What Investors Need to Know About Alternative Assets

What investors need to know about alternative assets

Investors are people who put their money into things that they hope will make more money in the future. Some things that people usually invest in are things like buying parts of a company (stocks) or lending money to a company (bonds). These things are traded on organized markets where people can buy and sell them easily.

But there are also other things that people can invest in, which are not as common as stocks and bonds. These are called alternative investments. Some examples of these are things like buying pieces of property (real estate), artwork, or even a special kind of digital money (cryptocurrency).

People are becoming more interested in alternative investments because they want to have more options and maybe make more money than they would with just stocks and bonds.

There are some special things that people can invest in that are not like the usual things such as stocks, bonds, or cash. These are called alternative investments. Some examples of these are things like real estate, artwork, or even digital money.

One good thing about investing in these alternative things is that they help make a person's investment collection more diverse. When someone invests in just stocks and bonds, those things can go up and down together when things change in the economy. But alternative investments don't follow the same rules. This can help lower the risk of losing money overall. By investing in different things, people can make sure they don't lose all their money if one type of investment does not do well. 

When people have extra money, they can try to make more money by investing it in different ways. Some people invest in things like stocks and bonds, but others invest in less common things called alternative investments. These can use special methods to make more money than regular investments. Some examples are hedge funds, private equity funds, wine, farmland, cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin), and NFTs (special digital pictures). But remember, every investment has benefits and risks, and some alternative investments might be riskier than regular investments. It's important to learn about the investment before investing any money.

Private Equity

Private equity is like a group of people who put their money together to buy a company. They think the business has the potential to make more money if they make some changes, so they work hard to make it better. Once they make the company more valuable, they sell it for more money than they bought it, and everyone who puts their money in the store gets some of the profit. 

Private equity funds are like big groups of people who put their money together to buy companies that are not doing so well. They try to help those companies become better by making changes to how they work, so they can sell them for more money later on. Sometimes, they use a tricky strategy to make more money quickly, like borrowing a lot of money to pay their investors and then selling the company to other people or listing it in the stock market. But this strategy can also be risky, so it's important for investors to be careful and do their research before investing.

Private equity firms need a lot of money to buy companies, so they ask big groups of rich people and organizations like pension funds and endowment funds for help. These people and groups have a lot of money because they earn a lot of money or they have saved up a lot of money over time. The people who help private equity firms also need to have a lot of money themselves, usually more than $200,000 a year or more than $1 million in things they own, not including the house where they live.

Large investors often prefer investing in private equity funds instead of public companies in pursuit of higher returns. The return investors get from a PE investment is typically measured relative to the performance of a market index, such as the S&P 500. If the PE fund delivers higher returns than the index, then the fund is considered successful. However, private equity investments can also be illiquid, meaning investors may be unable to withdraw their money for several years.

VC Funds

VC funds, often known as venture capital funds or VCs, are a type of private equity fund that invests in early-stage companies with high growth potential. VCs are some of the riskiest types of alternative investments as most early-stage companies typically fail. In these cases, investors lose most if not all their money. However, VCs are very attractive investment vehicles for large investors due to their potential for significant returns. VC investors are aware of the risks, but they invest in early-stage companies they believe could grow into the billions. 

VC-backed companies are like small plants that are just starting to grow. They have new and exciting ideas, but they haven't made a lot of money yet. People called venture capitalists give them money to help them grow and become successful. It's a bit like helping a small plant grow into a big tree!

Like PE funds, VC funds are accessible only to institutional and accredited investors who give the funds millions or billions of dollars to invest in disruptive companies. VC investors typically demand very high returns on their invested capital to justify the risk. Returns of 10x, 100x, or even 1000x are often expected by VC investors who know that there is a high probability they will lose a significant portion of their capital.

Hedge Funds

Hedge funds are like a group of rich people and big companies who team up to try and make even more money with their money. They use special and complicated ways to try and make sure they can still make money even if things go wrong in the regular market where people usually buy and sell stocks and other things. Hedge funds don't have as many rules as other kinds of funds because the people who put money into them are supposed to be really smart and know what they're doing. They also have to understand that there are risks involved and they might lose money instead of making it. So, hedge funds are a way for really rich and knowledgeable people to try and make even more money using special methods that most regular people don't know about or can't use.

Hedge funds differ from other types of funds such as private equity and venture capital in that they invest in stock market assets such as stocks, bonds, and other securities. Hedge funds can do whatever they want and make as much money as they want. However, it is a risky way to invest, and you might sometimes lose a lot of money. When the hedge fund makes money, the fund manager gets a large portion. Typically, the fee is 20% of the profits and 2% of the total amount invested in the fund.

Hedge funds typically provide limited transparency into their investment strategies, fearing that competitors may copy them. However, the lack of disclosure requirements in hedge funds has helped fraudsters create fraudulent investment firms. The multibillion-dollar Madoff Ponzi scheme was created thanks to the lack of regulatory oversight. 

A hedge fund is like a group of people who manage money for other people. They try to make the money grow by investing it in different things like stocks and bonds. To see if the hedge fund is doing well, they compare how much money it makes to how much money other people make when they invest in something called the S&P 500. This is like a group of the top 500 companies in the stock market. But hedge funds are riskier and more expensive than other ways of investing money, so people who give their money to the hedge fund want to make sure it's worth it. They want the hedge fund to make a lot more money than the S&P 500 so they can earn more money too.

Real Estate

Investing in real estate means buying a building or a piece of land to make money. Unlike other types of investing, you usually need a lot of money at the beginni ng and it can be hard to sell quickly. Investing in real estate means using your money to buy or own property, like a building or land. You can do this on your own, buy shares in a company that invests in real estate, or join a group of people who invest together in a project. Each way has its own advantages and disadvantages. Owning a building by yourself can make you a lot of money, but it also costs a lot of money and takes a lot of work.

Real estate is an excellent way to make money since it can provide you with two things: monthly rent and the opportunity to sell the property for more than you paid for it later. It is also distinct from other investments in that it is not usually linked to the stock market. This can be advantageous since it means that even if the stock market is performing poorly, your real estate investment may be performing well.

People often compare how much money they can make from real estate investments to how much they can make from investing in the stock market. They look at how much the property is worth compared to how much it was worth before. Another way to measure the performance of a real estate investment is to look at how much money it makes every year compared to how much it costs. This is called the cap rate, and it helps you figure out how much money you can make from the investment every year.

Capitalization Rate: Net Operating Income / Current Market Value


Net Operating Income = The expected annual income (rentals) a property can generate after deducting all the operating expenses.

Current Market Value: The current market value of the property

Imagine you want to buy a house and rent it out to someone. The cap rate is a way to measure how good of an investment it is. If the cap rate is 10%, it means that for every 10 dollars you invest in the house, you will make 1 dollar every year from the rent. This means it will take about 10 years to make back all the money you invested in the house.

But, what makes a good or bad cap rate depends on where the house is located, what kind of house it is, and how the economy is doing. In some places, a 10% cap rate might be really good, while in other places, it might not be as good. So, when people decide to invest in a house, they need to think about all these things to figure out if the cap rate is good or bad for that particular house.


Commodities are basic things that businesses buy in large quantities, such as oil, gold, silver, corn, wheat, and coffee. People can buy and sell contracts for these items on exchanges like the New York Mercantile Exchange and the London Metal Exchange.

One of the key benefits of commodity investments is their diversification benefits. Commodity prices are generally less correlated with traditional investments like stocks and bonds, providing a hedge against market volatility.

Investing in commodities means investing in things like gold, oil, or crops. There are two ways to invest in commodities: one way is to buy something called a commodity futures contract, which is like making a bet on whether the price of the commodity will go up or down in the future. The other way is to invest in something called a commodity Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF), which is like buying a basket of commodities all at once. Investing in commodity ETFs is easier for most people because it's simpler than buying futures contracts, which can be a little complicated.

While commodity investments can provide diversification, their prices can be subject to significant fluctuations due to changes in supply and demand as well as geopolitical events. Investors who buy commodities measure their performance against other commodities and general market indexes such as the S&P 500.


Infrastructure investments include roads, airports, bridges, as well as energy and communication facilities. They can be less volatile than traditional investments like stocks and bonds because infrastructure is a core part of modern societies and tends to perform well during economic downturns, when other investments may be struggling.

One of the key benefits of infrastructure investments is their ability to generate steady and relatively predictable cash flows. For example, assets such as toll roads generate relatively predictable revenues through user fees, making these investments attractive for investors seeking long-term income.

Investing in infrastructure means investing in things like highways, airports, and power plants. This can be a good way for people to invest their money and make more money. There are different ways to invest in infrastructure, like buying shares in a fund or investing in a company that helps build infrastructure. But sometimes, people might invest directly in a specific infrastructure project. This can be riskier but might offer the chance to make even more money. However, it also requires a lot of money upfront, and people need to do their research and know what they're doing to make good decisions.

Infrastructure investments may provide diversification to an investment portfolio, but they also come with their own unique risks. Regulatory, political, construction, and operational risks are some of the risks of infrastructure investments. They are also illiquid investments, which means they cannot be bought or sold easily.

Art & Collectibles

There are some types of alternative investments that have traditionally been accessible only to wealthy individuals, such as art and collectibles. Historically, wealthy individuals would spend millions of dollars on rare paintings and collectibles to diversify their investment holdings. Art and collectibles can appreciate in value over time, and their performance is often uncorrelated with the stock market.

Today, this type of alternative investment has become accessible to non-wealthy investors who can buy fractional shares of expensive paintings or collectibles and benefit from their appreciation over time, as rare pieces of art tend to increase in value. Additionally, many pieces of art and collectibles can be enjoyed for their aesthetic value.

Investors can gain exposure to art and collectibles through a variety of channels, including auctions, galleries, and online marketplaces. When considering an investment in art or collectibles, investors should carefully evaluate the authenticity and condition of the piece. It's also important to keep in mind that these types of alternative investments can generate positive returns over the long run, making the return on investment difficult to measure in the short term.


Wine has become an increasingly popular alternative investment in recent years, with collectors and investors alike seeking out rare and valuable bottles to add to their portfolio. Investment-grade wine has become widely accessible through digital platforms that allow individual investors to invest in fractions of rare wine that can appreciate in value over time.

Wine as an investment has little correlation with the market and is known for delivering market-beating returns over the past two decades. Another benefit of investing in wine is the enjoyment that comes from owning and even drinking the wines. Collectors and investors can take pleasure in owning a piece of history or a work of art that is admired by others.

Investors can gain exposure to wine through a variety of channels, including traditional ones such as auctions and wine merchants, or modern ones such as fractional wine shares and wine investment funds, offered through digital platforms. Investment-grade wine has become increasingly liquid thanks to securitization, allowing small investors to buy and sell shares in specific wines or wine funds, managed by experienced professionals.


Crypto as an alternative investment has boomed since its inception nearly 10 years ago. Investors are seeking out digital assets as a way to diversify their portfolios and earn high returns. Cryptos are high-risk, high-reward investments. There are digital coins that have lost virtually all of their value overnight while others have rallied overnight.

Bitcoin, by far the most popular cryptocurrency in the world is often considered a hedge against inflation as only 21 million coins will ever be created. In other words, the supply is limited, in contrast to national currencies that central banks can print to meet their monetary goals.

One advantage of cryptocurrencies is that they are decentralized, meaning they are not regulated by governments or financial institutions like traditional investments. This makes them more accessible and appealing to some investors.

Investors can gain exposure to cryptos either directly or indirectly. They can directly invest in the digital coins through exchanges and wallets or invest in crypto-related publicly traded funds. When investing in crypto, it is important for investors to carefully evaluate the quality and reputation of the coin as well as the potential for adoption and use.

Cryptocurrencies are notoriously risky investments, with prices shifting quickly and unpredictably. Additionally, crypto accounts may be vulnerable to hacking or theft. It is important for investors to do their due diligence and work with reputable exchanges or investment funds to minimize these risks.

Cryptocurrencies have helped some investors earn returns of hundreds or even thousands of percent. However, given their high-risk profile, it is important for crypto investors to keep this alternative asset as a small percentage of their overall portfolio.

Peer-to-peer lending

Have you ever borrowed money from a friend or maybe lent some money to someone you know? Well, P2P lending is kind of like that, but on a bigger scale. It's a new way for people to lend and borrow money without going to a bank. People who need money can ask for a loan from other people who want to lend money. And just like the bank, they have to pay back the money with interest.

Sometimes, people who need money can't get a loan from a bank because they are starting a new business or have an idea that the bank thinks is too risky. But P2P lending lets them find people who are willing to take a risk and lend them the money they need. However, because the loans are riskier than those from a bank, people who lend money through P2P lending might get a higher return on their investment with higher interest rates. It's like getting paid extra for taking a bigger risk.

P2P lending boomed over the past decade, with several P2P lending platforms founded to meet the growing demand for financing options and the growing investor demand for unconventional types of investments. 

P2P loans are when people lend money directly to other people who need it, without going to a bank. The people who need the money can use it for lots of different things, like building a house or paying for school.

The good thing about P2P loans is that the people who lend the money get to choose which loans they want to fund. They can pick loans that match what they want to invest in and how much risk they are willing to take.

But it's really important to be careful when investing in P2P loans. Some platforms that offer these loans have been dishonest and people have lost their money because of it. So, before investing, it's important to check the platform's history and reputation and make sure they are trustworthy. It's also important to look at the fees involved to make sure it's a good investment for you. 

P2P lending can be a lucrative alternative investment when done right. It can give investors dependable, high-interest income, but study and patience are required because this is a long-term investment. Finally, investors should diversify and invest in multiple loans or types of loans because there is no guarantee that they will be repaid in full or on time.


Crowdfunding, like peer-to-peer lending, has seen explosive growth over the past decade. While these alternative investments share similarities, the main difference is how investors receive returns. In crowdfunding, everyday investors become co-owners in small businesses and projects and can share in the profits. 

Crowdfunding allows businesses to raise funding from the “crowd” by giving them an equity stake in the business or products at a significant discount. It is essentially the democratization of Venture Capital investing. While only accredited investors can participate in VC deals, everyone can participate in crowdfunding deals. 

Investors can support projects they think have strong growth potential. They can participate in the early stages of a company, providing critical funding and support to help bring new products and services to market. 

Crowdfunding can be divided into three main types: equity crowdfunding, real estate crowdfunding, and crowdfunding for charitable causes. With equity crowdfunding, people can invest in new companies and become shareholders. Real estate crowdfunding allows people to invest in property projects, like building new houses or buying commercial buildings, and receive a share of the profits. Crowdfunding for charitable causes lets people donate money to help people in need, without expecting anything in return.

While crowdfunding is popular because it provides access to investments that were previously only available to wealthy investors, it is typically riskier than other types of investments. Projects in crowdfunding are often in the early stages, making failure more probable. As a result, while participating in crowdfunding projects, investors must conduct significant due diligence and select reliable platforms.


Farmland has become increasingly popular as an alternative investment in recent years, especially after it became known that Bill Gates owns hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland in the US. 

The main benefit of farmland is its guaranteed value. The land is the only asset that does not depreciate; in other words, it never loses its value. Instead, the value of farmland increases over time, as there is a finite amount of land surface on the planet, and a growing population means that each acre of land becomes more valuable.

The lack of depreciation and the growing demand for space and crops make farmland a relatively safe investment with good growth prospects. It can provide a steady stream of income through crop yields and land appreciation.

Traditionally, investors who wanted to get exposure to this asset would need to purchase land themselves. However, in recent years, several farmland investment channels have been created that democratize farmland investing. Digital farmland investing platforms allow individual investors to buy fractions of farmland and benefit from the appreciation over time. Farmland real estate investment trusts (REITs) offer another choice for investors looking for a less expensive and more passive investment channel.


Timberland is a similar investment to farmland but less popular. It can provide exposure to the forestry industry and can provide a steady stream of income through timber sales and land appreciation. It also gives investors the opportunity to invest in a sustainable and environmentally friendly asset. 

Investing in timberland means buying land where trees grow and then waiting for the trees to grow bigger and become more valuable. As the trees grow, they can be cut down and sold for things like building houses or making paper.

This investment can make money because as the trees get bigger, they become worth more money. And because people always need wood for lots of things, like building houses, the demand for timber can stay high.

But investing in timberland isn't just good for making money. It's also good for the environment because trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air, which can help fight climate change. And by preserving forests, we can protect the homes of animals and plants that live there.

Timberland investing has not been digitized as much as farmland investing. There are few digital platforms that focus solely on timberland investments, so investors can gain exposure either directly by buying timberland properties or indirectly through timberland investment funds or timberland real estate investment trusts (REITs).

If someone wants to invest in timberland, they need to think carefully about which land to buy. They should look for land with good-quality trees that can grow well and produce lots of timber. They should also look for land in a good location, where it's easy to get the timber to where it needs to go.

But investing in timberland is different from other kinds of investments because it can take a really long time to make money. Trees grow slowly, so investors need to be patient and willing to wait many years, even decades before they can sell the timber and make a profit.

This means that investing in timberland is not very "liquid," which means that investors can't easily get their money back when they want to. They need to be prepared to keep their money "locked" in the investment for a long time. So, it's important to think carefully and make sure they are okay with this before investing in timberland.

Other alternative investments

The world of alternative investments is growing as investors look for unconventional assets that can deliver market-beating returns. Beyond the 13 above assets, there are several other less popular or up-and-coming alternative investments, such as trading cards, domains, NFTs, and even YouTube channels.

Collectible trading cards can gain value as time goes on, and people collect rare and valuable cards to add to their collections. These cards can be a unique and nostalgic investment opportunity that has the potential for high returns.

Domain investing could be considered a traditional type of alternative investment. Investors have been buying domain names in bulk to resell them at much higher prices since the early days of the Internet. This is because every domain name is unique, and companies are often willing to pay a premium to buy a domain name that is the same as the name of their brand. Domain investing is quite affordable as many domain names cost just a few dollars, but unless a domain is sold for a higher price, the return on investment is zero.

NFTs are like special digital things that you can't copy, like a one-of-a-kind toy. They are stored in a safe place online so no one can steal them. NFTs can be pictures, music, or even places in video games. They are really popular right now because they are so unique, but they can be worth a lot or not much at all. They are not like things in the real world like farms or houses, so they can be more risky to invest in.

Finally, YouTube channels have become attractive alternative investments due to the cash flow they can generate and the difficulty of building one from scratch. Investors can purchase established channels and generate passive income by outsourcing video production. However, successful YouTube channels may cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to acquire, making them an unattractive investment option for small individual investors.

In conclusion 

Investing is not just about buying stocks and bonds. Alternative investments are becoming more popular because they can help people make more money than regular investments. These include things like wine, farmland, and even things like cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

But these investments can be risky, and people need to be careful before putting their money in them. Some are more risky than others, but they can also offer the chance for bigger profits. Some alternative investments, like farmland and wine, are safer, but people still need to do their research before investing.

Everybody's situation is different, so there's no one best or worst investment. It's important to think about how much risk someone is comfortable with and what their goals are before choosing where to put their money.