Brexit fears: ‘I’ve buried £850k of gold in my back garden’
It’s fair to say Ron, a retired plane engineer, hasn’t had the best run of luck.
Having made “a substantial amount of money” in the property market both in the UK and Germany, the 84-year-old widower lost most of his pension in the 1980s crash. He rebuilt it only to lose more in 2008. He had money in Northern Rock that he struggled to recover and lost investments in Lehman Brothers.
Now, he is adopting a far more cautious approach.
“Based on my previous experiences, fears over the banking industry and the general global economy including the Brexit vote, I decided to remove all exposure to cash, equities, banks and financial institutions. I also sold all my properties,” he says.
Between November 2015 and April 2016 Ron purchased £850,000 worth of physical gold from London-based The Pure Gold Company.
But instead of storing it in vaults, he has buried it in his five-acre garden using a digger to ensure it is properly buried.
He has plotted unique co-ordinates and a map of his garden and has created 18 unique versions of the map – one for each of his family members. The maps have been given to his lawyer for safe-keeping.
While Ron’s story may seem extreme, UK investors have been flocking to gold amid fears Britain could leave the European Union on 23 June.
BullionVault, the online bullion exchange, said the number of investors buying physical gold hit a three-year high in May. It attributed the surge in demand to “growing fears around what a Brexit vote will do to asset prices”.
Meanwhile, two gold equity funds were new entrants on online platform The Share Centre’s top traded list last month.
Gold is seen as a safe haven as it is a tangible asset, which can’t be manipulated by interest rate policy.
The precious metal has returned to favour with investors in 2016 with bullion prices rising strongly since early December 2015, tracking a weakening of the US dollar.
Josh Saul, founder of The Pure Gold Company, said: “Fear and uncertainty are powerful motivators and the gold price is the clearest indicator of how worried people are.
“Gold is up 17.5% in the year to date, yet this is still a third below its 2012 peak of over $1,800 an ounce.
“There is plenty to be concerned about, from global political uncertainty to a Chinese slowdown, but closer to home people with savings and investments are increasingly worried about whether the UK will leave the European Union.”
Perhaps all the uncertainty will turn Britain’s back gardens into a gold mine.