Morgan Stanley Evaluating Spot Bitcoin ETFs for Its Giant Brokerage Platform: Sources

Since spot bitcoin ETFs went live in January, chatter has increased about the imminent arrival of the big registered investment advisor (RIA) networks and broker-dealer platforms.

AccessTimeIconFeb 28, 2024 at 7:25 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 10:21 p.m. UTC
  • Morgan Stanley is deciding whether to offer spot bitcoin ETFs to customers of its large brokerage platform.
  • The arrival of broker-dealers like Morgan Stanley as well as large registered investment advisor (RIA) networks could bring more investment into the new products.

Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley is in the midst of performing due diligence to add spot bitcoin ETF products to its brokerage platform, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

One of the people said Morgan Stanley, which is among the largest U.S. broker-dealer platforms, has been evaluating offering spot bitcoin ETFs to clients since the Securities and Exchange Commission approved their introduction in the U.S. in January.

Although billions of dollars have already been invested in these products, the investment floodgates might not open until the bitcoin ETFs are offered by big registered investment advisor (RIA) networks and broker-dealers platforms such as those attached to firms like Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and others.

There are 10 spot bitcoin ETFs now trading in the U.S. The ones with the most assets are Grayscale's GBTC, BlackRock's IBIT and Fidelity's FBTC. It’s not clear which ones Morgan Stanley is looking to offer to its clients.

Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Morgan Stanley, a leader in the alternative investments and private market space with over $150 billion in assets under management, was the first major U.S. bank to offer its wealthy clients access to bitcoin funds in 2021. The bank confirmed during its first-quarter earnings call in April 2021 that it was offering its wealth management clients exposure to bitcoin via a pair of external crypto funds.

The wealth management firm’s former CFO, Jonathan Pruzan, said at the time that the bank was allowing qualified investors to gain access to two passive funds. It is understood that these funds were offered by Galaxy Digital and NYDIG.

“As we see more interest, we’ll work with regulators to provide services we think are appropriate,” Pruzan said three years ago.

Edited by Nick Baker.


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Ian Allison

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