A financial dictionary will tell you it’s a group of securities that show similar behaviour and characteristics in the marketplace. There are three main asset classes: equities (stocks), fixed income (bonds) and cash or money market instruments. Some investors add property and commodities to the asset class mix.
Equities, or company shares listed on the JSE, allow investors ownership of a small piece of the company. Share prices vary and change every day as the perceived price of the company changes. Dividends are payable to shareholders. Regarded as highest risk of all the asset classes.
Bonds are in essence a debt investment in which you loan money to a business or the government, which borrows the funds for a specific period of time at a fixed interest rate. So the indebted entity (issuer) issues a bond which states the interest rate (coupon rate) that will be paid when the borrowed funds are to be returned (maturity date). Examples are corporate bonds, government bonds, and so on.
Cash & Money Market Instruments
Cash equivalents are short-term investments which are highly liquid and have a high credit quality. Examples are bank certificates of deposit, bankers’ acceptances and corporate commercial papers.
Property investment, aside from buying a nest of your own, can also include investing in listed property companies. Although similar to other shares, these investments offer a steady income flow in the form of income pay outs. The company manages a number of buildings and distributes the rent it receives to its shareholders.
The mining industry in South Africa represents 35% of the JSE’s market cap, but for investors who want to avoid investing in companies and, by default, in their management, gold, platinum and other commodities like silver can also be bought and traded.
All of the above can also be invested in Offshore.