Bullion banks do not store precious metals directly; they use the services of partner companies specializing in logistics and security. These are international companies, so they give investors the choice between very safe jurisdictions such as Switzerland, Toronto, New York or Singapore. Safekeeping gold in professional storage units guarantees its traceability and facilitates its resale. Indeed, having never left the professional circuit, the origin of the precious metals is guaranteed.
Mutualized gold: Investors buy fractions of a bar. Although the investment is backed by physical gold, the bar is not allocated to one investor.
Allocated gold: An investor owns bars allocated at 100%, with total and direct control over them. A storage certificate is issued in her/his name and lists all the bars and their characteristics (serial numbers, weight, refiner’s name, fineness). The investor also has a personal storage account with the company in his/her name. With the gold stored by name, there is no intermediation in regards to ownership or storage.
Here is a more detailed explanation of the differences between direct ownership and mutual ownership.