Precious metals are frequently recommended as part of a balanced investment portfolio. Whenever the economy goes through turbulent times, precious metals increase in value. They offer some level of security and protection against inflation. But not all precious metals dealers are created equal.
Hard Assets Alliance is an online precious metals dealer offering a variety of programs. When you make an account, you can log in and manage your holdings. You can also trade with thousands of different investors through their proprietary platform. But is it too good to be true?
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About Hard Assets Alliance
Hard Assets Alliance doesn't function like a regular precious metals dealer. Rather than selling people precious metals, they have created a platform that people can use to trade. There isn't a lot of information about who exactly is in charge of the company. Instead, the "alliance" is made up of dozens of smaller organizations.
These organizations say that they've come together because they want to make it easier for people to purchase precious metals. You should be able to buy metals, have them stored somewhere safe, have easy access to information about the holdings, and be able to sell or remove your holdings all with the push of a button.
Hard Assets Alliance is far from the only company to offer a platform like this. That's important to note because the company's reputation is not the best. There are plenty of other precious metals dealers that offer the exact same services without any of the baggage.
Hard Assets Alliance does list its members on the website. But rather than being the names of people, they're just the names of businesses and organizations. Some examples include Agora Financials, Casey Research, and Eagle Publishing.
The company is mainly backed by GBI, otherwise known as Gold Bullion International. GBI is a New York City company that runs the platform that Hard Assets Alliance uses for trading. Basically, Hard Assets Alliance has not developed any technology of their own. They're just using the technology that already exists and is also being utilized by their competitors.
The biggest service that Hard Assets Alliance offers is their trading platform. You can sign up for an account and trade precious metals instantly. Since you get access to other individual and corporate sellers, you should be able to find the lowest price... in theory.
In practice, it's always a good idea to check the spot price of precious metals before you make any purchase. Even if it looks like a great deal on the app, it might not be. It's easy to find out how much precious metals are selling for on any given day of the week. Don't let yourself be fooled.
You can use the Hard Assets Alliance platform to purchase and sell various types of platinum, palladium, gold, and silver. There are also precious metals IRA services available through the company. For those who want to learn more about the benefits and risks of investment, you can read the free investment guide. It is called "Why Portfolios Perform Better Than Gold."
Types of Accounts
If you want to participate in the Hard Assets Alliance platform, you will need to make an account. This account is where you'll fund your precious metals trades. You can also arrange for storage and view your holdings. All of your metals are owned directly by you.
Supposedly, you can have your metals removed from storage at any time. You should also be able to withdraw funds from your account and transfer them to your bank when you liquidate any of your holdings. But there have been multiple customer complaints about this that have gone unanswered. Apparently several people have had trouble with withdrawals, liquidation, and refunds.
There are a few different types of account that you can invest in with Hard Assets Alliance.
According to the website, the standard account is the one that most people use. It is a popular way to access the precious metals trading platform and view your holdings. You can view dashboard reports about the growth and change in the value of your metals, and you can have your metals delivered directly to you whenever you want.
One of the benefits of the standard account is how versatile and simple it is. Getting signed up is easy. You also don't need to reside in the US, so the offer is open to international customers who want to invest in precious metals.
With a standard account, you're supposed to have a high degree of flexibility. You aren't bound to any contracts or agreements, so you can liquidate or trade your assets whenever you want.
Similarly, the company states that you'll get access to some of the lowest prices on the market. However, as mentioned, you should always double check the spot price of different metals prior to making a purchase.
Finally, the standard account is supposed to give you peace of mind. Since the metals are stored under your name, you aren't in danger of losing them if the company goes bankrupt. The storage vaults are also extremely secure and fully insured.
However, there are many other precious metals companies that offer these same options for peace of mind. And they don't have complaints from customers who say that it was impossible to liquidate their holdings or get a promised refund.
Precious Metals IRAs
Hard Assets Alliance offers precious metals IRA services to people in the US. By making use of these services, you can store precious metals in a tax advantaged retirement account. When the time comes to take distributions, you can either liquidate the metals or have them delivered right to you.
Precious metals IRAs can be complicated to sign up for. They involve a lot of rules and regulations. You have to go through the paperwork to set up and fund the account, and then you have to make sure that all of the items you choose comply with IRS regulations.
But there are many companies that offer precious metals IRA services just like Hard Assets Alliance. Many of them have better reviews. In addition, Hard Assets Alliance is not a licensed IRA custodian, which means you'll have to work with an extraneous custodial entity anyway.
Hard Assets Alliance partners with Equity Trust for their IRA services. They also do appear to have a relatively streamlined approach. However, it's hard to say whether it's as streamlined and dedicated as some of their competitors.
Business accounts are available for business owners who want to own precious metals as part of their corporate assets. You get a secure account that applies to your LLC, corporation, or other business. There's even support for checkbook IRAs, meaning that you can purchase whatever assets you want directly with your IRA funds and store them in your retirement account.
This is a relatively unique offering from Hard Assets Alliance. It's difficult to find companies that want to help business owners with securing precious metals. The process is often complicated and full of confusing paperwork.
In addition to large corporations and other massive business entities, Hard Assets Alliance also supports partnerships and sole proprietorships. So if you're a small business owner who wants to diversify your financial capital, this solution just might appeal to you.
Is Hard Assets Alliance a Scam?
Hard Assets Alliance has every appearance of being a legitimate business. They do seem to provide the products and services that they say they do. It's true that they offer a platform that connects people with tens of thousands of investors, and it's true that you can access information about your vault at any time.
But just because they're a legitimate business doesn't mean that they have the best practices. In fact, based on their Better Business Bureau page, it seems like they might have the worst practices.
What does that mean?
Well, they're not accredited with the BBB, for starters. That in itself isn't a red flag, as many small businesses have never received a BBB accreditation. But it is good to look for precious metals dealers that have been accredited, since these are likely to have good management and customer service.
But it gets worse. The BBB gives the company a rating of F. That's the worst rating that a company can get. Short of notices of legal action, it's pretty much the biggest red flag that you can find.
The F rating is because the business never responded to two complaints that were filed. Both complaints were filed within the past three years. Only one was filed within the last twelve months, though.
There are also two customer reviews of the company. These are not official complaints, but they give a star rating and a description of their experiences. Both customers gave the company 1 out of 5 stars, the lowest rating possible.
Complaints and Negative Reviews
Let's take a look at what the complaints and poor reviews have to say. Keep in mind that the business has never responded to the issues or made any attempt to resolve the problems.
Both of the complaints were related to an issue with a product or service. Unfortunately, neither of the complaints is available to read on the BBB website. It's possible that the complainants chose that their issues wouldn't be publicly displayed, or it's possible that they have been taken down for other reasons.
Regardless, the BBB does state that the company never responded or made any attempt to resolve the issue.
The two poor customer reviews might shed some light on the subject, though. Consumer reviews are public.
One of the reviews was written on the last day of March in 2021. The customer said that he had been trying to withdraw funds from his account, but the process had been delayed for weeks. Eventually he was able to connect his bank to the customer service representative at Hard Assets Alliance and confirm his identity.
The HAA representative then told the customer that his withdrawal would be processed soon. He was supposed to receive a confirmation email. He said that he did get the confirmation email, which confirmed that the bank account had been verified.
But even after that was done, the withdrawal never came. The customer waited for weeks and weeks to receive a check. Then the customer logged in and saw that his withdrawal had been cancelled on the company's end. He said that there was no reason for the cancellation and that he had done everything he was asked. He was deeply upset with the poor customer service.
The other negative review was written in July of 2020. This customer said that the professionalism of the website design had fooled them. Apparently the company itself never acted with as much professionalism as the website made it seem.
According to this customer, she deposited money into her account more than two weeks prior. The company assured her that the transaction would be processed within two days. But instead there was this radio silence for weeks. The customer had no idea how to access her money or get it back. When she looked for a phone number to contact, the website just suggested that she should buy more precious metals.
She alleged that the company was participating in scam practices. There was never any response from the company to clarify the situation or to try to fix the issue.
That's a huge red flag. Sometimes companies are poorly managed or run into circumstances outside their control. But when a company is unable to fulfill their obligation to a customer, they should always explain the situation and make an effort to make it right. Hard Assets Alliance doesn't seem to have made any effort in this regard.
Pros & Cons of Hard Assets Alliance
On the surface, Hard Assets Alliance appears to be a well-managed company. They have a streamlined website that walks you through all of their services, they offer educational resources, and they seem to have solid customer service policies.
But all of that falls apart when you dig a little deeper. Hard Assets Alliance doesn't have a good reputation. The Better Business Bureau gives them an F rating because they've never responded to consumer complaints. Multiple people have alleged that the company stole their money, and there has been no attempt to clarify the situation or resolve the problem.
There is also a serious lack of transparency. It's difficult to find a customer service number to call or an email to contact. If you run into problems with your account, you might be on your own. According to past customers, it's very easy to put money into your account and start trading. The problem is when you try to withdraw any of your assets.
We definitely can't recommend this business. They do appear to offer legitimate services, but they also haven't made any effort to provide customer service. They don't seem to care if customers accuse them of fraud, and they appear to rely on people to trust the shiny website without looking much deeper.
You should always research a precious metals company before you make an investment. It's important to know what past customers have to say about their experiences. It's important to understand their policies and how their practices differ from their competitors.
There are plenty of other precious metals dealers that offer the same services that Hard Assets Alliance does. But these dealers actually have positive BBB ratings and reviews, plus they have dedicated customer service representatives that do their best to take care of each individual consumer. Invest with one of these instead.
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