Ask the Gold Guru: Can a 403b hold physical precious metals

Dear Birch Gold,Question mark made of gold coins.

I have a 403(b) that’s in a couple of mutual funds. Stocks look like they’re way too high right now – is there a way I can put physical metals in my 403(b)?

Sam T., Houston, TX


Hi Sam,

Thank you for your question!

The short answer is, no; it is extremely rare for a 403b to allow investments in physical precious metals. However, you still may have an option; if your 403b is eligible to be moved, the funds can be rolled over into a Precious Metals IRA.

For those who may not know, a 403b is an employer-sponsored retirement account. Very similar to a 401k plan, a 403b is designed specifically for employees at select types of organizations, such as public universities and nonprofits. Since it’s an employer-sponsored plan, a 403b is limited to the investment choices offered by the employer (or, more specifically, by the investment firm that provides the 403b account). As such, these accounts are typically limited to a relatively small list of mutual funds, money markets and bonds.

If you have a 403b, the solution to investing in physical precious metals is converting your 403b to a Precious Metals IRA. A Precious Metals IRA is a self-directed, individual retirement account that allows investments in gold, silver, platinum and palladium, as well as other types of investments, such as stocks and mutual funds, to name a few.

To be eligible for a rollover, your 403b may need to be from a previous employer, or you must be retired from the company where your 403b was formed.

What if your 403b plan is with your current employer, and not eligible for a rollover? You always have the option of opening a separate physical Precious Metals IRA. While the rules and contribution limits for each account are different, having two retirement accounts will allow you to diversify your portfolio. Diversification is the key to any investment strategy, particularly for retirement, as it can reduce your exposure to losses when one type of investment loses value. For example, in a bear market, a 403b plan that is heavy with mutual funds can take a substantial hit. This is why many people who have 403b and 401k plans choose to shield their retirement savings by diversifying their portfolios with physical precious metals placed in a self-directed IRA.

We hope this helps clarify your options. If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at (800) 355-2116.

Do you have a question about how to invest in precious metals? Want to know more about how to set up a Precious Metals IRA, or what types of coins are available to you? Send us an email to and we may answer it in a future post on our site.

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