The hottest trend among the super-rich? Safe-deposit boxes

Demand for safe-deposit boxes is increasing among the uber-rich, as wealthy people look for a safe haven for their cash, art, and jewels.

November 21, 2019

Safe-deposit boxes hidden in subterranean bank vaults are no longer just for European spy movies. 

Their demand is steadily increasing among the super-rich, according to Bloomberg. Billionaires and millionaires fear recession and climate change and just want some security for their cash, art, and jewels –– security that can cost as much as a mansion. 

That’s right. People are paying millions to store millions

At one private club in London, the firm IBV International Vaults offers apartment-size storage areas for $3.2m a year and has been getting calls from interested people every week. Prices aren’t quite as high elsewhere: Some safe-deposit boxes in Switzerland are going for ~$5k a year. 

In Switzerland, which has a population of 8.5m, one wealth management branch alone has 250k boxes. A precious metals dealer in Zurich has been renting five safe-deposit boxes a day, and the dealer expects its supply of 1k boxes to be gone soon.

As illicit as you would think

Safe-deposit boxes are often more about gaming the system than security. In Switzerland, lawmakers have questioned whether the safe-deposit boxes offered by non-banking entities are havens for money launderers.  

In the US, where banks have stopped installing safe-deposit boxes as more people store sensitive documents electronically, many people who use them are involved with cannabis. Because the federal government still bans weed, marijuana companies need a place to stash their other kind of green.

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