LBMA has four types of Membership; Market-Making Members, Full Members, Affiliate and Exchange Affiliate Members. Companies can also apply to join LBMA as an Associate.
Who can apply to become a Full Member of the LBMA
Full membership of the LBMA is available to companies in the UK and abroad (a branch or subsidiary in the UK may be required). All members must be operational in areas that are closely related to the London bullion market. These activities include trading, broking, shipping and storage, mining, refining, inspection and assaying and research. For companies who trade bullion and derivatives, this means trading bullion or related derivatives, such as forwards and options, in the loco London market with at least three existing members. Membership on the part of individuals is not permitted.
Companies applying for Membership of the LBMA need to name three LBMA members as attesters when submitting their application. These should be members with which the applicant has had a bullion-based trading relationship for at least one year. The LBMA require each attester to supply a letter of recommendation, confirming the nature and duration of their bullion-based relationship.
Terminal Markets Order
Members of the LBMA can trade under the terms of the Terminal Markets Order (TMO). Within the UK, silver and non-investment gold remain under the scope of the TMO under an agreement reached between HM Revenue & Customs and the LBMA. This enables sales between a member and a non-member to be treated as zero-rated, provided the member retains effective physical control of the metal, or they ship it outside the UK on behalf of the non-member. These trading arrangements are often referred to as the "Black Box".
For more detailed information on application requirements, click here.
Market Makers have the same rights as Full members but also have the additional responsibility to quote bid and offer prices, to each other during the London business day, for agreed minimum quantities and tenors in both gold and silver.
Products in which prices are quoted.
The three products relevant to LBMA market making are Spot (S), Forwards (F) and Options (O). There are thirteen LBMA Market Makers who provide the service in one, two or all three products. They are required to make markets by quoting two way prices in both gold and silver to the other Market Makers in the same products. Market Makers offering spot, forwards and options are known as Full Market Makers and those providing only one or two of the products are known simply as Market Makers.
Who are the LBMA Market Makers?
Of the thirteen LBMA Market Makers, six are full Market Makers and six Market Makers. The six Full Market Makers quoting prices in all three products are:
- Citibank N A
- Goldman Sachs International
- JP Morgan Chase Bank
- UBS AG
- Morgan Stanley & Co International Plc
The six LBMA Market Makers who provide two way pricing in either one or two products are:
- The Bank of Nova Scotia (S, F)
- BNP Paribas SA (F)
- ICBC Standard Bank (S)
- Merrill Lynch International (S,O)
- Standard Chartered Bank (S, O)
- Toronto-Dominion Bank (F)
The benefits of Market Making Membership, apply to all Market Makers, subject to the conditions of the Articles of Association.
Requirements of Market Makers
Market Makers are required to respond quickly to requests for prices from other Market Makers, providing two-way price quotations in line with current market conditions, and to offer the service during normal London bullion trading hours. These are 8:00am until 5:00pm or, on days when the New York market is closed, until the London PM gold fixing. There is an understanding between the Market Makers that the maximum quantities for which prices can be requested are as follows:
|Gold||5,000 oz||100,000 oz to 6 months 50,000 oz from 6 months to 2 years 32,000 oz from 2 to 5 years *||50,000 oz during the period 1 week to 3 years|
|Silver||100,000 oz||1M oz up to 6 months 500,000 oz from 6 months to 1 year 250,000 oz from 1 to 3 years||1M oz from 1 week to 1 year 0.5M oz from 1 to 3 years|
* Most Forward Market Makers will quote gold forwards from 1 to 5 years, on either a swap or an IRS basis at the request of the caller.
Definitions of Spot, Forward and Options
Spot (S). The current price in the physical market for immediate delivery of gold. This is normally taken to mean loco London delivery two working days after the date of the deal.
Forward (F). A transaction in which two parties agree to the purchase and sale of gold at a future date, commonly 1, 3, 6 and 12 months but also for longer dated tenors or dates into the future (see table above). Forward contracts are an important part of many swap arrangements.
Options (O). This gives the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell gold at a pre-determined price by an agreed date, for which he pays a premium (or a cost). The premium is the amount of compensation the seller receives from the buyer. The right to buy is commonly referred to as a call option and the right to sell as a put option.
Who can apply for Associate status
The Associate category attracts a range of international market participants. These include traders in other markets, or companies that are active in functions relevant to the London bullion market like mining, inspection, assaying and consultancy related activities. Refiners who are interested in applying to become an Associate need to apply for GDL status before doing so.
Companies applying for Associate status need to name three LBMA Members as attesters as part of their application. These should be companies with whom the applicant has had a bullion based trading relationship for at least one year. The LBMA will require each attester to supply a letter of recommendation, confirming the applicant's suitability for Membership, together with a description of the scope and duration of their bullion-based relationship.
Associates are not members of the LBMA and therefore do not have the same voting or UK regulatory status as Members. They have limited scope to attest applicants and, as they are not considered as members of the market by HMRC, they cannot trade under the terms of the Terminal Markets Order. Associates do, however, benefit from a range of LBMA services including discounted fees for events such as conferences and forums organised by the LBMA, as well as access to publications, all of which foster good trading practices and communication.
The status of each Associate is reviewed approximately every three years. The LBMA notify the Associate to obtain a renewed letter of support from its original three attesters, stating their willingness to continue supporting their Associate status. If one or more of the original attesters is no longer a LBMA member, the Associate must find a new attester from the membership.
For more detailed information on application requirements, click here.
Who Can Apply become an Exchange Affiliate Member of the LBMA
The category of Exchange Affiliate Member is a subsidiary classification of Full Member and is solely open to any Market Exchange operating companies that wishes to become a Member of the LBMA. No other classification of Membership is available for Exchange operating companies.
Companies applying for Exchange Affiliate Membership need to name three LBMA Members as attesters within their application. Nominated attesters should be companies with whom the applicant has had a bullion based trading relationship for at least one year. The LBMA will require each attester to supply a letter of acknowledgement confirming the applicant's suitability for Membership, and a description of the scope and duration of their bullion-based relationship.
Exchange Affiliate Status
The rights, obligations and conditions of Exchange Affiliate Membership are directly linked to those of Affiliate Member Class of Membership (also a subsidiary classification of Full Member) as defined in the LBMA Articles of Association. The principle difference is that there is no requirement for an Exchange Affiliate applicant to have an affiliation with another Member of the LBMA.
The status of each Exchange Affiliate Member is reviewed periodically in line with the LBMA Due Diligence Policy. This process is designed to audit continued engagement with the Bullion Market and to ensure that Due Diligence standards are being maintained.