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What is the role of asset allocation in my investments?

What is the role of asset allocation in my investments?

The single best control mechanism over the performance of your investments is the maintenance of an asset allocation strategy. When testing various methods of predicting and controlling returns in a portfolio, researchers found that having and maintaining an asset allocation strategy was the method that reaped the most predictable returns – with 80-90% accuracy. Asset allocation is the distribution of various asset classes and investments into a portfolio mix in a deliberate way to gain specific amounts of exposure to each investment. It is a practice used to diversify and manage risk. Asset Allocation is a dynamic process; it’s not something you do once and forget about. Continue reading...

What is a Keogh plan?

Keogh plans are any type of qualified plan at a sole proprietorship or partnership. Keogh plans come in various forms, and this is because they are actually quite a broad category. IRS Publication 560 (found here) divides workplace retirement plans into SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, and Qualified Plans. This last category, Qualified Plans, includes profit-sharing plans, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, money purchase plans, and defined benefit plans such as pensions and salary continuation plans. Continue reading...

What Happens If I Withdraw Money From my Cash-Balance Plan After I Retire?

You may not be able to make non-recurring withdrawals of various amounts from a Cash Balance plan. After you retire, you’ll typically have two options: a fixed monthly payment for the rest of your life, or a lump-sum payment. Cash balance plans generally do not allow random, non-recurring withdrawals because the individual account was always a hypothetical account. The administrative work of fetching various sums for everyone and keeping up with the total pool of plan assets is not the administrator’s prerogative with these plans. Continue reading...

What is MSCI?

MSCI Inc. is a company that is best known for its global indices. MSCI also provides research and pricing capabilities to institutional investors. MSCI was formerly a branch of Morgan Stanley, but grew to be so big that they spun off and formed the independent company, MSCI Inc. Perhaps its best known and used index is the MSCI EAFE, which tracks broad performance of Europe, Asia, and the Far East. Continue reading...

What does open interest mean?

What does open interest mean?

Open interest is a measurement of the outstanding open positions in a derivative security. Strong open interest means the derivative will have high liquidity. Open Interest is not the same thing as Trading Volume, but it does give an indication of liquidity and activity in a derivative. Open Interest is the number of open positions for a derivative, like an option. The Options Clearing Corporation tallies up the ‘open interest’ numbers, but they are not posted until the morning following the count. Open Interest isn't necessarily indicative of a bullish or bearish forecast for the underlying security, but it does generally mean that the option will have high liquidity and that a seller will be able to find a buyer. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA)?

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act was passed in 1939, and it set up trust funds for the purpose of providing unemployment insurance. Businesses, not individuals, are taxed to provide funds for the program. There are 53 state funds (including D.C., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands), 4 federal accounts, and 2 associated with railroad retirement. The Federal Unemployment Tax helps states fund their own unemployment programs. Continue reading...

What is market risk?

What is market risk?

Market risk is the chance that an investment will not maintain its value when it is dependent on the many factors that influence the health of the economy and the stock market. Investors must be aware that investing money in a stock or mutual fund is to tie the fate of that money to the fate of the company or companies that they have invested in. The other side of the coin, of course, is the potential for gains. The potential gains of an investment are the premium that is paid to an investor in exchange for allowing a company or mutual fund to take risks with the investor’s money. Continue reading...

What is currency convertibility?

What is currency convertibility?

Currencies may work fine in a particular country or region, but it may happen that certain currencies are not convertible into other currencies or gold. Sometimes this is by choice, such as was formerly the case with closed economies like the People’s Republic of China, Soviet Russia, Cuba, and others. Most currencies are convertible into other currencies. Banks, at least the central banks of countries, tend to have reserves of most foreign currencies with their citizens do business. Continue reading...

What is a commodity index?

What is a commodity index?

Commodity indexes are also called commodity price indexes, and they are informational services which reflect the price action in a designated commodity or basket of commodities. Indexes are often tracked by mutual funds or ETFs, and these can be confused with the actual index. Indexes are computed and published by market research firms. They can serve as benchmarks against which the performance of a specific asset or an investment portfolio can be compared, or they can serve as the model that index funds seek to emulate. Continue reading...

What is Form 706: Estate Tax and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here The Form 706 is required not only if there is a tax implication for an estate, but also to claim exclusions. Each person has an exclusion of 5.49 Million as of 2017. For married couples, that goes double, such that heirs to an estate under $11 million probably will not owe any estate taxes. A surviving spouse should still report the inherited portion of the deceased spouse’s estate up to the exclusion amount, otherwise the exclusion will be lost. There are also lines for the lifetime gift exclusion amount and the generation skipping transfer tax. Continue reading...