The Swiss Institute for Quality Tests checks the performance of various products, services, and companies to identify the best choice for consumers, and is part of the international Consumer Guidance Group.
Below is the article translated into English:
Precious metals are considered a safe investment that tends to hold value because the scarcity factor often drives their prices up. Precious metals are therefore a good addition to any portfolio, whether it is gold, silver or platinum. But you will often have to find an appropriate way to store them.
However, for some, investing in gold, silver and other precious metals can be a challenge because one has to make sure they are stored in a safe place. One option is to keep them at home but it’s not always the best choice and might soon become a space problem, especially with silver, which is relatively inexpensive and is usually owned in larger amounts.
For safer storage, there are specialized storage facilities, often called secured vaults that are provided by many precious metals dealers. To make it more attractive for ordinary investors, many dealers also buy back and sell precious metals, both as part of a one-time deal or a precious metals savings plan.
Taxes is another issue that precious metals investors have to deal with and that can be resolved by some precious metals resellers. In and outside Switzerland, silver is subject to VAT, but you can store your silver products in a freeport (a special kind of port where normal tax and customs rules do not apply).
The Swiss Institute for Quality Tests looked at different precious metals resellers and the services they provide. In total, we compared eight Swiss dealers that store and sell precious metals:
- Geiger Edelmetalle
- Goldavenue SA
- Rheingold Edelmetall AG
- SWM AG Liechtenstein
Gold storage: testing methods
The following areas were examined as part of our comprehensive test:
Website security and terms and conditions: here, we checked the trustworthiness of each precious metals reseller, including the SLL encryption of their websites as well as clarity and transparency of the information they provide. This category was rated at 5%.
Precious metals storage, savings plan, and freeports: in this category, we looked at the services and, if applicable, the purchase and buyback prices of certain precious metals (gold, silver, platinum). It would be reasonable to buy precious metals via a reseller instead of moving your gold (or silver...) to a secure storage facility by yourself.
Each of these categories was rated at 25% (or higher if one of the services was not provided by a dealer).
Customer service: as investing in precious metals often requires substantial planning and funds, precious metals resellers should provide accessible and professional customer service. Each participant of this test underwent mystery checks (via a mystery shopper hired to pose as a customer and report on the quality of service received). This testing category was ranked at 20%.
A precious metals savings plan is offered only by Liechtensteiner SWM AG, which scored 91% in this category. Of course, you can create your own savings plan but it probably won’t be as efficient as the one tied to a specific product.
When it comes to a custodial savings account (a financial account set up for the benefit of a beneficiary, and administered by a responsible person), regardless of whether it is a gold, silver, or platinum custodial account, it is important to pay attention to the minimum storage value, the ongoing administration fees, and insurance.
Also, examine the fine print before signing up for a service. For example, one precious metals reseller says in fine print: “it is ... free to determine the value of your stored precious metals and to insure them ... even partially."
Freeports are very similar to secure vaults but keep in mind that certain customs rules apply [when storing in freeports].
Goldavenue SA is the winner of the test
Overall, Goldavenue SA is the winner of the test. It offers very low management and storage fees for smaller products under CHF 100,000. With bigger amounts, too, Goldavenue is ahead of the game (Geiger and Degussa also offer reasonable prices for gold).
But a precious metals savings plan is offered only by SWM AG Lichtenstein, so it’s suitable for those looking for [financial] planning services.
When it comes to gold and precious metals storage, Goldavenue comes ahead of Rheingold. As for freeports, Philoro Switzerland and SWM AG have also shown very good results.
Pro Aurum Switzerland is the winner in the customer service category, while Goldavenue and Geiger Edelmetalle come second and third, respectively.
Test results in individual subcategories
The results in each testing category can be found in the table below.
Precious metals storage