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What is a Buyback?

When a company decides to use excess cash to purchase its own shares from the market, it is called a buyback or “share repurchase program.” There are only so many things a company can do with earnings in excess of their projections; among these are issuing a dividend, paying off debts, expanding, acquiring another company, or buying back shares of its own stock. Buybacks are also known as Stock Repurchase Agreements. There may be guidelines in state law or the company’s contracts or buy laws that determine what options they have and how many shares can be repurchased. Continue reading...

What are Federal Reserve Regulations?

The Fed has been commissioned with upholding the directive of the Federal Reserve Act. The Fed is technically an independent institution from the US Government, even though it works hand-in-hand with the Treasury Department on monetary policy issues. It functions partially as a self-regulatory organization for the banking industry, and the Regulations, which are named with letters of the alphabet, are meant to protect consumers, member banks, and the economy as a whole. The leadership of the Fed is comprised of both government appointees and private sector banking leaders. Continue reading...

What Does M&A Mean?

A stands for Mergers and Acquisitions, and refers to the consolidation of companies or assets for strategic purposes. It does not necessarily have to imply that one company wholly takes over another — there are a number of different transactions that can fall under the M&A umbrella, which can include purchase of key assets or management acquisitions. In nearly all cases, however, there are two companies involved - the buyer of capital and the seller. Continue reading...

What are Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A)?

Companies often hold minority interest positions in other companies, but sometimes they decide to merge into one company, maybe by selling-out to a bigger company, or acquiring a smaller one. Very often, small companies are very agile and develop new technologies quickly, but do not have sufficient funds to bring them to the market. Large companies need the technologies and it is cheaper for them to buy smaller companies rather than spending money to develop them on their own. Continue reading...

What is the FCC?

The Federal Communications Commission is a bipartisan regulatory body that oversees interstate communications media, grants licenses to entities which plan to use the bands available, and to some extent regulates the content of these communications in the public interest. Communications media, including radio, satellite, cable, telephone, and others, are overseen and regulated by the FCC. They help to standardize measures and regulate the commercial activity of the entities which seek to use these media, including licensing and content regulation. Continue reading...

Why Do You Want to Own the Shares of a Publicly Traded Corporation?

The idea is that a shareholder’s interest in a growing publicly traded company will become more valuable over time. The simplest answer is: to make money! Owning shares of a company’s stock is known as taking a long position, and this is done in the belief that the company is going to increase its earnings and profit margin into the future, or will at least remain steady. There are three ways to make money on stocks: Continue reading...

What is a Merger?

A merger is the voluntary melding of two companies into one, when the owners believe the change is mutually beneficial. A merger could happen between two companies that were competitors, called a horizontal merger, or between companies who are part of the same supply chain, called a vertical merger. A merger between two companies who are based in the same industry but serve different markets could also be called a market extension. Continue reading...

What is series 63 Examination?

In order to solicit orders for any type of security, a broker or representative must pass the Series 63 examination, in addition to the Series 6 or Series 7. These tests are administered by FINRA, the financial services industry self-regulatory organization (SRO), and serve as licensing requirements for financial services representatives and management in the field. The 6 and 7 deal with product and industry knowledge and theory, while the 63 covers state-specific laws and rules, along with an understanding of ethical and fiduciary responsibility. The Series 63 takes only 75 minutes, with 65 multiple choice questions. Continue reading...

What is a Federally Covered Advisor?

The Investment Advisers Supervision Coordination Act of 1996 sought to delegate the responsibility of monitoring investment advisors between the states and the federal government. It amended the Investment Advisors Act of 1940, which required all advisors to register with the SEC. The Dodd-Frank Act further amended the IAA, such that only advisors with assets under management exceeding $100 million had to register with the SEC. The IASC was part of the NSMIA legislation passed in 1996. Up until that point, all advisors were regulated and monitored by the SEC. Continue reading...

Who is an activist investor?

Activist investors buy enough voting shares to influence the decisions of a company, sometimes for political or moral reasons, sometimes for purely financial reasons. Activist investors can act alone or in groups, but their goal is to acquire enough shares of a company’s equity to influence the company’s decisions. Activist shareholders may need as little as 10% of shares to sway corporate governance. Continue reading...

What is the commodity futures trading commission?

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is an independent government agency that regulates the futures market. Futures are not considered securities, so the CFTC has jurisdiction over such exchanges while the SEC does not. The CFTC is the regulatory authority for the futures trade. This includes futures on currency, indexes, and stocks. Futures are not technically considered securities, because a security is defined as a contract that depends on the performance of a third party, while futures contracts only depend on two people. Any options that stem from futures are considered securities, however. Continue reading...

What is NASD?

The NASD stands for the National Association of Securities Dealers. It was a self-regulated, regulatory body that oversaw the NASDAQ market to ensure proper and non-fraudulent operations. In 2007, the NASD merged with the New York Stock Exchanges regulatory body to form the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA. What is Minimum Margin? What is the SEC? Continue reading...

What is the Investment Advisors Act of 1940?

The IAA sought to regulate an industry that was deemed to be of public concern and within the Federal jurisdiction, though it did define some state-specific jurisdictions. It defines investment advisors and made laws dealing with fraud, advertising, non-public client information, disclosures, handling of client funds, and so forth. The Investment Advisors Act of 1940 established definitions for the capacity in which an investment adviser and investment advice could be defined, and made rules concerning the standards by which advisors should operate. Continue reading...

What are “Dark Pools” of Money?

Large institutional investors sometimes trade on “Electronic Trading Crossing Networks," which allow them to conduct trades without publicly exposing them. They are used by financial institutions to move large blocks of shares without public investors even knowing about such transactions. Such examples of networks are “Liquidnet,” “Pipeline,” “SIGMA X,” and many others. It might be difficult to fathom the size of the transactions conducted over these networks, but the ownership of dark pools involves almost every institutional trading house. This is a huge business and regulators are carefully looking into their activities. Continue reading...

What is market research?

Market research is the process of evaluating a possible opportunity for entering into a market with a new product or company, or for evaluating the effectiveness of a product or company in a market that they are already invested in. Market research can also be important for decisions regarding mergers and acquisitions. It may involve surveys and market study groups. Sometimes a company will conduct its own market research, but often third-party companies are hired for the task. These companies may specialize in sampling and surveying methods for consumer groups, and/or statistical analysis of a business model or product’s chance of success in a given market. Companies may look to such analysts if they are considering a merger or acquisition, or of launching a new product. Continue reading...

What is the Series 7?

The general securities licensing test required by FINRA is the Series 7 examination. Member firms who are part of the solicitation of securities which are not managed by other parties. If a representative only solicits securities such as mutual funds and variable annuities which are managed elsewhere, a Series 6 and Series 63 combined would fulfill the licensing requirements in that situation. The Series 7 licenses a representative or broker to solicit the sale of individual securities, such as stocks and bonds, as well as options, derivatives, and private placement. The only securities that a Series 7 does not license an individual to solicit are commodities futures, which require a Series 3. Continue reading...

What is Tier 1 Capital?

Tier 1 Capital are the core asset holdings of a bank. They are disclosed, liquid, risk-averse assets, and are used by regulators to evaluate a bank's compliance with capital requirements. Banks lend out about as much money as they can in general. They must have capital on hand to absorb losses and remain solvent. The Basel Accord is an international agreement dealing with capital reserve requirements for banks, enacted after the meltdown of 2008. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Reserve System?

The Federal Reserve System was established by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, which created a network of reserve banks that could help to prevent economic meltdowns by serving as a regulator and a source of funds. There are 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks which monitor banks in their jurisdiction and make loans when necessary. The Federal Reserve System is sometimes referred to as one bank, but it is in fact a network of 12 banks with 24 branches, overseen by a Board with members nominated by the US Government. Continue reading...

What are Risk-Weighted Assets?

International banking regulations set forth in the Basel Accords require that institutions maintain a certain amount of capital relative to the amount of risk-weighted assets (RWA) they have. Conservative investments such a treasury notes have a risk weighting of zero, while corporate bonds have a weighting of .20, and so forth. The exact weighting system is laid out in Basel agreements. The system is designed to reveal a bank’s level of exposure to potential losses, and the capital requirements are there to balance out the risks and to protect the global economy from a meltdown in the financial system. Continue reading...

What is an Investment Club?

An investment club can be a term used for a group that organizes itself for the purpose of pooling investment dollars and participating in the market, or for a group that meets for informational and educational purposes. Clubs that actually invest sometimes organize themselves as LLCs and establish a system for how to choose and manage their investments as a group. Even though “investment club” may sound like an informal and relatively unregulated way to invest with pooled assets, they are actually subject to regulation by the SEC. Continue reading...