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Asian wealth managers seen wary of digital assets despite soaring demand

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Wealth managers in Asia are holding back from offering digital assets to investors despite soaring demand due to a lack of understanding of these assets, according to an industry survey by consulting firm Accenture published on Monday.

Global banks have been cautiously moving into crypto for several years, some building it within existing operations and others setting up new businesses.

“Currently, 52 percent of affluent investors in Asia hold digital assets of some sort. Accenture’s research indicates this could reach 73 percent by the end of 2022,” Accenture said on Monday.

“Digital assets represent 7% of surveyed investors’ portfolios — making it the fifth-largest asset class in Asia — more than they allocate to foreign currencies, commodities or collectables. Yet two-thirds of wealth management firms have no plans to offer digital assets,” Accenture said.

The findings were part of Accenture’s report on the future of Asia’s wealth management industry based on two surveys – one of about 3,200 investors and another of more than 500 financial advisors at wealth management firms in Asia. The surveys were done in December 2021 and January 2022.

“For wealth management firms, digital assets are a $54 billion revenue opportunity – that most are ignoring,” Accenture said.

“Among firms’ barriers to action are a lack of belief in (and understanding of) digital assets, a wait-and-see mindset, and – given that launching a digital asset proposition is operationally complex – choosing to prioritize other initiatives,” it said.

Southeast Asia’s biggest bank DBS Group launched a standalone cryptocurrency trading platform in December 2020 offering corporate investors and accredited investors crypto trading services for many digital assets.

Last month, Nomura Holdings said it will create a digital asset company this year allowing institutional investors to trade products linked to cryptocurrencies, among others.