FT.com reports UBS and Credit Suisse, which dominate the Swiss physical gold market have reportedly hiked their charges for holding the yellow metal – typically around 0.05-0.1% of the value – by as much as 20%.
The move by the Swiss banking giants whose clients include not only the world's wealthy but also other banks, hedge funds and institutions is aimed at compliance with new banking rules that require greater capital reserves.
FT explains UBS and Credit Suisse want their clients to opt for so-called 'allocated' accounts which allows the banks to act as custodians of the gold only. With 'un-allocated' accounts which are the norm at the moment, the banks have to include the bullion on their balance sheets:
The move has caused a stir among traders, given Switzerland’s significance as a hub for physical gold trading, and is also opening up opportunities for rivals. Non-Swiss banks are considering building new vaults in the country to take advantage of the move by UBS and Credit Suisse, according to industry executives.
Some gold investors began shifting their holdings from unallocated to allocated accounts – which are generally more expensive – at the beginning of the financial crisis. While holders of allocated gold are protected if a bank goes bankrupt, holders of unallocated gold could lose their investment.
Continue reading at FT.com (paywall).