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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lim

MF 329 : A brief look at REITs, cryptocurrency, artwork and NFTs

Updated: Mar 20

On this wrap-up on investing, I take a brief look at alternative investment instruments. More at

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[NOTE: I do not give investment advice. Investing involves risk and you should always do your research or speak with an investment professional beforehand.]

"The times, they are-a changin." -Bob Dylan

Much like investing in a stock that rises, falls, only to rise again, a podcast episode about investing can yield unexpected results. Originally, I intended to do one episode about investing basics but the latest moves in the market, replete with twists and turns, caused me to expand into a mini-series. This week, I thought it would be appropriate to cap off the series with a look at the future given the recent news surrounding cryptocurrency, the resurgence of trading cards, and … memes and tweets?

Thus far, I’ve focused mostly on securities in the form of stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs (exchange traded funds). Interestingly, the reasons for stock investing have evolved with the ways retail investors can access the market. With a growing number of individual (“retail”) investors, the motives are as diverse as the individuals themselves. If you’ve followed recent news, you’ll know that mission or statement-driven investing is now a significant factor. Certain companies have undeniable cultural or social media popularity. Others carry a nostalgia to years past such that it’s no longer just dollars and cents that motivate new investors. When you think about it, investing is the ultimate form of patronage. When you buy a share, you’re not simply buying a piece of paper, you’re showing your support for that company. You become a part of that company with certain rights and privileges, including dividends (if applicable), information about the company, and voting rights. You’re privy to shareholder calls hosted by the CEO whether you own a block or a single share. There’s something inherently powerful about this idea.

We can no longer ignore or dismiss the impact that social media chatter, forums, and online posts can have for certain companies and its stock price. That’s not to say this will replace doing the legwork of research and due diligence. But an investor who not only pays attention to the quarterly filings, analyst reports, and financial news, but has an attuned ear to what people say online now has a powerful arsenal of information upon which to make investment decisions.

Concurrently, what we invest in has also evolved with the times. Real estate (land) is far older than stocks. What’s evolved is the way you can invest in real estate. Over the past several decades, real estate investment trusts (REITs) have allowed investors to put their dollars into the housing or commercial real estate via the stock market. With the same brokerage platforms used to buy individual stocks, investors can diversify their portfolios with REITs.

Beyond that, art has always struck me as an odd and interesting investment. I’ve always wondered why wealthy people collect so much art. As a kid, I chalked it up to pretentious tastes and flaunting or posturing. Over the years, I’ve learned that art can serve an investment purpose too. It’s one way in which investors can protect their dollars against inflation and even increase their wealth as the value grows over time.

We’ve also experienced a “what’s old is new” moment with the resurgence of trading cards from sports leagues. Cards aren’t simply a pre-teen fad but like art are investments that hedge against a fluctuating dollar.

What’s next? We’ve been in the so-called digital age for a while now. Money is no longer simply paper and metal coins. Virtual or cryptocurrencies have found their way back into the zeitgeist, rising from the ashes of the past several years to extraordinary highs as institutional investors and companies are adding it to their balance sheets. Even the aforementioned “art” is no longer confined to canvass or marble as gifs, memes, and tweets from famous artists and personalities are commanding millions in auction houses in the form of NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

The question remains whether these new digital instruments are a natural evolution of traditional investing instruments or momentary fads and bubbles. Only time will tell. But these are interesting times filled with opportunities for investors, old and new, to research, explore and decide where (and how) to invest.

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