RIA Digital Assets Council launches certificate in blockchain, Bitcoin

On Friday, the RIA Digital Assets Council launched a certificate program that allows registered investment advisers to add “blockchain and digital asset expert” to their list of credentials. 

By completing its 10 online learning modules, advisers enrolled in the course will be qualified as experts in blockchain, Bitcoin and digital assets, RIADAC founder Ric Edelman said. The program rolls out as cryptocurrency nears an adviser tipping point, with some still weighing the risk and reward of crypto before adding the asset class to clients’ portfolios. 

About 10% of financial advisers currently recommend cryptocurrency holdings to at least some clients, according to the recent white paper produced by Grayscale Investments in partnership with InvestmentNews Research. However, within five years, 44% of advisers expect to be working with cryptocurrencies, according to the study. 

Seventy-seven percent of advisers not currently working with cryptocurrency said greater access to information about the market could change their mind, according to the study. 

That backdrop presents an “urgent need for more education and understanding,” according to the Grayscale white paper. “When it comes to learning about investment opportunities, while it’s possible to be late to the game, it’s certainly never too early to start.”

Each module in RIADAC’s program ends with a 12-question quiz on which advisers have to score 70% or better to advance to the next module, similar to any online course taken in school.

“Each module is roughly an hour, give or take, and you could binge through it and complete the entire program in a weekend,” Edelman said. “It’s self-paced and advisers will receive the certificate along with 13 CPE credits.”

Between the modules, quizzes and additional links scattered around the program for more educational content, the course takes about 12 to 13 hours to complete, he said. 

The courses are taught by a group of 11 faculty members, including Edelman and Scott Stornetta, chief scientist at Yugen Partners, who’s widely considered the co-inventor of blockchain technology, Edelman said.

The module’s topics include an introduction to the new asset class, blockchain as a distributed ledger technology, practice management, investment opportunities, portfolio construction, regulation and taxes, as well as compliance and risk considerations. 

The full program costs $549 and about 500 advisers have registered in the U.S. and internationally, including advisers in Australia, South Korea, England and Germany, Edelman said. 

RIADAC has also become the official education partner for the Financial Planning Association on the subject of blockchain and digital assets. 

“They’re offering a discount to their members enrolling in the course,” Edelman said. “We have made group discounts available to a number of other organizations in the financial services industry. So advisers should talk to their firms, their broker-dealers, their custodians to see if discounts are available to them for taking the course.”

Up next, RIADAC will be producing a significant amount of educational content around the latest tokenization craze, NFTs or non-fungible tokens, as Edelman believes that’s the “next big thing that will ultimately dwarf Bitcoin.”

NFTs are the next iteration in the development of blockchain technology, he said, although still very new and in the early stages. 

“Tokenization will have a massive impact on financial advisers and their portfolio development for clients,” Edelman said. “Over the next three to five years, we will see the tokenization of virtually everything and that will redefine the nature of diversification for client portfolios.”

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