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

Pictet Group, a Swiss asset manager, warns against investing in crypto amid the recent turmoil in the industry.

“Cryptocurrency is going to be an asset class that we can’t ignore, but today I don’t think there is room for private bankers and private bank portfolios,” Tee Fong Seng, chief executive of the Geneva-based firm’s Asia wealth management division. This is stated at the panel Bloomberg Asia Wealth Summit in Singapore on Thursday.

This year, the crypto industry has experienced a crash amid falling valuations, the bankruptcy of hedge fund Three Arrows Capital and other companies, and numerous attacks by hackers. Between the November peak of bitcoin and the end of June, $2 trillion was struck from the total market value of crypto assets.

Banking giants have shunned crypto for years — JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon famously called bitcoin a “scam” in 2017.

But with the growth of assets over the past three years, some have begun to change their position. More recently, Julius Baer Group said it is working on offering digital asset services to its wealthy clients, and Fidelity Investments is gearing up to launch a product that will allow bitcoin investment in workplace retirement accounts. Citigroup Inc and Morgan Stanley have also begun helping wealthy clients place bets on cryptocurrencies.

However, trading tokens has remained a difficult task for many.

“If you look at the volatility over the past two years, you can make a lot of money, you can lose a lot of money,” Tee said, adding that Pictet has a team monitoring the market. “The question is, when do we include customers in the picture?”

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