Business

Royal Mint to sell gold bars for pensions

1000g gold bars Image copyright Royal Mint

The Royal Mint is to offer savers the chance to own gold bars within their pension funds for the first time.

Investors will be able to buy 100g or 1kg bars - or even a fractional amount of a larger 400oz bar - and have it stored at the Royal Mint.

The vault, at Llantrisant in South Wales, is guarded by the Ministry of Defence.

Physical gold has been eligible for inclusion in Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) since 2014.

However, it needs to be of at least 99.5% purity to qualify. Royal Mint gold bullion has a purity value of 99.9%.

Investors will be charged up to 1% a year for the privilege of owning the bars, plus VAT.

Previously it was possible to buy gold bullion from the Royal Mint, but not as part of pension savings.

Within a pension wrapper, gold is free from Capital Gains Tax - although withdrawals are taxable at the usual rates.

Hedge

However, experts warn that gold is not always a good investment.

"Investors need to understand investing in gold is by no means a one-way bet," said Danny Cox of investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown.

"Gold is notoriously difficult to value, subject to seasonal demand, and unlike shares and bonds, it provides no income for investors."

Between 2000 and 2011, the price of gold rose spectacularly, from $287 an ounce to $1,837.

However, it has since fallen back to $1,253.

It is usually thought of as a way of protecting against the effects of inflation, or a collapse in the value of stocks and shares.

"Given an improving economic outlook and the prospects of interest rate rises in the US and UK getting closer, it is hard to see how gold gains many more followers from here, unless economies and central bank policies go into reverse," said Mr Cox.

He advised investors not to hold more than 5% of their portfolios in gold, and said there were cheaper ways to invest in it, such as through Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).

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