Alternative investments are assets that do not fall under the traditional equity or fixed income umbrellas. They include assets such as private equity, real estate, private debt, infrastructure, impact focused investments, and hedge funds. Compared to listed securities, alternative investments are characterized by less liquidity, and sometimes greater complexity. Alternative investments are becoming increasingly attractive because they may offer a different return profile to an institutional portfolio. They tend to have a low correlation to stock and bond markets so they’re often useful in portfolios to add diversification or provide a hedge against market downturns. As expectations for returns in the coming years in public equities and fixed income continue to dampen, we believe investors are looking elsewhere for ways to achieve their portfolio objectives.

Why alternative investments?



With low correlation to traditional asset classes, alternatives can help diversify your portfolio. Diversification away from listed markets may offer the possibility for uncorrelated returns.

Potentially better returns


Alternative offer the potential for better income and higher capital growth compared to public fixed income and equity markets. The may also provide greater downside protection from market shocks than public equities and fixed income.

Cash flow management


Incorporating alternatives into a portfolio may enhance the income potential. Alternatives may also provide an illiquidity premium to the providers of long-term capital.

Upcoming event

SuperReturn International private equity conference - 14 and 16 June 2022

We are delighted to be sponsoring this year’s Super Return International Summit’s Day. This year, our Senior Secondary and Co-Investments Specialist, Benjamin Baumann will be discussing German Private Equity and the evolution of the LP and GP relationship and our Head of Alternatives for EMEA and Asia Pacific, Garvan McCarthy will discuss creativity in private markets, covering continuation funds, co-investing developments and exit routes.


This event is free for LPs. 

Most common alternative investments

Sustainable opportunities 




  • Private equity (including venture capital)
  • Private debt
  • Impact investing/ESG
  • Infrastructure
  • Real estate 
  • Hedge funds

Why investors look to private markets?

Private markets can offer diversification away from listed markets and investors have the potential to benefit from compelling risk-adjusted returns, an illiquidity premium and potential for greater protection from market shocks.

Discover our private market strategies

Our extensive range of private market solutions offer many potential benefits including diversification away from listed markets and the potential to benefit from strong risk-adjusted returns, an illiquidity premium and protection from market shocks. With over 30 years of experience in the business, our 240 global alternative investment professionals apply their knowledge and relationships to access distinctive opportunities1 from highly-rated private markets managers and funds and inform our clients about these prospective investment benefits. We can provide the advice, research and implementation necessary to help you realize your private equity, private debt, infrastructure, impact and real estate objectives.

Private equity

Seeks to invest in companies with development potential, aiming to elevate return streams relative to public equity markets. May add new sources of alpha and open up a much larger universe of investments.


Joint private equity investments with other partners. These opportunities can arise when a private markets manager identifies a potential investment requiring more equity than it can commit.


Interests in private equity funds that are sold via an intermediary to another investor. Secondaries offer access to opportunities for buyers, and a source of liquidity for current investors.

Real estate

Aims to improve diversification and generate attractive returns compared to a traditional portfolio, supported by an income yield that may bring protection in recessionary and inflationary periods.


The goal of essential infrastructure as an asset class is to provide predictable cash flows, diversification and inflation protection with exposure to longer-life projects.

Leap continuum (US only)

Leap strategy is focused on diverse-led funds, which are run by women and people of color and primarily operate in the private equity sector. This encompasses venture capital (VC), buyouts, special situations, and growth capital. Available in US only.

Impact investments

Impact investing is aimed at sustainability-oriented private equity funds, as well as renewable energy, infrastructure, and sustainable timber and agriculture projects.

Private debt

Private debt covers a broad spectrum of potential. It may help diversify portfolios, enhance yields and identify where investors might deploy capital efficiently over the short, medium and long term.

Why investors look to hedge funds?

Hedge funds represent an investment tool that can best serve a client portfolio by providing diversification relative to both equity and interest rate risk with minimal give-up in return. The current market environment suggests such diversification may be quite timely.

Hedge funds are a diverse collection of investment strategies that can be utilized to achieve client-specific objectives. Hedge funds can be used to diversify equity market and interest rate risks that dominate portfolio outcomes. They can also be used as a return enhancing alternative to traditional long-only active management, relying on unique return drivers. The very unconstrained nature of hedge funds and dispersion of risk profiles across the universe means carefully constructed portfolios of these strategies can be positioned to serve nearly any role across the risk and reward spectrum, as a diversifier, a return enhancer, a portable alpha engine or a hedge to growth asset portfolios.

Why Mercer for alternatives


USD 164 billion

global alternatives assets under advisement1


USD 26 billion

global alternatives under management2



alternatives professionals3

30 years

years private markets experience4

27 offices


17 years

managing hedge fund portfolios6

How we work with clients

  • Client-centric, flexible approach

    Client-centric, flexible approach




    Client-centric approach


    Our work begins with the knowledge that no two clients are the same. Whether it is their cash-flow requirements, targeted returns, or familiarity with private markets, every organization is truly unique. Pension providers, endowment funds, insurance companies and wealth management firms will all have their own approaches and needs.


  • Extensive research platform

    Extensive research platform




    We do the heavy lifting, offering flexible solutions


    We construct flexible private markets solutions across all asset classes, designed to help meet each client’s particular needs, objectives and risk appetite. From liquidity budgeting and strategy design to in-depth operational due diligence and standardized reporting, our dedicated, experienced teams help streamline even the most complex processes for our clients.


  • Global reach, combined with local resources

    Global reach, combined with local resources




    Extensive research and rigorous fund selection


    Our fund selection process is rigorous. Mercer typically reviews over 2,000 fund offerings each year. Following this global research review process, we perform due diligence, assign ratings and make recommendations for investments based on each client’s unique portfolio objectives, cash flow requirements, and risk tolerance.


Meet the team

Raelan Lambert 

Raelan Lambert

Global Leader, Investment Alternatives Private Equity and DEI

Bill Muysken 

Bill Muysken

Global Chief Investment Officer Global Alternatives Investments

Garvan McCarthy 

Garvan McCarthy

Alternatives Leader – EMEA, Asia Pacific & LatAm Private Markets and Hedge Funds

Brad Young 

Brad Young

Global Co-CIO, Private Markets

James Treanor 

James Treanor

Alternative Leader – US & CA Private Equity, Private Markets, Hedge Funds, Real Assets

Michael Forestner 

Michael Forestner

Global Co-CIO, Private Markets

Why should private market investors allocate to venture capital?


2022 has been off to a rocky start with some sharp corrections in tech stocks. Erik Sebusch, Strategy Leader for Venture Capital shares his thoughts.


Speak with a Mercer specialist about Alternative Investments

We’re eager to speak with you. Please provide your details below.

*Required Fields


Important legal information for investors


1 Access is not guaranteed and at the discretion of the investment manager.

2 As of June 30, 2022

3 As of June 30, 2022

4 As of September 30, 2022

5 As of March 1, 2022

6 As of September 30, 2022

7 As of xxx


About Mercer’s assets under management and advisement figures


The assets under advisement data (AUA Data) reported here include aggregated assets under advisement for Mercer Investments LLC and their affiliated companies globally (Mercer). The AUA Data have been derived from a variety of sources, including, but not limited to, third-party custodians or investment managers, regulatory filings, and client self-reported data. Mercer has not independently verified the AUA Data. Where available, the AUA Data are provided as of the date indicated (the Reporting Date). To the extent information was not available as of the Reporting Date; information from a date closest in time to the Reporting Date, which may be of a date more or less recent in time than the Reporting Date, was included in the AUA Data. The AUA Data include assets of clients that have engaged Mercer to provide ongoing advice, clients that have engaged Mercer to provide project-based services at any time within the 12-month period ending on the Reporting Date, as well as assets of clients that subscribe to Mercer’s Manager Research database delivered through the MercerInsight® platform as of the reporting date.