An asset is anything that has monetary value and can be sold. Assets can be anything from a pencil (though it is not worth much) to a skyscraper to things like Stocks and ETFs.

There can also be intangible assets such as the value of a brand name or logo.


Assets generally refer to either something that you intend to sell later for a profit, or something you are actively using to make money. This means that assets generally fall into two categories, Investments and Capital. The easiest way to tell them apart is this:

  • If you are using it to build something or make something (like a computer or a factory machine) that you later sell, it would be capital
  • If the value of the asset is the asset itself (like stock, bonds, or gold), it would be an investment

There are also some things that fall in the middle: For example, your house is considered an “investment” even though you are using it to live in, because hopefully it can one day be sold for a profit, with that profit being likely used for retirement.


Here is a short list of typical assets:

Cash: Cash, marketable securities, coins.
Precious Metals: Gold, silver, platinum.
Investments: Stocks, bonds, options, pensions, mutual funds.
Property: Land, commercial buildings, houses.
Machinery: Factory machines, cars, trucks, forklifts, washing machines.
Intangible assets: Trademarks, brand value.
Objects: Inventory, books, anything that has value.

Note: Typically when asset is mentioned in a financial context, it usually refers to real estate, precious metals, investments such as stocks and bonds, cash and other financial devices.

There are also many more types of asset than this