How to Offer Digital Assets at Your Registered Investment Adviser

  • August 24, 2023

A Compliant System to Start with Ether and Bitcoin Today

For financial professionals, the world of digital assets often feels like an amusement park. There are eye-catching attractions, wild rides that take you to unexpected places, and endless places to overeat.

The feeling of a “no rules” playground is intriguing personally, but as a professional, it can be off-putting. It feels like hosting a client event at the Golden Corral.


Crypto is what we make it. It can be the new frontier of money where we gamble against fellow curiosity seekers or a place where we stake our claim on the frontier of blockchain technology.

I come baring good news, however: there is such a thing as halfway crypto.

Registered Investment Advisers (RIAs) who are skeptical of taking the full plunge into the wild west of crypto still understand that something real is happening in this space. Many fall into the category of cautious optimism (which is an excellent place for a fiduciary to be).

With the launch of the Defi Steward custodial crypto solution, we help RIAs gain exposure to this new technology while keeping the security of your client’s assets and your firm's compliance the top priority. We offer the most secure, compliant, and decentralized solution for Registered Investment Advisers available on the market.

Defi Steward is Compliant


Registered Investment Advisers don’t do regulatory uncertainty. Unfortunately, crypto brings plenty of it. There is a solid case against offering crypto to your clients: why would I take on more risk for less money and create an operational headache in the process?

Fair enough, but that could also describe raising children. The fact is that RIAs need to evolve and demonstrate to their clients an ability to incorporate innovative solutions.

You better believe the RIA down the street is doing this.

However, it’s all for naught if the system isn’t compliant.

Built on the work done by PlannerDAO and the Financial Advisor Defi Toolkit, Defi Steward’s custodial solution uses the same compliance framework RIAs use to manage money at Schwab or Fidelity.

We have due diligence checklists, sample compliance language, and new advisor training. All of it is compliant with the new custody rule as well. 

Billing, Trading, and Reporting


A longstanding complaint of RIAs has been the alternative investment industry’s total disregard for the operations of an RIA. “Neat private real estate offering, Mr. Wholesaler. How do I use it?”

“Just have your clients mail the subscription agreement and a check to this address on the other side of the country, then send them an invoice for the work you did.”

No, thank you. RIAs aren’t lacking for investment or technological options; we are lacking operationally efficient solutions.

Defi Steward solves this because the CCO of a Registered Investment Adviser built it. Defi Steward allows you to:

  • Deduct fees and generate compliant invoices for your clients

  • Place discretionary trades and export your trading history for review

  • Integrate balances and history into your current portfolio accounting software

Our custodial digital asset service is the most operationally efficient solution available.

Coinbase as Custodian


To put it mildly, the world of crypto custody has been a scary place over the last year. We have seen high-profile meltdowns of some of the most prominent players in crypto.

Or have we? Defi Steward (and most fiduciaries) never took FTX, Voyager, Celsius, or any of the other loud personalities seriously. For those paying attention, these weren’t the “biggest names in crypto,” just the loudest.

We provide solutions for fiduciaries, not YouTubers.

Coinbase is at the core of our custodial offering because they have consistently put their clients first and quietly led the way for the entire crypto industry. For over a decade, they have kept clients' assets secure and are a Qualified Custodian (including under the new proposed SEC custody rule).

Defi Steward is confident in Coinbase as well. Our custodial product is positioned to comply with even the most onerous rules the SEC is issuing.

Lastly, managing digital assets allows RIAs to stake crypto assets and earn yield for their clients, particularly on Ether (ETH).  As of this writing, clients who own un-staked ETH are giving up approximately 6% in annual yield…for holding the same asset.

Defi Steward is Scalable


Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what innovative solutions we roll out for our clients if the system isn’t repeatable. Becoming a great financial planner requires knowledge and experience, and we must deliver our services at scale to make the time and effort worth it.

Acquiring and retaining crypto knowledge takes time, and Defi Steward is a scalable system that allows you to deliver your advice efficiently. We are a portfolio accounting system for digital assets and alternative investments built specifically for RIAs.

Oh yeah, Defi Steward does not charge AUM fees to the RIA or the client.

We can’t know what the endgame is for cryptocurrency. Still, we know this: a significant portion of financial services will be delivered on blockchain technology sooner rather than later.

That is my opinion, so maybe don’t ditch your traditional custodian and start preaching the benefits of Bitcoin just yet. If you do, your high-net-worth clients who call every month to review their whole life policies and blue-chip portfolio may wonder if you’ve lost your mind.

On the other hand, your clients who have access to the internet may be wondering why their advisor hasn’t had a conversation with them about the Ethereum Blockchain, despite major corporations building products and services there.

Like so much of our modern society, crypto evangelists and haters want you to pick a side, then cheer loudly for your team to win. That isn’t Defi Steward, and it’s not what fiduciaries are into either.

Defi Steward believes in finding the most efficient and effective strategies to help people meet their goals, financial or otherwise. In our experience, the best way to accomplish that is to ensure that everyday people work with a fiduciary financial planner.

A great planner doesn’t say crypto is “the future of everything” or “crypto is rat poison.” A great planner keeps an open mind, because there is no such thing as a halfway fiduciary.

To begin offering Ether and Bitcoin in a compliant, scalable, and fiduciary system in your RIA without disrupting your existing operations, book a demo with me here:

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