Alternative Investment Definition

What Is an alternative investing ?

An option investment is a fiscal asset that does not fall into one of the conventional investment categories. conventional categories include stocks, bonds, and cash. alternative investments can include secret equity or venture capital, hedge funds, managed futures, art and antiques, commodities, and derivatives contracts. actual estate is besides often classified as an alternative investing .

Key Takeaways

  • An alternative investment is a financial asset that does not fit into the conventional equity/income/cash categories.
  • Private equity or venture capital, hedge funds, real property, commodities, and tangible assets are all examples of alternative investments.
  • Most alternative investments have fewer regulations from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and tend to be somewhat illiquid.
  • While traditionally aimed at institutional or accredited investors, alternative investments have become feasible to retail investors via alternative funds.


Alternative Investments

Understanding Alternative Investments

Most option investment assets are held by institutional investors or accredited, high-net-worth individuals because of their building complex nature, lack of regulation, and academic degree of risk. many alternative investments have high minimal investments and fee structures, specially when compared to reciprocal funds and exchange-traded funds ( ETFs ). These investments besides have less opportunity to publish verifiable performance data and advertise to likely investors. Although alternate assets may have high initial minimums and upfront investing fees, transaction costs are typically lower than those of conventional assets due to lower levels of turnover .

Most option assets are reasonably illiquid, particularly compared to their conventional counterparts. For model, investors are probably to find it well more difficult to sell an 80-year old bottle of wine compared to 1,000 shares of Apple Inc. due to a limited count of buyers. Investors may have trouble even valuing alternative investments, since the assets, and transactions involving them, are much rare. For exemplar, a seller of a 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle $ 20 aureate coin may have trouble determining its value, as there are only 13 known to exist and only one can be legally owned .

rule of Alternative Investments

flush when they do n’t involve alone items like coins or art, alternate investments are prone to investing scams and imposter ascribable to the lack of regulations .

alternative investments are much subject to a less clear legal structure than ceremonious investments. They do fall under the horizon of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and their practices are subject to interrogation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ( SEC ). however, they normally do n’t have to register with the SEC. As such, they are not oversee or regulated by the SEC as are common funds and ETFs .

so, it is essential that investors conduct across-the-board due diligence when considering option investments. In some cases, entirely accredited investors may invest in alternate offerings. Accredited investors are those with a net worth exceeding $ 1 million—not counting their primary coil residence—or with an annual income of at least $ 200,000 ( or $ 300,000 combined with a spousal income ). fiscal professionals who hold a FINRA Series 7, 65, or 82 license may besides qualify as an accredited investor .

Some alternative investments are lone available to accredit investors—e.g., those with a internet worth above $ 1 million, or an annual income of at least $ 200,000.

strategy for Alternative Investments

alternative investments typically have a gloomy correlation with those in standard asset classes. This gloomy correlation coefficient means they much move counterpunch to the stock and bond markets. This feature makes them a desirable cock for portfolio diversification. Investments in arduous assets, such as amber, petroleum, and real number place, besides provide an effective hedge against ostentation, which hurts the purchasing power of paper money .

Because of this, many large institutional funds such as pension funds and individual endowments much allocate a little share of their portfolios—typically less than 10 % —to alternative investments such as hedge funds .

The non-accredited retail investor besides has access to alternative investments. alternative reciprocal funds and exchange-traded funds—also called elevation funds or liquid alts—are now available. These elevation funds provide ample opportunity to invest in alternative asset categories, previously unmanageable and dearly-won for the average individual to access. Because they are publicly traded, alt funds are SEC-registered and regulated, specifically by the Investment Company Act of 1940 .


  • Counterweight to conventional assets
  • Portfolio diversification
  • inflation hedge
  • high rewards


  • unmanageable to measure
  • Illiquid
  • Fewer regulative requirements
  • bad

exemplar of Alternative Investments

just being regulated does not mean that elevation funds are safe investments. The SEC notes, “ many alternative reciprocal funds have limited performance histories. ”

besides, although its diversify portfolio naturally mitigates the threat of loss, an elevation store is still subject to the built-in risks of its underlie assets. indeed, the path record of ETFs that specialize in alternative assets has been mixed .

For model, as of January 2022, the SPDR Dow Jones Global Real Estate ETF had an annualized five-year come back of 6.17 %. In contrast, the SPDR S & P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF posted a render of –6.40 % for the like time period .

What Are the Key Characteristics of Alternative Investments?

alternate investments tend to have high gear fees and minimum investments, compared to retail-oriented reciprocal funds and ETFs. They besides tend to have lower transaction costs, and it can be harder to get verifiable fiscal data for these assets. alternative investments besides tend to be less liquid than conventional securities, meaning that it may be unmanageable even to rate some of the more unique vehicles because they are indeed thinly traded .

How Can Alternative Investments Be Useful to Investors?

Some investors seek out alternative investments because they have a broken correlation coefficient with the stock and adhesiveness markets, meaning that they maintain their values in a market downturn. besides, hard assets such as gold, vegetable oil, and real property are effective hedges against inflation. For these reasons, many large institutions such as pension funds and family offices seek to diversify some of their holdings in alternate investment vehicles.

What Are the Regulatory Standards for Alternative Investments?

Regulations for option investments are less clear than they are for more traditional securities. Although option investment vehicles are regulated by the SEC, their securities do not have to be registered. As a resultant role, most of these investment vehicles are only available to institutions or affluent accredited investors .

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