Bullion’s Appeal to Singapore’s Mass MarketBy Ernest Kwek, Executive Director, SK Bullion
Published on September 25, 2017
I received my first 1-kilogram silver bar on my 12th birthday. Back then, I did not understand the true value of the gift, seeing it as a cheap metal used for industrial purposes. However, its price grew tenfold, from US$160 in 2000, to US$1,600 in 2011, which led me to see its potential as an investment. I started trading precious metals at the peak of the subprime mortgage crisis, which has helped me see its value as a safe haven asset, a portfolio diversifier and a hedge against inflation. However, not many people have had the opportunity to access the precious metal market as easily as I did.
Many decades ago, buying and selling bullion in Singapore only took place at commercial banks and private goldsmiths. It was slow – transactions were manual and access to market information was mainly through telephone and email. Since then, accessibility to bullion investment has expanded tremendously, and the market has grown with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and SBMA working together to make Singapore a precious metal trading hub. Their efforts in bringing precious metal industry players together, lifting GST on investment precious metals, and the establishment of the Singapore Freeport has helped to grow Singapore’s bullion market.
On the back of growing market demand, I began supplying bullion to corporate investors in 2012. Four years later, the business entered into a joint venture with Soo Kee Group, a public listed company in Singapore and jeweller with over 25 years in the market, to launch SK Bullion. The company offers customers a holistic investment platform for them to buy, sell and store precious metals at their convenience. Leveraging on Soo Kee Group’s strong brand and reputation and wide customer base, this was a strategic move to reach the mass market in Southeast Asia and to offer an alternative bullion investment platform.
In today’s consumer market, buyers include seasoned bullion investors, professionals who are new to bullion, and retirees who are cash-rich. To meet the growing interest and demand for bullion investment, SK Bullion has had to develop a full suite of products and services to cater to the mass market and all their investment precious metals needs. While investors have access to bullion at our physical retail store in the city centre, they can also buy, sell and store precious metals at their convenience through a holistic online platform. To make online purchases more convenient, SK Bullion also offers worldwide delivery and taps on the retail network of Soo Kee Group to offer free self-collection at the company’s 25 outlets in Singapore.
To make bullion investment more affordable and convenient for the mass market, including beginner investors as well as retirees, there are bullion savings programs available, which allow consumers to accumulate precious metals over time, without having a large initial outlay. Just like a regular savings plan, consumers can choose to make ad-hoc or regular precious metals purchases, and take delivery only when their savings has reached a convertible quantity.
I believe that a safe haven asset is not just about what you buy but it is also about where you keep it, so we offer such services for our customers. Seasoned investors who trade in large volumes with us do not have to worry about the storage of their assets. SK Bullion provides hassle-free and fully insured precious metal storage options such as safe deposit boxes and vaults, which have easy deposit and withdrawal processes.
With the rise of political and economic uncertainty, there are more and more people who are showing keen interest in investing in gold and silver. However, many lack the knowledge of where to buy and sell and how to get started, but we hope to contribute to bridging the knowledge gap to make it easier for new investors to enter the precious metal market. The availability of one-stop bullion products and services as well as investment education is making bullion investment more accessible to the public, and brings us one step closer to the goal of making Singapore Asia’s precious metal trading hub.
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