Pros and Cons of Alternative Investments by Buyproperly

Alternative investments have become an increasingly popular diversification tool for portfolios. While traditional investments offer stability, alternative investments offer the potential for higher returns – but are they worth it? In this article, we explore some of the pros and cons, as well as how to assess if they are suitable for your investment goals and risk tolerance, and address some common misconceptions about alternative investments.

What is an Alternative Investment?

Alternative investments fall outside traditional investment categories such as stocks, bonds, or cash. They include a broad range of asset types, such as private equity, hedge funds, commodities, real estate, private credit, and collectibles. Here’s a brief overview of some common alternative investments:

  • Private Equity: Involves investing in private companies, often through venture capital or buyout funds.
  • Hedge Funds: Pooled funds that employ diverse strategies to generate high returns, often including leverage and derivatives.
  • Commodities: Tangible assets such as energy, metals, and agricultural goods.
  • Real Estate: Investing in properties for rental income or capital appreciation.
  • Private Credit: Involves lending to private companies or individuals, often providing higher yields than traditional bonds.
  • Collectibles: Items such as art, wine, and jewelry that can be rewarding investments, though their value can be difficult to assess and is not guaranteed to appreciate over time.

Advantages of Alternative Investments

Potential for High Returns

One of the main attractions of alternative investments is their potential for high returns. For instance, private equity, real estate, and private credit can offer significant returns compared to traditional stocks and bonds. Commodities can also provide substantial profits, especially during periods of inflation or when specific markets perform well.


Alternative investments offer diversification benefits that can help reduce portfolio risk. Since they often have a low correlation with traditional asset classes, including them in your portfolio can smooth out returns and reduce the impact of market volatility.

Unique Opportunities

These investments provide access to unique opportunities that are not available in public markets. For example, investing in a startup through a venture capital fund, purchasing a piece of rare art, or participating in private credit markets can offer experiences and benefits beyond financial returns.

Disadvantages of Alternative Investments

Higher Risk

Alternative investments typically have a higher risk profile than traditional investments. The potential for higher returns comes with increased volatility and the possibility of significant losses. They are often less liquid, meaning they cannot be easily sold or converted into cash without a substantial loss in value.

Lack of Risk Management

Certain alternative investments may not be authorized or licensed, leading to a lack of governance standards regarding risk controls, reporting, and transparency. This can expose investors to additional risks that are not present in more regulated markets.

Lack of Transparency

Many alternative assets are not traded on public markets, and their value is often assessed based on information provided by the investment providers. This lack of transparency can make it challenging to accurately understand how the asset is performing and whether it is meeting investment goals.

Assessing Suitability for Your Investment Goals and Risk Tolerance

Determine Your Investment Goals

Before investing in alternative assets, it’s crucial to determine your investment goals. Are you seeking high returns, income generation, or diversification? Understanding your objectives will help you identify which types of alternative investments might be suitable for your portfolio.

Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance

Assessing your risk tolerance is essential when considering alternative investments. These investments can be highly volatile and may not be suitable for conservative investors. Consider your ability to withstand significant fluctuations in value and potential losses.

Conduct Thorough Research

Due to the complex and nuanced nature of alternative investments, thorough research is imperative. Understand the specific risks, potential rewards, and the overall market environment. Many investors choose to work with professional investment managers who have expertise in these areas.

Common Misconceptions About Alternative Investments

Misconception 1: They Are Only for the Wealthy

While it’s true that some alternative investments, like hedge funds and private equity, require significant capital, there are accessible options for average investors. Real estate investment trusts (REITs), commodities, and certain mutual funds offer exposure to alternative assets without the need for substantial upfront investment.

Misconception 2: They Guarantee High Returns

Alternative investments can offer high returns, but they do not guarantee them. The potential for high returns comes with high risk, and investors can experience significant losses. It’s important to approach these investments with a realistic understanding of their risk-reward profile.

Misconception 3: They Are Too Complex for Average Investors

While some alternative investments are complex, many are straightforward. For example, investing in real estate or commodities can be relatively simple compared to more sophisticated instruments like hedge funds. Additionally, there are numerous resources and professionals available to help investors navigate the complexities.


Alternative investments can be a valuable addition to a diversified portfolio, offering the potential for high returns and unique opportunities. However, they come with higher risks, less transparency, and more complexity than traditional investments. Assessing your investment goals, risk tolerance, and conducting thorough research are essential steps in determining if alternative investments are right for you. By understanding both the advantages and disadvantages, you can make informed decisions and potentially enhance your investment strategy.

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