The following is quoted from the Investors Chronicle Master Class feature on 'Ways into Gold'. The Investors Chronicle is owned by the Financial Times, and is the leading UK investment magazine.
Ways into gold: Buy bullion direct
"Owning bullion bars used to be the preserve of the mega rich. The problem was that the best prices were for full-size gold bars that had always been kept in recognised bullion vaults. This kind of bar, known as a 'good delivery bar' weighs 12.4kg [400oz], making it worth over £110,000 [$200,000] at current prices.
The moment you remove a gold bar from the custody of a recognised vault, its value falls. Just like the provenance of an antique, gold is more valuable if you can prove that it has never been tampererd with ...
So, when you add together the costs of storage, insurance and dealing in small bars, you face a surcharge of perhaps 5 per cent to get in and out of bullion ...
Now, though, the bullion brokers have responded with some radical innovations. BullionVault offers allocated gold in Brinks vaults in London, New York or Zurich. Clients buy and sell online and can make their own prices if they do not like the bid-offer spreads provided by BullionVault. A spread can come down to as low as £1/kg or 0.001 per cent.
Because the system is fully automated, matching customer buy orders with customer sell orders, trading can take place seven days a week. And not only is the gold allocated, there is an independent daily audit [to] Brinks of all the gold allocated to BullionVault clients.
At 0.12 per cent a year, storage costs compare favourably with LyxOR's 0.4 per cent ... Commission begins at 0.8 per cent per trade for the first $30,000, coming down in bands to 0.02 per cent for customers trading $600,000 a year."