ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (SGOL) began trading in the U.S. on Wednesday. The sponsor is ETF Securities Ltd., a firm that is unknown to many Americans but manages some $13 billion in the United Kingdom and Australia. They launched a silver ETF in the U.S. earlier this year.
At first glance, SGOL sounds like a clone of SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) or iShares COMEX Gold Trust (IAU). Each share represents one-tenth of an ounce of gold bullion. Interest in the precious metal surged as gold prices surpassed $1,000 in recent days. But do we really need another gold bullion ETF?
ETF Securities seems to be aware of the need to distinguish its offering, and they apparently think the fact their fund’s gold will be stored in Switzerland is an advantage. William Rhind, an ETFS official, told the Wall Street Journal “With regard to terrorism, war, and all sorts of extreme events, the feeling is that Switzerland is probably the safest venue to store gold.”
My guess is that if events are so extreme that your gold is not safe in London or New York, it probably won’t be safe in Switzerland, either. Nevertheless, SGOL is now available for those who want to own gold in an ETF format but feel better having the actual metal stored in a Swiss vault.
SGOL attracted decent volume in its first two days, though still behind IAU and a small fraction of the very popular GLD. The annual expense ratio is competitive at 0.39%. You can read the press release and fact sheet for more information.