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Asset Classes

  • An asset class is a collection of securities, manifesting comparable traits and goes through similar market fluctuations. Securities in one asset class are almost always bound by similar legalities. Experts put different investment tools in various asset classes to help investors diversify their portfolio easily. Risk factors, taxation, return rates, liquidity, tenures and market volatility differ according to asset classes. Hence, investors often rely on asset category diversification to earn maximum returns with minimal costs.
  • Types of Asset Classes

  • There can be numerous criteria to classify asset classes. You may classify them based on purpose i.e. whether it is a consumption asset like oil and natural gas or whether it is an investment asset like stocks and bonds. You may also categorize them on the basis of location or the markets like domestic securities, foreign or international investments, or emerging markets and developed markets. However, for now, let us dive into the popular asset classes and explore their distinct characteristics and unique selling propositions.
  • Fixed Income

  • As the most popular among Indians, fixed income asset class is one of the most trusted and oldest forms of investments. Fixed deposits and public provident funds (PPF) are two examples of this. But is this an investment though? You are just letting the bank borrow from you under conditions of capital protection, returns in the form of pre-agreed returns and liquidity.
  • With zero risks attached to fixed income asset classes, you will not lose the money you invest. And you earn steady returns as promised at the time of investing. You may get 7%-8% returns on Fixed Income schemes, but they are not inflation-beating returns. Subject to STCG or LTCG as per the tenure, fixed income schemes only offer security and not wealth-growth.
  • Equity

  • Equity asset class is a fascinating one and has been gaining popularity in the recent years. Investing in equity means to buy into a business – when you buy shares of a firm, you have a percentage of ownership. The only hitch is that it comes with a certain amount of risk. Any business takes time to grow and it is subject to market fluctuations, which can impact the share price.
  • Among equity investments, Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS) is the only tax-saving (under section 80-C) and wealth-building scheme with the shortest lock-in term of 3 years. But equity investments (including ELSS) work well when you invest for the long term as they have historically delivered 16%-18% returns and rising above inflation. Choose an AMC with a proven record, if you are planning to invest in equities.
  • Real Estate

  • Real estate asset class, as the name implies, focuses on plots, apartments, commercial buildings, industrial areas, villas etc. The millennium has witnessed a growing interest in real estate investments, exacerbated by the launch of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana i.e. house for all scheme. This is not just in urban areas, but in semi-urban and rural regions too. However, property market can be rather unpredictable and there are numerous factors like city planning, socio-political scenes, and project movement that decide the returns. This is one asset class that is not always structured or monitored.
  • Commodities

  • Commodities can be anything ranging from goods, properties or products that can be traded for different purposes. Gold, silver, bronze, food crops, petroleum etc. are some examples of commodities under the asset class, and the market undercurrents vary for each. The price can rise or fall as per the demand. Merchandises are not meant for long-term investments unless it is gold or silver. Just buy when the prices are down and sell when the prices go up.
  • Cash and Cash Equivalents

  • These are also known as money market instruments. It is not confined to currency, but also idle money in savings account or any other liquid schemes. Nothing gives more transactional freedom than cash. Many people are reluctant to invest money except in savings account because they don’t have faith in any investment schemes or to use it without any restrictions at any time. But it cannot beat inflation and the returns too are negligible (not more than 4%). People often store away cash to evade tax as they are untraceable.
  • Derivatives

  • A derivative refers to a financial security whose value depends on the underlying asset or group of assets. Standalone, the derivative has n value of its own and its price is based on the fluctuations in the price of the underlying asset. It is a kind of contract between two or more parties who have a right/obligation to perform according to the conditions of the contract. Commonly used underlying assets are equity shares, bonds, debt, foreign exchange, commodities, market indices and interest rates.
  • Alternative Investments

  • An alternative investment relates to an unconventional asset and is not one of the traditional asset classes like equity, debt, and cash. These are mostly held by institutional investors or high net worth individuals owing to their complex structure and limited regulations. These attempt to generate exceptionally huge returns but are highly illiquid and risky at the same time. Some of the alternative investments found in the capital markets are hedge funds, bitcoins, artworks and structured products.
  • Diversification of Asset Classes

    Importance of Equity as an Asset Class

    Why Are Equity Funds Useful in an Investment portfolio

    Value Investing

    4 Reasons why Equity outperforms other asset classes in the long run

    8 secrets of making money from investing in stocks