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How to choose a gold firm
Right turns and wrong turns on the road to gold ownership
Some might consider the precautionary checklist offered below a matter of common sense, but in our experience it is surprising how many prospective gold owners simply dive-in without much in the way of a consumer inquiry. Your choice of a gold firm can mean the difference between success and failure as a gold owner.

Choose the right firm and it will help stay the course on protecting your assets from economic uncertainties. Choose the wrong firm and you can be easily diverted from true gold ownership through a maze of related but speculative and/or derivative investments.

High-end numismatics, leveraged precious metals accounts, graded (slabbed) contemporary bullion coins, off brand bullion bars and jewelry items, gold stocks, precious metals futures contracts or options, and exchange traded funds (to name a few of the wrong turns often taken by first-time investors) – all have a gold component as part of their profile, but are no substitute for physical coins and bullion which you own outright.

Only gold coins and bullion meet the four basic criteria for safe-haven status – liquidity, portability, tradeability, and "appreciability" in direct correlation to the international spot gold price. Inherently there is nothing wrong with owning any of the other investment vehicles just listed as along as you are mentally and financially prepared to shoulder the risks. If you are interested in owning the precious metals for asset preservation purposes, it follows you would be best served by a firm specializing in coins and bullion for delivery.

Key criteria for choosing the right gold firm

Apply the tests listed below to your choice of a gold firm and we are confident you will get off to a strong start. We are confident too that USAGOLD will grade at or near the top of your list.

1. Choose a gold firm that has a solid track record. Ten years in business is good; fifteen years or more is even better. As gold continues its secular bull market, opportunists are sure to enter the market, resulting in numerous start-up gold firms that often close their doors as quickly as they were opened. Firms fifteen years old or more have seen both good times and bad in the gold market. As such, they have demonstrated a commitment to the industry that carries a great deal of value to you as an investor. Such longevity shows not only a commitment to the principles of gold ownership itself, but is also indicative of the sustainability of a particular organization - an important indicator when it comes to the ethics of an organization's sales practices, the accuracy of its advice, and it's ability to honor its commitments.



Coins & bullion since 1973

2. Choose a firm with a commitment to keeping you informed – one that offers information-based services suitable for our information-based age. During your time as a gold owner, much is likely to change in the economic and political landscape. You will want to stay informed, and the mainstream press does not always report prominently on the trends likely to affect your portfolio, or emphasize the articles of interest to you as a gold owner.

The website
online since 1997

Our commitment to information services is almost as old as the firm itself. Starting decades ago with our monthly hard-copy newsletter, News & Views, and continuing today with our widely acclaimed website, we have dedicated ourselves to providing first-class information services designed to meet our clients' needs. The USAGOLD website today hosts almost 1.5 million visits per month – a guiding light and practical resource to its users.

3. Choose a firm willing to spend time with you and answer your questions. The firm that is abrupt at the outset is likely to give you short shrift if you have a question or concern that needs to be addressed in the future. Be wary of companies that use aggressive sales tactics. Seek out and develop a relationship with firms that handle your inquiry in a friendly, professional manner.

4. Choose a firm with a large and satisfied client base. You will benefit from the experience it has gained working with a variety of situations. A firm that knows its business can help you choose the right portfolio mix to address your specific goals, circumstances and concerns. Understand the difference between the "client-oriented" and "customer-oriented" gold firms. The latter generally compete on the basis of price with little or no attention paid to your particular portfolio needs.

A boutique firm with a large clientele

USAGOLD is unique among national gold firms in one important respect. By design, we are a boutique firm with a small but highly regarded staff of experienced and knowledgeable client advisors. We have little interest in expensive national media campaigns, a large and unwieldy overhead and the aggressive sales tactics which usually accompany that business model. Instead, we have gone about the business of building our clientele, which now numbers in the thousands, through the USAGOLD website and by referral from our existing clientele. Our commitment to the gold business spans nearly 40 years and, during that time, we have built and maintained a reputation for friendly, client-oriented service and consistent, level-headed guidance -- qualities that will benefit you as a gold owner now and in the future.

5. Choose a firm with a high degree of professionalism and commitment to the gold business. The level of expertise in the gold market varies from firm to firm as does their general interest in the economy and financial markets. Although there are many outlets for gold, there are relatively few companies with staffs capable of providing reliable direction to the first-time investor. Not every gold firm, for example, has asset preservation as its top priority. Some tout leveraged accounts or high-end numismatics neither of which blend well with the safe-haven aspirations of most gold owners. Then there is always the firm that totally disregards the individualized needs of the inquiring client and concentrates instead on its own agenda.

6. Choose a firm that offers products and services in turn with your goals. Before you even contact a gold firm, it would serve your best interest to ascertain the real nature of its business. You can learn much by browsing a company's website -- something even the smallest firms offer these days. If its product line, services (and, most importantly, its focus) seem a good match, a follow-up call is in order. If not, keep searching. The initial spade work will end up saving you considerable time, effort and money over the long run.

Safe haven for the asset preservation investor

USAGOLD carries the range of precious metals bullion coins and bars and bullion-related historic gold coins that track the gold bullion price. Our unambiguous purpose is to accommodate investors wishing to own precious metals for asset preservation and/or safe haven purposes.

7. Choose a firm with strong credentials and a solid history. A firm that has proven itself to be trustworthy can help you avoid some of the problems, pitfalls and wrong turns often encountered on the road to gold ownership. One reliable source for investigating a business' standing is a Better Business Bureau (BBB) profile -- something any reputable gold firm should have. (If they are not members, that is a red flag in itself.) There you will find basic information -- the company's BBB rating along with a record of complaints and how they were handled. A history of dissatisfaction, particularly if there has been a large number of complaints, can be a warning sign even if the complaints were settled satisfactorily.

An admirable track record for over forty years

USAGOLD enjoys an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and has been granted the right to display the Reliability Program logo. It has not had a single complaint lodged against it for over over a decade, and has consistently been awarded the annual Gold Star certificate which goes to firms that have no complaints over a three-year period. In addition, the firm is a member of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets since 1985. Michael J. Kosares, the firm's owners is a life member of the American Numismatic Association, having joined the organization in 1975.

How to choose a gold firm
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Gold coins & bullion since 1973
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mkMichael J. Kosares, the author of these articles, has more than 40 years experience in the gold business. He is the founder and executive director of USAGOLD (both the website and gold brokerage service), the author of three books on the gold market, and the editor of "News & Views, Forecasts, Commentary & Analysis on the Economy and Precious Metals," the firm's client letter. He has written numerous magazine and internet essays and is well-known for his ongoing commentary on the gold market and its economic, political and financial underpinnings.


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