Schroders takes stake in digital asset firm Forteus to create token funds

Schroders has acquired a minority stake in an asset manager focused on blockchain and digital assets, which could allow it to offer token funds to investors.

The London-listed manager, which manages some £732bn, has invested in Forteus, the asset management arm of Swiss firm Numeus Group.

Located in the “Crypto Valley” of Zug, Numeus describes itself as a “crypto collective focusing on research, venture capital, market making, asset management and algorithmic trading”.

Schroders said Numeus’ research and technology platform will allow it to “harness the transformational benefits that blockchain can bring to the asset management industry and grow our tokenization strategy.”

Forteus will offer a range of investment solutions, covering custom portfolios from external managers, yield generation, actively managed thematic portfolios and, in the long term, tokenization.

LILY Why BlackRock is bullish on blockchain, but not bitcoin

Once available, Schroders said it will allow customers to access Forteus capabilities where available.

“Blockchain will be a catalyst for fundamental change in asset management, financial services generally, and many other industries more broadly,” Schroders chief executive Peter Harrison said.

“It not only has the potential to transform the effectiveness of existing solutions, but will lead to the democratization of private assets; it represents a new frontier of technological and financial innovation.

Schroders has made a series of acquisitions since Harrison became CEO in 2016, most recently a 75% stake in renewable energy specialist Greencoat Capital. But this latest deal is its first in digital assets.

Schroders, who has in the past backed several fintech startups through his Cobalt program, is the latest asset manager to talk about the benefits of blockchain technology.

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is also bullish on the technology behind cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin.

Salim Ramji, global head of iShares and index investments at BlackRock, said Financial News during a Barron’s Live event on June 22, blockchain technology is “incredibly innovative and incredibly disruptive.”

“It removes friction, it allows for easier transfer of value in a way that makes the underlying plumbing of markets much more efficient for customers,” Ramji said.

In April, BlackRock rolled out its Blockchain and Tech ETF, which gives investors broad access to companies involved in blockchain technology. The ETF, which has a portfolio of 33 companies, invests in Coinbase, Riot Blockchain and Galaxy Digital.

Meanwhile, the Investment Association, the UK trade body that represents the UK asset management industry, has called on regulators to approve funds traded on the blockchain — products in which shares or units are represented digitally and can be traded and recorded on a distributed ledger.

Other fund companies are also looking to expand into crypto. Fidelity Digital Assets, a subsidiary of US asset manager Fidelity Investments, plans to double its workforce this year due to expected demand for crypto.

The company plans to hire 110 technicians, including engineers and developers with blockchain expertise, to build digital infrastructure to support services for cryptocurrencies beyond bitcoin.

To contact the author of this story with comments or news, email David Ricketts