Home Best Alternative Investment Funds UK to Watch
Kane Pepi
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Many investors in the UK are turning to alternative asset classes as a means to target higher financial returns. As alternative investments are considered to be riskier than traditional assets like blue-chip stocks and bonds – it’s a potential opportunity to factor in, when planning to diversify your funds.

In this guide, we review some of the Popular Alternative Investment Funds UK.

Check out some popular alternative investment funds UK below. If you don’t have time to read this comprehensive guide in full. We review each fund in great detail further down.

  1. SPDR Gold ETF 
  2. Real Estate Select Sector SPDR Fund
  3. Vanguard Emerging Markets Index
  4. NewRiver REIT

In choosing the popular UK alternative investment funds for your financial goals – there are many considerations that need to be made.

For example, what type of alternative investments will your chosen fund provider give you access to and what fees does it charge. You also need to factor in past performance and how much risk is involved with the alternative investment fund in question.

Taking these considerations into account, we are going to review 5 alternative investment funds in the UK.

1. SPDR Gold ETF 

The first alternative investment fund that you might want to think about is that of the SPDR Gold ETF. As the name suggests, this alternative investment fund is focused exclusively on gold. This is a classic example of an alternative asset – as you will be investing in a market outside of traditional stocks and bonds.

This alternative investment fund is backed by physical gold – meaning that your capital will reflect the global market price of this precious metal. That is to say, if gold increased by 10% in the space of four weeks – as will your investment. Like some of the popular ETFs, there will always be a slight variation between market growth and investment returns – as you need to take into account fees.

With that said, this alternative investment fund is one of the cheapest in the UK market – with SPDR charging just 0.40% per year. This means that a £5,000 investment would cost you just £20 annually in fees.

In terms of past performance, this alternative investment fund has mirrored the global value of gold pretty much like for like since its inception in 2004. For example, the spot price of gold has increased by 9.76% in the three years prior to writing this page. In comparison, the SPDR Gold ETF has grown by  9.32%.

2. Real Estate Select Sector SPDR Fund 

Real estate is another potential option when it comes to alternative investments. As a retail investor, a popular way to access this marketplace is via an alternative investment fund. In particular, Real Estate Select Sector Fund offered by SPDR is one way to do so.

In a nutshell, this alternative investment fund will allow you to gain exposure to various US real estate markets. In fact, the fund itself contains 29 large-cap stocks that are directly involved in the American property industry. This covers multiple sectors – such as commercial property, essential units, office blocks, retail space, and healthcare facilities.

To give you an idea of how this alternative investment fund is balanced – 12% and 9% holding in American Tower Corporation and Prologis, respectively. There are also holdings in Welltower, Simon Property Group, Digital Realty Trust, and Equinix. Although you are gaining access to a wide variety of real estate stakeholders – SPDR charges just 0.12% per year on this fund.

This allows you to diversify into the US property scene without getting hammered by expense commissions. In terms of past performance, this alternative investment fund has generated some attractive returns since it was launched in 2015. This works out at an average annualized return of 7.81%. 3-year returns are even more favorable at 11.12% annually.

3. Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund 

Although stocks listed in the UK, US, Europe, and other major markets are not considered an alternative investment – this is most definitely the case with equities based in the emerging economies. After all, you will be gaining exposure to companies that operate in high-growth marketplaces – so both the risks and rewards are going to be much higher.

If you like the sound of allocating some capital to Asia, South America, Africa, and other illiquid markets – there are several alternative investment funds to choose from. With that said, we like the look of the Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund for its diversified approach.

Put simply, this Vanguard fund will get you access to over 1,400 companies from a variety of regions and economies. In the Asian markets, this includes everything from China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, India, and Taiwan. In South Africa, you’ll be gaining access to companies in Brazil, Chile,  Colombia, and Peru.

There are also stock holdings in the Middle East, Africa, and a number of emerging European states – like Hungary. Although Vanguard gives you access to dozens of emerging economies – you might be surprised to learn that the expense ratio on this alternative investment fund is just 0.23% per year.

Vanguard has appointed a risk rating of 6/7 on its Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund – so you may want to keep your stakes conservative. In terms of performance, returns have been significant since the fund was launched in 2009. This works out at cumulative total gains of 174% – and 100% over the past five years alone.

4. NewRiver REIT

NewRiver is behind a real estate investment trust (REIT) – which firmly sits within the category of an alternative asset class. This is because the firm will invest in UK-based properties from within the retail sector. In fact, NewRiver also develops new projects and manages the end-to-end process of vetting tenants and collecting rental payments.

At the time of writing, this alternative investment fund is behind a real estate portfolio in excess of £1.4 billion. This includes a variety of pubs and bars, shopping centers, warehouses, and high-street shops. Although the UK retail sector is still in dire straights as per the impact of the pandemic – this investment fund has performed well in recent months.

For example, in the six months prior to wiring this page – the fund was priced at £50.60 on the London Stock Exchange. And today – the same fund is priced at £93.80. This translates into 6-month returns of over 85%.

Note: This alternative investment fund is listed on the London Stock Exchange. As such, you will need to pay a 0.5% stamp duty tax when you make a purchase. 

What are Alternative Investment Funds?

Alternative investments are generally considered to be asset classes outside of the traditional stock and bond markets. There are many examples that fall within the remit of an alternative investment – such as real estate, interest rates, private equity startups, hedge funds, gold, silver, and futures. Additionally, alternative investments can also include digital currencies like Bitcoin, fine art, and even rare whiskeys.

The key attraction of alternative investments is that they often allow you to target above-average returns. Additionally, many alternative investments – such as cryptocurrencies and fine art – have no correlation to the health of the wider stock markets.

This allows you to diversify your portfolio and avoid being overexposed to a potential market crash.  With that said, alternative investments carry much more risk than conventional bonds and blue-chip stocks.

In order to invest in the popular UK alternative investment funds from the comfort of your home – you will need to do this through a trusted stock broker. There is a wide selection of trading platforms in the UK that offer such a service – albeit, you need to focus on key metrics like fees, commissions, supported markets, and regulatory bodies.


This guide has covered the many features of allocating some capital into an alternative investment fund. Not only will you be able to hedge your investments against the traditional markets, but alternative asset classes offer the potential of above-average returns. Plus, when opting for an alternative investment fund – you’ll have access to a diverse portfolio of financial instruments.

On the other hand, it is important to note that there is risk involved in every trade you partake in. This is why, you should conduct your own due-diligence and research for every ETF, prior to opening a trade.

Kane Pepi

Kane Pepi

Kane Pepi is a British researcher and writer that specializes in finance, financial crime, and blockchain technology. Now based in Malta, Kane writes for a number of platforms in the online domain. In particular, Kane is skilled at explaining complex financial subjects in a user-friendly manner. Academically, Kane holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, a Master’s Degree in Financial Crime, and he is currently engaged in a Doctorate Degree researching the money laundering threats of the blockchain economy. Kane is also behind peer-reviewed publications - which includes an in-depth study into the relationship between money laundering and UK bookmakers. You will also find Kane’s material at websites such as MoneyCheck, the Motley Fool, InsideBitcoins, Blockonomi, Learnbonds, and the Malta Association of Compliance Officers.