Class Is In Session: Why A New Digital Assets Course Taps A Need

Tom Burroughes Group Editor August 24, 2023

Class Is In Session: Why A New Digital Assets Course Taps A Need

A new course aimed at figures in the financial services industry in the US and worldwide plugs into a need for education and talent management for digital assets, the framers of the program tell this news service.

(Corrects to insert FINRA designation.)

In July last year, the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals, a US group, launched a new online self-study course focused on understanding non-fungible tokens. In July this year, the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority now lists the DACFP Certificate in Blockchain and Digital Assets (CBDA) as a professional designation.

The course came at a time when the NFT and wider digital assets market continues to be a wealth management sector talking point around the world. (See features and articles here, here and here.) According to Market Research Future, the NFT market is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate, from 2022 to 2030, of about 27.60 per cent, reaching around $342.54 billion by the end of 2032.

The course is taught by DACFP faculty member Jacki Roach, chief NFT specialist at MyCrypto Advisor. In the program, she explains why NFTs are the hot topic in crypto this year; what NFTs are, how they work, and how clients are investing in them; current and future uses of NFTs in business and society; and whether and how to include NFTs in clients' portfolios.

NFTs, unlike cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, which are identical units that can be exchanged and are therefore fungible, are not interchangeable. Each NFT is a unique token on a blockchain which stores information about provenance that can be traced back to the original issuer; therefore, it provides collectors with the opportunity of building a digital collection. NFTs are popular in applications which require unique digital items, including crypto art, digital collectibles, and online gaming, where some guarantee of authenticity and ownership history adds value.

DACFP's Certificate in Blockchain and Digital Assets®, the certificate program, has 13 self-paced modules, 18 CE credits, and a faculty. The new NFT course was the third of seven new self-study classes being added last year to DACFP's Education Center in 2022.

Family Wealth Report recently spoke to DACFP founder Ric Edelman about the program. First, FWR asked him why DACFP has launched its Certificate in Blockchain and Digital Assets?

“Digital assets represent the first new asset class in 175 years – the last one was the discovery of oil in the 1850s. Crypto will prove to be as transformative for the global economy as the internet – yet most financial advisors know little to nothing about it. So, we created the CBDA certification program to educate financial professionals about it,” Edelman said. He is a published author, including The Truth About Crypto: A Practical, Easy-to-Understand Guide to Bitcoin, Blockchain, NFTs, and Other Digital Assets.

What sort of wealth management professionals ought to consider taking this course, and why?

“Everyone in the wealth and asset management fields needs to be fluent in crypto – just as they are about every other asset class. It doesn’t matter whether you like bitcoin or ever plan to recommend it or invest in it. What matters is that you are familiar with it, so you can evaluate it in the context of your overall investment approach,” Edelman continued. “Tens of thousands of advisors hate annuities and never use them, for example, but they can nevertheless explain how annuities work – including fees and taxes – and advisors need to be able to do the same for digital assets. That’s how they’ll be able to be of greatest value to their clients.”

Interest across the wealth sector in understanding these new entities is growing. For example, in January this year, the CFA Institute issued a review of the development of digital finance from the point of view of investment practitioners. In academia – often with close links to business – courses proliferate. Stanford University’s Stanford’s Center for Blockchain Research, for example, examines the field of distributed ledger technology – the tech underpinning digital assets. The Corporate Finance Institute has a course focused on digital assets and cryptocurrencies. New York University has a course on digital assets. Beyond the US, institutions such as National Singapore University, Frankfurt University, Swiss Digital Assets Institute, Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, among others, have courses. 

The courses are also a reminder of a wider trend in institutions bringing out new courses aimed at the wealth sector. To see a list of such courses around the world, click here.

DACFP’s Edelman said wealth advisors have asked for his organization’s course.

“Advisors want the education but have had no independent, objective resource to obtain it, and firms want their advisors to be able to demonstrate that they’ve obtained that knowledge from a credible source that is not a product manufacturer,” he said. 

Large firms like what they see, Edelman said.

“Many companies, including Bitwise Asset Management, require their entire staff to complete the program. Others, including Invesco and Global X, strongly recommend the course and pay the enrollment fees for their teams. Schwab and Fidelity have signed on as partners and offer tuition discounts to both their internal staff as well as the thousands of financial advisors they work with,” he said.

FWR asked Edelman whether, given all the controversies, ups and downs of digital assets, he thinks this course speaks to a need for a more mature and considered approach from the wealth sector? 

“The course definitely fills an important service in the evolution of crypto. As we all know, its history is rife with fraud and scandal, as well as extreme price volatility. Yet it has also proven to be the most successful investment opportunity in history,” he said.

“That is why the education provided by the DACFP certification program is so important – it gives advisors and their firms the knowledge they need so they can protect and serve their clients who are interested in investing in this new asset class. It’s time for the `crypto bros’ to step aside and let the mature, responsible professionals of the financial services industry get engaged. This will serve the best interests of everyone – including the crypto community itself.”

Edelman added that there is a global angle to the story, noting that 400 million people worldwide already own bitcoin. “There is as much clamor for education overseas as there is in the US – some might even say there is more interest overseas than in America. Financial professionals from 37 countries have already completed our course, so we created a special track exclusively for ex-US individuals. That track omits the regulation, compliance and tax modules that are specific to US law, which is of no value to people living in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and Australia."

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