Gold is not the only precious metal worth investing in. Zoltan Erdey of Silver-Sphere Trading explains why silver should form part of your investment portfolio.
- Player: Zoltan Erdey
- Company: Silver-Sphere Trading
- Established: 2011
- Visit: silver-sphere.co.za
“Silver is undervalued today,” says Zoltan Erdey, founder of Silver-Sphere Trading. “Historically, the price ratio between silver and gold has been 16:1. At the moment, the ratio is hovering at around 70:1.”
That is certainly a good reason to invest in silver now, but it is not the only reason. Silver is a precious metal like gold, but it is also an industrial metal. A lot of modern industries such as medicine, IT and clean energy make use of silver in the creation of components. This means that demand is only set to grow.
“Demand for silver is set to spike, yet supply, like that of any natural resource, is dwindling as time passes. This means that the gap between supply and demand is going to widen, which means that silver won’t be undervalued forever.”
But why exactly should one invest in silver? Should the aim be to make money, or simply to preserve your wealth?
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According to Erdey, there are three specific reasons why one should consider investing in silver.
1. To make money
There is no doubt that buying and selling silver can offer you a decent return on investment. For example, the price of silver has already increased by 40% since the start of 2016. But, as mentioned earlier, silver is
still very undervalued, so there is still room for profits.
“If silver returns to its high of 2011, you’d be looking at a 150% return on investment. Now that could take a decade, or it could happen in a year's time,” says Erdey. “So there is money to be made, provided you have the risk appetite necessary for that sort of thing.”
2. Protecting the value of your Rand
“If you put R1 000 under your mattress today, it will be worth quite a bit less in five years’ time,” says Erdey. “Thanks to things like inflation and the exchange rate, the value of your money is not constant.”
A good way to guarantee the value of the income you have earned is to put it into something like silver. Precious metals such as silver and gold have a 3 000-year history. Their value might fluctuate, but in the long run, the odds are pretty good that you won’t lose money if it’s invested in a precious metal.
3. Preparing for a black-swan event
Things go wrong. It might seem unlikely that your money might disappear overnight, but it is not completely outside the realm of possibility. Greece offers a great example, where banks closed their doors for over two weeks with many facing tough limits on cash withdraw from ATMs.
“Precious metals offer a tangible form of wealth. A gold or silver bar is something you can physically hold. Because of this, I think it’s a good idea to at least have some money invested in it, just in case there is a catastrophic political or economic event that pulls the rug out from under the traditional banking system,” says Erdey.
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How much should you invest?
So what should you invest if you decide that you do indeed want to put some of your money in silver?
“I don’t recommend selling everything you have and investing it all in silver. Silver, as with any other investment, should form part of a diversified portfolio. It all depends on your investment strategy — it could be 10% or 20%. You want to spread your risk. Looking at precious metals specifically, I would recommend putting 30% of your money in gold and 70% in silver. Silver is the one that’s more undervalued at the moment, so it makes sense to buy more of that.”
The non-numismatic approach
There is a lot to consider when buying silver. The first, and most important distinction to make, is between numismatic and non-numismatic coins. Numismatic coins are those commemorative coins that tend to be minted in limited runs. Non-numismatic coins, meanwhile, only offer the inherent value of the precious metal.
“The price of a numismatic coin is usually more than that of the value of the precious metal used. These coins are bought to be sold to collectors, who — you hope — will be willing to pay a premium price for the coin because of its rarity,” says Erdey.
“The value of the coin, in other words, is not just about the precious metal. Non-numismatic coins, on the other hand, are not about the rarity of the coin or its value as a piece of memorabilia — it is just about the value of the metal used.”
What to buy
If you want to invest in silver, therefore, you want to take a non-numismatic approach. You don’t want to buy a coin because it has a picture of Mandela on it, or because the mintage is limited to low numbers. You just want to go after the silver value.
That doesn’t mean, though, that you should buy any silver you can get your hands on.
“There are different kinds of bullion that you can buy. You can buy silver minted by a government — legal tender, in other words — or you can buy silver minted by a private mint,” says Erdey. “These typically come in bars and coins (referred to as ‘rounds’ when they’re not legal tender). If something has been minted by the US Mint or other internationally recognised mints and refiners, for example, people know that they can
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Where to buy
As the old saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
“Anyone can melt down some silverware and sell you a bar that they claim is 99% pure silver. The problem is, even if the silver is pure, the market won’t know or trust the origin. So you need to make sure that you buy silver that has been minted by a trusted source. This means doing your homework and finding a dealer that is supplied by a trusted distributor. As with anything, silver is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, so you want to buy something that you can ultimately resell. A good dealer should be able to advise you on what to buy, and provide you with bullion that can be trusted,” says Erdey.
That old adage of not putting all your eggs in one basket is true. The key to long-term success lies in diversification.
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