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A mere 2% of planners see cryptocurrencies as a viable investment option

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Clients keep asking about cryptocurrencies, but few advisors see anything worth investing in.

At least that's the finding of a new survey, which showed that a mere 2% of financial planners view cryptocurrencies as a viable investment option.

At the same time 53% of planners surveyed have fielded questions from clients about investing in cryptocurrencies in the past six months, according to the 2018 Trends in Investing survey by the Financial Planning Association, the Journal of Financial Planning, and the FPA Research and Practice Institute.

Cryptocurrency has been around for years. Satoshi Nakamoto published the first paper on bitcoin in 2008. But interest in them peaked late last year when bitcoin's value hit a record high of $19,783.06, before crashing towards the end of January 2018.

The FPA survey found that about 24% treat cryptocurrencies as a something akin to gambling: "only worth investing money you can stand to lose.” Twenty-nine percent consider them an “interesting concept to keep an eye on, but not invest in yet” while 18% say they are a “fad that is best avoided.”

Cryptocurrencies' popularity isn't likely to grow in the near future, as only 2% of advisors say they are more likely to recommend cryptocurrencies over the next 12 months.

The popularity of ETFs, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be waning. Exchange-traded funds remained financial advisors' top pick for the investment vehicle they most often recommend with clients for the fourth consecutive year, according to the FPA's survey. A whopping 87% of planners use or recommend ETFs with their clients, up from 72% in 2010 and just 44% in 2008.

"With only 200 active ETFs out a universe of nearly 5,000, the continued rise in advisers' use of this investment vehicle is clearly congruent with the uptick in their adoption of a purely passive approach to investing," Dave Yeske, managing director of Yeske Buie and practitioner editor of the Journal of Financial Planning, said in a statement. "And while 65% of advisers continue to favor a blend of active and passive approaches, these results suggest that the ratio may be shifting in favor of passive."

The FPA's survey was fielded online in April and May, and polled 265 financial planners.

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