Here is an exerpt of an article by Jack Farchy of the Financial Times :
The wealthy have for centuries turned to Switzerland as a safe and
convenient place to stash their gold. But Swiss banks are now demanding
higher fees to accept the world's bullion, as they seek to reduce the size of
their balance sheets.
UBS and Credit Suisse, which dominate the powerful Zurich-based
physical gold market, have hiked their charges for holding the metal,
according to clients and people familiar with the banks.
The move is an attempt to persuade their biggest clients -- including
other banks, hedge funds, and institutional investors -- to take direct
ownership of their gold in so-called "allocated" accounts, with the
bank simply acting as a custodian.
Under more common "unallocated" gold accounts, depositors' gold
appears on banks' balance sheets, forcing them to increase their capital
reserves. Like their global peers, UBS and Credit Suisse are under regulatory
pressure to reduce capital-intensive activities ahead of the introduction of
Basel III global banking rules.
People familiar with the banks' thinking said that the move to raise
fees was part of a broader attempt to reduce the size of balance sheets.
"When it's on balance sheet it does create costs," a person with
knowledge of the banks' strategy said.
Fees vary for different clients, and traders said that the increase
had not been uniform but that it was generally in the order of about 20 per
cent. Vault fees are typically about 0.05-0.1 per cent of the value of the
Credit Suisse declined to comment on the fee rises but confirmed that
it was "adjusting its charges for precious metal accounts for financial
UBS declined to comment.
Higher vault fees are the latest sign of strain in Switzerland's
banking industry, as investors in search of a haven
pile money into the country.
Last month UBS and Credit Suisse imposed negative interest rates on
short-term cash deposits in an attempt to stem inflows from investors seeking
a haven from the eurozone crisis.
Some gold investors began shifting holdings from unallocated to
allocated accounts -- which are generally more expensive -- at the beginning
of the financial crisis.
Unallocated holders can lose their investment if a bank fails, but
holders of allocated gold are protected.
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By Jack Farchy
Financial Times, London
Tuesday, January 29, 2013