Read the Monday Afternoon Wrap-Up for 3/5/2012 and the Tuesday Morning Commentary for 3/6/2012
I’m going to shift gears a bit, and put on my Marketing Director hat. After all, my mission may be to PROTECT you from financial Armageddon, but my job is to build Miles Franklin’s exposure.
As long time readers know, my portfolio was 100% invested in PM mining stocks from May 2002 until September 2008, when I first acquired PHYSICAL gold and silver. Actually, I had 5%-10% of my assets in Central Fund of Canada (CEF) until then, but not until Global Meltdown I in September 2008 did my view of the entire financial system change. At that point, I recognized systemic collapse as an equal risk to hyperinflation, and thus commenced removing my capital from “the system.”
I started by buying a few coins from eBay, gradually in larger quantities until eBay became – in my view – too dangerous a counterparty risk. True, eBay has numerous virtues – seller ratings, anonymity, and the ability to purchase with the click of a mouse. However, as I pointed out several months back, numerous scams have occurred online – even amongst sellers with strong ratings – and eBay’s resolution system is powerless to protect you. Actually, Miles Franklin is the largest “size PM seller” on eBay, but most people that find us on eBay wind up calling us instead. Prices with full service brokers are essentially the same as online, so there is no reason to deal with a robotic computer when you can receive personalized service.
I also dealt with other bullion dealers, some online and some with live people. I always received my metal, but was left with significantly different impressions of the various experiences, some that kept me from patronizing certain firms. Prices differed slightly, but were never a major contributing factor to my decisions. To me, the most important aspect of PM buying is security that your order will be shipped ASAP, i.e. the broker is honest about its inventory and/or ability to secure it.
THIS was a MAJOR issue for me, one that will become starker as “monetary fear” expands in scope and breadth in the coming years. In fact, several dealers – especially online dealers – were at best misleading, and at worst dishonest about inventory levels, in many cases yielding delivery times weeks beyond the dates I was led to believe. I am as stand-up a person regarding business transactions as in telling the hideous truths of the financial world, as well as a big-time “worry wart” when it comes to shipments of PHYSICAL precious metals. In my mind, “the system” could be crippled by market collapse or government decree any day, so I do everything in my power to get product shipped ASAP. I have even paid exorbitant fees for next day delivery – which I certainly don’t recommend for everyone – but given my temperament and above average “monetary fear,” it was worth every penny.
It was very late in my PHYSICAL gold and silver accumulation period that I came across Miles Franklin, circa July of last year. I had seen their name prominently on eBay for years, but by happenstance hadn’t utilized their services. I made several purchases at that time – fortuitously before gold rocketed to new all-time highs – including one executed while in London at the historic GATA conference – and was extremely pleased with the personalized service. My broker fully understood my market angst, catering to my needs in a manner that left me not worried in the least – even when a wiring SNAFU occurred at my bank, Charles Schwab. THIS was what buying Precious Metals should be like, I thought, and from that time on Miles Franklin became my broker of choice.
Shortly afterwards, I was contacted by David Schectman –Miles Franklin’s fearless founder – about considering a position at the firm. I had always assumed my RANTS would find their way onto someone special’s radar screen, but who could imagine it would be the CEO of Miles Franklin, a firm universally reputed to meet the integrity and service standards someone of my deep skepticism demanded? David has treated me as family from the first day we chatted, hardly a far reach given I have so much in common with his own son – Miles Franklin’s President, Andy Schectman – whom has also been with the firm since its genesis two decades ago.
But then again, David personifies Miles Franklin, a firm created in his image of honesty, service, and education. The PM industry was sheer hell in the 1990s (yes, worse than now!), but David plodded through with Andy at his side. Today, the firm remains small and tight-knit, with our brokers averaging 17 years of PM experience, many of them with histories dating far longer with the Schectman family, including the fabulous women behind the scenes.
David may be a Precious Metals expert – and sharp as a tack at his newly minted age of 70 (no pun intended) – but his most significant asset is the ability to surround himself with good people, building loyalty via kindness. And not just amongst friends, family, and colleagues, but clients as well. I am not making pretenses that Miles Franklin is a social organization – to the contrary, we are in the business of selling coins – but WHAT DIFFERENTIATES MILES FRANKLIN is the passion its brokers have for the cause, and subsequently affinity to their customers. Miles Franklin customers tend to stick with their brokers for years, and given the aforementioned “monetary fear factor” that will only increase with time, I have little doubt such relationships will strengthen as we approach the inevitable financial END GAME.
However, niceness is not an uncommon commodity, nor is the skill set utilized for the majority of coin selling transactions. If anything, the barriers to entry into bullion dealing are becoming more onerous, but for the dozen or so major players in the business, competition has grown fiercer since PM prices started rising. That is why David Schectman determined to provide a service no other dealer could – macroeconomic educational material that DIFFERENTIATES MILES FRANKLIN. Initially a print quarterly, but with the explosion of digital media, he wrote monthly, weekly, and now daily pieces – like myself, focusing on material not covered by the mainstream media.
Precious Metals is essentially an “Enemy of the State,” thus no sector is more poorly analyzed – making the value of David’s Daily Gold & Silver Summary Newsletter that much greater. I have yet to see a single mainstream analyst write of Precious Metals truthfully and accurately – aside from Sprott Securities – let alone a bullion dealer of any kind, anywhere. Not only that, but by hiring me to do the same, David ensured Miles Franklin’s legacy of superior, FREE educational material will continue.
Finally, I want to note a third area that DIFFERENTIATES MILES FRANKLIN, its International Precious Metal Storage Program. We have long offered a storage option with the Dakota Depository in Fargo, North Dakota, but the Canadian storage program – housed in Montreal, Quebec – commenced last Fall, thus far to significant client interest. Joel Kravitz worked long and hard developing this program, and he, Andy Schectman, and myself personally visited the facility, which appears virtually impregnable and, more importantly, is operated by “good, smart people” in a nation (Canada) as friendly to Precious Metals ownership as any in the world. Miles Franklin just announced that all pricing will be on a flat fee basis (as opposed to much of the industry’s variable cost basis), and are working hard to streamline the program further, doing everything in our power to maximize clients’ degree of confidence.
While an energy analyst from 1996-2005, one of the companies I covered was Schlumberger, the oilfield service company co-headquartered in Paris and New York. Over a ten-year period, I dealt with no less than 50 members of the team’s management in Paris, New York, Houston, Austin, and numerous drill sites at which Schlumberger personnel were stationed. Not to mention, two of the analysts on my Salomon Smith Barney team were former Schlumberger employees, so it’s fair to say I knew the company well. Schlumberger is the “gold standard” of oilfield service – the largest such company in the world – and although “cult” has a negative connotation, I think it best represents the cumulative pride of the company’s employees.
The same goes for another company I have been intimately acquainted with for some time (via friends that are long-time employees) – Enterprise Rent-A-Car – and I’d imagine most nations’ military personnel share the same type of communal pride. Miles Franklin is not as large as these companies, but I assure you the feeling is no different – PRIDE in our firm, our educational material, and knowing we perform an important service to clients.
As noted above, the greatest future threat to PM purchasers will be supply shortages. We already saw such conditions – to varying degrees – in October 2008, April 2011, and September 2011, but these snapshots in time were just preamble to the acute shortages we will see when the Cartel’s bonds are shortly broken down, ushering in the “Monetary Fear Factor” on a global basis.
Hopefully you will have PROTECTED YOURSELF by that time with purchases of PHYSICAL gold and silver, and if you are considering such, hopefully you will consider Miles Franklin to assist you in the process.