What are Alternative Investments?

by Vested Team
August 7, 2023
5 min read
What are Alternative Investments?

Alternative Investments refer to non-traditional investment options that differ from conventional forms like cash, stocks, and traditional fixed-income instruments.

For an Indian investor, alternative investments encompass a category of financial assets that are distinct from conventional investment options, including Indian equities, traditional fixed-income instruments like fixed deposits (FD) and Public Provident Fund (PPF), and cash holdings. These unconventional assets encompass a wide array of investments, including US Stocks, real estate, commodities, hedge funds, private equity, Peer-to-Peer lending (P2P lending), crowdfunding, and renewable energy investments, among others.

Alternative investments are gradually gaining popularity among Indian investors for their potential to offer higher returns, provide diversification benefits, and act as a hedge against market volatility and inflation. As the Indian economy and financial markets mature, investors are increasingly exploring these non-traditional investment options to optimize their portfolio performance and meet their diverse financial objectives.

However, it is important to note that alternative investments may also carry a higher level of risk, increased complexity, and lower liquidity compared to traditional investments. Therefore, understanding the nature of these investments and aligning them with one’s risk appetite, investment goals, and time horizon is crucial for navigating the world of alternative investments.

Types of Alternative Investments

US Stocks

In the context of alternative investing, particularly for investors based in India, US stocks can be seen as a form of alternative investment. They offer exposure to the largest economy in the world and provide opportunities for portfolio diversification.

US stocks represent companies from diverse sectors, including technology, finance, healthcare, and consumer goods, among others. This diversity provides investors with the ability to spread risk across different industries and economic sectors. Moreover, US markets are known for their high liquidity and transparency, making them an attractive choice for Indian investors.

Real Estate

A time-tested alternative investment avenue, real estate in India has witnessed an immense influx of investors due to its stable returns and potential capital appreciation. Investing in real estate properties, commercial buildings, or REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) can provide solid income and serve as an effective hedge against inflation.

Hedge Funds

Hedge funds are a type of pooled investment that employs various strategies to generate high returns. They involve a multitude of asset classes and strategies, including leverage, short selling, and derivatives. The unique flexibility of hedge funds allows them to profit in both rising and falling markets.

Private Equity

Private equity involves directly investing in private companies or conducting buyouts of public companies resulting in their delisting. Private equity offers investors potential for high returns and diversification but comes with its share of risks due to lower liquidity and longer investment horizons.


Investing in commodities like gold, silver, oil, or agricultural products provides a shield against inflation and market volatility. Commodities typically have a low correlation with conventional investment, making them a worthy addition to diversify an investment portfolio. You can also invest in commodities such as Gold through Sovereign Gold Bond (SGBs).

Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P lending)

Peer-to-Peer lending, or P2P lending, is an innovative model that directly connects borrowers and lenders through online platforms, circumventing traditional financial intermediaries. From an investor’s standpoint, P2P lending offers the potential for higher yields compared to traditional fixed-income investments and an opportunity for portfolio diversification, as investments can be spread across various borrowers.

Renewable Energy

Investing in renewable energy projects like wind farms, solar parks, or bioenergy facilities can provide steady returns while contributing to environmental sustainability. These investments are gaining traction due to growing concern over climate change and favorable government policies.

Reasons to include Alternative Investments in the portfolio

Alternative investments have surged in popularity in recent years, emerging as a robust solution for portfolio diversification and potential wealth creation. Moreover, certain alternative investments can serve as a source of passive income, creating a steady cash flow independent of primary business activities. Let’s delve deeper into the key advantages of these distinctive investment options.

  • Diversification: Alternative investments can help diversify your portfolio by investing in assets that have a low correlation with traditional investments. This can help reduce the overall risk of your investment portfolio.
  • Potential for higher returns: Some alternative investments, like private equity or hedge funds, could potentially make more money than traditional investments. This could help boost returns on the overall investment portfolio.
  • Hedge against inflation: Certain alternative investments, such as real estate, and P2P, can act as a hedge against inflation. This means that they can provide protection against the erosive effects of rising prices on your investment portfolio.
  • Exposure to unique opportunities: With alternative investments, you get the chance to put your money into unique opportunities such as startups or supporting renewable energy projects.
  • Income generation: Certain types of alternative investments, such as real estate or dividend-paying private businesses, can provide a steady stream of income.

Key considerations before investing in Alternative Investments

Before you venture into the world of alternatives, it is vital to consider the following points:

  • Understanding the investment: Before investing, you should have a clear understanding of the asset class, its structure, and potential risks and returns. This includes understanding the market dynamics, historical performance, and factors influencing the asset’s value.
  • Portfolio alignment: While alternative investments can offer diversification benefits, it’s essential to ensure that they align with your overall investment strategy and risk tolerance. They should complement and balance your existing portfolio.
  • Liquidity: Alternative investments often have lower liquidity compared to traditional investments. You must consider your liquidity needs and whether you can afford to have your money tied up for the investment period.
  • Fees and costs: Alternative investments can come with higher fees and costs compared to traditional investments. Understanding these expenses upfront is crucial to calculate the net return on your investment.
  • Regulatory oversight: You must be aware of the regulatory environment governing the alternative investment. It’s crucial to invest in assets regulated by financial authorities to ensure protection against fraudulent activities.
  • Due diligence: Just like any other investment, conducting thorough due diligence is crucial. This includes researching the investment platform, understanding the terms and conditions, and assessing the credibility of the management team.
  • Exit strategy: Finally, have a clear exit strategy. Knowing when and how you can exit your investment is essential to protect your investment and realize your returns. Financial advisors or investment professionals can provide insights based on your financial goals and risk appetite.

Summing up

While alternative investments present a multitude of opportunities for increased returns and portfolio diversification, they come with their unique set of challenges. The decision to invest in these unconventional assets should be based on a careful evaluation of your financial goals, risk tolerance, and understanding of the investment. It’s here that platforms like Vested come to the rescue.

Vested is a go-to platform for exploring alternative investments. It simplifies the process of investing in alternative assets by providing a comprehensive and easy-to-understand platform. With Vested, you can start your journey in the world of alternative investments, harnessing their potential while managing the associated risks effectively.

Remember, every investment decision should be well thought out and ideally discussed with a financial advisor. With the right approach, alternative investments can significantly enhance your portfolio, balancing out the traditional investment avenues and optimizing the overall returns. Embrace the world of alternative investing with Vested and open doors to diverse investment opportunities.

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