Vanguard names Bitcoin-friendly former BlackRock exec as new CEO

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Asset management giant Vanguard has named Bitcoin-friendly former Blackrock executive Salim Ramji as its new CEO.

With Ramji overseeing the approval and launch of BlackRock’s spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund earlier this year, his May 14 appointment to Vanguard has industry pundits wondering whether he will try to change the firm’s long-held opposition to Bitcoin (BTC), or even spark a late filing for a spot Bitcoin ETF.

In a May 15 post to X, Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart said he doesn’t believe that Ramji would be able to see Vanguard launch its own spot Bitcoin ETF product. 

However, Seyffart does think Ramji could reverse Vanguard’s position on not allowing its clients to buy spot Bitcoin ETFs on its brokerage platform.

Fellow Bloomberg analyst Eric Balchunas shared a similar opinion but noted Ramji had spoken highly of Bitcoin and blockchain technology in the past:

“Who knows… Door much more open now IMO.”

Balchunas described Vanguard’s decision as a “semi-shock,” as it is the first time the firm has hired an outsider as its CEO.

Source: Eric Balchunas

Ramji will replace Tim Buckley — a long-time Bitcoin critic — as Vanguard’s CEO starting July 8.

Vanguard had been on the lookout for a new boss since late February this year when Buckley first announced his plans to retire.

Ramji said he left BlackRock to “seek a new leadership or entrepreneurial opportunity” outside of BlackRock four days after he helped the firm launch its iShares Bitcoin Trust on Jan. 11, 2024.

He served as BlackRock’s Global Head of iShares and Index Investments and was one of the firm’s Global Executive Committee members.

Related: Vanguard among MicroStrategy’s largest shareholders, indirectly exposed to Bitcoin

Some of Vanguard’s long-time customers threatened to close their accounts in January when the investing firm decided not to offer the spot Bitcoin ETFs on its brokerage platform.

The decision was made at a time when Vanguard offered the “Inverse Jim Cramer ETF.”

Vanguard doubled down on its call not to offer a spot Bitcoin product, asserting that Bitcoin simply isn’t in line with the firm’s investment philosophy.

“Our perspective is that these products do not align with our offer focused on asset classes such as equities, bonds, and cash, which Vanguard views as the building blocks of a well-balanced, long-term investment portfolio.”

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