Where to store your physical gold (clue: not in the freezer)

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If you want to buy physical gold as an investment, you need to think about where to store it. We take a look at the options.

The EU leave vote prompted a major gold rush in the UK, with private, often first-time, buyers swapping nest eggs and savings for the ‘safe haven’ precious metal.

In investment terms, gold is often viewed as a defensive holding that can mitigate against inflation, market volatility, and falls in other asset classes.

There are a number of ways to get exposure to gold. You can buy gold shares, invest in either a passive or active gold fund, or buy physical gold.

According to the World Gold Council, UK investors bought three tonnes of physical gold between April and June 2016, a 65% rise on the same period last year.

For people who go down the physical gold route, storage is a top priority.

We spoke to Josh Saul, director of The Pure Gold Company, about the different options available.

Can you store your gold at home?

Yes, home storage is an option. In fact, over half of our clients who have bought less than £5,000 worth of physical gold, and 35% of clients who have bought £5,000-£10,000 worth, chose to have it delivered and stored at home.

Smaller denominations of gold, especially coins, can easily be stored at home. Most clients say they will store it in a safe or lockbox, but we have had clients hide their gold in the freezer, a drawer or a child’s bedroom. One client told us their child was found at school with a gold coin, thinking it was money they could spend.

Storing gold at home is not the safest option. Hiding valuables in your freezer is actually quite an obvious first stop for a thief. And it can drive up the cost of your home insurance depending on the value of the gold.

There are clearly downsides to home storage. Are there any upsides?

As well as the benefits of purchasing physical gold – the tax advantages, no counterparty risk, privacy and liquidity – owning a tangible investment means clients can access it quickly and easily. Having it at home provides immediate access.

What are the other storage options?

The easiest and certainly safest place to store physical gold is with a London Bullion Market Association vault in the UK. Around 80% of our clients choose to have their gold stored in Loomis vaults in London. It costs between 0.65% and 0.95% of their gold value per year and the gold is fully allocated, segregated and insured and can be accessed whenever the client wants to take delivery.

Access is very important. We have a client who bought £40,000 worth of gold, had it delivered to her home and then returned it to us for storage, just to be sure she would be able to access it easily. It only cost £20 for her peace of mind.

What do you mean by the gold is fully ‘segregated’?

Some companies pool their gold when they store it, but this could cause problems if the broker goes bust and the gold has to be divided among all the investors. Segregated gold means your gold coins or bars are separated from the rest, removing counterparty risk and safeguarding your investment.

Does it cost you anything to access your gold if you want to sell/buy?

If you want to take delivery of your gold we charge anything from £5 – £20.

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