Stephen Nimpong, Analyst – Stanbic Bank Ghana

In a world where traditional investment options like government bonds, treasury bills, and fixed deposits may not always meet our financial goals, alternative investments have emerged as an exciting and unconventional way to diversify portfolios and potentially generate higher returns. In this article, we will explore the fascinating landscape of alternative investments with emphasis on commodities, hedge funds, derivative contracts and private equity to uncover the opportunities they present for modern investors.

Commodities: Commodities represent a compelling alternative investment option. These assets include goods like oil, gold, natural gas, metals, and agricultural products. They are traded either on exchanges or over the counter, depending on the investment structure.

Investing in commodities offers diversification benefits and can act as a hedge against inflation. For instance, during periods of inflation, the prices of commodities like gold tend to rise, preserving the real value of investments. However, commodities can also be subject to price volatility due to factors like geopolitical events, weather conditions, and supply and demand fluctuations.

Common ways to invest in commodities include commodity-linked products, commodity Exchange-traded funds (ETFs), futures contracts, and commodity-focused mutual funds. For instance, commodity ETFs provide investors with exposure to a diversified basket of commodities without the need to manage individual contracts.

It is crucial to consider the risk-to-reward ratio associated with commodity investments. Risk-averse investors should explore capital-protective commodity solutions that align with their investment objectives. Additionally, conducting thorough research on the specific commodity market and understanding its unique dynamics is essential before investing.

Hedge Funds: Hedge funds are part of the alternative investment class that pool funds from investors to employ various proprietary trading strategies, effective portfolio construction, and diligent risk management techniques to generate returns. These strategies can range from long-short equity positions to arbitrage and global macro strategies.

Hedge funds have the advantage of leveraging borrowed funds or gearing to potentially increase returns, which sets them apart from retail market investments like ETFs and mutual funds. However, it’s important to note that leverage can also amplify losses if not managed effectively.

Prospective investors should thoroughly understand the chosen hedge fund operations, fee structures, and performance history before deciding to invest.

Risk management plays a pivotal role in hedge funds. Unlike traditional investments, hedge funds often employ strategies that aim to generate positive returns regardless of market conditions. These strategies require sophisticated risk analysis and continuous monitoring.

Derivative Contracts: Derivative contracts involve trading underlying asset, such as commodities, stocks, bonds, or currencies, without owning them directly. This alternative investment allows investors to take positions on these assets by going either long (expecting the asset to appreciate) or short (expecting the asset to depreciate). It is typically favored by professional finance experts or traders with substantial experience in derivative investments. For example, a futures contract allows an investor to speculate on the future price of an asset, such as crude oil or a stock, without needing to purchase the asset itself. This can provide opportunities for profit, but it also exposes investors to potential losses if their market predictions are incorrect.

While derivative contracts can be lucrative, they are also complex and carry inherent risks. Investors should be well-versed in the mechanics of derivatives and consider factors like leverage, time decay, and market volatility.

Private Equity: Private equity is a thrilling alternative investment option, involving the purchase of stakes in private enterprises or businesses that are not publicly traded. It can be a viable choice based on an investor’s goals and their risk assessment of the equity stake in the private enterprise.

One of the unique aspects of private equity is its potential for active involvement in the Company’s operations. Private equity investors often work closely with management teams to drive growth, improve operations, and enhance profitability. This level of engagement can lead to substantial returns but also requires patience and expertise.

Private equity investments offer opportunities for growth and value creation in private companies. Investors may benefit from the company’s expansion, improved performance, or successful exit strategies such as mergers and acquisitions or initial public offerings (IPOs).

Post Domestic Debt Exchange Program (DDEP) in Ghana, there were positive sentiments towards private equity where some financial analysts were optimistic funds will flow into the real economy of Ghana, however it’s important to assess whether this sentiment resulted in the desired outcome.

Currently representing a significant market share, approximately $600 billion, private equity investments are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 10.00% between 2023 and 2028, according to the IMARC Group. While it is seen to channel investor funds into a country’s real economy, its effectiveness depends on various factors, including the selection of promising companies, active management, and market conditions.

In conclusion, alternative investments offer a range of options for diversifying

portfolios and potentially achieving higher returns. However, they also come with unique risks and complexities that demand careful consideration and expertise. As investors explore these exciting avenues, they must remember that knowledge, due diligence, and careful risk management are their most valuable allies on the journey to financial success.

Investing in alternative assets, such as commodities, hedge funds, derivative contracts, and private equity, can be a strategic move in today’s evolving financial landscape. These investments provide diversification, the potential for high returns, and opportunities for active involvement in private enterprises. However, they require a deep understanding of their specific dynamics and the commitment to manage associated risks effectively.

With our yield enhancement structures such as Credit linked note (CLN), Commodity linked note, Index linked note and Equity linked note, the Stanbic Bank Ghana Global Markets Team ( continue to show our commitment to drive bespoke solutions for our clients. By selecting the above alternative, investors can harness the potential benefits of alternative investments while safeguarding their financial future.

Source: Ghana/