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Stefan Gleason (Florida) Sits Atop the 21st Century Gold Rush

Stefan Gleason (Florida) spends his days educating investors about financial risks, helping them navigate the tides of inflation and economic uncertainty.

As the founder of Money Metals Exchange, which buys, sells, and stores gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, Gleason provides options for people who want more control over their financial strategies.

"I think everyone should have some assets outside of the traditional financial system of dollar-denominated securities and bonds where there's counterparty risk," explained Gleason, who resides in Charlotte, N.C., with his wife and two sons.

The demand for precious metals is booming – especially in light of political and economic disruptions over the past decade. Money Metals Exchange was founded in 2010 as the nation emerged from the Great Recession. It has grown to nearly 400,000 customers while tracking to reach $1 billion in annual sales this year.

This summer, the company is set to break ground on its second building - a 35,000 square facility which includes 10,000 square feet of secure vault space.

The investment world has taken notice. Money Metals Exchange was recently named "The Best Online Gold Dealer for 2022" by Investopedia, a prominent financial advisory service headquartered in New York City.

Gleason did not aim for a career in the financial sector. At Florida, he was an engineering major before switching to political science as he became increasingly interested in public policy and government actions.

"What drove me into public policy is my conservative free-market belief system [and my belief] in limited government, less regulation, and low taxes," said Gleason, who grew up in northern California.

His ideal world is one where government intervention into the economy is limited, and individual freedoms are abundant and fully protected.

Gleason's leadership experience in Sigma Nu, where he served two years as chapter Commander, influenced his dislike of government interference in what should be individual decisions.

He grew frustrated by college administrators who too often meddled in the ability of groups, especially fraternities, to manage their own affairs. He was especially concerned with the mindset of college administrators who sought to impose their worldview on impressionable students.

"I got a taste of something I didn't like," he explained. "That caused me to become interested in public policy and developing the skills for political campaigning, building organizations, fundraising, and media."

After graduation, Gleason landed in Washington, D.C. He initially worked for Americans for Tax Reform, advocating for lower and flatter taxes, then with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. There he helped fight mandatory union membership, and the special privileges he believed were often granted to unions through political donations and influence.

Gleason's interest in the world of finance and economics developed over the years as he began investing, owning, and learning about what influences the market.

"That led me to look into the Federal Reserve System and how it attempts to centrally plan the economy through monetary policy… arrogantly managing currency by turning 'dials,'" Gleason said.

He knew the existing monetary system was contrary to the founding principles of the United States, which had a gold and silver standard beginning in the 1790s. This approach based the value of the dollar to set amounts of gold and silver (24.75 grains of gold and 371.25 grains of silver).

In 1971, Gleason explained, the US government dropped the last vestiges of the gold standard, leaving currency backed only by government promises…and setting off a wave of government spending and debt

"Today, there's no gold or silver in the monetary system," Gleason said. "Instead of sound money, we have political money managed by the Federal Reserve and other central banks."

Forging a Financial Path in Precious Metals

In 2009, Gleason went into business with a friend who published a national newsletter on personal self-reliance and alternative investment strategies. As an incentive, new subscribers were given an ounce of silver, which proved to be a huge draw.

"People were concerned about inflation, government debt, economic disruption," Gleason said. "We were providing ideas of how to personally protect their assets."

He founded Money Metals Exchange a year later. His target customer was the investor who wanted to diversify into hard assets and avoid a "dollar-centric" portfolio too reliant on government actions.

Gold and silver were gaining interest at the time, and Gleason was concerned with "bait and switch" tactics in this sector. Dealers hired celebrities and influencers to help them sell rare gold and silver coins at prices astronomically above the "melt" value.

"There's a whole industry around collectible coins… and there's some value there for people who know what they're doing," Gleason explained. "But for the average investor who just wants to own gold and silver, they should stay away from all that stuff."

He recommends instead buying bullion items priced near the global price of the metal and making it part of a diverse investment strategy.

Gleason also advises investors to reject "normalcy bias" in thinking everything returns to the way it was in the past and to be skeptical of "expert" advice.

"In the last few years, people have increasingly questioned the conventional wisdom from the supposed experts," Gleason said. "That's a good thing because experts often have their own agendas, and people should do more exploration on their own."

The Lessons of Sigma Nu

Nearly 30 years after first pledging Sigma Nu at Florida, Gleason said the life lessons he learned in those four years shaped who he is today.

He appreciates the Fraternity's core values – the integrity of its founders and the focus on non-hazing – but his key takeaways were learning the skills of relationship building, conflict resolution, and working towards common goals.

"When I entered the workforce after graduation, I already understood dynamics of organizations and how to work with people I didn't agree with or necessarily like," he admits. "I think being a part of Sigma Nu made me far more prepared and successful as I launched into my career."

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