What is an Alternative Investment?

January 12, 2023

Estimated Reading Time: 8 Minutes

Many investors are looking for ways to diversify their portfolios. While more traditional diversification strategies include a mixture of stocks and bonds, some investors may be interested in non-traditional investment strategies to diversify their portfolios across multiple dimensions. Alternative investments are vehicles that, for the high-net-worth investor, can offer non-correlated returns, alternative streams of income, and other opportunities that may not be available to traditional investors.

An alternative investment is any investment that falls outside the traditional categories of stocks, bonds, and cash. These types of investments can include things like real estate, private equity, hedge funds, and commodities. They are often considered less mainstream and less liquid than traditional investments, and they can provide investors with the potential for higher returns and enhanced diversification.

Types of Alternative Investments

Real estate is one of the most popular alternative investments. It can take the form of residential properties, commercial properties, or even farmland. Real estate can generate rental income, and it has the potential to appreciate in value over time. Additionally, it provides a tangible asset that investors can touch and see, which can make it feel more secure than other types of investments. Investing in real estate also allows for leveraging your investment, which can magnify your potential returns. It also can provide tax benefits in certain jurisdictions. However, real estate is not always a passive investment, and it may require significant time, effort, and costs to manage the property.

Private equity is another popular alternative investment. This type of investment allows investors to provide capital to companies that are not publicly traded. Private equity firms typically invest in young companies with high growth potential. They work closely with management teams to help develop the companies and prepare them for an initial public offering. Private equity can provide investors with the opportunity to invest in promising young companies before they go public, which can lead to high returns if the companies are successful. However, private equity investments are often illiquid, meaning that they can't be easily bought or sold, and they often require a significant initial investment. Our clients receive access to private equity investments through our proprietary platform.

Private credit is a type of alternative investment focused on providing investors with an alternative source of fixed income. Private credit investments refer to investments in private companies, where the financing is provided in the form of debt, as opposed to equity. Private credit investments typically take the form of loans, bonds, or other types of debt instruments issued by private companies. These investments can provide investors with the opportunity to earn higher returns than traditional fixed-income investments, such as government bonds, due to the higher risk associated with lending to private companies. We include private credit in many of our clients’ investment strategies.

What are the Benefits of Alternative Investments?

One of the main benefits of alternative investments is their potential for higher returns. Many alternative investments, such as private equity and private credit, can provide investors with the opportunity to earn higher returns than traditional investments like stocks and bonds. Private equity investments have the potential to earn significant return on companies that are not currently public. Similarly, hedge funds can employ a wide range of investment strategies to generate returns in a variety of market conditions, which can also lead to higher returns than traditional investments.

Another benefit of alternative investments is the diversification they provide. Alternative investments, such as commodities and real estate, may provide a hedge against inflation and may perform well when traditional investments are not performing well. Furthermore, alternative investments have a low correlation with traditional investments, which means that their returns tend not to move in the same direction as traditional investments. This can help to reduce the overall volatility of a portfolio and provide a level of downside protection.

What are the Risks of Alternative Investments?

One of the main risks associated with alternative investments is their illiquidity. Many alternative investments, such as real estate and private equity, are not traded on public markets, which means it can be challenging to buy and sell them. Additionally, the values of these types of assets can be more challenging to determine, which can make it harder for investors to know how much their investments are worth. This lack of liquidity can also make it difficult for investors to access their money in a timely manner, which can be problematic in the event of an emergency.

Another risk associated with alternative investments is their complexity. Many alternative investments are more complex than traditional investments, and they may require a higher level of expertise to understand and manage. For example, hedge funds can employ a wide range of investment strategies, which can make them difficult for the average investor to fully understand. Additionally, many alternative investments can require a significant amount of time and effort to manage, which can be challenging for busy investors.

Another risk associated with alternative investments is the potential for fraud. Some alternative investments can be highly speculative and may not be backed by tangible assets. Additionally, some alternative investments may be marketed aggressively, which can make it difficult for investors to make informed decisions. Moreover, there are a number of fraudulent schemes that target investors with promises of high returns, which can result in significant losses for investors. Due to the high-risk nature of alternative investments, it is important to conduct due diligence, consult with a financial advisor, and verify the credibility of the investment opportunity before investing.

Additional Considerations for Alternative Investments

It's worth noting that alternative investments are not generally available to retail investors and often require high-net-worth or accredited status. They also require a long-term investment horizon and can be more complex to manage than traditional investments.

Despite these challenges, alternative investments can offer investors the potential for higher returns and diversification benefits. However, it's essential to thoroughly research any alternative investment before putting your money into it and to make sure that it aligns with your overall investment strategy and risk tolerance. Additionally, it's essential to have a diversified portfolio, which also includes a mix of traditional investments, in order to ensure that your portfolio is well-balanced and that you are not too exposed to any one type of investment. It's always a good idea to consult with a financial advisor before making any significant investment decisions.

Depending on the investor’s specific situation, alternative investments can be a great way to diversify your portfolio and potentially earn higher returns. However, they should be approached with caution and only after careful research and consideration. As with any investment, it's essential to understand the risks and the potential rewards of alternative investments and to ensure that they align with your overall investment goals.

Important Disclosure Information

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