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Investment Terminology and InstrumentsBasicsInvestment TerminologyTrading 1 on 1BondsMutual FundsExchange Traded Funds (ETF)StocksAnnuities
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Retirement Accounts401(k) and 403(b) PlansIndividual Retirement Accounts (IRA)SEP and SIMPLE IRAsKeogh PlansMoney Purchase/Profit Sharing PlansSelf-Employed 401(k)s and 457sPension Plan RulesCash-Balance PlansThrift Savings Plans and 529 Plans and ESA
Personal FinancePersonal BankingPersonal DebtHome RelatedTax FormsSmall BusinessIncomeInvestmentsIRS Rules and PublicationsPersonal LifeMortgage
Corporate BasicsBasicsCorporate StructureCorporate FundamentalsCorporate DebtRisksEconomicsCorporate AccountingDividendsEarnings

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 a foreign institutional investor?

Institutional investors are corporations, banks, pension funds, mutual funds, and other forms of pooled capital which act as one entity to engage in securities transactions in the best interest of the constituents or company that they represent. Foreign Institutional Investors are those whose company is based in another country. Investments made on behalf of foreign companies, foreign financial institutions, and foreign funds (such as the foreign equivalent of hedge funds, mutual funds, and pension funds) are foreign institutional investments. There are usually reporting requirements for both the foreign government for the county in which the interests are held and for the domestic government of the institutional investor. Continue reading...

Can I Decide How My Money is Invested in My Defined Benefit Plan?

Employees have no control over the assets in their Defined Benefit plan. The short and simple answer is: No. The payments you will receive in retirement are calculated according to a pre-determined formula. Your employer is responsible for managing the investments, while you simply receive the agreed-upon payments when they are due to you - assuming all goes as planned. Most pension funds, as they are sometimes called, are invested in very conservative instruments such as long term government bonds and fixed accounts offered by some insurance companies and banking institutions. Continue reading...

What are Financials Stocks?

Financial stocks are those that make up the financial sector, which encompasses banks, lenders, wire houses, and other companies that facilitate the flow of capital and debt. Real estate companies can also fall under this category. Financials tend to do well when yield curves are steep and the regulatory environment favors banks. When credit markets aren’t under strain financials tend to perform well. Continue reading...

What is Investment Banking?

Investment banking activity is different than traditional banking. Investment banks often serve as intermediaries that underwrite a new issue of stock and help to distribute it. They also trade in their own accounts, run hedge funds, and generally invest and speculate in ways that most institutions can’t. Investment banks can assist with new issues of stocks and bonds, purchasing large blocks of them to distribute at a premium. Continue reading...

What is Bank Credit?

Bank Credit is the amount of loaned capital that an individual or business is capable of getting from a bank at a given time. This amount will be based on a series of evaluative metrics such as the total amount of assets an individual has, home equity, income, liquid net worth, work history, credit rating, and so forth. An individual can only borrow so much at a time, and, using these variables, a banker can essentially estimate how much credit could be extended that a given individual at that time. Continue reading...

What is the Bond Market?

You might not know it, but the Bond Market is about twice the size of the Stock Market. It’s true; in the US and internationally, the bond market, which includes municipal bonds, corporate bonds, government bonds, v, etc, has almost twice the amount invested in it than the Stock Market. Within these categories, there are many subsets. Bonds are widely used by individual investors as well as corporations and governments. 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 Financial Liquidity?

Financial liquidity refers to the ease with which an asset can be converted to cash. Assessing financial liquidity is important on a corporation’s balance sheet, as it serves as an indication of how readily a company can pay off debts or weather a crisis. Continue reading...

What is Federal Reserve Credit?

The Federal Reserve extends credit in the form of short-term loans to member banks. Banks avoid taking loans from the Fed if they can, because it is viewed as a sign of instability. The Federal Discount Rate applies to loans taken from what is known as the discount window at the Fed, and it tends to be a higher rate than what is charged between two banks. The Federal Reserve will extend credit only to banking institutions that are members of the Federal Reserve system. 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 Underwriting?

Underwriting is the process through which risks are accepted by an institution. Underwriting is the assessment of risk or the acceptance of risk after such assessment by a company or bank. Underwriters in insurance companies will assess a risk prior to the company accepting the risk; once the risk has been accepted the company bears the burden of covering the potential losses associated with the risk. The company is paid a premium for accepting the risk. Continue reading...

What is Credit Counseling?

Credit counselors can negotiate debt management strategies with lenders on behalf of individuals with debt problems, as well as providing behavioral financial habit construction counseling. Debtors seek out credit counselors to find out what their options are to get out of debt and to get some coaching during the process. Credit counselors can be certified through several accredited institutions who are overseen by the Department of Justice in the United States, and they may be part of a non-profit organization, lending institution, or independent financial practice. Continue reading...

How do I get IPO shares?

Participating in an IPO is generally limited to institutional investors. However, if you are a high net worth client at a brokerage firm that has access to the IPO, you may be able to purchase some shares. First, you need to know that investing in IPOs is considered speculative and only suitable for experienced investors will substantial assets. If you meet the criteria that your brokerage has for allowing IPO trading, which may include a minimum account balance of $250,000 or so, you may be allowed to submit an Indication of Interest (IOI), which is a document used to request shares in the IPO. Continue reading...

Learn Forex Trading

FOREX is an international market which allows participants to exchange various currencies at the current rates of exchange and in the future. Forex trading can be profitable but it can also be risky. The daily volume of FOREX is about 3 trillion dollars, which dwarfs equity trading internationally in terms of daily volume, being somewhere around $30 billion. With so much movement and liquidity, it can also dwarf equity markets in terms of volatility. This can present a large amount of risk if investors are not knowledgeable and prepared to hedge or exit their positions. Nothing should be invested In Forex positions that an investor cannot stand to lose. Continue reading...

B+/B1 — credit rating

B+ — S&P / Fitch B1 — Moody’s B+/B1 is within the range of ratings given to High Yield Bonds, also known as Junk bonds. B+/B1 is the 14th rating rating from the top rating of AAA/Aaa in the scales used by the Big Three credit ratings institutions, which are Fitch, Moody’s and S&P. They evaluate the fundamentals of companies, municipal entities, and their bond contracts to determine how much risk of default is present. The limit for the category of Investment Grade bonds is BBB-, and there are a few categories of BB above B. Continue reading...

What is the Wilshire 5000 Index?

The Wilshire 5000 is about as broad as an index gets. There are over 9,000 companies traded on all of the U.S. equity markets, and the Wilshire 5000 tries to capture a broad sense for how they are performing. Though the index says 5000, there are actually just under 7,000 listed stocks in the index. It is a cap-weighted index meaning bigger stocks have more influence, and vice versa. It can be considered the broadest index of all U.S. equity markets. Continue reading...

Do I Need a Financial Advisor?

The answer to this question will depend on the preferences and circumstances of each individual. As your assets grow and your financial picture becomes more complex (with unclear tax implications, and interdependent asset classes), then the answer is more likely to be yes. For those investors with a more modest-size portfolio, it may not be necessary. Financial modeling tools and market research publications are widely available, and while they are not one-size-fits-all answers, they can serve investors quite well when used wisely. Investors who choose not to consult an advisor must be willing to educate themselves. Continue reading...

What are the Best Financial Programs to Use?

There are many apps and online programs that investors can use, often for free, to help keep an eye on their holdings and to track their investment portfolio. In addition to the software accessible through your custodian, you might want to look at the programs available through Morningstar, Microsoft Money, and others. Apps on your phone (CNBC, TheStreet, Barron’s, MarketWatch, etc.) can keep you updated on market news related to your stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs. You can also subscribe to market commentaries delivered via email. Continue reading...

What is a Financial Advisor?

The term "Financial Advisor" applies to professionals who are compensated for helping to implement investment strategies, but it is a broad and non-specific term. There are thousands of people who are called “Financial Advisors” – but within this category are various professions with different specialties and compensation structures. There are Financial Advisors, Financial Planners, Investment Managers, Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), and at times even CPAs, insurance agents, and lawyers are included in this umbrella term. Continue reading...