackRock’s global ETF business, said Vanguard is committed to consistency, adding that cryptocurrency-related investment products do not align with the firm’s investment philosophy.

Ramji expressed his support for Vanguard’s Chief Investment Officer, Greg Davis, and his explanation for the decision to avoid a Bitcoin ETF, noting that it is entirely consistent with Vanguard’s investment philosophy and represents a logical and consistent point of view.

Ramji Oversaw Launch of BlackRock’s ETF

Earlier this year, Ramji oversaw the launch of BlackRock’s spot Bitcoin ETF, the iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT), which has accumulated $18 billion in assets under management.

While Ramji has shown a personal interest in cryptocurrencies, his move to Vanguard prompted speculation about potential changes he might introduce at the firm.

In contrast to Vanguard’s approach, other investment management companies such as Fidelity and nine additional firms launched spot Bitcoin funds, collectively attracting over $12 billion in net inflows.

Vanguard, with its substantial $8.6 trillion in assets under management (AUM), opted for a different stance, viewing cryptocurrencies as speculative investments and considering the asset class to be in its early stages of development.

Although Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart does not believe that Ramji will introduce a Vanguard spot Bitcoin ETF, he suggests that Ramji might reconsider the company’s position regarding allowing clients to purchase other spot Bitcoin ETFs on Vanguard’s brokerage platform.

In March, Vanguard’s outgoing CEO, Tim Buckley, said that a Bitcoin ETF is not suitable for long-term retirement portfolios, characterizing it as a speculative asset. 

Buckley’s comments came after customers expressed dissatisfaction when Vanguard blocked access to spot Bitcoin ETFs following their launch by rival firms.

In fact, some Vanguard clients even threatened to close their accounts in response.

Vanguard Has Indirect Exposure to Bitcoin

It is worth noting that Vanguard indirectly holds exposure to Bitcoin through its stake in MicroStrategy, where it stands as the second-largest institutional shareholder.

While Vanguard remains steadfast in its decision to avoid a Bitcoin ETF, rival investment firms are experiencing positive flows as Bitcoin reclaimed the $66,000 mark with a 7% surge on May 16.

Preliminary data from Farside Investors indicates that net inflows for May 15 across all U.S. spot Bitcoin ETFs exceeded $300 million, with the exception of BlackRock’s IBIT, for which results were yet to be reported.

As reported, Morgan Stanley, one of the leading financial institutions, is exploring the possibility of expanding its sales of Bitcoin ETFs by allowing its approximately 15,000 brokers to actively recommend these products to customers.

Currently, Morgan Stanley offers Bitcoin ETFs on an unsolicited basis, meaning that customers must approach their advisors independently to express interest in investing.

LPL Financial, the largest independent brokerage with over 22,000 brokers, announced plans in February to evaluate which Bitcoin funds it could offer to customers.

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