January 14, 2022

Before you decide to include gold or other precious metals in your retirement accounting, you should do your research first. And doing your research should begin with knowing what questions you need to ask. After all, if we aren’t sure what to ask we can’t be sure of what we get in answer.

We arranged this article around the key questions you should ask when it comes to precious metals, like gold, in your retirement account. If you still have questions, check our conclusion at the end.

Do You Want Physical Gold?

There are a number of ways to invest in a product, and gold is no exception. The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to invest in the physical product of gold. While gold value has risen a lot in the last twenty years, it’s value can also plummet at any time.

If you don’t want to own physical gold, but you want to diversify your portfolio to be insulated against certain market fluctuations, you can consider buying options or stocks in an existing gold company or concern. If you already have a traditional IRA, you can use it to buy stocks in companies that mine, process, or broker in gold or other precious metals. If you do this, you will still see profits and returns when the gold market is strong, because when the gold market is good, the company you’re invested in will be profitable.

This strategy also protects you, marginally, from potential drops in gold prices. If the gold market begins to drop, the value of the physical metal drops first. If you’re invested in the physical metal, you will see those losses immediately. If you’re invested in a company that deals in gold, you may not see those losses right away.

Another benefit of not owning the physical gold is that you don’t run the risk of physically losing the gold. There are real security risks involved with owning gold, even if you own it by proxy in a held depository.

If you don’t want to own the gold itself as part of your portfolio, then simply consult your current advisor or conduct some research on investing in existing gold-related companies. This can help you feel like you have ‘gold’ in your IRA, but don’t run the risks associated with the physical property. Read on if you want an actual Gold IRA for how to select a Broker.

How Do I Choose a Broker?

Research, research, research. The way the IRS has the law set up, you cannot individually purchase gold and physically possess it for the purposes of an IRA. You will be required to set up a self-directed IRA with a broker and a custodian.

The Broker is someone who specializes in the purchase and sale of precious metals (silver, gold, platinum, and palladium). The Custodian is a company who physically stores your precious metals and manages your account.

Here are some questions to research beforehand, or to ask a potential broker in person:

  • Fees: how much do they charge to set up the account, to sell, or store your gold

  • Process: how quickly can the broker execute your orders? If the market begins to move, you may want to sell right away, or buy first thing when the market opens. Meanwhile, how quickly a broker can act may come with higher fees.

  • Reputation: gold has become a buzzword in investing. Make sure you find a reputable, reliable, and industry-respected precious metals broker.

How Does a Gold Purchase Take Place?

Once you have your broker, actually buying the gold is a simple, though not very direct, process. With whatever liquid asset you prefer (outside cash or revenue from another aspect of your IRA) you contact your broker to execute the purchase of a specific amount of gold. You can purchase coins or bars under the approved IRS list of precious metals. These approved forms must meet purity and quality standards.

After the purchase is made, your broker will direct the physical gold to your custodian. If your broker is your custodian, then your involvement is over. If your custodian is different than your broker, like your bank or credit union, then the broker arranges for transportation of your gold to your bank.

After the gold is purchased, transported, and stored, then you own your gold. However, like all IRA assets, you cannot withdraw or possess the gold on your person. If you do, the IRS can penalize you for an early withdrawal.


Gold (or silver and other precious metals) can be a great way to diversify your portfolio. Gold IRAs have become popular, though, so it’s important you do your research. Anyone offering to sell you gold directly is not actually offering you a retirement benefit. They are offering you physical gold.

If you are interested in purchasing precious metals for an IRA, contact a trusted broker and ask pointed questions. The protections of a Gold IRA only apply if the gold is actually in a retirement account.

About the Author James Holland

James is a certified financial planner who helps retirees and pre-retirees make the most of their money. He has more than 10 years of experience in the field, and he knows how to help people plan for retirement on a budget. James also offers advice on estate planning, long-term care, and other aspects of retirement planning.

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