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Which asset classes deliver the best returns?

Gold was the best performing asset in 2022.

Everybody loves making money – and even better if you can do it in your sleep. That's exactly what you're doing when you invest money in the share market, buy Bitcoin or even deposit it into a regular old savings account.

But not all asset classes were created equal. Some are highly volatile, and some don't give you great bang for your buck.

Finder compared 6 different asset types to find out how they stacked up against each other in 2022.

Which asset classes deliver the best returns?

Finder's Consumer Sentiment Tracker shows that Australian had on average $28,402 in savings in January 2022. Here is what they would have made if they invested it for one year.


Based on its performance in 2022, Gold was the best performing asset, delivering a 1.45% return. On a $28,402 deposit – the average amount held in a traditional savings account – that's a $412 profit.

Gold benefits with relatively low volatility with the price moving on average 4.0% from the mean in 2022.

While Gold was the best performing asset in 2022, investing in it in 2021 would have netted a -6.06% loss. Equivalent to losing $1,722 on a $28,402 investment.

Savings accounts

Although not typically seen as an investment, savings accounts offered the second best return in 2022. The average bonus savings account would have returned $392 over the course of the year amounting to a 1.38% return.

Banks pay interest at a stable rate every month, and offer no asset price volatility. Customers' deposits are also backed by the government up to $250,000.

However, ordinary savings account offered a much poorer return of only 0.49%, earning customers only $140.

Although savings accounts offer modest returns, rapid interest rises mean they offered a far better return that other asses class like cryptocurrency or shares which lost value.


Based on its performance in 2022, Bitcoin delivered an abysmal 62.85% loss. On a $28,402 deposit – the average amount held in a traditional savings account – that's a $11,738 loss.

Bitcoin buyers pay the price of volatility – in 2022, prices moved on average 29.7%. Unsurprisingly, two thirds (66%) of Australians reported they do not see cryptocurrency as a good investment, according to Finder's Consumer Sentiment Tracker.

While Bitcoin saw significant negative returns through 2022, it was the top-performing asset of 2022 with a return of 66.48% – equivalent to 18,880 on a $28,402 investment – highlighting its volatility.

Share market

Investing in shares is a great way to build wealth over time. The performance of the ASX200 over the past year however has been less than impressive, with a 2.97% gross negative return. That's equivalent to losing $844 on a $28,402 investment.

Similar to cryptocurrency, share market investors face price volatility – albeit much less at 3.0%. The good thing about the share market is that it offers a diverse range of investment vehicles like blue chip shares or diversified index funds through exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that have less risk and regularly dividends that can compound returns through dividend reinvestment plans.

This is what allowed the ASX200 to offer a 15.53% return - equivalent to $4,410 a $28,402 investment - with a price volatility of only 4.3%.

How many Australians earn passive income?

Nearly half of Australians (47%) claim they earn passive income. A third (34%) say they earn interest from their savings account. While the percentage of Australians that have a savings account is actually 84%, low interest rates mean that most people are earning negligible or no interest on their money.

One in six (16%) earn dividends from shares or cryptocurrency and 8% earn rental income from an investment property.

Gen Z (58%) are the most likely to earn passive income, predominantly through their savings accounts (44%). They are also the most likely to make money from a product they created like a book or an app.

Meanwhile, millennials are the most likely to earn dividends from shares or cryptocurrency (19%), rental income on an investment property (12%), and rental income from renting out a spare room (3%).

How to try and get ahead

Look for a higher return rate. Low savings rates make it near impossible to earn money on your cash. Consider different products with higher returns.

Start investing. Investing is a great way to build long-term wealth, and online share trading platforms have made it easier than ever for beginners to get involved. You don't need to be a finance whiz or obsessively check on your portfolio every day to be an investor. If you're new to the game, exchange traded funds (ETFs) let you diversify your portfolio without having to buy stocks in each individual company.

Switch your super. It's easy to forget about your super because it's not something you use day-to-day. But over time it will become one of your biggest assets, so it's important you're getting the best bang for your buck. For someone with a $100,000 super balance and earning the median income of $63,000, the difference between a fund returning 8% per annum and a fund returning 10% per annum is $12,000. Over a lifetime of work, the difference could compound to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Disclaimer: Finder only provides general advice and factual information. Consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. Crypto trading products are made available in the Finder App, powered by Finder Wallet Pty Ltd, an AUSTRAC registered Digital Currency Exchange (DCE). Trading and holding cryptocurrency has a high level of risk. Cryptocurrency is a volatile asset class. You can incur losses. You should only trade cryptocurrency or related products if you fully understand, and agree to, the risks. We suggest you seek independent financial advice prior to accessing our services.

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