The London Bullion Market Association

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Interest in joining the LBMA continues to grow. There are now 76 Members and 71 Associates, located in 30 countries.

The LBMA has two basic types of Full Membership; Ordinary and Market Making members. Companies can also apply to join the LBMA as an Associate.

Who can apply to become a Member of the LBMA

Ordinary membership of the LBMA is available to companies in the UK and abroad (provided that they have a branch or subsidiary in the UK). 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 which trade bullion and derivatives, this means trading 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.

Application Requirements

Companies applying for Membership of the LBMA need to name three LBMA members as sponsors 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 sponsor to supply a letter of recommendation, confirming the applicants suitability for Membership, together with a description of the scope 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".

Market Makers have the same rights as Ordinary 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 eleven 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 eleven LBMA Market Makers, five are full Market Makers and six Market Makers. The five Full Market Makers quoting prices in all three products are:

  • Barclays Bank Plc
  • Goldman Sachs International
  • HSBC Bank USA NA
  • JP Morgan Chase Bank
  • UBS AG

The six LBMA Market Makers who provide two way pricing in either one or two products are:

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch (O)
  • Credit Suisse (S,O)
  • Deutsche Bank AG (S,O)
  • Mitsui & Co Precious Metals (S)
  • Societe Generale (S,F)
  • Bank of Nova Scotia -ScotiaMocatta (S, F)

The benefits of Market Making Membership, (for example, a reserved place on the LBMA's Management Committee) apply to all Market Makers.

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:

Metal

Spot

Forwards

Options

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.

Requirements

Companies applying for Associate status need to name three LBMA Members as sponsors 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 sponsor 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.

Associate status

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 sponsor 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.

Associate reviews

The status of each Associate is reviewed approximately every three years. The LBMA notify the Associate to obtain a renewed letter of sponsorship from its original three sponsors, stating their willingness to continue supporting their Associate status. If one or more of the original sponsors is no longer a LBMA member, the Associate must find a new sponsor from the membership.

Membership has many benefits, including voting rights at the Annual General Meeting, attendance at the annual conference and our regular seminars, access to a range of statistics, candidate nomination for LBMA Committees, as well as reductions on advertising and conference attendance costs. For more information about joining the LBMA or to receive an application pack, please contact us at mail@lbma.org.uk.

Companies joining the LBMA can contribute their knowledge and experience to the Association and provide direct input into its on-going work.

Member and Associate Benefits

  • Direct access to LBMA information, including monthly data on longer-dated forward rates and option volatilities, which can be used for valuation purposes.
  • Involvement in the cultural and educational life of the Association, including the annual conference as well as seminars, workshops plus invitations to the annual party, receptions, dinners and other social events.
  • Free copies of the Alchemist, the LBMA’s quarterly members’ magazine. Members can also advertise in the Alchemist at reduced rates, and order additional copies free of charge (e.g. for display in a reception area).
  • Discounts LBMA Conference attendance, including accommodation and flights. Members can also access the Conference attendance list prior to the event
  • Inclusion on the LBMA website with the option of a direct link to the company's own website.
  • Permission to incorporate a special version of the LBMA logo into printed material
  • For GDL refiners, the annual subscription includes the fee of £2,000 per annum per metal in respect of the basic proactive monitoring service.
  • Supplies of complimentary copies of the Association's publications, including A Guide to the London Bullion Market.

Additional Benefits of Full Membership

  • A vote at the LBMA's AGM.
  • Candidate nomination for LBMA Committes.
  • Application Sponsorship endorsement of companies seeking to become Members or Associates.