Broker Check

Meritage Periodical - June 2022

Advisor Perspective

Prompting critical thinking and conversations around issues in our industry. Not intended as personal financial advice.

What are alternative investments?

As advisors, when we say the words “alternative investments,” we generally see the person we are talking to respond with either excitement or fear. We all know the word “alternative” just means different, but somehow when you attach it to the word “investments,” it tends to become mysterious. So, we thought it would be useful to talk a little bit about what alternative investments are and why you might want to consider them in your portfolio.

To understand alternative investments, it is important to first define traditional investments, which are cash, stocks, and bonds. Alternative investments fall into two major categories: real assets or alternative financial strategies. Examples of real assets are real estate, commodities, natural resources, and infrastructure investments. Examples of alternative financial strategies are hedge funds, managed futures, private equity, and private debt.

Adding alternative investments to a portfolio can be helpful in that they have a low correlation to traditional investments and as a result they can add a layer of diversification and risk management. These benefits can improve the overall risk/reward profile of a portfolio. However, many investors also invest in alternatives simply because they are looking for investments that are income producing; real estate and infrastructure investments are great examples.

So, should you invest in alternatives? Maybe! Some of these investments are relatively straight forward, but many are complicated, have high fees, and are illiquid. As with most investment vehicles, alternatives are not good or bad—they just need to be appropriately fit with your unique situation. 

Did you know...

Important information on current topics

Password Managers

According to a survey by Digital Guardian, “password overload” is a real problem. Worse, despite known risks, at least half of us admit to reusing passwords.

How many online accounts do you have? Probably more than you think. Now think about the passwords you use for those accounts. Chances are, either you reuse passwords across multiple accounts, or you have your passwords written down somewhere—both of which are no-nos when it comes to information security best practices. If, as the experts tell us, you need a strong password for each account that is at least eight characters long (and preferably longer) and combines upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, it’s simply a chore to remember all the passwords to all your accounts.

Did you know there a solution for this? It’s known as a Password Manager.

A password manager—some well-known versions include LastPass,Dashlane, RoboForm, and 1Password—is essentially a secure online storage vault for your passwords. There are both desktop and smartphone app versions available and when you load them on multiple devices your information will be synced across them.

There are several features that make password managers extremely valuable from an information security standpoint:

  • Remember one master password. Because the password manager stores all your credentials for you, the only password you need is the one that logs you in to the vault. So be sure to make it the most complex password you can think of—and remember!
  • Auto-generate passwords. Instead of trying to come up with a unique, complex password for each account on your own, the password manager will do it for you—and save it for future use.
  • Automatically save and store new accounts. Your password manager will recognize the new account and save your credentials for you, so your next login will be seamless.
  • Easily fill web forms. By saving some of your personal information in the vault (e.g., address, phone number, and credit card number), the next time you have to fill out an online form, the password manager will auto-fill your information. It’s safer than storing these details in your browser.
  • Log in to sites automatically. Once your preferred sites and credentials are set up, you can access the sites directly from the password manager, which will log you in automatically. As an added bonus, with the browser extension enabled, you can navigate to the website you want to visit, and your password manager will log you in—again, automatically.

Hopefully you’re seeing how much easier—and more secure—your online life can be. Imagine never having to remember multiple passwords or having to go through the hassle of resetting your password because you forgot it. That’s what a password manager can do for you.

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