Accountants, attorneys and financial professionals seeking to advise digital currency consumers and companies can now pursue professional accreditation from the Digital Currency Council (DCC).
The New York-based professional services company officially launched today with the backing of Bitcoin Opportunity Corp, the investment vehicle led by SecondMarket chairman Barry Silbert, to provide training, support and education to members of these services sectors.
Speaking to CoinDesk, the DCC's CEO and founder David Berger asserted that there is a real need for his organisation given the fact that these professionals are becoming the first place consumers turn to when considering digital currency investments.
Suggesting that there is a broad lack of knowledge about the subject among its target demographics, Berger told CoinDesk:
"We believe professionals should be held to a higher standard than the average person, because they're advising others for a fee. If you or I want to make an investment in bitcoin, that's our prerogative. But, if someone is going to advise us on it, we're putting our faith in them, so we're going to be held to a higher standard."
The former Americas CEO of business support service Campden Wealth indicated that the DCC aims to partner with the major professional organisations serving these industries, and that outreach to these entities has already begun.
Addressing a need
Berger told CoinDesk that the DCC is the product of his 18 months working with high-net-worth investors and family offices. During this time, Berger said, he met with hundreds of wealth management professionals who weren't able to answer even basic questions about digital currency.
"For the most part, I was met with shoulder shrugs and people looking at me with a blank stare, and I realized if traditional advisors aren't prepared to answer questions from their clients, then their clients will miss out on the opportunity or [not be appraised of] the risks."
As such, Berger indicated that the DCC aims to become the bitcoin industry's version of organisations like the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association, a global group that offers accreditations for alternative investment professionals, and the CFA Institute, which develops ethical standards for investment professionals.
DCC curriculum topics will cover the characteristics of major digital currencies, secure storage options for consumers and past statements from major US regulatory bodies, among others
To support its efforts, the DCC will offer four tiers of membership plans, from its free basic 'Explorer' package to its more extensive 'Innovator' product, which costs $99 per month.
While anyone can join the group, DCC certified professionals, Berger said, will need to complete an exam given by the organisation and be willing to respond to inquiries received by the group itself.
Those who wish to sit for the exam need to become 'Leader' members, a package that costs $49 as part of a limited-time offer. DCC Leader members will be able to send messages to other DCC members, host DCC events, gain access to continuing online education, receive proprietary research and receive referrals from new clients.
Leader members will, in turn, need to provide a link to their professional profiles online to prove that they are currently operating in the DCC's areas of specialty.
Building a community
Of course, Berger acknowledged that the DCC will face a challenge in building its membership base, though he indicated he expects some interest from early adopters.
Likewise, Silbert told CoinDesk that he believes financial professionals will, in turn, have an increasingly compelling incentive to engage the DCC, citing this as a key reason behind his firm's investment in the organisation.
"There's certainly a lack of educational material and advisors, whether its wealth advisors or accountants, the last thing they want to do is sound dumb in front of their clients, or worse, send their clients to another professional."
Berger expects that interest in digital currencies will increase over time, and that this will strengthen the DCC and its appeal.
"The more bitcoin is integrated into our everyday lives the more there will be a need for accountants, lawyers, financial advisors and others who have the experience necessary to advise us on it," Berger concluded.
Disclaimer: This article should not be viewed as an endorsement of any of the companies mentioned. Please do your own extensive research before considering investing any funds in these products.
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