Gold industry to explore ‘fix’ reform

Gold industry to explore ‘fix’ reform

The call for a meeting, to be held on July 7 in London, comes as gold and silver fixes, along with other commodity benchmarks, face increased scrutiny.

The World Gold Council, the marketing body for the global industry, said Wednesday it will hold a forum next month to explore a “modernization” of the London Gold Fix, in a move that could hasten the end of the 95-year-old bullion benchmark.

The call for a meeting, to be held on July 7 in London, comes as gold and silver fixes, along with other commodity benchmarks, face increased scrutiny and criticism for their lack of transparency. Critics say they are vulnerable to manipulation.

Mining companies, refiners, central banks and bullion banks —the main users of the benchmark— are all be invited, said the WGC. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority will attend as an observer.

“Our objective in convening this forum is to ensure that the full range of analysis and market perspectives from all parts of the gold supply chain are debated, understood and brought to bear on any potential changes,” said Natalie Dempster, the World Council’s managing director of central banks and public policy.

It likely means the industry wants to have its say if others, read “regulators,” move to reform the system first.

The “fix” is a twice-daily auction-style process run by four investment banks, which work out a standard price based on transactions between their clients. The discussions about its future are separate to the London Bullion Market Association's (LBMA) ongoing process, aimed at finding a replacement for daily silver pricing, which will cease operations on August 14

But the body is now scrambling to find a new price discovery and benchmarking system, which traces its roots back 117 years.

Silver fixing struggles

HSBC Holdings Plc and Bank of Nova Scotia conduct the silver fixing each day at noon. A new system is supposed to go from being an obscure process conducted via conference call between a handful of banks to a "robust transaction-based electronic system" to set the daily spot price.

Deutsch, Germany's largest financial bank by assets, officially withdrew last month from the price-setting process for both precious metals.

Also in May, Barclays was fined £26 million (almost US$44m) for failures in internal controls that allowed a trader to manipulate the setting of gold prices, just a day after the bank was fined for rigging Libor interest rates in 2012.

Image by Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH