Can these funds help you to achieve financial independence sooner?

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Buying shares in an investment company is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to help diversify your investments. It's can also a great way for retail investors to gain access to sectors or assets you wouldn't usually be able to own.

So if you're looking at including some unlisted investments to your portfolio, then you may want to check out these two specialist funds.

Energy

When most investors think about getting exposure to the oil and gas sector, they usually only consider oil majors, such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell, and small-cap exploration and production (E&P) players like Premier Oil and Genel Energy. There's not a lot on offer in the middle ground though, which is why closed-end investment company Riverstone Energy Limited (LSE: RSE) seeks to bridge the gap.

Riverstone offers exposure to both the exploration & production and midstream energy sectors by investing in a diversified portfolio of onshore and offshore assets. The portfolio's 14 active investments include significant assets in the low-cost Permian & Eagle Ford shale basins, which makes it well placed to offer investors resilience and growth amid near-term commodity price volatility.

Shares in the investment company have fallen by as much as 3% today after the company reported a 1.8% decline in its net asset value (NAV) to $19.74 per share for the for the half year to 30 June. And due to sterling's modest recovery since December, NAV per share in sterling terms decreased even further, by 6.9%, to £15.16.

Although these figures seem disappointing at first glance, they aren't so bad in light of the 14% decline in the West Texas Intermediate oil price over the same period. As such, this demonstrates the continued resilience of Riverstone's investments in the current low energy price environment and reflects its superior operational performance.

Moreover, valuations seem attractive, with shares in the investment company currently trading at a 13% discount to its NAV. This makes Riverstone Energy a tempting play in the energy sector.

Private equity

Private equity has been one of the fastest-growing and best-performing alternative asset classes in recent years, but it is, for the most part, off limits to retail investors. Investment trusts, such as Princess Private Equity(LSE: PEY), therefore give retail investors an indirect route into this growing asset class.

What's more, unlike most private equity funds on the market today, which are fund of funds, Princess also invests directly into unlisted equity and debt investments. As direct investments now account for more than three-quarters of the portfolio, the fund has a hands-on approach to value creating, which avoids an extra layer of management and reduces costs for investors.

In addition to diversification advantages, there's also the potential for greater returns by including private equity investments in the portfolios of ordinary investors. Recent studies show that private firms often grow faster than public ones, as private firms on the whole have better growth prospects and are generally more responsive to new opportunities.

Princess Private Equity today reported a 2.7% increase in its NAV in the second quarter to EUR10.77, meaning its shares are currently trading at a 7% discount.

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Jack Tang has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.