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Why do Companies Opt for ICOs?

Initial Coin Offerings are ways for new cryptocurrency or other technology companies to raise capital and put their coins into circulation. For companies too small to attract the attention of a big investment bank, this may be the best option for “going public.” In initial coin offerings, as opposed to using venture capital and initial public offerings of stock in regulated markets, the new company doesn’t actually give up any of their equity (i.e., control) in the company to third parties. Continue reading...

What was the Mt. Gox Incident?

There have been many incidents where cryptocurrency has been stolen, but the Mt. Gox incident is the largest to date Mt. Gox was at one time the largest cryptocurrency exchange on the net, facilitating as much as 80% of global bitcoin trades, according to some sources. And then about 850,000 bitcoin suddenly went missing. At the exchange rate in 2014, when the problem came to light, that many bitcoin were worth about $450 USD. At the time of this writing, with Bitcoin at a high in 2017, that man... Continue reading...

Can I Get Exposure to Virtual Currency Through ETFs, Mutual funds, or Stocks?

While there aren’t that many ways to use institutional-level, regulated vehicles to get exposure to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, there are some, and the market will likely expand. Money managers are finding ways to offer managed investments that offer exposure to cryptocurrencies, despite the hurdles presented by regulators and skepticism from large financial companies. On the over-the-counter market OTCQX, you can buy shares of the Bitcoin Investment Trust from Grayscale (Nasdaq: GBTC). This fund has seen massive gains recently but does come with a 2% fee. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has stated that it would like to start trading cryptocurrency futures, but it may be a little time before this becomes a reality, due to significant red tape and guidance needed regarding cryptocurrencies. 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 is the SEC?

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is a governmental regulatory agency established by Congress which polices the practices of the securities industry. Since 1934, the SEC's mission has been to protect investors and the market from malfeasance. FINRA (the 2007 successor to the NASD which was formed in 1939) is a self-regulatory organization in the industry which seeks to keep member firms more than compliant with SEC regulations. Continue reading...

What is a Private Placement?

Investing in a private placement opportunity is done off-exchange, and usually involves a small number of investors who are either institutions or accredited private investors. There are many possibilities when it comes to the types of private placement investments that can be made, but the nature of the offering is that it is not public, it is made to a small number of institutional level or individual accredited investors (see Regulation D, Rule 505 and 506), and the offering is not registered with the SEC. 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 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 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 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 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...

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 should I know about private placements?

Private placements fall under Regulation D, usually, which stipulates the rules by which investors can be sought and placed into privately arranged contracts for equity investments. Private placements may be for non-public companies, or it may be a private offering of a publicly traded company. Regulation D stipulates the guidelines by which investors can engage in private investment without many reporting requirements. 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...

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 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 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...

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 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 are the Forms of Ownership of a Corporation in the United States?

There are many different forms of ownership of a company in the United States. This subtopic describes some of them. Corporations can be privately held or publicly traded. There are also C-Corporations (C-corps), which are the typically large companies controlled by a board of directors, and S-Corporations (S-Corps), which are smaller and have some of the characteristics of LLCs. LLC is an abbreviation for Limited Liability Company, which is a pass-through entity for partnerships or sole proprietors which shields the private assets of the owners from the liabilities of the business. LLCs are almost entirely regulated by state law, and while they can issue stock, it depends on the state. Continue reading...