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  • Writer's picturePeak Frameworks Team

What Are Assets? An Overview of the Main Types of Assets

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Definition of Assets

Source: Marcus Lemonis

Assets are resources that an individual or organization can use to generate revenue and achieve its goals. They can be tangible or intangible and have economic value. Assets can be owned or controlled, and they produce a positive economic benefit.

Types of Assets

Fixed Assets

Fixed assets are tangible assets that a business owns and uses to produce goods or services.

Examples of fixed assets include land, buildings, machinery, and equipment. These assets have a useful life of more than one year and are not intended for sale in the ordinary course of business.

Tesla, a leading electric vehicle manufacturer, has invested in automated production lines to improve efficiency in its electric vehicle production. The production lines are a fixed asset that enables Tesla to increase its production capacity and efficiency.

Current Assets

Current Assets

Current assets are assets that can be easily converted into cash within one year or less.

Examples of current assets include cash, accounts receivable, inventory, and short-term investments. These assets are essential for a business's day-to-day operations and can help fund its ongoing expenses.

Amazon's cash and short-term investments increased from $42.4 billion in 2016 to $73.8 billion in 2020, which helped fund its expansion into new business segments.

Intangible Assets

Intangible assets are assets that lack physical substance but have economic value.

Examples of intangible assets include patents, trademarks, copyrights, brand recognition, and goodwill. These assets can be challenging to value since they do not have a physical form, and their value can fluctuate over time.

Microsoft's brand recognition and intellectual property portfolio have been vital in maintaining its position as a leading technology company.

Financial Assets

Financial assets are assets that represent a financial claim on another entity.

Examples of financial assets include stocks, bonds, options, and futures. These assets can be traded in financial markets and provide investors with opportunities to earn a return on their investments.

The S&P 500 index has generated a compound annual growth rate of 15.3% over the past decade, providing investors with attractive returns.

Real Estate

Real estate refers to property, land, and buildings that individuals or organizations own. These assets can generate rental income or appreciate in value over time. Real estate is a popular investment option for individuals looking to diversify their investment portfolios.

Blackstone, one of the world's largest private equity firms, has invested heavily in real estate assets, with over $345 billion in real estate assets under management.

Classification of Assets

classification of assets
Source: FMIS

Current vs. Non-Current Assets

Current assets are those that can be easily converted into cash within one year or less, while non-current assets are those that cannot be converted into cash within one year. Examples of current assets include cash, accounts receivable, and inventory, while examples of non-current assets include property, plant, equipment, and long-term investments.

Tangible vs. Intangible Assets

Tangible assets are those that have a physical form, such as land, buildings, and machinery, while intangible assets are those that lack physical substance, such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks.

Financial vs. Non-Financial Assets

Financial assets are those that represent a financial claim on another entity, such as stocks, bonds, and options, while non-financial assets are those that do not represent a financial claim, such as land, buildings, and machinery.

Operating vs. Non-Operating Assets

Operating assets are those that are used to generate revenue, such as inventory, property, plant, and equipment, while non-operating assets are those that are not used in the normal course of business, such as investments in other companies or real estate held for investment purposes.

Liquid vs. Illiquid Assets

Liquid assets are those that can be easily converted into cash, such as cash and marketable securities, while illiquid assets are those that cannot be easily converted into cash, such as real estate or private equity investments.


Understanding the different types and classifications of assets is essential for any finance professional. By knowing what assets are and how they function, individuals and organizations can make better investment decisions, allocate resources more effectively, and achieve their financial goals.

The different types of assets provide different benefits and drawbacks, and the classification of assets is useful for analyzing and evaluating assets in different contexts. For instance, understanding the liquidity of assets is important for assessing the financial stability of an organization or individual.

In summary, assets are valuable resources that can help individuals and organizations achieve their financial goals. By understanding the characteristics and classifications of assets, finance professionals can make informed investment decisions, manage their portfolios, and effectively allocate resources.


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