Gold still shines for clients’ portfolios, but watch China’s moves
The comments below are an edited and abridged synopsis of an article by Noelle Boughton, Wealth Professional
Financial advisors should ensure that gold comprises 20% of their clients’ portfolios to improve their return and lower volatility, Nick Barisheff, CEO of BMG Group Inc. in Markham told Wealth Professional.
“From an advisor’s point of view, that’s the easiest thing to do: just add some gold to your client’s portfolio – without getting into all the complexity of a currency or anything else,” he said. “It’s that simple. That’s as far as they need to go. Everything else gets very complicated.”
Barisheff was reacting to recent commentary that gold’s place in the investment world was being eclipsed by Bitcoin. He noted that for something to be an effective currency, it needs to store wealth as well as be a medium of exchange – and Bitcoin doesn’t accomplish that.
“You can’t conceive of doing a long-term bond with Bitcoin because the volatility in the fluctuation is so huge,” he said, “and then there’s really nothing backing it.”
While Bitcoin’s value is increasing, Barisheff attributed that to the hype surrounding it rather than any solid justification for it.
The Bank of International Settlements, which he noted sets the rules for all central and commercial banks, has authorized gold as a zero-risk monetary asset equal to U.S Treasuries.
“They didn’t say that about Bitcoin,” he added.
The other thing that Barisheff said to watch for in the world of gold is the fact that the world’s central banks hold about 30,000 tonnes of gold – and the central banks of China and Russia, as well as other countries, are increasing their holdings. China has said it has 1,600 tonnes of gold, but he said some estimate that its sovereign wealth fund, which doesn’t have to report its gold holdings, may have 5,000 to 6,000 tonnes of gold.
“They will move it to the central bank when they feel they’ve bought enough gold,” he said. “Their officials have publicly stated that their objective is to have more gold than the U.S. and the U.S. has 8,000 tones, so China’s goal is to have 10,000 tonnes. So, they’re not going to announce that until they’ve finished buying the gold because, when they do, the price will go ballistic, and it’s in China’s best interest for the price to stay down for the time-being.”
Once that happens, he noted that there will be questions about where they got that gold.
In the meantime, advisors can visit the World Gold Council’s website to find its calculator. It provides all the components of a portfolio. Advisors just need to fill in the blanks and add the percentage of gold they want. It calculates the performance and volatility. “What you’ll find there,” he said, “is that if you add 20% gold to the portfolio, you’ll have improved return and lower volatility.”