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Do I Need a more Specialized Financial Advisor?

Some advisors have practices that focus on specific types of investments or niche markets. If your investment portfolio seems to be lacking a particular area and you are not confident that your current advisor or you yourself can take on the challenge of incorporating the changes you desire, then you may want to speak with a more specialized advisor in that particular area. Similarly, some advisors focus on specific types of clients, such as medical professionals, and if such a category suites you then you may find that your needs are best met by someone who deals with people like you most often. There are some designations and certifications that advisors can earn beyond the standard ones, which may cause them to be sought out on certain topics or investments. Continue reading...

What are the Different Types of Annuities?

There are fixed annuities, fixed/indexed annuities, variable annuities, hybrid annuities, income annuities, period income annuities, and possibly more. Insurance companies, and the insurance subsidiary wings of investment companies, have had many years to develop strategies and marketing ploys that help clients accumulate, protect, and distribute assets within various kinds of annuities. Variable annuities allow the annuitant to participate in the market through mutual funds — or, more accurately, “separate accounts” that mimic mutual funds. Continue reading...

When Can I Take Money Out of My 403(b)?

403(b)s have essentially the same distribution rules as 401(k)s. The advice given for 401(k) accounts still applies here: taking money out of a retirement account before retirement is strongly discouraged. You may withdraw your money penalty-free at age 59½, and you must begin taking annual withdrawals that satisfy RMD requirements on April 1st of the year you turn 70½. If you withdraw money before age 59½, you will be subject to a 10% penalty in addition to regular income taxes. Continue reading...

What are the Contribution Limits for a Roth IRA?

If you are eligible to make Roth IRA contributions, you can fund an account for yourself and a non-working spouse, up to the contribution limits. As of 2016, if you are under 50 years old, you are allowed to contribute $5,500 a year to your Roth IRA. If you have a spouse, even if he or she does not work, you can make contributions into an account for him or her, up to the full limit. For two people, that means $11,000 a year can be set aside each year. 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 does Ticker Mean?

What does Ticker Mean?

A ticker symbol is an abbreviation used to uniquely identify publicly traded shares of a particular stock or security on whatever market it trades on. Stocks are usually represented by a combination of letters (typically 3-4), ETFs are generally identified with 3 letters, and mutual funds often have 5-letter combinations that end in the letter “X”, but they can also be alphanumeric. A ticker can consist of a combination of letters, numbers, and sometimes (but not often) both. Continue reading...

What is Fiscal Policy?

Fiscal Policy refers to the tactics used by a central government to influence the nation’s economy, whether by setting tax and/or spending policies. Fiscal policy is related to monetary policy, in that they are both aimed to either boost an economy or temper growth to avoid overheating. A fiscal policy conducive to growth would aim to have low taxes and higher level of spending. When a government invokes “austerity” measures, it means they are trying to cut spending most likely to reel-in budget deficits or overall debt levels. Continue reading...

What is a Capital Account?

The Capital Account in a company is where paid-in capital, retained earnings, and treasury stock is accounted for. In macroeconomics, the Capital Account shows the national net change in ownership of assets. In accounting and bookkeeping, the Capital Account tracks the amount of Capital on hand at a company, which is the sum of the paid-in capital, the retained earnings, and the value of the treasury stock. Paid-in capital is the money collected from investors during an IPO or other stock issue. Continue reading...

What is commodity-product spread?

What is commodity-product spread?

The commodity-product spread is the difference between the price of a commodity and the price of the products at the next level of consumption which is made from the commodity. In the oil industry, this is known as the crack spread, in the soybean industry, it is known as the crush spread. Some pre-packaged long/short futures strategies that trade on this spread are offered on futures exchanges. The commodity-products spread is the difference in prices between a raw material and a product made from it, such as raw crude and gasoline. This difference gives a rough estimate of production costs and profit margin. Continue reading...

What is the Rectangle Top (Bearish) Pattern?

The Rectangle Top pattern forms when the price of a pair is stuck in a range­bound motion, and it bounces between support and resistance levels. Two horizontal lines are formed (top: 1, 3, 5) and (bottom: 2, 4) as a result. Depending on who gives up first – buyers or sellers – the price can Breakout in either direction. This pattern is commonly associated with directionless markets. Usually the pattern performs better when there is a strong uptrend leading into the formation. Continue reading...