Alternative Investment?

When does an “alternative investment” become a “conventional investment”.  Or maybe more important, who decides it?

My theory is that main stream media decides what should be considered alternative (i.e. less than 10% of your portfolio) and what should be considered conventional.  I suspect if the exempt market threw the amount of advertising dollars at media that the conventional mutual fund industry does, it would quickly become more mainstream.

The exempt market is a growing segment of the financial industry.  As per the EMDA, the exempt market raised $140 billion last year.  I’m not sure with those numbers, an “alternative” moniker is warranted.

From strictly a common sense perspective, should real estate, which makes up a large part of the exempt world, be considered “alternative”?  I don’t remember reading in the Old Testament where Solomon or Abraham  invested in mutual funds.  I do recall, however, quite a bit written about land ownership.  History has taught us that real estate, whether its land or buildings, if purchased wisely, has proven to be a worthwhile investment.

Clearly the exempt market is burgeoning.  Will it take over the mainstream financial industry?  Maybe, maybe not.  But do me a favour, if you are referring to the exempt market, don’t call it an alternative investment industry.


Marty Gunderson is a self proclaimed Exempt Market geek. He has served in a variety of leadership positions in the industry, from sales to issuer to dealer. He is the founder of, a site that highlights a few quality exempt market offerings.  To contact Marty, please email marty (at)