30 January 2013

Swiss Banks client Gold to allocated accounts

The banks are reported (Financial Times) to suggest to clients to move their physical gold holdings to allocated accounts. These gold holdings then are no longer part of the bank's balance sheet and do not require costly equity capital to back it up. To a certain extent this increases the safety of the client's gold holdings as any bankruptcy of the bank would no longer have any detrimental impact on the client's claim to ownership of the gold (assuming the physical gold is segregated properly - which is not always the case as several recent cases in the UK demonstrated where client holdings of various assets were not properly segregated). Investors should be aware, however, that banks (and other custodian institutions) might at any moment be prevented from giving access to gold that is in their custody if the governments/regulators order them to do so.