Home Who is BullionVault? Comparison: ETF vs. BullionVault Disclaimer Register with BullionVault Gold price charts vs. various currencies Deutsch Last update: 12 Feb 2011
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Comparison ETF vs. BullionVault (Gold, Silver)

What both concepts have in common: No issuer risk. I.e., if BullionVault, or the issuing bank in case of ETFs, goes bankrupt, the gold is not affected and your investment is safe. This is an important difference compared to e.g. certificates or ETCs (for ETCs, some are said to be safe thanks to certain constructions, but I am not sure how safe they really are...).

The following table compares these two kinds of gold investments acc. to further criteria (also applies to silver, unless stated otherwise):

Topic ETF BullionVault Remark
Legal possession of physical gold? No, possesion of shares of a fund that is backed with physical gold. Yes, formal and legal posession of real gold.
Who is the gold owner? The issuer of the ETF (bank); the ETF investor is beneficiary of a debt which is backed with gold. The client of BullionVault is the legal owner of the gold
Tax rules

(Germany only, don't know about other countries)
Like with shares, certificates etc. tax must be paid on achieved profits, independent of holding period (because an ETF is a paper) After 1 year holding period, no tax to be paid on an achieved profit, because ownership of physical goods (similarly like for real estates after 10 years holding period) - and acc. to constitutional court this cannot be changed retroactively for gold that is already owned today. No VAT to be paid in either variant (neither for silver with BullionVault, unless one has the silver physically delivered)
Delivery of gold possible Yes, depending on the ETF issuer the smallest unit is either a bullion of 12.4 kg (ca. 400,000 EUR) or ca. 200,000 CHF Yes, smallest unit is a bullion of 12.4 kg (ca. 400,000 EUR) Upon physical delivery of silver, VAT must be paid in Germany, whereas gold is always VAT free.
Topic ETF BullionVault Remark
Smallest quantity purchasable ca. 1/10 troy ounce = ca. 100 EUR 1 g = ca. 32 EUR (gold) or 0,45 EUR (silver)
Comissions (fees) Depends on online broker. Moreover, spreads to be considered. 0.8% till 30,000 EUR/year; 0.4% for the next 30,000 EUR; 0.1% for the next 540,000 EUR; then 0.02% applies to both gold and silver
Real time prices? normally delayed by 20 min Yes
Trading Times Opening times of stock market 7 days / 24 h
Spread ca. 0.15% 0.0% on average, because clients trade amongst each other
Yearly fees 0.3% to 0.4%, no absolute minimum fee 0.12% p.a., but min. 4 USD per month, incl. insurance
(silver: 0.48% p.a., but min. 8 USD/month)
Gold: For more than 12-15,000 USD BullionVault is cheaper
Topic ETF BullionVault Remark
Insurance of the gold in the vault/during transport Not clear, apparently not guaranteed, not completely. Loss/theft could reduce value of ETF. Yes.
Jurisdiction - flexibility for changing legal conditions for gold investments Investor is affected if laws change at the place where the gold is located (normally London) or at the location of the ETF issuer. There are also ETFs in Switzerland with gold exclusively located in the own vault (ETFs of Credit Suisse?). No possibility to move to another jurisdiction. Customer can choose between three places (gold: Zurich/London/New York, silver: Currently only London), and can quickly move to other juristiction if legal conditions change at the location of one vault.
Proof of ownership List of bullions are regularly generated and published by the ETF issuers. Daily published lists of gold bullions by Via Mat for those bullions administered by BullionVault. Daily publishing of nickname list and account statements by BullionVault. Independent checks and certifications.
Whom do I have to trust? - The ETF issuer, that the backed gold really exists and is insured adequately...
- The law maker(s) in the countrie(s) of the ETF issuer and the vault, that laws do not change to the disadvantage of the private gold investor.
- BullionVault, that they do not embezzle my transferred money (before I buy the gold).
- The law maker in the country of the vault, that laws do not change to the disadvantage of the private gold investor (but by means of online order I can easily move the gold to vault of other jurisdiction).
The complicated construct of an "ETF" makes me consider it critical, compare e.g. this video.
Topic ETF BullionVault Remark