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Carson Group headquarters in Omaha, Neb.

Carson Group Greenlights Just Four Spot Bitcoin ETFs

The funds approved by the $30 billion RIA platform include those from Fidelity, BlackRock, Bitwise and Franklin Templeton.

(Bloomberg) -- Gatekeepers to the assets overseen by financial advisers — the holy grail in eyes of fund issuers — are being especially choosy when it comes to the pack of freshly launched US-listed spot Bitcoin ETFs. 

Carson Group, an Omaha, Nebraska-based registered investment advisory which has $30 billion on its platform, said it has approved just four of the 10 new Bitcoin ETFs. That list includes BlackRock’s $6.6 billion iShares Bitcoin Trust (ticker IBIT) and the $4.8 billion Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund (FBTC) — the two products receiving the most investor inflows so far — as well as smaller offerings from Bitwise and Franklin Templeton.

Carson prioritized the “significant asset growth” and trading volume in selecting IBIT and FBTC, according to Grant Engelbart, the firm’s vice president and investment strategist. Meanwhile, the $1.2 billion Bitwise Bitcoin ETF and the $100 million Franklin Bitcoin ETF — which will charge eventual fees of 0.2% and 0.19%, respectively — are among the least-expensive offerings in the space.

“We feel it is important to offer these products as a result from two of the largest asset managers in the industry,” Engelbart said of BlackRock and Fidelity’s ETFs. “Bitwise and Franklin Templeton have committed to being the lowest-cost providers in the space, and have also seen large inflows and trading volumes. Both firms also have established in-house digital asset research teams and expertise that we feel are beneficial to the continuing growth and management of the products, as well as advisor research and education.”

Access to platforms that cater to financial advisors and their retail clients is of huge consequence to the firms behind the Bitcoin ETFs, who are eager to tap into a new audience. Some platforms, such as Fidelity and Charles Schwab, already have the funds available for RIAs to trade for their clients, while LPL Financial is taking a wait-and-see approach. On the other end of the spectrum, Vanguard has no plans to allow the funds to be traded through its brokerage. 

Platform approvals can be a “huge catalyst” for fund growth, given that financial advisers oversee trillions of dollars, according to Bitwise’s Hunter Horsley. 

“Over half of US wealth is part of a platform and can only use a product once it’s approved,”  said Horsley, chief executive of Bitwise. “We frequently hear ‘I want access to bitcoin but our platform hasn’t approved anything yet.’ The platforms are busy but now that there are ETFs and a few over a billion AUM, they’re doing the work.”

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