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Northern Irish savers ‘buying gold’ amid fears of sterling collapse after Brexit



One of Dublin’s leading gold broker and vault operators says it’s seen a major surge in demand from customers in Northern Ireland, amid fears of a sterling collapse after Brexit.

Merrion Vaults, located in Dublin city centre, estimates the number of Northern Irish clients using its services has risen by around 70% over 2018.

Seamus Fahy, the firm’s co-founder, says the rise in demand is due to people in Northern Ireland seeking to transfer savings into precious metals, traditionally seen as a “safe haven” in times of economic uncertainty.

Mr Fahy said: “It’s seen as a hedge.

“Customers are worried about a significant devaluation of sterling versus the euro, and versus the US dollar.

“They’ve got the money in a bank account, and they’re worried about it devaluing significantly, so a perfect hedge is buying gold bullion.”

Seamus Fahy has said 'customers are worried about a significant devaluation of sterling versus the euro'
Seamus Fahy has said ‘customers are worried about a significant devaluation of sterling versus the euro’

Mr Fahy says his Northern Irish clients, many of whom are business owners, are spending on average £5,000-£15,000 a time, but some have sought to purchase one kilogramme bars of gold, which cost around £31,500.

His company is now responding to demand by planning to open a vault in Belfast in the first quarter of next year – just in time for Brexit.

Jonathan Sheahan, managing director of the financial adviser firm Compass Private Wealth, says he isn’t surprised by the increased demand.

He said: “There’s been lots of volatility and uncertainty in investment markets, and in Europe, Brexit has been the biggest culprit for that.

“Until such time as investors have more clarity as to what is going to happen with the UK and the EU and sterling, we’ll see more and more people taking an interest in precious metals like gold.”

Meanwhile, Ireland’s largest precious metals dealer, GoldCore, has opened an “institutional-grade” vault in Dublin, and is hoping to capitalise on Brexit by taking some business from London in the run-up to the UK’s departure from the EU.

The company’s CEO Stephen Flood said: “A lot of UK clients will look at Dublin, we believe, to store their precious metals, their safe haven asset.

“We believe that Dublin will now be an important component in the global bullion industry – an alternative to London.”

London is a major global hub for gold trading and storage.

Last year, the London Bullion Market Association estimated that there are some 600,000 gold bars, worth nearly $300bn, (£262bn) stashed in the capital.

But GoldCore, which has opened its Dublin vault in conjunction with storage provider Loomis International, is hoping that investors will seek to move at least some of that bullion to alternative locations in the EU because of Brexit.

Mr Flood says many international investors will seek to diversify the storage of precious metals across various jurisdictions ahead of what could be a turbulent 2019 – and that mini-gold rush could benefit Irish companies.

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