Today, investors face the extreme pressures of an ultra-low interest rate environment, crowded markets, and all-time high valuations for equities and bonds. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) reportedly rose by 2.5% in the 12 months to June 2021, with future rises predicted. This will pile additional pressure on savers who will be unable to maintain the purchasing power of their cash over time.

What's more, traditional options that typically provide strong returns saw a notable downturn in performance last year. Nearly 500 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange cancelled, cut or suspended dividend payments in 2020. Although some companies have bounced back in Q2 2020, on the other end of the spectrum we’ve seen yields on government bonds remain consistently low.

This is an unprecedented environment, especially for those that depend on income for their spending needs and future planning, including pensioners, private savers, charities, and foundations. Many have been forced to take disproportionate investment risks to satisfy their needs.

This is the backdrop for alternative investments, which are now playing an increasingly prominent role for investors and savers. We are seeing an acceleration in the demand for positively yielding alternative investment strategies precisely at a time of increased hunger for investments that deliver long-term sustainable performance with a broader societal purpose - demonstrated by the stratospheric levels of capital flowing into ESG and sustainable funds, with assets touching a record high in Q1 2021.

Alternatives are already commonplace for a wide range of investors. They can mean anything from real assets, such as property or digital infrastructure, to private direct lending. Choosing the right vehicle and strategy is a challenge, and there are several options investors could consider, the most straightforward of which are in three key areas: two of which are in fixed capital vehicles (Investment Trusts and REITs), and the third is in Leasing and Lending strategies.

Investment trusts

Investment trusts are an appealing option for investors and savers. Depending on the strategy and sector, they can provide a diversified, yet robust, sustainable investment portfolio that offers the dual benefits of long-term capital return and income. In 2020, investment trusts achieved an average 17.8% total return whilst the UK stock market saw a decline of 9.8%. With more than 400 trusts currently trading on the UK stock market, focused on more than 30 different sectors, there is an abundance of choice.

As an example, Digital 9 Infrastructure (DGI9), is an investment trust managed by Triple Point, whose strategy aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – as indeed does its name. The ‘9’ refers to the UN’s ninth goal – ‘Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation’ – which reflects the trust’s commitment to improving global digital communications in an environmentally sustainable manner. The company addresses the exponential demands for supporting the internet by investing in a range of digital infrastructure assets that seek to achieve sustainable inflation-linked income of 6% per annum, coupled with long term capital growth for investors.

Real estate investment trusts

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) invest across a broad range of property types and can provide investors dividend-based income, transparency, liquidity, inflation protection and portfolio diversification. Historically, they have proved to be an attractive way for investors to gain exposure to the world’s largest asset class, while gaining the liquidity of a tradeable security.

For investors wanting to make a positive impact on society, social housing REITs represents an opportunity to generate sustainable, long-term, inflation-linked income while helping to address one of society’s most pressing challenges.

As an example, Triple Point Social Housing REIT funds the development of specialised supported housing, either newly built or renovated, for people with long-term care needs such as learning and physical disabilities. These developments are designed in tandem with local health commissioners to accommodate people moving out of institutional care facilities. That Triple Point received 100% of rent during 2020, and paid all dividends in full, is testament to the resilience of our stakeholders, and the wider business model which derives the strength of its rental income from the positive social impact it generates. So, for socially-minded investors, investing with UK social housing REITs represents an opportunity to receive a solid, long-term, inflation-linked dividend income of around 5%, while helping to address some of society’s most pressing issues.

Leasing and Lending strategies

Direct lending is an asset class that was traditionally the preserve of banks and large financial institutions but is now being targeted by a much broader spectrum of investors. Having evolved over the last decade, the non-bank lending sector addresses the increasing demands for supporting SMEs and other groups underserved by mainstream lenders.

Leasing and lending can be a valuable addition to any investment strategy by providing a way to mitigate risk and produce predictable and uncorrelated returns. As an example, Triple Point’s leasing and lending strategies, the focus is relieving critical funding pressures in the public and private sectors, while generating predictable returns and capital growth for investors. Managing a diverse debt financing book with over £630m of AUM, the company provided £285m of financing to UK-based organisations to March 2021, including £125m of CBILS loans to those SMEs in communities across the UK most impacted by the pandemic.

The outlook for investment

While the success of vaccination programmes and the lifting of lockdowns point towards a brighter future, we know that there will be pressures ahead for investors and wider society. Investors would do well to capitalise on the current opportunity to diversify their portfolios with alternative investment strategies in order to optimise their chances of sustained and reliable returns.

There remain clear alternative options for those seeking profitable long-term investment strategies, designed to create value for communities and the people who live and work in them. Investment trusts, REITs, and leasing and lending strategies, all have the potential to meet the needs of investors with sustainable goals and priorities.

Potential investors should refer to the information within the Prospectus which is available on the Triple Point Social Housing REIT plc website and must only subscribe for or purchase shares on the basis of information contained within it. As with all investments investors capital is at risk. Target returns may not be achieved and investors may not get back their full investment. Any references to past performance and expectations for the digital infrastructure market should not be taken as a reliable guide to future performance.

Potential investors should refer to the information within the Prospectus which is available via the Documents section of the website and must only subscribe for or purchase shares in Digital 9 Infrastructure plc on the basis of information contained within it. As with all investments investors capital is at risk. Target returns may not be achieved and investors may not get back their full investment. Any references to past performance and expectations for the digital infrastructure market should not be taken as a reliable guide to future performance.

Triple Point is the trading name for the Triple Point Group. While Triple Point includes entities which are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, our SME lending activities are not regulated activities in their own right. This financial promotion has been issued by Triple Point Administration LLP which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority no. 618187.