Odds and ends

Just a few things, in no particular order…

My friend Tyrone Ross stepped down as the CEO of Onramp yesterday. All the trade publications wrote about it. I don’t comment in the press on these things. I’ll comment here. We do business with Onramp and Tyrone is my brother. Beyond that, it has nothing to do with me. Anyway, for the record: I’m sorry to see Tyrone moving on but I am excited to see what he decides to do for his next chapter. He won’t be down for long.

And Onramp is crushing it for us. Tyrone and Eric have built a strong team. We have 105 client accounts currently allocated to the crypto index we built with WisdomTree live on the Onramp platform. Everything is working beautifully. We have multiple admin staffers at our firm who are well-versed in the onboarding procedure. It’s business as usual at the custodian, Gemini.

Last week Michael Batnick jumped on an Onramp webinar to help explain how it works to a couple hundred registered guests from other financial advisory firms. Onramp is working to onboard these new firms as quickly as they can. Jeremy Schwartz and the WisdomTree team have put together outstanding materials to offer insights into the index strategy, what’s in it and why.

If you’re a financial advisor and want to learn more about this solution for client crypto exposure, check out Onramp here.

***

The world finally found a practical use case for Bitcoin – helping the citizens of a country evade sanctions when that country’s ruler completely loses his mind. As the kids say, Putin decided to f*** around and find out. Well, he found out. It’s not just oligarchs and Putin cronies making use of the crypto rails to save their wealth and move it out of the Russian banking system. There are major fundraising efforts afoot using crypto donations so that people around the world can get aid and comfort to the displaced or under siege Ukrainians.

This is the yin and yang of crypto – it can be used for good or evil. Just like US dollars. I once read that something like 95% of all one hundred dollar bills in circulation had trace residue of cocaine on them. I’m sure that stat is fake in terms of magnitude, but directionally it’s probably right. US dollars are regularly used in drug dealing, kidnapping, human trafficking and other unsavory activities. Crypto can be used by hackers for ransomware or by ordinary people for philanthropy. It’s all going to come down to the extent to which the exchanges and brokerages decide to comply with financial and regulatory authorities.

It’s not going anywhere, so getting it under control is the next best thing.

***

Oil above $100 a barrel and skyrocketing gas prices hurt the people who are least able to bear the burden. As a share of monthly household spend, energy (for gasoline and home heating) accounts for a large portion of the budget for the bottom 20%. So much so that a sudden price rise like this can break the budget and force some families to choose between driving and eating. I don’t have the solution for this, I would just ask that you take a moment to try to imagine it. Then ask yourself what you can do to help. Every year I do a sizable donation and fund drive for my local food bank, Long Island Cares. I might have to start way early this year.

***

Joe Biden gave the best speech of his life last night. I’m not a Joe Biden guy, but it was exactly the speech he should have given. He only tripped over a dozen or so words in the hour plus he spoke for. His speechwriters should consider limiting the syllables in each sentence. He closed with four initiatives that Republicans and Democrats can agree on, like improving the medical and psychological care of our veterans, starting a full blown War on Cancer, etc. There was no culture war bullshit in his remarks last night. Which was essentially the whole premise of his candidacy to begin with. Trump liked to capitalize on our divisions. The Twitter Progressive Mob likes to do the same thing, but they don’t see it that way. Biden prefers to ignore this culture stuff in search of something closer to consensus. I think he found some last night. Especially with respect to Russia. The whole room was on its feet as Biden announced the current sanctions already in place and the next phase – seizing yachts and mansions. It was almost…cinematic?

***

Yesterday our YouTube channel broke 100,000 subscribers. We now have the largest digital media channel in the financial services industry. I don’t even know who second place would be. We’re using this reach to do what we’ve been doing on the blogs for the last decade – having rational conversations about investing. We incorporate data, charts, anecdotes, jokes, philosophy, headlines, common sense and personal insight into every episode.

Most of our shows are available as both video and audio on our podcast channels. Some of the shows are taped and edited, some are streamed live and interactive with the audience being a part of the proceedings. It’s been an amazing experience. We’ve had incredible guests on. The conversations are one of a kind, you won’t find anything like our channel anywhere else. We have a whole team behind the scenes putting a ton of time and effort into filming, post-production, editing, distribution and so many other little things you would never notice from the outside – but make so much difference in the finished product.

Every Tuesday Michael and I go live for the new edition of What Are Your Thoughts. On Wednesday we publish the full video from Michael and Ben Carlson’s Animal Spirits podcast. On Thursdays, Ben does a live streamed show called Portfolio Rescue, taking questions from the audience on everything from investing to personal finance to real estate, taxes, insurance, you name it. Ben and our creative director Duncan Hill are usually joined by a financial planner or researcher at our firm for the discussion. And then our flagship show, The Compound and Friends, hits on Friday afternoon just in time for the weekend. And we frequently bring on guests for special episodes on Mondays – most recently we’ve had investment strategist Ed Yardeni, the comedian Tim Dillon and geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer to name a few.

Our clients regularly watch and tell their advisors how much they appreciate being able to hear from us on a regular basis as the markets move and news breaks. It’s part of the client experience at our firm.

As I tell my advisors, ten years from now we will be onboarding new clients whose first exposure to our firm took place on YouTube circa 2022. We’re educating this younger audience at an age where they can start off investing the right way. As they grow older and their situations become more complex, the relationship we’ve built with them will make us the obvious choice for their financial planning and asset management needs. We’ll be waiting.

Okay that’s it for me this morning. Catch me on CNBC’s The Closing Bell today at 3:45pm.

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  1. The Future of Onramp - Onramp Invest commented on Mar 07

    […] Our product roadmap remains dedicated to reinventing what a useful integration is, and we are excited about the current and upcoming rollouts with folks like Riskalyze, Redtail, Wealthbox, Advyzon, Orion, and more. Finally, we want to highlight the amazing support our team provides firms like Ritholtz Wealth Management, who have written about their experience with us here and here. […]

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