Thank you for your question.
As you probably know, before I founded the Hard Assets Alliance, I was the CEO of Casey Research. Upon founding HAA, my mission was to make the ownership of precious metals as seamless and easy as owning securities. Further, I wanted to eliminate the counter-party risk that is inherent in financial products like ETFs.
Essentially, this meant that we had to provide storage in non-bank vaults, run by world-class companies like Brinks, Loomis, and Malca-Amit (in Singapore). These are truly the world leaders in the storage and transportation of valuables.
Clearly, to offer private investors the level of security that before was only available to big institutions, we had to make a few compromises along the way.
As you would expect, these organizations take safety very seriously. I have had a chance to visit some of our vaulting facilities. I can tell you, the only other time I experienced something like that was years ago when I visited a high security prison.
That is to say, a top vaulting facility will never provide public access to its vaults, nor will it reveal the address of its facility. Anyone who has tried to ship valuables with Brinks knows that it does not have the equivalent of a UPS or FedEx store. It only picks up pre-arranged shipments at commercial locations like banks or businesses.
Now let’s get back to my story, which will give you a better idea of the security measures that had to be taken in order to invite an outside visitor.
Before I could visit the facility, I had to provide enough information for Brinks to do a background check. After this initial stage, it made an appointment and gave the address of the facility.
I arrived at an industrial building with no signage. After ringing a bell located by a steel door, a guard let me in. Once inside a small room, the door was shut. I then had to go through a metal detector and have my briefcase opened and searched (think TSA).
Once cleared, the guard who let me in rang a bell and another guard opened the next door. I entered a hallway where I was escorted by two other armed guards. At the end of the hallway, the bell/door ritual again.
The next door was opened by another guard, and I was let into the office where I finally met the facility’s manager… and a couple of new armed guards. There, I was given an overview of the facility’s security features: three rooms equipped with monitors that are watched 24/7, roof and walls equipped with sensors to ensure no one can get into the building except through authorized and monitored entry points, and then, of course, the protocol to access the main vault at the center of the facility.
Even employees and managers cannot move freely from room to room; they must be escorted.
After the brief, the manager asked me to leave my briefcase and coat in the office. Joined by a group of armed guards, he escorted me to the vault. There, we were surrounded by another four armed guards. Once the door was shut, I was able to see the silver storage vault and the dedicated section for Hard Asset Alliance customers. Inside that vault, I also saw a pack-and-ship line for delivery orders.
Then we were granted access to the highest security vault where gold, platinum, and palladium are stored. In there, under the watchful eye of another four armed guards, we were able to see the metals stored for the Hard Assets Alliance customers.
We ended our tour in the receiving and shipping room. There were two docks with a couple of armored vehicles loading and unloading precious metals with another handful of guards checking. The manager pointed to a glass monitoring room. The room is bulletproof, and the employee who monitors the activity is not allowed to have any contact with any of the guards in the receiving area.
Once my visit was over, I was escorted out through the room where I started. Again, I had to have my briefcase checked, and I had to walk through the metal detector. Finally, the door was opened, and I was outside again with a cab waiting to take me back to the city.
Clearly, if Brinks had to go through the same protocol each time a client wanted to see their metals, not only would it be very onerous, it would also jeopardize the security of all of our precious metals.
This is why we have bi-annual audits of all of the Hard Assets Alliance precious metal vaults instead. Twice a year, our facilities are fully audited by an independent auditor Inspectorate, which is a Bureau Veritas company. They ensure that our records and the vault’s records match exactly with our clients’ holdings, including in-transit inventory.
In addition, all the metals stored in our vaults are insured at full in-kind replacement value. This ensures that that if anything happens to our customers’ metals, not only could they receive a check, but they would also have the right to request delivery of the exact type of bullion they owned (e.g. 1 oz. gold Eagles).
I wish we could grant you direct access to your metals, but we really can’t. What I can tell you is that if you store metals with us, you will always have the ability to request immediate delivery (within a couple of business days). Many of our customers have done it at one point or another.
I hope that this information will inspire more trust in our bullion storage options. I wish you and your family wonderful holidays.
Olivier Garret, CEO
Hard Assets Alliance
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