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What does “Buy-Side” Mean?

The “buy side” refers to businesses in the financial services industry such as pensions, mutual funds, and asset managers that manage money. Since firms on this “side” of Wall Street tend to be the ones buying and selling securities for their portfolios, when a person works for one of these funds or companies they are said to be on the “buy side.” Research analysts that provide analysis and data to fund managers solely for the purpose of making investment decisions within the portfolio are “buy side analysts.” That research is typically not published for public use. Continue reading...

What is a hedge fund?

Hedge funds are private investment groups that attract high net worth individuals (and in some cases institutions), and use investment strategies that may be riskier than would be suitable for the average investor. While the name "hedge" implies that the fund serves a defensive purpose, today’s hedge funds use wide array strategies, and more often than not the goal is total return. The strategies used are often speculative, contrarian, or alternative compared to most investment options in say mutual funds or traditional long-only asset managers. Continue reading...

What is Asset Turnover?

Asset Turnover is a metric that investors and companies can use to determine how efficiently a business uses its assets to create revenue. Asset Turnover is a ratio of the value of a company’s sales or revenues relative to the value of its assets. It can be calculated simply by dividing sales or revenue by total assets. The higher an asset turnover ratio for a company, the better that company is performing - since it implies that the company is generating a high level of sales and revenue per unit of assets. Continue reading...

What is asset management?

Asset management is a term often reserved for the overseeing of assets on behalf of a business or for wealthy clients with significant and various assets. A financial planner, CPA, or estate attorney who is capable of assisting a client with various types of assets and their optimal arrangement for that client’s goals can be said to be in a business of asset management. Tax considerations and cash flows may be a larger consideration with asset management than with investment advising. Continue reading...

What is a Long Position?

A long position - or to be “long a stock” - means that an investor has share ownership and will receive an economic benefit if the share price rises, and vice versa. Creating and maintaining a long position is simple: an investor just buys and owns the investment. A “long-only” strategy refers to an asset manager that only buys and sells securities in the portfolio as a management strategy - they will not use options or shorting strategies as a result. Continue reading...

Who Manages ETFs?

Several large and well-known investment banks and companies are major players in the ETF industry. There are several large investment houses which specialize in managing ETFs such as Barclays, ProShares, Vanguard, and Guggenheim Partners, LLC. ETFs are also managed by investment firms such as Schwab, Credit Suisse, and Eaton Vance. Even New York Life’s Mainstay Investments recently acquired Index IQ. The ETF industry has been growing rapidly in the last 10 years, with more investors choosing to use them, more ETFs on the market, and more investment companies choosing to offer them. Continue reading...

Is there a Benefit to Self-Managing?

An investor may be able to save money in management fees self-managing, but there are also limitations and risks. Perhaps the biggest risk is the role that emotion can play in investing. Even the most skilled professionals are tempted by emotions in the market - big declines like the financial crisis can make one second-guess whether the market has hope of recovering, and big gains can create confidence that leads to less prudent risk-taking. Continue reading...

What is an Investment Manager?

An investment manager’s job is to adhere to the guidelines set forth in a prospectus while directing the decision-making process for a pooled investment company such as a mutual fund. He must remain accountable to the shareholders and observe SEC regulations while attempting to generate the best returns possible. Investment managers direct the flow of assets and trading in an investment account, usually a pooled investment using the funds of various numbers of investors, while seeking to serve the best interests of the investors whom he serves. Continue reading...

What is active management?

Active management is the practice of attempting to outperform the market with selection and timing. Active management is a thoughtful and time-consuming approach to investing and is the opposite of Passive management. Active managers seek to outperform the benchmarks for their portfolio by researching and selecting stocks and other assets based on strategies and analysis methods thought to be superior. Continue reading...

What Does Asset Mean?

Any item of economic value that a person or entity owns, benefits from, or has use of in generating income. Assets can generally be converted to cash, but economic circumstances often determine whether the asset can be sold at fair value. Some common examples of assets are cash, stocks, paid-for real estate, inventory, office equipment, jewelry, artwork, or other property of value that can be counted towards a person’s estate or a corporation’s balance sheet. Continue reading...

What is active money management?

Active management is when an investor or money manager attempts to outperform an index or benchmark, using tactical strategies. Many economists and financial professionals believe that the markets are efficient. This means that all available financial information has already been built into the prices of securities, and that you cannot outperform the market by making specific selections of stocks, timing the market, reallocating your assets regularly, following the advice of market pundits, or finding the best portfolio managers. Continue reading...

What is asset allocation?

Asset allocation is theoretically the best way to control the return you experience, through diversification and rebalancing. Asset allocation theories provide you with mechanisms to diversify your money among various asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, precious metals, etc. The benefit of asset allocation is twofold: first, nobody knows which asset class will perform better at any given time, and second, various asset classes are not entirely correlated or have a negative correlation, which provides a hedge. If one asset class appreciates significantly, the other might not, but, if the allocation is done correctly, this may be exactly what the investor was looking for. Continue reading...

What are Tangible Assets?

Tangible assets are the property of a company that are tangible and can be quickly liquidated. This includes current-period accounts receivable and money in checking, savings, and money-market accounts. Buildings, land, equipment and inventory are all tangible assets as well. Tangible assets are an important part of a company’s book value. For most valuations, intangible assets such as patents, other intellectual property, and goodwill are not included. Continue reading...

What are Current Assets?

Current Assets are items on a balance sheet that are either cash or are going to be cash in the near future. The current assets section of a balance sheet is an indication of cash flows and liquidity. The assets are usually listed in order of liquidity, or the amount of time that it will take for them to become cash. This section includes cash, accounts receivable, prepaid expenses, inventory, supplies, and temporary investments. (The order given here is not necessarily the order of liquidity found on a balance sheet.) Continue reading...

What is an asset mix?

An asset mix is the blend of major asset classes in a portfolio, which should be constructed based on the risk tolerance, time horizon, and goals of the investor. A common example of an asset mix is the 70/30 stock-bond mix, where 70% of the assets are invested in stocks and 30% in bonds. “Mix” is one way of describing the asset allocation of a portfolio, but it also describes the practice of diversifying among asset classes. The core asset classes that most people consider are stocks, bonds, cash equivalents, real estate, and commodities. Continue reading...

What is an ADV form?

A form ADV can be requested to find out all about the fees and professional backgrounds of a financial advisory firm. Firms who engage in the solicitation of securities or give investment advice must file form ADV with the SEC and keep it updated, usually on an annual basis. It is similar to the form U4 that individual securities-licensed professionals must submit and keep updated in the event of changes of address, tax liens, industry disciplinary actions, and so forth, but the ADV is filed on behalf of a firm instead of an individual. FINRA and the NASAA keep up with the filings as well. Continue reading...

What is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA)?

An RIA is an asset manager that is registered with the SEC (in whatever state(s) they operate) and complies with certain rules and regulations. RIAs typically earn their revenues through management fees, which are almost always based as a percentage of assets under management — the average management fee is between 1% - 2%. Having management fees as a percentage of assets allows for the interest of both parties to align - as the assets grow, so does the nominal amount of fees the RIA earns. Continue reading...

What are Actively-Managed ETFs?

At their conception, ETFs only tracked indexes, but today there is also demand for actively-managed ETFs. ETFs tend to look a lot like passive index mutual funds, except that they can trade intra-day like stocks, while mutual funds only settle within 24 hours. In the last decade or so, there has been an increasing market for actively-managed ETFs as well. It is somewhat ironic that the popularity of actively-managed mutual funds has decreased while an abundance of actively-managed ETFs has appeared. The popularity of ETFs has grown enough for fund managers to attempt more and more things. 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...

How old should my portfolio manager Be?

While we do not doubt that a young advisor can be intelligent and helpful, there is really no substitution for experience and tenure. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to choose a manager who has experienced various market cycles. Younger advisors who have never helped their clients through a recession may not be as humble, prudent, or knowledgeable as ones who have. If you can find an advisor with over 10 years of experience, we would recommend that over an advisor with only 3, all other things being equal. There are advisors and wealth managers with only a few years under their belts but who have learned a lot in a short time. Continue reading...