Gold exchange traded funds (ETFs) have a new element of risk. These schemes which earlier held physical gold equivalent to the unit holders’ investments, now lend a portion of these, as part of a government move to meet gold demand through domestic sources.
This means they no longer directly hold all the gold their investors have paid for. This introduces an element of credit risk to these funds, say experts.
Goldman Sachs Asset Management runs India’s largest gold ETF. It issued a note to investors last month that the risk profile of the product had changed. “A situation could arise where the issuer is unable to return the principal physical gold to GS Gold BeES (their scheme) upon maturity or in case of an early redemption. Such inability to return physical gold could arise on account of liquidity problems or general financial health of the issuer,” said the note.