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Alternative Assets: Investments for a Post-Crisis World


The investment landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years, destroying many of the old certainties by which investors lived their lives. In particular, it has shaken belief in the ability of traditional asset types such as bonds and equities to protect them from abnormal market conditions, and it has brought home how closely correlation between different markets can be squeezed together by extreme pressure.

Future investors will have to regard so-called "alternative" assets as essential elements within their portfolios, and be prepared to deal with the complexities that this will entail. This will in turn force a re-appraisal of core concepts such as "risk" and "return", not least because some alternative asset classes do not lend themselves well to traditional return measures. Exciting times lie ahead, but a thorough working knowledge of the various alternative asset classes will be an essential pre-requisite to success, and perhaps even to survival.

Alternative Assets meets investor's need for a guide on where to allocate in this new climate. It provides investors with a primer on each alternative asset class, as well as practical tips on the pros and cons, implementation, returns analysis, fees and costs. It also offers introductory guidance on how to set investment targets, and how alternative assets can be accommodated within the allocation process. Each chapter gives useful background knowledge on a particular asset type, including a discussion of whether a satisfactory beta return level exists and, if so, the different ways in which it might be accessed.

Written by best-selling author Guy Fraser-Sampson, this book guides investors through the new look alternative investment arena, providing post-financial crisis perspective and investment advice on the alternatives landscape.

GUY FRASER-SAMPSON is one of the very few people in the world to have expertise right across the whole range of so-called "alternative" assets, including in particular issues of analysis, access and implementation. He has twenty-five years' practical experience of different aspects of the subject, including fund structuring, investment management and returns analysis. He is also unusual in that to his many years of practical experience have been added the last few years in an academic setting, enabling him to gain a whole new dimension on investment matters generally, not just through teaching and lecturing but also by supervising various research projects.

Guy's work experience has included a period as Investment Controller with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and setting up and running for several years the non-US activities of a leading fund of funds manager. In addition to his work with funds, he has also conducted direct, secondary and mezzanine transactions around the world. He is currently at the forefront of work on identifying sources of beta return across different asset types, and discussing methods of accessing these.

Guy teaches post-graduate modules on private equity and investment strategy at Cass Business School in the City of London, and is also recogniZed as an authority on all types of alternative assets. He performs consultancy and high level executive training assignments for clients around the world, and is also in demand as a provider of keynote addresses at investment conferences. In addition to various professional qualifications, he holds an LLB with honours from King's College London, and an MBA majoring in finance from Warwick Business School.

Guy writes for a number of finance and investment publications, including his influential monthly column in Real Deals. He is the author of Multi-Asset Class Investment Strategy, also published as part of the Wiley Finance series, which questions accepted views of risk and return, and sets out ways in which investors could and should incorporate a wide range of so-called alternative assets into their planned portfolios. He conducts regular investor workshops around the world based upon his books.

He has won praise for his no-nonsense writing style, which aims to de-mystify finance and make it accessible to the general reader by means of explaining the concepts which lie behind it, and the use of practical everyday examples.



1. What are Alternative Assets?



Non bonds or equities.

Are alternative assets really "alternative"?

Thoughts on classification.

Private assets.

Commodity type assets.

Volatility and valuation issues.

Time horizons.

Global Tactical Asset Allocation (GTAA).

An alternative way of accessing conventional assets?

What we will be considering.


2. Investing in Alternative Assets.

Why should we invest in alternative assets?

The traditional worldview.

Risk (volatility).


Problems posed by the traditional world view so far as alternative assets are concerned.

The tail wags the dog.

The parallel universe of pension funds.

Volatility as risk.


How much liquidity do you really need?

The illiquidity premium.

Problems with liquidity.

The stock market goes supernova.

Liquidity and volatility.

Liquidity and correlation.

Extending the efficient frontier.


Active and passive investing – beta and alpha.

The rationale for alternative assets.


3. Real estate.

Real estate beta.

Real estate exposure.



Quoted (1): property companies.

Quoted (2): REITS.

Quoted (3): ETFs.

Unquoted (1): unlisted property funds.

Unquoted (2): private real estate.



4. Energy.

Spot trading.

Influences on pricing.

Untapped reserves.

The (US) strategic petroleum reserve.

Production and growth in oil hungry economies.


Political factors.


The US dollar.

Accessing oil as an investment.

Investing in the shares of oil companies.

Synthetic exposure.

Oil ETFs.


Natural gas.

Oil and gas royalties.

Energy as an investment.


5. Private Equity.

Private equity – definition and types.



History and development.

Development capital.


Minority shareholder protection.

Deal types.

Growth capital.

Venture capital.

Venture returns and home runs.


Quoted private equity.

Private equity funds.

Private equity returns.

The J-Curve, IRRS and multiples.

Vintage year returns.

Funds, funds of funds and secondaries.

Concluding thoughts on private equity.


6. Hedge Funds.


Use of derivative instruments.


Some common elements.

Legal structure.

Type of trades.

Lack of transparency.

How hedge funds invest – an overview.

Long and long/short.

Credit based.

Global macro.

Specific strategies.

Long only.


(Equity) market neutral.

Convertible arbitrage.

Statistical arbitrage ("stat arb").

Merger arbitrage.

Fixed income arbitrage.

Global macro.

Event driven.


Fund of funds.

The hedge fund model – pros, cons and the future.

Redemption/co-investor risk.

Some final thoughts on hedge funds.


7. Infrastructure.

What is infrastructure?

Secondary and primary infrastructure.

Regulated and demand-driven.








War and terrorism.

Quoted and unquoted infrastructure.

Quoted infrastructure (1): industrial companies.

Quoted infrastructure (2): listed investment vehicles.

Unquoted infrastructure (1): projects (typically PFI or PPP type).

Unquoted infrastructure (2): funds.



8. Commodities.

What are "commodities"?

How can we classify commodities?

Soft commodities.

Hard commodities.

What are the return drivers?

Commodities beta.

Prices and indices.

Is it investable?

US dollar currency risk.

Are they representative?

Counterparty risk.

Renewal effect.

Commodity returns.

What can be stated?

What other factors are relevant?

The case for commodities.


9. Gold.



Gold as a safe haven.

Gold as a hedge against US dollar weakness.

Gold as a diversifier.


Gold doesn't have babies.

Fixing the gold price.

How to invest in gold.

Gold shares.

Physical ownership.

Synthetic ownership.

Indirect ownership.


10. Active Currency.

How can an investor make money by investing in currency?

Are the currency markets a zero sum game?

Institutional approaches.

Risk management.

Active currency.




Active currency strategies.

The carry trade.

Momentum/trend investing.

Value investing.

Active currency beta.

What is the beta measure we are discussing?

What is the methodology?

Is the DBCR investable?

Final Considerations for Active Currency.


11. Other Alternative Assets.


Returns and correlation.

Direct and indirect forestry.

Gem stones.

Works of art.

Musical instruments.



Classic cars.

Other collectables – coins, medals, stamps, militaria, snuff boxes, perfume bottles, etc.

Yet more …?