ETFS Physical Gold ETF (ASX:GOLD)

Fast Facts

Key Information

What does GOLD do?

The ETFS Physical Gold ETF (ASX: GOLD) is designed to make life easy, allowing investors to gain exposure to physical gold via an ETF which can be bought and sold like shares.

What is GOLD used for?

The GOLD ETF gives you direct exposure to the underlying asset (gold bars) and returns depend entirely on the price of gold, less fees and costs.

There are many different ways to invest in gold, the most difficult of which would be to actually buy physical gold from a mint and keep it under your bed – or probably in a safe – for a rainy day. Unfortunately, holding costs and logistics can make this strategy difficult, and ETFs can make getting the exposure to gold easier.

What does GOLD Invest In?

The GOLD ETF by ETF Securities is backed by physical gold held by HSBC Bank Plc and only metal which conforms with the London Bullion Market Association’s rules are accepted.

ETF Securities is Australia's second-oldest ETF business. Founded by Graham Tuckwell in 2003, ETF Securities has grown to become one of the leaders in the Australian ETF market.

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ETF Securities launched the first gold ETF in Australia back in 2003. Ten years later, in 2013, ETF Securities sold its European and US businesses to WisdomTree, making its founder Graham Tuckwell one of the richest people in Australia. The new ETFS Capital continues to manage around $1 billion and counting.

When you invest in commodities (like gold, silver or oil), you may be lowering some of your risks. For example, you won’t have all of your eggs in your ‘Australia basket’.

However, there are extra risks added when you invest in commodities. Some of these risks include:

  • Market/price risk - we believe predicting the price of gold, oil and other commodities with certainty is impossible. If you choose to invest in a commodity ETF you must accept that the value of your investment could be significantly influenced by factors outside of your control, including political, regulatory and financial risks; and gold production and demand risks, to name a few. Often, the price of some commodities will move higher with global uncertainty. However, there are no guarantees this will happen in the future.
  • Sovereign/regulatory risks – Governments and regulators throughout the world can change their policies on inflation, trade, investing, taxes and even the rights of people and investors. Australia has a very stable and robust financial, legal, political and societal system — many countries don’t.
  • Supply of commodities - supply and demand for gold, silver, platinum and oil can work for you or against you. Prices are often influenced by investor demand, competing uses for the commodity (e.g. jewellery, LNG) and macroeconomic factors (e.g. inflation, US interest rates). Supply can be impacted by miners' exploration and production success and large financial institutions (e.g. investment banks and central banks).
  • Liquidity risk – if we experience a shortage of commodities and spike in demand there's a chance the price of a commodity could jump but the price of the ETF (inside your share brokerage account) could rise even higher. This would create a situation in which you, the investor, could overpay for the actual commodity which will be bought by the ETF issuer.
  • Synthetic exposure - many commodity ETFs will NOT physically own or store a commodity (e.g. oil) on behalf of its investors. Instead, they'll use derivative contracts to get you exposure to the commodity. This can create significant risks such as counterparty risk (see below) and delivery risk. Make sure you read the PDS of the ETF you're considering before you invest. The PDS will tell you where the commodity is -- or isn't -- stored. The PDS should be available on the ETF issuer's website.
  • Counterparty risk  & holding structure – Some ETF issuers use complicated holding structures to get you exposure to the underlying investment overseas. In Australia, ASX-listed shares and ETFs use the same system to ‘settle’ transactions and ‘hold’ your ETFs in your name, it’s called the CHESS system. However, if the ETF invests in overseas assets and commodities it’s likely those assets will be held using another system or holding structure governed by other rules. Rest assured there are some safeguards in place. However, you should always do your research, read the ETF’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or consult a licensed financial adviser. If your commodity ETF insured against loss or theft?
  • FX/currency risks  A big reason many investors put their money overseas is to get exposure to another country’s currency. For example, if you invest 1 AUD into US Dollars at a currency exchange rate of 1.00, you will get 1 USD in return. If the USD gets stronger (meaning the Aussie dollar exchange rate falls), your 1 USD is now worth more! However, it can go in the opposite direction. For example, if the AUD-USD goes to 1.10, your 1 USD (bought at a lower exchange rate) is now worth less in AUD terms than before. This risk is the reason why some ETFs are currency ‘hedged’ — to avoid the impact of currency fluctuations.

Here at Best ETFs Australia, we'll assess the performance of a commodity ASX ETF against the price of the underlying commodity, where available, on a post-fee basis:

  • Gold ETFs - we'll use international gold prices either in Australian dollars (for hedged ETFs) or US dollars (for unhedged ETFs)
  • Oil prices - we'll use WTI crude prices (based on spot prices or futures contracts)
  • Other commodities - again, this will be based on the performance of the most relevant index in the currency which is relevant for the ETF investor (e.g. commodity metals price index for precious metals ETFs)

When you invest in commodities (like gold, silver or oil), you may be lowering some of your risks. For example, you won’t have all of your eggs in your ‘Australia basket’.

However, there are extra risks added when you invest in commodities. Some of these risks include:

  • Market/price risk - we believe predicting the price of gold, oil and other commodities with certainty is impossible. If you choose to invest in a commodity ETF you must accept that the value of your investment could be significantly influenced by factors outside of your control, including political, regulatory and financial risks; and gold production and demand risks, to name a few. Often, the price of some commodities will move higher with global uncertainty. However, there are no guarantees this will happen in the future.
  • Sovereign/regulatory risks – Governments and regulators throughout the world can change their policies on inflation, trade, investing, taxes and even the rights of people and investors. Australia has a very stable and robust financial, legal, political and societal system — many countries don’t.
  • Supply of commodities - supply and demand for gold, silver, platinum and oil can work for you or against you. Prices are often influenced by investor demand, competing uses for the commodity (e.g. jewellery, LNG) and macroeconomic factors (e.g. inflation, US interest rates). Supply can be impacted by miners' exploration and production success and large financial institutions (e.g. investment banks and central banks).
  • Liquidity risk – if we experience a shortage of commodities and spike in demand there's a chance the price of a commodity could jump but the price of the ETF (inside your share brokerage account) could rise even higher. This would create a situation in which you, the investor, could overpay for the actual commodity which will be bought by the ETF issuer.
  • Synthetic exposure - many commodity ETFs will NOT physically own or store a commodity (e.g. oil) on behalf of its investors. Instead, they'll use derivative contracts to get you exposure to the commodity. This can create significant risks such as counterparty risk (see below) and delivery risk. Make sure you read the PDS of the ETF you're considering before you invest. The PDS will tell you where the commodity is -- or isn't -- stored. The PDS should be available on the ETF issuer's website.
  • Counterparty risk  & holding structure – Some ETF issuers use complicated holding structures to get you exposure to the underlying investment overseas. In Australia, ASX-listed shares and ETFs use the same system to ‘settle’ transactions and ‘hold’ your ETFs in your name, it’s called the CHESS system. However, if the ETF invests in overseas assets and commodities it’s likely those assets will be held using another system or holding structure governed by other rules. Rest assured there are some safeguards in place. However, you should always do your research, read the ETF’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or consult a licensed financial adviser. If your commodity ETF insured against loss or theft?
  • FX/currency risks  A big reason many investors put their money overseas is to get exposure to another country’s currency. For example, if you invest 1 AUD into US Dollars at a currency exchange rate of 1.00, you will get 1 USD in return. If the USD gets stronger (meaning the Aussie dollar exchange rate falls), your 1 USD is now worth more! However, it can go in the opposite direction. For example, if the AUD-USD goes to 1.10, your 1 USD (bought at a lower exchange rate) is now worth less in AUD terms than before. This risk is the reason why some ETFs are currency ‘hedged’ — to avoid the impact of currency fluctuations.

We believe this ETF should be used as part of a 'tactical' or 'satellite' allocation in a diversified long-term portfolio because of its unique strategy, costs, risk-reward profile and the expectation of long-term returns.

What is The Core-Satellite Approach?

When you're investing in ETFs or managed funds, we think it's a good idea to consider breaking up your overall investments into two 'buckets':

Bucket 1: Core Investments

The 'core' is the larger part of your investment portfolio and could be reserved for a few different ETFs, blue-chip shares and/or managed funds. For example, you might have three diversified, low-cost and easy to understand ETFs in the 'core' of your portfolio. Each ETF might have between 20% and 30% of your money.

If you're new to investing, the core is a good place to start.

Core ETFs might include:

Bucket 2: Satellite/Tactical Investments

The 'satellite' or tactical bucket is the smaller part of your portfolio (e.g. 0% to 30% of your entire portfolio). In this section, you might decide to take more risk, invest in unique or unproven strategies, buy fast-growth individual shares, etc.

Tactical strategies could be higher risk, higher cost and more complicated strategies that you use in the hope of outperforming the averages (e.g. ASX 200, S&P 500, etc.).

Tactical ETFs might include:

The bestETFs website currently provides free access to a database of Australian ETFs, index funds and (soon) selected managed funds. If you want to access our top Australian ETF picks and research (for a small fee), please click here to learn more.

How do we pick ETFs?

All of the selected ETFs in our model portfolio must meet our strict criteria before we'll consider recommending them.

To learn more about our research and access the bestETF model portfolio, please click here. 

For our #1 ETF idea of 2019, please click here (free).

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FAQs

What Is An ETF?

Investing in an Exchange Traded Fund or ETF is typically a way to buy a tiny slice of many different shares, bonds or currencies with one investment. Technically, ETFs are 'funds' or legal 'trusts' which allow investors to pool their money together in one place and invest in the same strategy.

Learn more here.

What Is An Index Fund?

An index fund is a type of 'managed fund' which pools money in one place and follows an index. For example, an ASX 200 index fund buys all 200 shares included in the S&P/ASX 200 index maintained by Standard & Poor's.

Learn more here.

What's The Difference Between An 'Active' and 'Passive' Investment?

Traditionally, 'active' investors pick individual stocks they think will outperform the market (e.g. ASX 200 index). For example, an 'active' fund manager would pool investors' money together and invest that money in their best stock ideas.

'Passive' investors are investors who buy into standard index funds, like one that follows the ASX 200 or USA's S&P 500. These are also run by fund managers but they don't use their 'skills' or 'analysis' to pick individual stocks. Instead, they invest in the entire market and investors benefit from the growth of all companies, on average.

What Are Rules-Based Investments?

In recent times we've witnessed the emergence of 'rules-based' or 'smart beta' investment strategies, which are kind of in-between active and passive.

Typically, these strategies use automated rules to invest with strategies covering stocks/shares, bonds/fixed income, currencies, commodities (e.g. gold) and derivatives contracts (e.g. options). For example, a rule might be 'buy this share if XYZ happens' or 'sell that share if ABC is true', etc..

Learn more here.

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