(For other news from the Reuters Global Private Banking Summit,
click on http://www.reuters.com/summit/GlobalWealthManagement10)
* UBS says uncertainty shaping top-tier clients' investments
* Physical bullion grows in allure as recession hedge
* Julius Baer recommends minimum of 10 pct of assets in gold
By Laura MacInnis
GENEVA, Oct 4 (Reuters) - The world's wealthiest people have
responded to economic worries by buying bars of gold, sometimes
by the tonne, and moving assets out of the financial system,
bankers catering to the very rich said on Monday.
UBS executive Joef Stadler told the Reuters Global Private
Banking Summit that fears of a double-dip downturn had boosted
the appetite for physical bullion as well as mining company
shares and exchange-traded funds.
"They don't only buy ETFs or futures, they buy physical
gold," said Stadler, who runs the Swiss bank's services for
clients with assets of at least $50 million to invest.
UBS is recommending their top-tier clients hold 7-10 percent
of their assets in precious metals like gold, which is on course
for its tenth consecutive yearly gain and traded at around
$1,317 an ounce on Monday.
In a sign of the uncertain times, some clients go further.
TO ANOTHER PLACE
We had a clear example of a couple buying over a tonne of
gold ... and carrying it to another place," Stadler said.
At today's prices, that shipment would be worth about $42
Julius Baer's chief investment officer for Asia is also
recommending that wealthy investors park some of their assets in
gold as a defensive stance following a string of lacklustre U.S.
data and amid concerns about currency weakness.
"I see gold as an insurance," Van Anantha-Nageswaran said.
"I recommend 10 percent as minimum in portfolios and anything
more than that to be used for trading purposes, to respond to
short-term over-bought or over-sold signals."
Billionaire financier George Soros, echoing comments from
investment guru Warren Buffett, last month described gold as the
"ultimate bubble" because it is costly to dig out of the ground
and has no real value except its market price.
But rising prices for the precious metal have in themselves
generated more and more demand from investors looking for a way
to hedge themselves against a fresh recession. Gold bears no
yield and is uncompetitive in an environment of rising interest
The uneasy outlook for inflation, hard currencies and global
growth has triggered a five-fold increase in a physical gold
fund launched by Pictet one year ago, the Swiss private bank
UBS's Stadler said the precious metal had become a staple of
investors' portfolios, despite questions about whether it makes
for a smart long-term investment.
"If you talk to ultra-high net worth individuals that level
of uncertainty has never been higher in the last two, three,
four years," he said. "If they ask me 'is inflation going up or
are we entering a deflationary cycle?', I don't know. But
obviously nobody knows."
But not all bankers are recommending exposure to gold.
Andreas Wolfer, head of private banking at UniCredit Group,
attributed the run-up to the price of gold to frayed investor
nerves after the 2008 financial crisis as well as concerns about
sovereign debt in the euro zone.
"We have seen it but we have not overweighted it in our
asset allocation," Wolfer told the Reuters Summit in Geneva,
which has emerged as a major trading hub for precious metals as
well as other physical commodities.
"We strongly believe in an asset allocation having a clear
and diversified portfolio, which sounds a bit boring but in the
end it brings the best returns," Wolfer said.
(Additional reporting by Kevin Lim in Singapore; Editing by
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