Alternatives and Options

In general (i.e. non-business) communication, alternatives and options mean essentially the same thing - different possibilities or choices. For example, "we're analysing the alternatives" or "we're keeping our options open".

However, in business, these words can now also convey more specific ideas. "Alternative" may refer to something new and unconventional, such as alternative investments (e.g. highly structured mortgage products packaged and sold on) or alternative energy (windfarms, solar power etc.).

"Options" can describe situations and contracts which give someone the right, but not the obligation, to perform or not, according to their choice. A "call option" is a right to buy something (e.g. a bond) and a "put option" is to sell. This is potentially a valuable asset and therefore a fee is often payable to whoever offers the transaction.

Once again, precise meaning depends a lot on context, which in these examples should be fairly clear. However, as usual, perhaps a good idea to check.


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