Investing in gold is one of the most lucrative options of investment as it provides high financial security and liquidity. Moreover, gold tends to go up when other investments go down, it has also proved to beat inflation time and again and stood rock solid against recession. All these factors make gold an irresistible investment avenue. Experts suggest that 10% to 15% of your total investment should be made in gold.
But investing in gold jewelry comes with its own disadvantages, the biggest ones being payment of making charges and wastage which do not have any return value, purity of gold and risk of theft and loss also cannot be ignored. The other options are buying gold coin/bar, Sovereign Gold Bonds, Gold ETFs and Gold Funds.
Buying a gold coin/bar is a hassle-free affair where you just need to have a PAN and no other paperwork is involved and it also gives you a sense of security that comes with the physical possession of pure gold. Market fluctuations are proportionate to the prices of gold. But the biggest problem here is that you need to have a lumpsum amount ready to buy a coin, which may be difficult for people with small savings every month.
Physical gold, whether in the form of jewelry or coin/bar does not yield any regular income but gives you a one-time payment at the time of resale. That brings us to the other options, the first one in that is Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGB), issued by the RBI, where you can buy gold in the form of a certificate and keep it in your demat account, that does away all the risks involved in physical gold at the same time it yields an annual interest of 2.50% payable every six months and when you sell SGBs you get the existing value of gold, moreover, the earnings on SGB is tax free. But SGBs come with a lockin period of 8 years with an exit option from the fifth year, though they can be bought and sold in the stock market like any other stock.
The second option is Gold ExchangeTraded Fund or gold ETF where each unit of gold ETF represents one gram of gold hence, it is quite similar to buying physical gold and is a combination of mutual funds and stocks. ETFs can be traded on stock exchanges like any other stock, with gold as the underlying asset, so you need to have a Demat account and a broker. You can either buy in lump sum or at regular intervals through systematic investment plan (SIP). You can buy as low as 1gm gold ETF. Since it is a kind of fund it involves the role of Asset Management Companies (AMCs) to manage the fund hence carries an expense ratio, the fee charged by AMCs to manage funds, which is much less than mutual funds. Moreover, ETFs provide high transparency, liquidity, physical safety, tax efficiency as income earned from them is treated as long term capital gains (if holding period is more than three years) and they can also be used as collateral security for loan.
Gold Funds are identical to mutual funds and the investment can be in the form of physical gold or in the stocks of gold mining and refining companies. Gold funds which invest in physical gold offer investors the convenience of buying pure gold at a low rate. You can sell these units anytime at market-linked prices. One can invest as little as Rs.500, which allows people with small income also to invest in gold. Other than this, gold funds are highly liquid and provide security as they are regulated by SEBI. Gold ETFs and gold mutual funds are taxed as physical gold.
Gold has always proved to be a safe haven in times of uncertainty but, while investing in gold one should keep in mind that gold is not an asset for wealth creation neither does it have capital appreciation, moreover, the returns on it are mostly inflation linked hence, it cannot give you very high returns. So it should be a part of your portfolio for social requirement only.
The bottom line is every kind of gold investment has both benefits and drawbacks, which one you choose would depend on your investment goal and requirement. If you are looking for a relatively risk free investment and do not need funds in the short term you can opt for SGBs. But if liquidity is your priority then you should go for gold ETFs or gold funds.