How to pick the global assets that are right for you


When it comes to global investing, investors have two choices to make. The first is where they invest. The second is – in which assets? Choice is a good thing, but too much can be overwhelming. Here’s how to decide what investment solution is best for you, and why.

Investments are divided into asset classes. Asset classes are groups of securities which have similar characteristics. For example, all equity investments have fundamental similarities: they have to be openly traded on a stock exchange; provide partial ownership of the company; and have the ability to pay dividends.

A quick guide to asset classes

Traditionally, investors have accessed just three asset classes when investing: cash, bonds and equity. Portfolios were set up so cash could provide investors with safety and liquidity; bonds offered income with low volatility; and equity promised capital growth and dividends.

Investors today have more options than ever.  ‘Alternative’ asset classes include commodities, such as precious metals, oil and agricultural products; infrastructure and property funds; and hedge funds, which can invest in a number of ways, depending on the management style and investment objective. Alternatives also include collectible investments such as fine wine and art, and newer opportunities such as virtual currencies.

Most alternative asset classes are well-regulated and easy to access. But with all this extra choice, how do investors know what asset allocation is right for them?

Finding the right solution for you

All things being equal, it’s usually a good idea to choose simplicity over complexity. The same is true when selecting an investment solution.

The simplest way to invest is to buy an investment which already exists and has been designed for someone with your requirements. Investment managers provide a diverse range of solutions for investors with certain profiles. These diversified funds contain different mixes of asset classes and invest in different geographies, tailored to specific goals, needs and risk profiles. That means you won’t need to worry about blending and diversifying assets: it’s already been done for you.

3 helpful what’s to guide you

Selecting which investment solution is best for you requires a deep understanding of your situation, capabilities and needs. This is where a financial advisor can be immensely helpful: they have the tools, insight and objectivity required to guide investors towards the solution most suitable for their personal circumstances. They can help you clarify the following:

  1. What are your goals? Any investment solution has to be aligned to your goals for it to be useful. So it’s a good idea to start here when deciding what to invest in.
  2. What’s your risk profile? Once you know what you want from your investment, the next step is to understand your personal risk profile so you invest at a level of risk that’s appropriate for you.
  3. What are your personal investment preferences? Do you like active or passive investment styles? What about sector- or geographic-specific investments? How do you feel about including alternative investments into your portfolio?

The answers to these broad questions will give you the direction required to select an investment solution based on your needs.

Don’t let the tail wag the dog

What you invest in will determine what return you receive and the investment risk you face, so it’s well worth taking the process seriously. Remember: your requirements, needs and circumstances should drive the investment solution you select, not information about the product.

Choosing a product because of its higher recent return, new lower fee or exclusive tax saving is like the tail wagging the dog: the input and the output are the wrong way around. You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without first deciding what you needed them for. If you need shoes to go mountain-climbing, it doesn’t matter how snazzy new sneakers look!

Similarly, selecting the right investment solution begins with understanding yourself and your needs. Only then can you determine which specific product best fits your requirements. So first determine ‘the why’ – and ‘the what’ will follow logically!

This article is not financial advice. Please consult with a financial adviser for financial advice.

Our global investment plans

Partner with the top asset managers in the world

Discovery Invest recently launched the country’s first international shared-value investment offering, designed to give your money access to the world’s best investment opportunities.

Through our associations with top global investment managers, we offer risk-profiled managed solutions with allocations managed by BlackRock, and share portfolios with allocations advised by Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Ask your financial adviser about us today.

We’ve shortlisted some of the world’s best investment choices

Discovery Invest recently launched South Africa’s first international shared-value investment offering. We offer a wide range of options that have been researched and analysed by a global team of highly skilled investment professionals with more than 250 years of combined investment experience.

The Global Alpha Investment Choices range consists of a curated list of 73 investment choices that covers multiple asset classes and geographies, managed by some of the world’s best asset managers. Ask your financial adviser about us today.

Looking for sound financial advice?

If you don’t have a financial adviser, you can contact Discovery’s call centre on 0860 67 57 77. Our code of conduct for financial advisers is strict and all advisers must avoid or disclose any conflicts of interests. At the core of everything they do is a pledge to treat clients fairly.


Discovery Life International, the Guernsey branch of Discovery Life Limited (South Africa), licensed by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission under the Insurance Business (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 2002, to carry on long-term insurance business. Discovery Life Limited is a registered long term insurer and authorised financial services provider. Registration number 1966/003901/06. Discovery Life Investment Services Pty (Ltd): Registration number 2007/005969/07, is an authorised financial services provider. The views and opinions expressed in this article are for information purposes only and should not be seen as advice as defined in the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act. Discovery shall not be liable for any actions taken by any person based on the correctness of this information. For full details on the products, benefits and any conditions, please refer to the relevant fact file. For tailored financial advice, please contact your financial adviser.

Log in

Please click here to login into Discovery Digital Id

Please click here to login into Discovery Digital Id