Big asset management company Vanguard has chosen Salim Ramji, a former BlackRock manager and bitcoin enthusiast, as its new CEO. Mr. Ramji will replace Tim Buckley, who, as previously announced, will retire from his position as chairman and CEO.

Salim Ramji. Source: The Wall Street Journal

This decision has left many wondering if Vanguard might change its stance on Bitcoin. Before joining Vanguard, Ramji was recently a member of BlackRock’s global executive committee and head of the global iShares and index investments division, where he was responsible for two-thirds of the company’s assets and growth. He could be the one to influence Vanguard’s cryptocurrency policy.

My goal will be to mobilize Vanguard to meet the moment while remaining true to its core mission of being a trusted firm and advocating for the interests of all investors.

Salim Ramji in the Press Release

About Vanguard

Established in 1975, Vanguard stands as one of the foremost investment management firms globally. The firm offers investment, advisory, and retirement services to tens of millions of individual investors worldwide — directly, through workplace plans, and via financial intermediaries. Vanguard operates within a unique structure owned by investors, where Vanguard fund shareholders own the funds, which in turn own Vanguard.

The Fixed Income Group team in charge of managing the Money Market Trust, 1981. Source: Vanguard

Thus, Vanguard adheres to a simple goal: advocating for the interests of all investors, treating them fairly, and giving them the best chance for investment success.

New Crypto Course for Vanguard?

In his statement, Ramji declared that he would be working with Vanguard’s leadership to “steer the company into the future.”

The current investor landscape is shifting, giving Vanguard an opportunity to continue its mission of giving people the best chance for investment success, which is more relevant today than ever in the company’s fifty-year history. My aim will be to mobilize Vanguard to meet the moment while staying true to its core mission of being a trusted firm and advocating for the interests of all investors.

The choice came as a surprise, considering Vanguard’s negative stance on Bitcoins and Ramji’s well-known interest in the industry, sparking discussions on social media about whether the asset manager might change its position.

Salim Ramji left BlackRock in January to “seek new leadership or entrepreneurial opportunities outside the firm,” he said at the time. According to Eric Balchunas, a senior ETF analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, this move came shortly after the asset manager launched the iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT), where Ramji oversaw registration and logistics.

“He was quoted about his interest in digital assets, though I’m not sure if this will change Vanguard’s position, but he will be the CEO. Who knows. Right now, in my opinion, the doors are much more open,” Balchunas wrote.

Nate Geraci, president of ETF Store, said, “It will be interesting to see if Salim Ramji tries to help Vanguard investors gain access to cryptocurrency, as he believed in it for BlackRock investors.”

The underlying technology behind Bitcoin and blockchain technology— that’s what excites us, and we’re thrilled about it because it eliminates disagreements or, at least, promises to eliminate disagreements throughout the ecosystem. The foundation for us is very strong, and it piqued our interest.

Ramji mentioned during an interview on Bloomberg TV in July 2023

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If confirmed, this would also mark the first time Vanguard has hired a CEO from outside the company. Ramji may not insist on creating a Bitcoin ETF at Vanguard, but he could change clients’ investment policies, which would be a departure from tradition.

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