Is Gold a Good Investment?


Mario Lagos

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The allure of gold has remained a constant throughout turbulent centuries. From being hoarded by kings of antiquity to being held in reserve by today’s modern nations, the precious metal has always been a reliable token of value.

In the world of investment, the commodity is much sought-after as a haven asset, which can hold steady when the market plunges into tumult. While currencies or stocks can be hostages to fortune, gold is coveted for its resilience.

Investors also know that historically, gold has served as an effective hedge against inflationary pressure. When a fiat currency, which is a currency not backed by anything material, loses value through inflation, gold can soar in price as people lose confidence in their money. 

For this reason, many investors turn to gold in a crisis – reinforcing its value as money becomes stored in the asset. According to one recent analysis, over the seven crisis periods since 2007, gold has returned a 12.72 per cent ROI, which compares favourably to US Treasury bonds, which yielded just 4.58 per cent over the same period.

Diversification is critical to a strong portfolio, which is why so many investors choose to buy gold. Historically, when the stock market falls, gold rises, and when the market rises, gold can fall slightly. This inverse relationship means that by balancing an investment portfolio with gold, investors can help to guard against risk. 

How to invest in gold

Gold can be acquired in various forms, including physical gold (such as coins and bars) and paper gold (like gold exchange-traded funds or ETFs). Understanding these options will help you make the right choice based on your investment goals and preferences.

Gold Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) are a popular and convenient way for investors to gain exposure to gold. ETFs are traded on the stock market, offering flexibility and liquidity. SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) is one of the largest and most widely traded gold ETFs.

While gold can outperform other asset classes, investors should take time to consider the storage costs which can be associated with buying gold. Some investors choose to store gold in a safe deposit box, while others prefer specialised vaults, which are offered by several companies. Consult with a financial expert to help ensure that your chosen storage solution aligns with your security and accessibility requirements.

Gold is often viewed as a long-term investment. While it can act as a hedge against inflation and economic downturns, its value may fluctuate in the short term. Patience is key when investing in gold, and a long-term perspective can yield favourable returns. As with any investment, the key is not timing the market, but time in the market. 

Disadvantages of investing in gold

Like any investment decision, investing in gold is not without risk. While gold is a physical asset, it also requires secure storage. Storing gold in a safe deposit box or a specialised facility comes with associated costs. These expenses can eat into your overall returns and reduce the attractiveness of gold as an investment, especially for small-scale investors. Whether you have to consider storage costs may depend on whether you purchase allocated or unallocated gold.

Unlike other commodities such as copper or silver, gold has limited industrial applications. The majority of its demand comes from jewellery and investment purposes. This lack of widespread industrial use makes gold more susceptible to changes in investor sentiment and less connected to broader economic trends. However, this is partly what can make gold so attractive to investors in the event of an economic crisis.

Gold does not always have the same growth potential as some other investments. While its value may appreciate over time, gold doesn’t inherently create additional wealth through compounding, as seen with interest-bearing assets or high-performing stocks. Investors looking for assets with the potential for substantial capital appreciation may choose alternatives that offer greater growth prospects.

How to invest in gold for beginners 

Investing in gold can be a viable option for beginners looking to diversify their investment portfolio and hedge against economic uncertainties. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how beginners can start investing in gold.

Before making an investment decision, it is important to understand the basics. Learn about the different forms of gold investments, including physical gold (bullion and coins), gold ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds), gold mining stocks, and gold mutual funds. Make yourself familiar with the benefits and challenges associated with each option.

Determine your investment objectives and risk tolerance. Clearly defining your goals, be they long-term wealth preservation or hedging against inflation, will guide your investment strategy and help you make informed decisions.

There are various ways to invest in gold, each with pros and cons.

  • Physical Gold: Gold bars can be purchased from reputable dealers. Keep in mind the costs associated with storage and security.
  • Gold ETFs: These are exchange-traded funds that track the price of gold. They provide a convenient way to gain exposure to gold without the need for physical storage.
  • Gold Mining Stocks: Investing in companies involved in gold mining can offer exposure to the gold market. However, it comes with the risks associated with individual stocks.
  • Gold Mutual Funds: Mutual funds invest in a diversified portfolio of gold-related assets, providing a more diversified approach compared to individual stocks.

Conduct thorough research if you decide to invest in physical gold or gold mining stocks. Seek advice to choose reputable dealers for purchasing physical gold and analyse the financial health and performance of gold mining companies.

Be aware of any fees associated with your chosen investment. Physical gold may incur storage fees, while ETFs and mutual funds have management fees. Consider additional expenses when planning your investment strategy.

It could be advisable for beginners to start with a small investment and diversify over time. Diversification helps spread risk across different assets, reducing the impact of poor performance in any single investment.

Keep yourself updated on market trends, economic indicators, and geopolitical events that may impact the price of gold. Staying in the know will help you remain attuned to market movements and equip you to make dynamic and informed decisions. 

Before making any investment decision, you should consider seeking advice from a financial advisor. They can help tailor a strategy based on your financial goals and risk tolerance. According to the UK government’s financial help service, Money Helper, you are much more likely to get an investment product which meets your needs based on financial advice.

Gold, like any investment, can experience short-term fluctuations. Take a long-term view and avoid making decisions based on short-term market fluctuations.

Periodically review your gold investment and overall portfolio. Reassess your financial goals and adjust your strategy if needed. Regular reviews ensure that your investment approach aligns with your evolving circumstances.

By following these steps and staying informed, beginners can make well-informed decisions when investing in gold and incorporate it as part of a diversified investment portfolio.

The best way to invest in gold

The best way to invest in gold depends on your financial goals, risk tolerance, and preferences. Here are several popular methods for investing in gold, each with its advantages and considerations:

Physical Gold:

  • Bullion and Coins: Purchasing physical gold in the form of bullion (bars) or coins is a tangible way to own gold. Popular choices include gold coins like the American Eagle or Canadian Maple Leaf.
  • Jewellery: Some investors consider high-quality gold jewellery as a form of personal gold investment.

Considerations: Physical gold requires secure storage, and there may be additional costs associated with safe deposit boxes or specialised storage facilities. Authenticity and purity are essential when purchasing physical gold.

Gold Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs):

  • SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), iShares Gold Trust (IAU): Gold ETFs are traded on stock exchanges and track the price of gold. Each share represents a certain quantity of gold.

Advantages: Provides easy access to gold without the need for physical storage. ETFs are highly liquid, and transactions can be executed like stocks.

Gold Mining Stocks:

Considerations: The performance of gold mining stocks is influenced by factors beyond the price of gold, including company management, production costs, and geopolitical risks.

Gold Mutual Funds:

  • VanEck Merk Gold Trust (OUNZ), Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX): Mutual funds invest in a diversified portfolio of gold-related assets, including mining stocks and bullion.

Advantages: Offers diversification within the gold sector. Professional management can handle asset allocation.

Gold Futures and Options:

  • Trading Contracts: Advanced investors may trade gold futures or options contracts on commodities exchanges to speculate on future price movements.

Considerations: Futures and options trading involve a higher level of risk and complexity, making them more suitable for experienced investors.

Gold IRAs:

  • Self-Directed Individual Retirement Account (IRA) with Gold: Some investors use self-directed IRAs to include gold in their retirement portfolios.

Considerations: Setting up a Gold IRA involves compliance with IRS regulations and working with a custodian specialising in alternative assets.

Gold Accumulation Plans:

  • Regular Investment Plans: Some financial institutions offer plans allowing investors to accumulate gold over time by making regular contributions.

Advantages: Provides a disciplined approach to investing in gold over the long term.

Gold Certificates:

  • Allocated and Unallocated Certificates: Certificates represent ownership of a certain amount of gold held by a financial institution.

Considerations: Unallocated certificates may carry counterparty risk, while allocated certificates are backed by specific physical gold.

When choosing the best way to invest in gold, consider factors such as liquidity, storage requirements, costs, and your overall investment strategy. Diversification and a clear understanding of the chosen investment method are essential for a well-rounded and informed approach to gold investing. Before making any investment decisions, it’s advisable to seek advice from a financial advisor who can tailor recommendations to your specific financial situation and goals.

 Is it worth investing in gold?

Investing in gold has been a subject of debate among financial experts, with opinions varying on its worth as a long-term investment. According to the World Gold Council (WGC), gold has historically served as a hedge against inflation and currency fluctuations. The WGC points out that during economic uncertainty, investors tend to flock to gold as a haven, contributing to its value.

Gold is often considered a store of value, preserving wealth over time. The U.S. Mint supports this view, highlighting gold’s enduring appeal and its role as a diversification tool in an investment portfolio. The mint notes that gold has maintained its purchasing power over centuries, making it a potential safeguard against economic downturns.

However, critics argue that gold doesn’t generate income or dividends, making it less attractive than other investments that offer regular returns. Additionally, the World Economic Forum suggests that the recent rise of cryptocurrencies and technological advancements may impact gold’s relevance in the long run.

Ultimately, the decision to invest in gold depends on individual financial goals, risk tolerance, and market conditions. While gold can offer stability during uncertain times, it should be part of a diversified investment strategy. As with any investment, thorough research and consultation with financial advisors are crucial to making informed decisions.

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Mario Laghos​

Mario Laghos is a journalist. His work has appeared in the Critic magazine, the Daily Express, and the Daily Mail

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