A Guide for Fund Managers on Asset Allocation On-chain

Jan 17, 2024

3 min

Selecting the Right Custodian

For digital assets to go mainstream, investors need to know that their funds are safe. Custodians are a fundamental part of the ecosystem, offering tools to facilitate storage and security for cryptocurrency investors. 

They have a very simple job: to store and protect digital assets on behalf of their owners. But not all custodians are the same.

Institutions can evaluate custodians based on reputation, security, asset protection, and specific institutional needs. The choice of a custodian has to include a practical element depending on the scope of the institution. A passive management can perhaps favor the choice of incumbents such as Coinbase Custody, while a more active involvement in DeFi perhaps would be more aligned with the use of a Gnosis Safe.


Understanding the Vulnerabilities of On-chain Execution

As part of their job, managers need to have a deep understanding of the risks and vulnerabilities of operating in the DeFi realm. 

DeFi execution carries inherent risks, as the landscape is plagued with execution-specific loopholes. For this reason, each operation must be carefully analyzed and approved by all members before it can go on. At any time, funds could be lost due to smart contract errors.

DeFi protocols are exposed to smart contract vulnerabilities, meaning institutions have to carefully vet where to deploy their funds, selecting only the most reputable and secure protocols.There’s no “too big to fail” in DeFi, as exemplified by Luna, FTX, and the Multichain hacks.

Furthermore, as sizable holders, institutions have to be mindful of their operations being front-run by bots. This could translate into hefty fees and slippage, due to flash loan attacks or impermanent loss in case of liquidity pool manipulation. 

Being aware of these risks is a best practice, meaning that DAOs and Asset Managers can now take steps forward to mitigate risks and safeguard themselves. 

The Importance of Risk Assessment in DeFi

Within the DeFi minefield, one misstep could mean losing funds forever.

For this reason, DAOs and Asset Managers must understand the significance of effective risk assessment in DeFi, using tools that can simplify and make their jobs more secure.

The decentralized nature of the sector means that new challenges continually emerge within the day-to-day business: the decentralization of the team, with key decision makers operating worldwide, the need for remote transaction approvals, and managing the right controls for devices are only some of them.

DAOs and Asset Managers are constantly looking for that sweet spot, ensuring efficiency for their operations, without compromising on the safety of their assets. 


This involves following best practices such as differentiation and diversification of the portfolio across different chains, protocols, and vaults. Other specific examples include:

  • Automation of Transactions: streamlining operations from a single interface, automating and facilitating DeFi execution by abstracting complexity. This might involve governing permissions within the organization and enforcing policies remotely (e.g. which wallets each user can interact with, a maximum cap for transactions). This is especially useful when there are multiple teams executing transactions.

  • Streamlining the process of Whitelisting Deposit Addresses: standardization of procedure improves efficiency and reduces the risks for manual tasks and human errors (e.g. saves time instead of manually checking addresses, and also avoids the latest hacks that alter and change an address once it is copied)

  • Segmentation of Risk through Sub-accounts: sub-accounts for institutions could be equivalent to what burner wallets are for degens. Within Brahma you can manage several sub-accounts from one single interface: they have granular transaction and role policies, segregating capital and mitigating smart contract risk. In this way, they act as a sort of damage control to limit the impact of possible vulnerabilities. 

  • Choosing a Scalable Custodian: no “one size fits all”, multiple custody strategies & multiple products and services, but all within a single integration (e.g. no fragmentation, no need for different custody environments).

Tools like Brahma Console can contribute to achieving a balance between safety and operational efficiency. 

Through Sub-Accounts and Policies, institutional investors will be able to achieve effective risk segregation and efficient delegation of operations, governance, and trading activities. 


Evaluating Performance

In the developing world of institutional capital management within DeFi, novel challenges demand innovative solutions. This means asset managers often have to face unprecedented situations, requiring out-of-the-box thinking, as well as a variety of threats that require pragmatic strategies that can be adapted according to changing market conditions.

Managers can benefit from tools that offer real–time aggregation of their historical positions from different chains, PnL, and more. This transparency is an inherent feature of Defi, allowing institutions to have full visibility within their operations and improve overall trust.

For this reason, we highlight the importance of evaluating one’s investment performance within DeFi at regular intervals. The ever-changing landscape also requires the constant update of risk monitoring tools and investment strategies.

What worked yesterday might not be safe today. 

Conclusion

While democratizing asset management brings newfound freedom and transparency, it is accompanied by intricate challenges. The freedom and self-custody of DAOs and Asset Managers comes at the expense of increased responsibility and cumbersome execution. 

On the one hand, we can only imagine the range of new exciting investments that will become available. On the other hand, this increases responsibilities and often means walking on an unbeaten path, with all related risks.

The expansive potential of investments in this sector demands vigilance and adaptability.Traditional financial insights can only offer limited guidance, highlighting the need to renew our approach towards pragmatism, self-reflection, and frequent evaluation and refinement of strategies. 

While economies of scale can do their tricks for Trad-Fi, in DeFi larger operations can complicate operations and execution. Tools like Brahma Console promise to alleviate these challenges, improving risk monitoring and efficiency by simplifying execution-side operations.

Their development is a revolution for institutional capital management within DeFi, and a testament that with the right resources, DeFi can be accessible, secure, and efficient.

Brahma Console is now live on Ethereum mainnet and Arbitrum.
Book a demo, join the waitlist to experience Console for yourself!

Experience the new standard

for on-chain execution.

Experience the new standard

for on-chain execution.