Alternatives Help Investors Regain Control of Financial Future

Generally speaking, an alternative investment is any investment opportunity that has not established a reputation for itself as a long-standing, traditional investment. Examples of well-established or “traditional” options include stocks, bonds, and, although investing in precious metals is quite new, gold is a long-standing investment too.

The trouble with many of the investments that occupy portfolios right now is that their performance is unduly influenced by the economic and political environment, which for the most part is dictated by bias (often self-serving) policy makers.

Economic progress, in capitalist society, means turmoil. – Joseph A. Schumpeter

economic progress turmoil

During the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, it was the traditional investments identified above (stocks, bonds, etc.) that experienced the greatest drop in value. On the other hand, many of the leading alternative investments were unaffected by the poor performance of traditional assets, or saw limited losses followed much quicker recovery than their more established counterparts. That said, the investment community has taken notice of this impressive track record, and many have adjusted their portfolios to include more non-traditional options.

Albeit a majority of investing dollars remains in stocks, bonds, commodities, etc., investors feel the need to regain some control over the direction and performance of their financial future. In doing so, investors have discovered that placing financial resources into hard assets like investing in gemstones, precious metals, and/or real estate investments, provides a degree of protection from the effects of market volatility, political turmoil and global economic woes; three strong influences on the performance of traditional investments.

Too oft is transient pleasure the source of long woes. – Christoph Martin Wieland

pleasure and woes

Despite bouts of prosperity, Wall Street and other stock markets have repeatedly disappointed the investment community. And, with the constant threat of inflation, bonds do not appear to offer a better option for the world’s cautious investors. The main driving force behind this is caution is economic uncertainty. This combined with the fact that investors know that banks and governments represent their own interests, means investing opportunities that operate outside their sphere of influence are a much more favorable option.

With the world’s traditional investments still struggling to recover and perform, alternative investment brokers are demonstrating that their offerings are more appealing, especially given that they offer lower risk and have demonstrated that they can (and will continue to) outperform the established list of more traditional investments. That said, these are the opportunities that will allow investors to take back control of their investment portfolios, and release their financial future from the grips of greedy institutional investment firms.

New Alternatives Offer New Investing Challenges For Investors

By most any definition, alternative investments are simply anything different from traditional offerings. This includes non-traditional strategies like real estate investments, commodities, currencies, and collectibles.

When we look at the investment industry, we’ve generally had three asset classes to work with — equities, real estate and fixed income — and all three have won out over the past 35 years because we’ve had a declining interest rate environment. – Som Seif, President of Purpose Investments Inc.

In past years, the market’s most attractive alternative investments have been repeatedly applauded for their diversification benefits and consistent returns. Adding to their increasing appeal, many investors feel that they are a much more secure investment, given that they are uncorrelated to stocks and bonds.

Although it sounds like a wonderful investing strategy for most anyone, in the past many of these opportunities have been a secret investment that held a big price tag and, more often than not; were limited to institutional and/or accredited, high-net-worth investors. Thankfully this is changing.

Nowadays, savvy, confident investors are enjoying access to a new wave of more affordable alternative investments. This has been instrumental in encouraging investment-seekers to introduce alternatives to their portfolio, and to distance themselves from the volatility of the stock, bond, and currency markets.

In recent months I for one have been approached by several investment brokers, whose entire list of offerings is comprised of nothing but alternative investments. Their list of non-traditional opportunities range from commercial real estate and shipping container investments, to precious metal and gemstone investing. None of which I am particularly knowledgeable about. In fact, therein lies much of my apprehension about alternatives.

All things considered, if investors hope to discover where alternatives fit in their portfolio, they must either conduct their own in-depth research or rely upon the information provided to them by their investment brokers and/or advisers. In either case, I recommend that investment-seekers do as I have done, and educate themselves on:

  1. the investment provider,
  2. past and present market performance, and
  3. credible forecasts for the future.

Given that these new alternatives have presented new challenges for investors, the only way to profit from these new, highly profitable opportunities is to educate yourself, and make informed decisions based on established facts and figures.

For example, although the global shipping industry appears to be facing its share of challenges for the next couple of years, much of the world’s real estate market is doing well and gemstones have shown to retain (and steadily increase) their value. I’m still not sold on precious metals either. That will require further study.

All in all, my confidence in alternative investments is high. I see a lot of potential for great, low-risk returns in the coming years, and I have adopted a non-traditional investing strategy to reflect that.

A Way to Exit The Stock Market And Earn up to 12 Per Cent

Even those who think the market offers long-term promise are less enthusiastic about its immediate future.

If pushed to say whether I think we’re on the cusp of a real correction, over 5 to 10 per cent, I’d say that I’m not sure; but the market doesn’t feel great. – Jenny Van Leeuwen Harrington of Gilman Hill Asset Management (Westport, Connecticut, U.S.A).

That said though, most investment advisers have expressed caution about trying and exit the stock market given that it is high now, and then reinvest later when it’s low. But, if history is any indication, many nervous retail investors will not heed their strong advice and instead will cash-in while the market is high and jump out. If you are one of those investors, here are some options to consider, if you’re looking places other than the stock market to invest your money:

Since 2005, a growing number of investors have been investing in alternatives, such as private equity like peer-to-peer lending, real estate investments, and investing in commodities. Over the past decade, many of these alternative investment offerings have established long histories of great returns and stability.

Seek-out the protection of market-neutral products. These investments are designed to earn a strong return whether the market rises or falls. This is one of the advantages when you invest in containers.

“Peer-to-peer” lending websites like Prosper.com and LendingClub.com match up investors with individual borrowers seeking lower interest rates. Peer lending industry experts say investors are getting returns that range from 5 to 12 per cent, and the returns don’t move with the stock market.

Be well aware though that, despite their appeal to savvy, confident investors, the experts recommend that alternative investment holdings should comprise no more than 7 per cent of your total investment portfolio, while money-lending should be limited to a maximum of 10 per cent.