In the world of investing there are many different investment vehicles and strategies but they can be split into three broad categories. The advantage of thinking from this point of view is that it makes it easier to decide which form of investing or which combination of investing will best suit you.
Let’s have a look at the three broad categories of investing and look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Passive investing is when you put the investment decision making into the hands of someone else, ideally an expert investment manager.
The advantages of passive investment are that you are not required to have any investment expertise and you don’t have to invest your time, only your money. The disadvantages are that firstly you have relinquished your control over your money and secondly the returns for these types of investment are usually uninspiring.
Common examples of passive investing are savings accounts, government bonds, property trusts and mutual funds. Most people invest for their retirement under some form of passive investment that usually has special tax concessions which vary from country to country.
With active investing you take an active role in managing the investment. This form of investing could have a long term focus such as a buy and hold share portfolio or it could be a short term focus such as futures trading.
To do well in active investing you need to have considerable knowledge of the investment vehicle or vehicles that you are using. You also need to understand the basic principles such as when to collect profits, when to cut losses and how to analyze the market. You also need the emotional strength to apply these strategies as required (this is often the most difficult aspect of active investing).
The advantages of active investing are that you have greater control over your investment than you do with passive investing and the potential for profit is theoretically higher. The disadvantages are that you need to invest time in acquiring knowledge and skills and in managing your investments and also that the potential for loss is also generally far greater than in passive investing.
Common examples of active investments are share, options, futures, and currency trading, buy and hold share portfolio building, buy and hold residential or commercial property, and property trading.
With creative investing you actually change the investment in some way that is designed to manufacture profit. This form of investment requires a lot of skill and experience but if you have that skill and experience then you can create huge profits by being able to visualize what your investment could be once you have applied your imagination to it. For this reason creative investing is often described as turning thought into money.
For example if you are a property developer there is a huge variety of possible developments that you could design and build on a particular piece of land. Amongst that huge set of possibilities there are also a huge range of potential outcomes ranging from high profit to huge loss and including all the points in between.
The advantages of creative investing are that it has the highest profit potential and the highest degree of control and flexibility. The disadvantages are that it requires the highest degree of knowledge, usually involves borrowing large sums of money and also has a huge potential for large losses if you get it wrong.
Common examples of creative investments are property development, property renovation, business renovation and new product development and marketing.
When you are deciding which of these three broad categories best suits you need to consider your knowledge and experience, your strengths and weaknesses, your access to resources, including time and money, and in particular you need to consider your personality including your time management skills, decision making skills, tolerance for risk and your self discipline.
There are of course many expert consultants to help you in each field and many sources of knowledge and experience to tap into.
I hope that this article was useful in helping you see where the various types of investments fit into the scheme of things.