Gold Bar
Gold BarReuters

The World Gold Council is conducting a forum "to explore reform of the London Gold Fix", the century-old gold pricing benchmark which has recently been criticised for lack of transparency.

The marketing body for the gold industry said the first meeting will be held on 7 July in London, and will be attended by representatives of the bullion banks, refiners, exchange traded funds and other gold investment product sponsors, exchanges, industry bodies, central banks and mining companies.

The UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will also attend the forum as an observer.

The London Gold Fix is a long-used benchmark for gold prices, derived through a twice-daily auction-style process run by investment banks – Barclays, HSBC, Société Générale and Scotiabank.

Following scandals involving manipulation of benchmarks such as Libor and Euribor and foreign exchange rates, the "fix" has also come under scrutiny, since critics believe it is also open to manipulation.

"The Fixing process was established almost a century ago, so it is not surprising that it needs to change to meet today's market expectations for enhanced regulation, transparency and technology," said Natalie Dempster, managing director of central banks and public policy at the World Gold Council.

The WGC aims to bring the benchmark in line with the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) principles or to create an alternative system.

"Our objective in convening this forum is to ensure that the full range of analysis and market perspectives from all parts of the gold supply chain are debated, understood and brought to bear on any potential changes," Dempster added.

"Any reform or replacement of the Fix, must serve the needs of all market participants and meet today's requirements for transparency, liquidity and independent oversight."

The WGC noted that the new benchmark should be based on executed trades, rather than quote submissions, and should be a tradeable price rather than a reference.

It should also be physically deliverable, calculated from a deep, liquid market, and "highly transparent, published and subject to audit", according to the WGC.