The shine of the yellow metal seems to be getting brighter with every passing year. On one hand gold has successfully preserved its value and on the other, it has given investors a consistent appreciation over time. Truly, today all that glitters is gold.
With economies around the world starting to show cracks and currencies turning highly volatile, gold finds place in the portfolio of every savvy investor. There are several options for individuals to buy gold – bullion, coins, jewelry, stock market futures and options, ETFs, and ownership certificates are some of the popular choices across the globe.
Today, let’s focus on what many experts claim to be the best option for individual investors, Gold ETFs.
What are ETFs
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are units issued by fund houses and that are traded on stock exchanges. Gold ETFs are issued by fund houses that invest in gold and may continually buy the precious metal to add to their reserves.
At the time of listing on a stock exchange, the fund house divides the value of its gold holding into smaller units and allots them to investors based on contribution. Once listed, ETF units are traded electronically in the stock market just like the stock of any listed company.
One major advantage of ETFs is safety. If you buy gold in its physical form (bullion, coins, jewelry) you will have to take special care to ensure that it does not get stolen or misplaced. ETFs are electronic units that can be bought, sold and tracked online through your broker. You can quickly check them by logging in to your account. Also, they cannot be stolen or transferred without your prior approval.
Another significant advantage is that you can invest with smaller amounts of money. The minimum denomination of physical gold that can be bought differs from country to country, but in most stock exchanges an ETF is available in multiples of single units, each equal to one gram.
Convenience is yet another advantage of the ETF mode of investing in gold. Finding legitimate buyers, defining terms and settling transactions are challenging tasks; with ETFs you can check the price yourself (or with your broker) and make the sale securely. The transaction is completed instantly and the proceeds of the sale are electronically deposited into your account. This makes the process transparent, convenient and free from potentially falling through.
Physical gold is charming as it can be worn and flaunted. While you cannot wear ETFs round your neck, you can certainly sell them to buy physical gold. Also, gold jewelry comes with an additional cost of making the ornament which is not compensated at the time of reselling the ornament. ETFs closely follow the price of raw gold with small charges levied by the management of the fund house.
How to invest
Both institutions and individuals can invest in ETFs. As this financial instrument is exchange traded, you will need to open a brokerage account with a local broking firm before you can deal in it. A brokerage account is the same account that you would need if you want to invest in stocks of listed companies.
ETFs are cash settled and no physical exchange of goods takes place during the trade. The net cash balance from your trade will be adjusted in your brokerage account. There is no minimum holding period for ETFs so you can buy and sell them as frequently as you choose to. For those familiar with stock trading, ETFs can also be short sold if price corrections are expected.
When to invest
Profitable investments are a result of analysis, timing and perspective. Experts advise that individuals should make a habit of investing regularly. As long as you hold a brokerage account and have money, you can invest in gold ETFs (or other products).