Vanguard’s New CEO Is Big on Bitcoin—Will the Wall Street Giant Embrace BTC ETFs?


After once dismissing Bitcoin as an irrational investment, Vanguard's latest personnel change suggests it may be turning a new page on crypto.

The world’s second-largest asset manager announced on Tuesday that it has appointed Salim Ramji as its new CEO, slated to take the reins on July 8. Unlike both his predecessor Tim Buckley as well as the company at large, Ramij is a public supporter of both Bitcoin and blockchain.

According to Bloomberg ETF analyst Eric Balchunas, it’s the “first time ever” that Vanguard has hired externally for its top job, with the analyst tweeting that he was “semi-shocked” by the move. Balchunas added that previous CEOs were “internal stars” and former assistants to the late founder John Bogle.

Less than one year ago, Ramij worked for Vanguard’s biggest competitor, serving as Head of iShares and Index Investments at BlackRock. Notably, Ramij oversaw the filing and logistics for the iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT), which is now the world’s most-traded Bitcoin ETF.

“The underlying technology that underpins Bitcoin, and the blockchain technology, is something that we’re incredibly excited about,” said Ramij last July, shortly after BlackRock first applied to launch the ETF. He argued that the product would boast similar benefits to a gold ETF by expanding investor access to “new and emerging asset classes.”

Vanguard takes a different stance: In January, Bitcoin investors were shocked to find that Vanguard wasn’t listing Bitcoin spot ETFs from BlackRock, Fidelity, or other providers as they were incongruent with Vanguard’s “investment philosophy.”

Balchunas argued at the time that Vanguard had inherited the investment philosophy of Bogle, who favored assets with intrinsic cash flow over mere commodities like BTC. In 2017, Bogle told investors to “avoid Bitcoin like the plague.”

Buckley, the current CEO, holds a similar view.

“Something like Bitcoin is just too volatile and it’s not a store of value. It hasn’t been, and it’s very volatile,” Buckley said during an interview in March. “Really tough to think about how it belongs in a long-term portfolio.”

After over three decades at Vanguard, Buckley revealed in February that he would retire by the end of the year in February. The news came just one month after the Bitcoin ETFs went live. Many investors thought the timing was no coincidence, and that Vanguard was showing regret after missing the most successful ETF launch in world history.

“Still think it’s unlikely that this means Vanguard launches a Bitcoin ETF (at least near term),” tweeted Bloomberg Intelligence’s James Seyffart on Tuesday. “But I think Salim could reverse Vanguard’s stance on not allowing their clients to buy spot Bitcoin ETFs on their brokerage platform.”

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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