A lot of what we see as finance is actually pure packaging. Securities and other investments are packaged into product that make it easy for the person with assets to buy.

Loan Portfolios

Usually the major asset of banks, thrifts, and other lending institutions, these are loans that have been made or bought and are being held for repayment


Managed Funds

A structure that manages the investments of multiple clients via a collective investment approach and strategy


Mutual Funds

An investment fund that raises money from shareholders and invests it in stocks, bonds, options, futures, currencies, or money market securities, and offer investors the advantages of diversification and professional management


Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Also called REITs, these manage a portfolio of real estate to earn profits for and pay dividends to shareholders. Patterned after investment companies, REITs make investments in a diverse array of real estate, such as shopping centers, medical facilities, nursing homes, office buildings, and hotels


Securities Portfolios

Combines holdings of more than one stock, bond, commodity, real estate investment, cash equivalent, or other asset by an individual or institutional investor. The purpose of the portfolio is to reduce risk through diversification


Sovereign Wealth Funds

Government-owned pools of investment funds in the currency of another sovereign entity and are funded by foreign currency reserves


Venture and Private Equity Funds

Investments into early stage (venture) or expansion stage (private equity) companies that have a high amount of risk but potential for high amounts of return


Bond Portfolios

A fixed income portfolio composed of convertible, corporate, treasury, mortgage and/or municipal bonds


Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

Referred to as ETF’s, these are marketable securities that track an index, a commodity, bonds, or a basket of assets like an index fund and trade like a common stock on a stock exchange


Hedge Funds

An investment fund that pools capital from a limited number of accredited individual or institutional investors and invests in a variety of assets, often with complex portfolio construction and risk management techniques


Closed-End Funds

A publicly traded investment company that raises a fixed amount of capital through an initial public offering (IPO) and is then structured, listed, and traded like a stock on a stock exchange


Asset classes are classes or categories of investments and securities which have similar characteristics. Balancing (and rebalancing) asset classes in the portfolio is one way that asset holders achieve the desired goals of the portfolio.

Angel Investments

Private placements of primarily equity capital in startups, early-stage companies, or entrepreneurs

Gain benefits that come from participating in the development of an early stage companies often as part of a broader strategy

Cash Equivalents

Short term investment securities that have high credit quality and are highly liquid. There are five types of cash equivalents: treasury bills, commercial paper, marketable securities, money market funds, and short-term government bonds

Cash will generally lose value against inflation, but it is necessary for liquidity


Futures contract for basic goods that are indistinguishable from each other such as grain, gold, or oil, traded on an exchange

Provides protection in an inflationary environment


As an asset class, this includes exposure to currencies through exchange-traded funds and notes

Provides a hedge against assets held in the investor’s native currency as currency return and the asset return can go in opposite directions

Fixed Income

Investment products that provide real return rates or periodic income at regular intervals and at reasonably predictable levels. This includes: government-issued, corporate, and inflation-protected securities as well as mortgage-backed and asset-backed securities

Preserves principal and captures a stable yield (or return). May not hold their value to inflation but that is their primary goal

Private Equities

Equities that are not quoted on a public exchange, it is comprised of investors and funds that make investments directly into private companies or conduct buyouts of public companies that result in a delisting of public equity

In exchange for less liquidity, provides growth of assets beyond what the public markets can return

Public Equities

Equities sold on a public market or exchange. “Large cap” public equities refer to companies with a market capitalization value of more than $10 billion. “Small cap” refers to stocks market capitalization between $300 million and $2 billion

Overall, outperforms inflation over a long period and provides liquidity

Real Assets

Physical or tangible assets that have value in and of themselves. They are distinct from financial assets whose value derives from a contractual claim on an asset. These include precious metals, commodities, real estate, agricultural land, and oil.

Low correlation with financial assets such as stocks and bonds and perform well in inflationary times. Also known for high transaction fees and low liquidity.

Alternative Investments

Investment products other than traditional stocks, bonds, or cash. Including real estate, commodities, and sometimes hedge funds, private equity and art, venture capital, carbon credits, and financial derivatives

Provides an opportunity for return beyond public equities but sacrifices liquidity and sometimes transparency

Interested in getting involved with Criterion Institute?

Our work depends on an ever-expanding community of team members, advisors, donors, and other partners who help us demonstrate our theory of change and ultimately achieve our mission. Learn more about how you can become more engaged in our work.

Invitations to Engage