Alternative Investment Funds or AIF in short, are defined as privately pooled investment funds and categorized by The Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) as Category I AIF, Category II AIF, and Category III AIF. It is a fund of funds (FOF) that invests in asset classes other than stocks, bonds, Government securities, fixed deposits or cash. It pools money from various HNI investors and invests them under different investment categories as specified by the SEBI for the benefit of investors.
Assets under management (AUM) under AIF can include start-ups, SME funds, infrastructure funds, private equity funds, venture capital or even hedge funds that may be trading in listed or unlisted derivatives depending on the fund type.
The minimum investment amount to invest in an AIF is Rs 1.00 Crore depending on the type of AIF. Therefore, it can be called as product meant for the HNIs.
AIF offers diversification as the key benefit. AIFs have considerable freedom to decide where to invest unlike most other funds or mutual funds which are totally regulated and follow the fund/ scheme guidelines as mandated by SEBI.
There are various non-traditional investment options available to AIFs which generally are not available to all investors, particularly retail investors.
Alternative Investment Funds or AIF raise money to form an investment fund pool that invests in non-traditional assets classes that the ordinary investors may not have access through any other products like Mutual Funds. Money can be pooled from various types of investors, example - Resident Investors, NRIs or non-resident investors or foreign investors.
AIFs are mainly aimed at high net worth or HNI individuals who are ready to invest minimum Rs 1.00 Crore and take high risk. While the return potential of AIF may be very high, the risk is also very high. Therefore, this is not meant for all investors excepting those who are well versed with these kind of investing.
In summary, if you have a large amount to invest in one instrument
You have the ability to sustain the risk
You are ready to remain invested with long lock-in periods