A few weeks back, I asked you to share your thoughts with me on the topic of making digital currencies like bitcoin available through an employer’s 401(k) plan (“Should You Be Able to Invest in Cryptocurrencies in Your 401(k)?”). And, I promised to share a few of my own views as well.
This was the question I posed:
“Do you believe cryptocurrencies should be offered as an investment option in your 401(k)?”
Here are some views shared by readers:
W.P.: “There is such a thing as acceptable risk, but cryptocurrency is like juggling nitroglycerin while skiing blindfolded through a minefield.” (Quite a vivid picture!)
B.M.: “401(k)s should offer only conservative investments. One has the freedom to convert to [an] IRA, if they feel the need for more risky investments.”
J.: “While investing in any form has a risk factor, adding an unregulated and highly volatile component will introduce an outsized risk for a retirement vehicle -- particularly for a ‘set and forget’ strategy so many 401(k) holders use.”
R.M.: “I think [cryptocurrencies are] something like fantasy baseball and shouldn’t be impinging on the real world.”
Some readers pointed out that they were not necessarily going to invest in cryptocurrency themselves, but thought the option should be available for those who were interested in doing so.
P.Z. said, “I think investing in cryptocurrency is super risky, but that is no reason to put restrictions on being able to include it in your 401(k),” adding that “as long as the cryptocurrency market is a legal enterprise, investing in it should be left to the consumer. Keep the government out of the cryptocurrency business.” The last comment was in response to the fact that regulators are still sorting out if and how cryptocurrencies should be regulated.
C.W. said: “If common sense does not prevail and [cryptocurrency in 401(k) plans] is allowed, I would suggest a cap of 1% of total assets enforced. ... If anyone wants to do more, they’ll have to do it on their own and outside the 401(k).”
If you are a regular reader of this column, you will guess my position: It’s a matter of priorities.
Priority No. 1: Save for your retirement.
Priority No. 2: Invest for growth over the long term.
... Priority No. 100: Speculate only after meeting priorities 1-99. Bitcoin falls into the speculation category, as do other cryptocurrencies.
By the way, since I wrote the earlier column, digital currencies have continued to make news. A cryptocurrency platform was hacked for more than $600 million worth of digital coins (tinyurl.com/knb2aaur); a blog on the website Blockdata reported that of the top 100 banks ranked by assets under management, 55 had invested either directly or through subsidiaries in cryptocurrency or blockchain-related companies (tinyurl.com/a8u62hs); U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler said in a speech at the Aspen Security Forum that “Right now, large parts of the field of crypto are sitting astride of -- not operating within -- regulatory frameworks that protect investors and consumers, guard against illicit activity, ensure for financial stability, and yes, protect national security” (tinyurl.com/yj8d6wax); and a section in the infrastructure bill recently passed by the Senate and now before the House of Representatives calls for new reporting requirements for brokers who engage in transactions involving digital assets (tinyurl.com/ykukperx).
Cryptocurrencies will likely be a topic of conversation for a long time to come. We’ll see if that conversation includes bitcoin retirement plans.
In another note, if you are a regular reader of this column, let me know if you would like to be asked your views on different topics through short surveys. I’m considering starting a “regular reader” email list for that purpose. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
Julie Jason, JD, LLM, a personal money manager (Jackson, Grant Investment Advisers Inc. of Stamford, Connecticut) and award-winning author, welcomes your questions/comments (email@example.com). Please visit www.juliejason.com.
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