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Alternatives are often defined in terms of what they do rather than what they are, and it is an asset class that does a lot, giving your investments clout and working hard as a kind of insurance policy. Nicola Brittain explains


When director of Fund- Calibre Clive Hale was asked “What are alternative investments?” at a recent Last Word roundtable, his response was “How long have you got?”

And this lack of easy definition is one of the asset class’s key characteristics.

Alternatives are often defined in terms of what they are not – equities, bonds, property or cash – but since they encompass largely unrelated asset classes such as oil, hedge funds, metals or real assets, it is sometimes easier to define them in terms of the role they play in a portfolio.

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