In the Press


Scroll Down

Expanding Investment Universe: Opportunities and challenges for high net-worth individuals: Shiv Gupta

Mumbai, Jul 2, 2024

For high-net-worth individuals, the burgeoning investment universe offers many attractive opportunities, albeit with a need for care in navigating unfamiliar territory.

There has never been a more exciting time for Indian investors. A fast-growing and structurally-transforming economy, combined with rapid financialisation, is reshaping the investment landscape. From wider options within existing asset classes to innovative new financial instruments, an expanding array of choices is giving investors a lot more to work with than was available in the past. And this trend is certain to continue, even accelerate.

These new opportunities offer new sources of return, a broader spectrum of risk-reward tradeoffs, and tools for improved portfolio diversification. As such, investors should embrace them but should do so with prudence.

Instruments vary widely in their return, risk, and liquidity characteristics, and some are at very early stages of evolution to the extent that they do not even have fully developed regulatory frameworks yet. For every story of someone having struck gold investing in start-ups, trading cryptocurrencies, or buying small-cap stocks, there exists a cautionary tale of another having incurred losses; some even losing all their capital.

So, what should investors do?

Investors should stick to the fundamentals and do their homework. However, before we explore what that means, let us look at a few examples of what is on offer.

Category II Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) include private equity, venture capital, venture debt, and structured credit funds. These funds provide equity and debt to (mostly) unlisted companies and cover both early-stage (venture capital) and later-stage (private equity) investing. Expected returns (IRR) range from 15% to 25% (and beyond) and are hence very attractive. However, these funds carry higher risks, have longer time horizons of 6-12 years, and are extremely illiquid. They also tend to have very high minimum subscriptions and may become concentrated in portfolios. In other words, they are not for everyone. (Source: SEBI)

Direct investments in unlisted equities involve purchasing shares in private companies, from start-ups – think Shark Tank – to more mature enterprises, representing opportunities not available in public markets. These investments offer the potential for extremely high returns. However, for every unicorn, there are hundreds of start-ups that fail, hence diversification is extremely important. And so, these entail even higher risk than AIFs as they do not have professional managers running them or the diversification inherent in funds. They also require large outlays and are less transparent, less liquid, and very loosely regulated. Many cautionary tales reside in this domain, even amongst very sophisticated investors.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) allow investors to pool funds to invest in real estate and infrastructure assets, respectively. Well-regulated and highly liquid, these instruments offer regular income through interest, dividends, and potential capital appreciation along with an expected return of 8-9%. These are also subject to market volatility and sector-specific risks but are considered moderately risky. They can be accessed in small sizes and represent good fixed-income investment options for most investors.

These examples and the table below demonstrate the diversity of choices and risk-reward characteristics of the new options available to investors.

So, how should investors play this?

Sticking to the fundamentals

“The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well.” – John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Whether someone is new to investing or a highly trained finance professional, it is always a good idea to exercise diligence and stick to the fundamentals of portfolio management and instrument selection. For most people, it would also help to consult the right experts and make time for learning.

Investors should therefore do the following:

1. Analyse thoroughly: Evaluate investments based on their return expectations, all forms of risk, time horizons, track records (where they exist), and correlations with other assets. Understanding these facets would help understand the sources of return and their likelihood, tax implications, volatility, liquidity, and regulatory uncertainties specific to each instrument.

2. Allocate prudently: Determine the optimal fit for these instruments within their portfolios, considering their personal risk tolerance and investment goals. Percentage exposures should fall within their defined asset allocation plans for which advisors should be able to provide guidance. For example, most advisors in India recommend an allocation between 15-25% to alternative investments within balanced portfolios.

3. Manage risks carefully: Employ diversification and appropriate position sizing, particularly with newer, riskier, or less transparent options. In the case of highly speculative instruments like cryptocurrencies, restrict exposure to amounts they are willing to lose in their entirety.

4. Play the healthy sceptic: Exercise caution if an investment is overly complex, lacks transparency, or seems too good to be true. Always differentiate between speculative transactions and genuine investments.


For high-net-worth individuals, the burgeoning investment universe offers many attractive opportunities, albeit with a need for care in navigating unfamiliar territory. Investors should welcome these with open arms but recognise the increased complexity and short histories accompanying many of them. By staying informed, seeking sound advice, and planning investments carefully, investors can enhance their wealth and significantly improve the quality of their portfolios while managing potential risks effectively.

– Shiv Gupta, Founder and Chief Executive Officer

For more information, please visit

Social Media –LinkedIn |Twitter |Facebook |Youtube