The global authority on increasing demand for gold has launched an attempt to overhaul the century-old London-based system to improve transparency.The World Gold Council (WGC) organised a meeting early on Monday to discuss options for moving from a system of quotes to a price set by actual trades.
Currently, quotes are set twice a day by representatives of selected banks, and the global reference price is known as the “fix”. Those who buy and sell gold may refer to these quotes for their transactions.
Although a number of market participants view the current system favourably, other elements must be reformed if it is to meet compliance of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
The title of the round table debate was “Modernising the London Gold Fix: IOSCO and beyond”.
It included sessions on what participants want in reform, alternative models and if reform should be modernised beyond the price-benchmark process.
Introductory remarks were delivered by the former chief manager of reserves at the Bank of England, John Nugee.
Following the debate, WGC managing director for central banks and public policy Natalie Dempster said: “We are at the start of a process that will lead to a reformed and modernised gold benchmark which attracts a broader range of market participants.
“There was strong support for the World Gold Council’s key principles for reform.
“We believe it should be based on executed trades and a tradable price, it should have highly transparent input data, should be calculated from a deep and liquid market, and represent a physically deliverable price.”
WGC members including mining companies, central banks, refiners and bullion banks.
Research group Fideres founder Alberto Thomas, who gave evidence to the Treasury Select Committee last week, told Sky News the benchmark requires greater confidence for investor trust.
It’s a very anachronistic way of setting the price for gold,” Mr Thomas told Sky News.
“It might have been all right in 1919 when it was first introduced but now the market is very deep.”
IOSCO was founded in 1983 and pushed for global standards and regulatory reform with the G20, and the Financial Stability Board – chaired by Bank of England governor Mark Carney.
Earlier this month the WGC suffered a blow when two of South Africa’s miners, Gold Fields and AngloGold Ashanti, said they would not renew their membership.
Their decision to leave, citing the structure of membership fees, comes as the price of gold has dropped by more than a fifth since the beginning of last year until the end of March 2014.
Membership fees for miners is based on the volume of the precious metal processed.
Global gold demand has weakened slightly between Q1 in 2013 and Q1 this year, down to 1,074 tonnes compared to 1,077 tones previously.