One of the most common questions I hear in the metals business is, “where do I store my metals?”. This question is often posed by a person, foundation or trust that is looking to secure their investments. Usually we hear about buyers of gold, silver, platinum and palladium who want to protect their assets but now there is a growing number of clients who are looking to diversify beyond the core metals we all know so well. How do we best protect our assets today with all the uncertainty? Here I will discuss why a portion of your metals should be stored offshore, and in what form works best.
What kinds of Metals can an Entity Store Offshore?
The metals people most often store outside of the country are gold and silver although experienced metals buyers might also buy platinum and palladium. Recently clients have been able to buy other rare industrial metals like tellurium, cobalt, molybdenum, hafnium, indium and tantalum. A few years ago the average investor would not have had the ability to buy some of these metals unless they owned a company that produced items which needed these rare industrial metals.
Why is it Wise to Store Offshore?
In the 1930´s during the Great Depression the US government confiscated all privately held gold. US citizens were not able to possess their own gold again until the 1970´s. Will we have a similar situation this time around with the world in its current state of transition? How is the US government planning on fixing this situation? Many countries are choosing inflation, currency devaluation, low interest rates and austerity measures. When these techniques fail to rein in the problems will governments turn to gold and their populations’ assets? One thing I know is that indium, cobalt, Tantalum Powder, tungsten and many of the other rare industrial metals and rare earth metals are on the critical metals list of the USA, EU, Japan, Korea and China. The question is whether rare earth metals and rare industrial metals will ever be deemed so crucial to economic and industrial applications that a country may decide to control the purchase of these metals. We see what China is doing with these metals and one must ask ones’ self, “Could these control measures spread to my country?”.
The old saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, applies here. Clients commonly say “I want to be able to touch my metals”. This is great, and encouraged but the stress of knowing so much of your assets are under one roof can be too much to handle for the average person. The metals can possibly become a liability and risk to you and your family’s safety.
Why would I not take delivery of Rare Industrial Metals and Rare Earths?
Some clients may wish to take delivery of their metals. This can be done just like gold and silver but the big difference is that these metals are used in industry. When the client takes the metals to the broker they will ask for the metals to be assayed. This is the process of taking a sample and sending it to a lab to verify purity. Also when dealing with rare industrial metals the amounts can be quite large and take up a good deal of space. Some elements like hafnium are controlled because of its use in nuclear technologies and it cannot be transported internationally. The metals trader stores the metals for the client and upon request resells the metals.
How do I Store the Metals Offshore?
When researching where to store your metals make sure to do thorough due diligence. There are many options for the investor. The most common choice is a safety deposit box in a bank. Safety deposit boxes are the most widely recognized. They are great for small allocations of metals. Storing in your second home offshore is also a common choice. This is also good for the client who has a small allocation of metals. Offshore bank vaults are also an option but can be rather expensive. The best option for clients with medium to large amounts of metals is an offshore private vault or depository. The prices are reasonable and they offer unparalleled privacy. A good example would be the Zurcher Freilager AG free zone in Switzerland.