Unsure about buying gold

Question: My husband is 70 and I am 65. Most of our portfolio is in bonds and bond funds, GICs, preferred shares, and money market funds. You and others suggest that we should all have some gold in our portfolio at this time. If so, what percentage of the portfolio, and what would be the best way to do this, a gold stock, a mutual fund, or the exchange-traded iUnits? — I.W.


Actually, I do not recommend that everyone should own some gold. It’s a form of insurance against terrorism, a falling U.S. dollar, and inflation but it is expensive insurance in that it generates no cash flow, an important consideration for seniors. It is also very volatile as the performance of gold-based securities shows. So you have to decide whether this insurance is really suitable for your specific needs.

I don’t recommend buying the gold iUnits because they are very heavily weighted towards two companies, Placer Dome and Barrick Gold. The latter has been an underperformer in recent years and has dragged down the returns from this fund. Your best bet if you decide to go ahead is a mutual fund. The Sprott Gold and Precious Metals Fund and the RBC Precious Metals Fund are bo worth considering. — G.P.