The ultra-rich, also known as ultra high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs), are people defined as having net worth of at least $30 million. Net worth for these individuals normally includes shares in public and private corporations, real estate investments and passion investments such as art, planes and personal properties. Ultra-rich people normally have similar mixes of investments in their investment portfolios. The following are the top three alternative investments the ultra rich usually own.
1. Luxury real estate
Luxury real estate has been a staple in the portfolios of the ultra rich. This type of real estate can be defined as a market niche, where individuals own multiple homes in numerous locations across the world. In fact, as of September 2015, nearly $3 trillion of the world’s private wealth is held in owner-occupied residential properties, and 79% of all UHNWIs own two or more residential homes.
The United States is the most popular country for wealthy individuals looking for secondary residences, with New York City reported as having the highest number of properties in the world owned by UHNWIs. Other cities such as London, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Singapore and Paris are also popular locations for luxury real estate investments.
The reasons why the ultra-rich invest in luxury real estate in these locations is due to the fact that these cities have concentrated business environments, proximity to some of the world’s largest markets and English-language proficiencies. Additionally, these real estate markets are stable and have histories of strong economic performance, making them good areas for long-term investments.
2. Private equity investments
For the ultra-rich, it is common to have ownership in a private business, either as an investor or as a founder. This type of alternative investment is attractive to the ultra-rich due to the potential for higher-than-average returns.
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Private equity ownership is normally only offered to the ultra-rich since minimum investments start out at $250,000 on average. Additionally, due to the high degree of risk associated with private equity investments, low-net-worth individuals normally cannot participate; for UHNWIs, it is much easier to take on the increased level of risk that comes with private equity.
Private equity investments can be obtained through private funds that require investors to be accredited. Private equity can also be purchased directly from private companies such as technology startups, but most require investors to be accredited.
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3. Alternative/structured investment vehicles such as hedge funds
A hedge fund is an alternative investment vehicle available only to sophisticated investors, such as institutions and individuals with significant assets.
They are largely unregulated and highly risky, hence, they, can be invested in a wider range of securities than other typical funds.
As alternative investment vehicles, they are only open to the rich and the ultra-rich. There are very specific requirements to invest in hedge funds. Average people are usually barred from taking advantage of this type of investment.
To invest in a hedge fund, people need to be accredited investors, meaning they either have a net worth of over $1 million, have earned $200,000 in each of the past two years or $300,000 in each of the past two years if married, and have a reasonable expectation of making the same amount in the future. However, for investment institutions such as pension funds, endowments and trusts, the primary qualification is to have $5 million in assets.
For the hedge funds that do not have their own standards, they usually have a minimum-investment standard of between $1 million to $5 million, eliminating all but the ultra wealthy.