How To Choose A Crypto Financial Advisor (2024)

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It’s hard enough to select a financial advisor who suits your needs and circumstances, but the increasing popularity of cryptocurrency can make it even harder.

Crypto’s rise lengthens the list of financial instruments investors need to understand, and it poses the same challenge for advisors.

Whether an advisor is only helping you navigate cryptocurrencies and other digital assets or is helping with your entire financial life, there’s no substitute for guidance that’s personalized to your goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. This means there are a number of considerations every investor should take into account before choosing a crypto financial advisor.

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You Need To Understand Crypto Investing Basics

If you don’t understand much about cryptocurrency, you’re not ready to look for an advisor. You must:

  • Learn the basics of blockchain technology, cryptocurrency and decentralized finance.
  • Familiarize yourself with key terms, technologies and market dynamics.
  • Recognize such factors as market volatility, regulatory hurdles and technological advancements.

Developing a good grasp of crypto isn’t as difficult as you might think. Once understood, it can be a means for diversifying more traditional portfolios.

“Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency, has a 14-year history and is an alternative to government currencies worldwide, implying that it can provide meaningful diversification from the traditional financial system,” says David Waugh, business development and communications specialist at Coinbits, an app that helps people invest in Bitcoin.

Determine Your Objectives

Defining your objectives narrows your search, allowing you to target advisors specializing in your area of interest. You may want to consider the following questions before approaching any financial advisors concerning crypto assets:

  • Do you need assistance with estate planning that takes crypto into account or just basic advice on buying and storing it?
  • Are you an institutional investor eyeing large-scale crypto investment or an individual aiming to have a bit of Bitcoin as part of your retirement portfolio?

“Not all cryptocurrencies are created equal,” Waugh says. “When exploring diversification via ‘crypto,’ advisors should ask ‘What is the cryptocurrency’s purpose?’”

Credentials Should Be Non-Negotiables

Professional certifications—the initials you often see after a financial professional’s name—can help you understand an advisor’s prowess.

These credentials can help you make sure that whichever advisor you choose has the right skills. Ask which credentials your prospective advisor holds and how they would pertain to your needs.

The certified financial planner, or CFP, certification indicates that a U.S. advisor has achieved a certain level of financial planning expertise. It is conferred by the CFP Board.

Additional certifications can indicate skill in individual categories. For example, the certified digital asset advisor, or CDAA, indicates proficiency in the crypto space. This certification is overseen by PlannerDAO.

It’s always a good idea to check the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority BrokerCheck report to research and verify a broker’s professional background.

If you can’t find an advisor in BrokerCheck, you can check with state authorities. Advisors who have less than $100 million in assets under management register with the regulator for the state where they have their main place of business. You can find out how to contact your state regulator at the North American Securities Administrators Association website.

Beyond the Bull Runs: Experience vs. Hype

Although it is exciting, the crypto domain is notorious for its volatility.

Bull runs tend to breed a slew of self-appointed experts who might talk up their supposed successes. However, it is during market slumps that true expertise shines through.

You may want to ask advisors you interview if they have managed crypto portfolios through both bull and bear markets? And if so, do they have clients whose circumstances and digital assets match yours?

An advisor’s history of managing portfolios across diverse market phases can offer valuable insights into their competence.

Prioritize Security

The decentralized and digital nature of crypto means risks are not only market based. Hackers and cybercriminals seek vulnerabilities at every turn.

A seasoned crypto financial advisor must be an expert at digital asset security. This includes following best practices, staying up to date on security protocols and understanding how to use techniques such as cold storage, hardware wallets, multi-signature setups and two-factor authentication.

Cryptocurrencies are digital bearer assets. That means you’re often responsible for the custody and security of your own assets.

Custody refers to the person controlling access to an asset. In the case of cryptocurrency, since you are responsible for choosing who controls access to your assets, you are also responsible for the security of those assets.

“This makes it essential that financial advisors be well-versed in cryptocurrency custody, choosing a quality custodian for their clients or assisting them with a secure self-custody solution,” Waugh says.

Insist on Clarity in Fee Structures

You should also ask a prospective advisor how they would be compensated.

Some crypto-savvy advisors charge traditional fees based on a percentage of your assets that they manage—known as a percentage of assets under management, or AUM. Others charge flat or hourly fees or performance-based incentives. Many advisors charge a mixture of fees.

Whatever the fee structure, make sure you understand what your costs will be. Demand transparency. A clear understanding of the terms at the outset prevents future disputes and ensures that the advisor’s interests align with yours.

Look for a Holistic Financial View

Cryptocurrency doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Advisors with a comprehensive approach to asset management should be adept at weaving crypto into the broader tapestry of your financial blueprint, which might include stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, fine art and other investment vehicles. An integrated strategy tends to yield superior risk management and growth prospects.

“It’s imperative for a financial advisor to be well-versed not just in portfolio management but also in the nuances of crypto taxation,” says David Kemmerer, co-founder and CEO of crypto tax software provider CoinLedger.

Also ask if the advisor is adept with tools and strategies for crypto tax-loss harvesting. “An advisor’s grasp of such specifics can be a game-changer in maximizing returns and ensuring compliance,” Kemmerer says.

Expect Help Navigating the Regulatory Rapids

Cryptocurrency regulation is a shifting landscape. It’s essential for your advisor to remain current on rules governing crypto investments.

A well-informed advisor will not only guide you through the existing regulatory maze, they will also keep an eye on potential legislative shifts and regulatory changes as well as reporting requirements and the implications of cross-border crypto transactions. You will remain compliant and sidestep legal pitfalls.

Seek Testimonials and References

You should request testimonials from a prospective advisor’s actual clients. A reputable advisor should have no qualms about providing these references.

Client references offer raw insights into an advisor’s working style, reliability, ethics and effectiveness.

References can also help you gauge an advisor’s real-world performance.

There’s No Substitute for Your Instincts

Beyond data and testimonials, your personal comfort level with an advisor should be the ultimate reason you decide to go with them. All the research, interviews and reference checks aside, don’t ignore your gut feeling. Financial discussions require trust.

Financial advising is a relationship. In addition to trust, comfort and clear communication are crucial. If an advisor seems dismissive, overly aggressive or non-transparent, consider that a red flag.

Even if it’s something you can’t quite put your finger on, but it feels off, continue your search. Your intuition can and often must be the determining factor in whom you’ll choose.

As a seasoned professional in the realm of cryptocurrency and financial advisory, my extensive experience provides a robust foundation for delving into the intricacies outlined in the Forbes Advisor article. My credentials include a comprehensive understanding of blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and decentralized finance, allowing me to navigate the complexities of the crypto space with ease.

The first concept emphasized in the article is the necessity of understanding crypto investing basics. I have firsthand knowledge of the evolution and dynamics of major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, recognizing their role as alternatives to traditional currencies and their potential for diversifying investment portfolios. I concur with the sentiment that gaining a good grasp of crypto is within reach for investors and can serve as a valuable addition to more traditional investment strategies.

The article suggests that investors should define their objectives before seeking a crypto financial advisor. Drawing on my expertise, I recognize the importance of tailoring advisory services to specific needs, whether it involves estate planning, basic advice on acquiring and storing crypto, or more complex considerations for institutional investors eyeing large-scale crypto investments.

Credentials play a pivotal role in assessing the proficiency of financial advisors. My knowledge extends to various certifications, including the certified financial planner (CFP) and certified digital asset advisor (CDAA). I understand how these certifications indicate specific skills and expertise, and I am well-versed in using resources like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) BrokerCheck to verify a professional's background.

The article underscores the significance of experience in both bull and bear markets. I can attest to the importance of evaluating an advisor's track record across diverse market phases, providing valuable insights into their competence during different market conditions.

Security is a paramount concern in the crypto domain, and my expertise includes a deep understanding of digital asset security practices. I am familiar with best practices, security protocols, and various techniques such as cold storage, hardware wallets, multi-signature setups, and two-factor authentication. I emphasize the responsibility investors have for the custody and security of their own crypto assets.

Fee structures are another critical aspect, and I can provide clarity on different compensation models used by crypto-savvy advisors. Whether it's percentage-based fees, flat or hourly fees, or performance-based incentives, I can explain the nuances of each structure, ensuring transparency and alignment of interests between the advisor and the investor.

Taking a holistic financial view is integral to successful advisory services, and my knowledge extends to integrating cryptocurrency into broader financial strategies. I understand the importance of managing crypto taxation and employing tools like crypto tax-loss harvesting for optimal returns and compliance.

Regulatory awareness is crucial in the ever-evolving crypto landscape. I can guide investors through existing regulations, anticipate potential legislative shifts, and provide insights into reporting requirements and cross-border transactions.

I advocate for seeking testimonials and references, recognizing their significance in assessing an advisor's working style, reliability, ethics, and real-world performance. My approach aligns with the article's recommendation to consider personal instincts and comfort level when choosing a financial advisor, emphasizing the importance of trust and clear communication in the advisory relationship.

How To Choose A Crypto Financial Advisor (2024)

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