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7 new-age investment ideas

With people looking for quicker returns we look at alternative options to gold this Akshaya Tritiya

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The organisers of Chardham Yatra, which takes you on a spiritual tour of the Himalayas, describe Akshaya Tritiya as “the religious way of getting rich”. Elsewhere AstroVed, the Vedic astrology portal, calls it “a 24-hour power time that holds the secret for acquiring ever-increasing wealth”.

The age-old view is that investments made on this auspicious day — April 18 this year — tend to grow and, presumably, send you laughing all the way to the bank. 

Gold is the traditional route, but as people look for quicker returns, we spotlight a few unconventional — and a few recently conventional — investment ideas. 
The time certainly seems right to be venturing into fresh investment waters.

Manoj Prasad, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Que Capital, a Dubai-based investment banking and alternative financing firm, says rising financial market volatility provides greater investment opportunities. “Investors will however need to be more agile and have a willingness to invest in more difficult or distressed situations where analysis reveals that the risk return may be better than perceived by the market,” he says. 

The keyword here is “analysis” — so do your due diligence before opting for these routes.

1. Be an angel  

Mona AbouHana,  Consulting Partner at PwC Middle East, says that as Dubai and the UAE have been recognised as supportive environments for innovation, more tech start-ups have set up business here. Momentum built up with the rise of incubators and support hubs such as the Dubai Technology Entrepreneurship Centre, which opened in 2015 and supports more than 500 tech start-ups. VCs and Angel investors remain “the most active investors in high-risk and promising new ideas” in this region, writes AbouHana. If you’re looking for the  next big thing, keep an eye on Dubai’s tech scene.

2. Peer value

In March 2017, UAE start-up Beehive became the first peer-to-peer (P2P) lender to be regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). P2P lending, based on the crowdfunding model, is a potent idea that bypasses banks and allows investors to directly finance small and medium-sized businesses. It “dramatically reduces the cost, complexity and long timelines often associated with conventional finance”, Beehive notes. With the UAE being home to 350,000 SMEs, this Akshaya Tritiya you will probably run out of cash well before you run out of cool businesses to invest in.

3. Crypto clues 

Opinion is divided on the sagacity of investing in cryptocurrencies, especially after the recent spectacular crash that in weeks saw  Bitcoin crash from a giddy high of $20,000 (Dh73,450) to an embarrassing low of $6,600. But as Brian 
Kelly, portfolio manager of the BKCM Digital Asset Fund, told CNBC, the time is ripe to buy Bitcoin, when “everyone is saying it’s over, Bitcoin is dead. Now’s the time you start looking at it, on the buy side.” Bloomberg adds that even billionaire George Soros, who  dismissed cryptocurrencies as a bubble in January, now wants in.

4. Hot property 

Gold used to be the, well, gold standard for investment on Akshaya Tritiya. But the focus is gradually shifting towards property investment. The Wadhwa Group, a Mumbai-based real estate company claims first-time home buyers look forward to purchasing a new house and conduct the house-warming ceremony on the day. Moreover, interests in real estate is driven by special offers from builders, lower interest rates from lenders, and that property investment can earn you passive rental income.

5. Having funds 

A popular alternative to bullion on Akshaya Tritiya are gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Quantum Mutual Fund, a leading Indian direct-to-investor mutual fund, insists ETFs are “highly efficient investment vehicles”. They are price efficient and not curtailed by the markups associated with buying physical gold, and investors can buy as little as half a gram. The firm adds, “Gold ETFs are backed by physical gold, making them as good as 
gold with the additional advantage of being a hassle-free investment.” 

6. Virtual bonds  

Indian brokerage firm Sharekhan describes sovereign gold bonds (SGBs) as “the safest way to invest in gold”, while eliminating the risks and costs associated with owning real gold. Investors get an assured interest of 2.5 per cent per annum, payable every six months. SGBs can be traded on India’s stock exchanges, used as collateral for loans, or held in demat accounts. SGBs have been able to mobilise 22 tonnes of gold since being introduced in November 2015, and as trade wars escalate between the US and China, experts believe investors may pick SGBs over gold bars.

7. Cause and effect

Here’s an idea to boost your happiness score. Bengaluru’s Iskcon temple reminds us that Vedic scriptures do not authorise the belief of buying gold on Akshaya Tritiya making anyone rich. On its website, the organisation says that kings and wealthy people traditionally performed charitable acts on this day, out of compassion for the poor or for the “spiritual upliftment of oneself”. So why not dedicate time or money to your favourite charity or cause? At the least, the result will be a warm feeling that is simply… priceless.