World Gold Council sets its course for a Golden Horizon in 2021
As we enter 2021, many individuals and firms alike are setting their respective courses for the new year, embarking on a journey toward what is universally hoped to be golden horizons. Hubbis recently had the opportunity to speak to Jaspar Crawley, who serves as World Gold Council’s Head of Sales for Asia, who offered his insights into the direction in which World Gold Council has taken ship. Crawley ranged across an array of areas, articulating the firm’s priorities for 2021, noting the opportunities and objectives which the firm hopes to achieve in the coming months. He outlined the major enhancements that World Gold Council hopes to imbue into its existing comprehensive offering, and the strategies and initiatives the firm hopes will aggrandise the value it adds to its clients. Analysing the shifting environment present in Asia, combined with the impact of Covid-19 on the way that the firm, as with the rest of the world, operates, Crawley extolled his insights into how the playing field may be developing, and how World Gold Council aims to ride the shifting tides towards a gold-tinted vista.
What are your priorities for the year ahead?
In 2021 we are focusing on three key areas in our region. Our first priority is to increase engagement with CIO teams across APAC. I would expect this engagement to continue digitally, although I look forward to a time when we can safely travel and host in-person meetings again.
Secondly, we will be focused on identifying and breaking down the barriers that prevent clients from investing in gold. We know from our own research and experience that these barriers can take many forms such as regulatory, financial infrastructure related, or simply a lack of data and knowledge. With our in-depth knowledge and expertise, we work with clients to help remove these barriers.
Finally, we will be focused on providing private banks and wealth managers with the data, research and insights they need to monitor their gold allocations and to have a meaningful dialogue with their clients.
What enhancements will you make to your value proposition, products and service offering?
In the year ahead, we will be making two main enhancements to our service offering to better meet the needs of our clients.
Firstly, we will have a greater focus on our asset allocation processes. One of the most common questions we get asked is ‘how much gold should we own?’ This year we’ll be applying a more tailored approach because each client’s portfolio is different and thus, the right amount of gold will be different for each bespoke portfolio.
Secondly, across the World Gold Council we are prioritising investment in our websites and technology. While the work from home mandate has certainly been a change for our organisation, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by what our workforce can achieve without travelling. As a result, we have placed a greater emphasis on our digital offering to investors and in particular, our research website Goldhub.
What new initiatives and strategy updates do you have planned for 2021?
We will be kicking off 2021 with our outlook for the year. The combination of the low opportunity cost of holding gold, lofty equity valuations and limited protection from bonds should make for an interesting read-through on gold from our research team and will form the basis for many of our client conversations in Q1.
Towards the end of January, we will be releasing Gold Demand Trends – a full year summary of gold data from 2020 which drills down in regional supply and demand. It will be informative to see the full-year analysis on all areas of demand, take the gold jewellery sector for example.
A great deal of demand comes from India and China but volumes have been particularly weak this year. However, recent economic data is showing an encouraging pickup in activity, especially in China, so I will be interested to see how much this market has recovered since coronavirus began to impact global demand. This report will help shape many gold strategist’s views on where opportunities lie in 2021.
Finally, our commitment to and focus on ESG will continue to be a priority for the World Gold Council in 2021 and beyond. In December this year, we published our report ‘Gold and Climate Change: The Energy Transition’ that looks at gold mining’s energy transition and climate impacts over the next decade. This should provide investors and industry stakeholders with greater clarity around gold’s greenhouse gas emissions profile, the opportunities for the gold sector to decarbonise, and its potential pathway to net-zero, in line with Paris Agreement targets.
What trends and developments are you seeing within private wealth management in Asia?
We’ve seen two interesting trends emerge in 2020. Firstly, data from our research website Goldhub has shown an increase in Asian listed gold Exchange Traded Funds, in tonnes, by 50% this year. This is an interesting development which might indicate a new generation of investors looking at gold as part of a holistic portfolio and could signal the start of a move to being more comfortable with owning gold physically, but outside of home, in Asia.
We’ve also seen is an increasing number of CIOs in the region talking about gold strategically and we are encouraged by this as, in the past, there’s been a tendency for investors in this region to be interested in gold tactically. However, more CIOs are now considering gold as a strategic part of their portfolio based on the expectation of a low interest rate environment for many years to come and an inability to predict economic downturns (such as the current coronavirus pandemic).
How do you intend to grow your platform over the next 12-months?
To deliver on our growth ambitions we will focus primarily on expanding our network and reach in APAC. To do so, our research and client enhancement tools will need to stay relevant and updated with client insights to help keep the message focused in this dynamic and uncertain economic environment.
In a post Covid-19 era, what will you do differently?
I would expect the trend of online meetings and virtual conferences is here to stay. I believe, and hope, they won’t replace physical meetings entirely. In the second half of 2021 and beyond, I expect a hybrid model to take shape, in which some more travel and face-to-face meetings return to our working lives. However, I think we will continue to rely more on video conferencing than we did in the pre-Covid-19 era.
From a personal perspective, I intend to be more disciplined in my work-life-balance. With the advent of working from home, it has become too easy to spend all day at your desk, especially in Asia where reporting lines often mean late night calls. I’ll be looking out for my team and making sure they too are taking time away from work, as well continuing the great work they do at the World Gold Council.
More about Jaspar Crawley
Jaspar Crawley is Head of Sales, APAC, having joined the World Gold Council in August 2018. Jaspar is responsible for building long-term relationships with institutional gold investors.
Jaspar has over 10 years’ experience in the gold industry and related fields, working as a precious metals sales trader at UBS and Deutsche Bank. Formerly a Captain in the British Army, Jaspar holds a degree in History (BA Hons) from Newcastle University, the STA Diploma in Technical Analysis and is a CAIA charter holder.
More from Jaspar Crawley, World Gold Council