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We are Bitcoin – Marko Pavlović

Years of experience in the corporate world of asset management and investment banking, data analysis, capital flow monitoring, geopolitical developments and an understanding of how the existing financial system works, led Marko to bitcoin. He offered us his view on bitcoin from the perspective of an investment advisor.

You're a bitcoiner. What does this term mean to you?

Marko: Distinguishing between a central financial system and a decentralised digital store of value.

You have worked for many years in the corporate world, at home and abroad. In which fields have you been involved?

Marko: I was a stockbroker for 12 years and everything that goes into the business of stockbroking, OnLine trading on behalf and for the account of clients on domestic and foreign stock exchanges, mutual funds, M&A, IPOs. After that I continued my career in private banking for 4 years, within one of the largest European banks, as an investment advisor for high net worth clients.

Can you explain how private banking works? Is the objective to maximise the client's wealth or to maximise the bank's profit?

Marko: Part of the service is the long-term creation and maintenance of a portfolio with different financial instruments (shares, bonds, different mutual funds, structured products) according to the needs of the clients (over the whole period of the client's activity), lifestyle, etc. Private banking is not only financial investments. It is true that this service is rather under-represented in our environment, but the comprehensive private banking service available in the Western world encompasses much more than just financial investments. It is a lifelong, generational service across the whole area of the individual, the family, the family business. On the second part of the question, it is the business of managing the financial investments of a bank, that is to say, the bundle of financial instruments that the bank has in its books.

Are the products available to the whole market or only to selected customers?

Marko: ETFs, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, precious metals, even derivatives are available to the whole market. For example, certain structured products, derivatives that are tailor-made, are available to clients who want this kind of service and yes, they are available to high net worth individuals because that is what their needs are. Make no mistake, there is a cost to building these types of products, hence the higher entry amount.

Who determines/dictates where investments are made?

Marko: If we talk specifically about private banking or brokerage departments within the major banks, each major bank has its own analytics department segmented by investment class, i.e. equities, bonds, FX, etc. This is now also emerging for bitcoin and digital assets. So, this is the basis on which investment advice is given according to the needs and wishes of the clients. It is also the basis for selecting the appropriate solutions to achieve the objective (read: financial instruments). These may or may not be "in-house". An "in-house" product means that the bank in question is the issuer of the financial instrument (mutual fund, ETF, derivatives).

Bitcoin has only just begun its journey in the financial industry. In the same way, we are now seeing more investment banks issuing their own Bitcoin ETFs. The only differences are the management fee, maybe the choice of custodian, so the technical background, and maybe some specifics on investment policy, settlement, etc.

It is not so much about "dictating" as actually understanding how the market works and where the consumer is heading in relation to geopolitical developments and macroeconomic forecasts. Liquidity in the form of fiat assets is being placed where the trends, the directions, are going.

As for "dictation" and Bitcoin - the Bitcoin ETF is now on the desks of all investment advisers around the world, where it will be offered as part of the diversification of investment portfolios. And it's a good story. Not just good, it's a great story. There are so many different ways in which the interested public can be reached. And who is the best at it? Wall Street.What is happening in the financial markets at the moment is the following - a private banker is looking after the investments of a large family, a dynasty, where he manages say $100m of different assets in a portfolio and offers exposure in BTC of up to 5%, i.e. $5m. In this case, it is so-called "old money". This amount of bitcoin will be bought and withdrawn from the market. It will remain almost forever in this client's portfolio, and will pass from one generation to the next. Thus, investment activity in BTC will expand and the value, measured in fiat currency, will naturally increase. This is also how cycles, fluctuations and larger aggregate purchases and sales are created. This then generates data on future volumes coming in or going out of the market, etc. In short, it is business as usual within the existing financial industry.

What kind of customers are Slovenians compared to foreign investors? What is the level of product knowledge?

Marko: The knowledge is there, but it is poor. There is a strong desire to understand, which is great, but the wider social environment adds negative connotations to the field and that is where we are. For individuals, the environment does not offer a fair way to create added value and prosperity. Unless it is self-initiated and self-educated. As far as entrepreneurial activity in the field of modern technologies is concerned, when we talk about blockchain solutions, we are very advanced and respected and recognised abroad. In short, society and the system in this area are not geared towards educating individuals, nor is there a conscious desire to educate them and build the so-called wealth of the nation.

Given your years of experience and knowledge in the field of wealth management, what advice would you give to Slovenians who are frantically looking for instant, high-yielding investments?

Marko: Those who are frantically looking for instant high returns will sooner or later run out of funds. But pyramid schemes, or scams, happen about every 3-5 years in this territory. This segment is apparently a kind of national sport. Unfortunately, the demand is there. It is difficult to give advice to such people. They seem to have their own learning curve, most of them repeating classes several times. When I go to events and talk to visitors about some of the 'shady' models, I see quite a few of them on the market at the moment. That's just the way it is.

Wall Street is richer for Bitcoin ETFs. What do you think this means for Bitcoin?The arrival of Bitcoin ETFs (exchange traded funds) on Wall Street is an act of great significance and opens up unprecedented opportunities for the development of this technology going forward. It gives it the legitimacy to be even more present in professional investment publications, analysts will follow the development and the use will expand. It also means that fiat liquidity will flow into bitcoin at a steady rate, certainly in one direction initially. Bitcoin's market capitalisation is so very small relative to other investment classes that volatility will certainly be present in the future, but the potential is great.

Bitcoin has a very effective and strong argument in terms of the activities of investment banks, specifically advisers, who will be able to offer this option to clients as part of their regular advisory activities. People will start educating themselves, talking to each other, the market will react accordingly. The story of the Bitcoin ETF as an alternative asset allocation within an overall portfolio is so strong that anyone who understands the workings of the financial markets will want to have a Bitcoin ETF as part of their portfolio, and to follow its further development. The main incentive for the purchase decision will be the hedge of the portfolio.

In my opinion, this is a key event that will help to develop in the direction that the Bitcoin community is talking about, idealising, building in thought and action today. Bitcoin is now connected to the largest fiat liquidity.

But the Bitcoin ETF is not Bitcoin. It is just a fiat product that will earn a commission using bitcoin. Am I wrong?

Marko: Of course, technically speaking, an investor in a Bitcoin ETF is handing over fiat liquidity to an institution that holds private keys. You could say that this is "institutionalised Bitcoin". The individual does not have the possibility to instruct his broker or banker to transfer the bitcoin he has in the ETF to the individual's private wallet. The management fee includes the cost of servicing all infrastructure, maintenance, custody and brokerage services, hence the "break even" point of the profitability of the issuance and management of such an ETF for the issuers.

When did you first hear about bitcoin and when did it click?

Marko: When I was still working as a stockbroker, it started appearing on CNBC TV. At that time it was around $500. Then I gradually learned, built up my knowledge, built up my career, then wherever the industry turned, I followed it, and all the time I was raising awareness for those who wanted it. I have always shared my knowledge, insights and what is going on in the world with my clients. Getting to know and understanding Bitcoin is a process, and it's also about recognising many individuals around you who don't have the most sincere intentions. I am also grateful for this education.

The click happened gradually. The issue was clear, there were answers and questions were needed, and vice versa. Common sense explores, thinks critically, questions and that takes time... I went to a few conferences, some on Bitcoin, some on crypto, in London, Amsterdam, Zurich, Dubai, Lugano, Lisbon, etc. We went to some of these conferences together with the Slovenian community, where I am grateful for the knowledge I gained, and for the fact that they transferred all my concerns and fiat applications to Bitcoin.

You manage digital assets for your clients. Where, how, in what way?

Marko: I run 8 different crypto strategies on the ICONOMI platform in London under the Wisdom Crypto brand. Currently, Wisdom Crypto strategies are followed by around 400 clients with around €300k in assets. Clients on the ICONOMI platform can follow, invest in these strategies. Structures include Bitcoin, Ethereum and the rest of the most liquid digital assets by market capitalization. Strategies vary according to volatility, sectors, etc. The management of the strategies is based on a passive format, i.e. similar to the way ETFs are managed. Each client of the ICONOMI platform can freely access the Wisdom Crypto strategies, without any time commitment. I therefore offer 1:1 training to those interested in the way I am used to from private banking and stock brokerage. I equip the client with the necessary knowledge, information resources, security, risks and understanding. On this basis, I provide the client with possible allocations according to their needs,

and am available for further questions.

What other services does Wisdom Crypto offer?

Marko: The point is education, helping individuals to understand what they are doing, to be able to learn independently, to be able to check information. It also educates customers if they want to buy and hold bitcoin in the long term.Investment solutions are presented through appropriate financial instruments.Wisdom Crypto also offers information from international financial markets, primary sources, in short raising awareness.

How to raise the interest of Slovenians to start exploring what bitcoin is?

Marko: Education, use, investment.

Why bitcoin? (In one sentence)

Marko: Because it makes sense and is logical.

You have one orange pill. Who in Slovenia would you give it to and why?

Marko: In Slovenia ... um ... I'm currently seeing the entrepreneurial pulse in Slovenia through the podcast and video snippets on LinkedIn by the SBC Slovenian Business Club led by Joc Pečečnik. It may be that he, through "taking the orange pill", would be able to popularize the importance of Bitcoin for the Slovenian environment to make a difference for the wider good in this area. I think his entrepreneurial platform is the right place right now to address the entrepreneurial sphere, decision makers and individuals.

Bitcoin books are finally available in Slovenian ( Which book would you give to the President of the Republic?

Marko: It is a tremendous added value and a treasure to have this kind of literature available in Slovenian. I myself have set up my marketing and business through education. In this context, I buy Bitcoin standard books and give them away with the income I generate from managing strategies on the ICONOMI platform. Books, education are noble areas of approach to fellow human beings.

Related to the previous question, and to this one, I think the winning combination would be for Joc Pečečnik to take the orange pill, the President of the country to read the Bitcoin Standard, and for the two of them to appear together on the SBC Podcast and see where we are as a society and how much work we still have to do.

David, I encourage you in this direction, to do this within the extent of your power, with motivation, for the younger generations and their future. ☺

Where can people find you?

In Kranj in Kocka BarIn Ljubljana, at least on Wednesdays.



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