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Investing in gold

Gold can be a very useful way to diversify your portfolio. It's relatively rare, and its value often doesn't move in line with other assets such as equities or property. Gold provides insurance for your portfolio, and we believe that most people should probably allocate around 5%-15% of their portfolios to gold or gold-related investments. So the follow-up question is: how should you invest in gold?

Invest in physical gold

Physical gold is worth holding because it's a universal finite currency, held by most central banks. In the same way that the family home should not be regarded as an investment, gold bullion is not an investment per se, rather a form of saving for a rainy day or of financial insurance. You shouldn't trade your gold. You wouldn't trade an insurance policy, so don't trade your gold.

Gold is a good way to ensure wealth preservation and for passing wealth from one generation to the next. Once you've got some gold bullion in your portfolio, then other investments such as mining shares, investment funds and other more speculative gold investments can be considered.

Modern bullion coins and bars

Modern bullion coins allow investors to own investment-grade gold legal tender coins at a small premium to the spot price of gold as quoted on the markets. The value of bullion coins and bars is determined almost solely by the price of gold, and thus follows the bullion price.

Gold, silver, and platinum are all available in the form of bullion coins, minted in the UK, the US, in Canada, South Africa, Austria, Australia, China and other countries. Most bullion coins are minted in 1/10oz, 1/4oz, 1/2oz & 1oz form (and some can be bought in 2oz, 10oz & 1 kilo). However, one-ounce gold bullion coins such as Krugerrands or Britannias are by far the most popular for both small investors and high-net-worth individuals who see the advantages of owning legal tender bullion coins, either in their possession or in depositories, and recognise the advantages of the divisibility afforded by them.

Buying investment-grade gold bullion for investment is stamp-duty free and tax free (VAT exempt) in the UK and EU due to the EU Gold Directive of 2000.

Gold investment funds can be a good alternative to buying physical gold if you think the latter may be too much hassle, or you're only investing in gold in the short term. This method can be cheaper, as you don't have to buy whole bars or coins, or pay for storage. You can invest in gold using exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or exchange traded commodities (ETCs). ETFs buy and sell gold, or its futures, meaning investors effectively own the gold. ETCs are debt notes, which are backed up by gold. Both ETFs and ETCs aim to track the price of gold, and you can buy and sell them easily through investment platforms. They can be held in a stocks and shares Isa, protecting you from capital gains tax when you sell them. However, watch out for fund fees which will be imposed to cover management expenses and administrative costs.

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