A group of investments that behave similarly in the market, and are subject to the same regulations. Today, the three main asset classes recognized are equities, bonds, and cash equivalents. Although real estate and commodities are included by some professionals as well, these investments typically fall in the alternative investment category.
Investments within an asset class are associated based on their underlying fundamentals. For example, fixed income investments are grouped because of their similar financial structure, and equities are grouped together because of what they represent and how they are traded. Because the fundamentals of each class differs, each represents a different risk and return profile. By allocating across different asset classes, investors may be able to achieve a degree of diversification in their portfolio. Diversification, however, does not guarantee profits or protect against losses.
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Investing in alternative assets involves higher risks than traditional investments and is suitable only for sophisticated investors. Alternative investments are often sold by prospectus that discloses all risks, fees, and expenses. They are not tax efficient and an investor should consult with his/her tax advisor prior to investing. Alternative investments have higher fees than traditional investments and they may also be highly leveraged and engage in speculative investment techniques, which can magnify the potential for investment loss or gain and should not be deemed a complete investment program. The value of the investment may fall as well as rise and investors may get back less than they invested.
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