An alternative investment is an investment product other than the traditional investments of equities, bonds, cash, or property. The term is a relatively loose one, covering financial assets such as commodities, private equity, hedge funds, etc.

Land investment has become an attractive proposition. With a growing world population and dwindling land supplies, investment in the agriculture sector is increasingly attractive. During the recession, land prices have been pretty stable and resilient compared to other markets. Experts think the capital value of land will increase considerably in the short to medium term.

Global population growth, together with crop destroying weather is driving cereal prices upwards. Commodities are great for diversification purposes and global demand is rising. For 25 years there’s been very little investment in production capacity, so we’ve had supply going down at a time when demand is going up.

Years of solid gains, as well as heightened interest in inflation hedges and safe havens, have made precious metals more appealing than ever.  Gold is up 379% over the past ten years and private ownership now exceeds what’s in public gold vaults, as wealthy investors stock up on bars of gold during uncertain times. Silver prices have doubled in the past two years, while platinum is up 63%, as both metals also benefit from their growing commercial use.

Investing in hedge funds is not for everyone, the product and many of the strategies are so complex they are not really designed for the retail market. Most hedge fund managers don’t want retail investors and most retail investors shouldn’t be in them.

Venture capital and private equity firms both involve strategic financial investments in private firms. With venture capital, you take a small group of people with a great idea and give them some money and perhaps business strategy advice, in exchange for a share in the company. With private equity, (formerly known as ‘leveraged buyout’), you buy an existing enterprise and restructure it so as to make it more lucrative for its owners than it previously was.