Income investor: Closed-end funds
If you're looking for income but don't want to go too far afield, take a look at closed-end funds. They aren't alternative investments, but they do have a structure different from their popular brethren -- open-end mutual funds. And they employ some techniques that can amplify returns (or losses).
Like ETFs, closed-end funds trade on an exchange. Unlike open-end mutual funds, redemptions are not done through the mutual fund company once a day. Instead, shares are traded in the market throughout the day. As a result, the market determines the value of the fund, so closed-end funds often trade at a premium or a discount, or above or below the actual value of the underlying investments.
Not all closed-end funds invest in fixed-income securities, but most of them do, says Morningstar's closed-end analyst Cara Esser.
"The majority of the universe is fixed income and the majority of that universe is municipal bonds. And then within fixed income there are a lot of different strategies that they can use: bank-loan funds, preferred share funds, high-yield emerging markets, precious metals and gold funds," Esser says.
Most closed-end funds, even on the equity side, focus on income generation, and a majority of them use leverage to increase it.