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What is an Account Freeze?

An account freeze stops all pending transactions and does not honor new transaction requests for a financial depository account. A checking or savings account might be frozen at the prerogative of the banking institution or at the request of the account owner or government agency. Similarly an investment account might be frozen for breaking the terms of the account agreement with regards to trading activity or margin requirements, in addition to illegal activity or court order for another reason. Continue reading...

What were the Biggest Insider Trading Scandals?

In 2007, Qwest Communications CEO Joseph Nacchio was convicted of making over $50 million dollars through illegal trades. Essentially, Nacchio knew that the company wasn’t doing well, while telling the public that it was on track to pursue highly exaggerated revenue gains. He capitalized on the inflated stock, and was, of course, caught and found guilty. He’s currently serving a six year prison sentence. Continue reading...

What is the SEC?

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 Insider Trading?

Simply put, insider trading is the crime of trading in a company’s stock based on information not available to the general public. According to the efficient market theory, any publicly available information is immediately "priced-in" to a stock, so any article you might find in a news publication is not going to give you a competitive advantage for a stock's future price movements. Insider trading tips give an unfair advantage to the holder of the information, since the market has not had a chance to react to it yet. Of course, insider trading is illegal and several notorious cases have been well-publicized, like that of Martha Stewart. She was jailed. Continue reading...

What is active management?

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 is active trading?

What is active trading?

Active trading is the pursuit of returns in excess of market benchmarks. Investors are advised to have a diverse portfolio, to hedge against the risk of seeing future financial plans devastated due to significant losses in one holding. When attempting to diversify, investors will hear from the increasingly popular camp which believes that the best strategy is to use only passive index funds, which follow indexes using computer algorithms and have low expense ratios. Continue reading...

What is active money management?

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 an Active Index Fund?

Most index funds are known for using a completely passive strategy to track an index, but some take a more active approach. Some mutual funds track an index by passively using algorithms to buy the shares necessary to build a portfolio which closely replicates an index. Such a fund will have low turnover, will only rebalance slightly based on the market cap or other criteria set forth in the prospectus, and will basically ride out all of the ups and downs of the index in a blind faith for the efficient market hypothesis. Continue reading...

What is Account Activity?

What is Account Activity?

Account activity is any credit or debit activity in a checking or savings account, or investments, withdrawals, dividends or fees in an investment account. Account activity is the transactional history that will appear in ledger statements from a checking, savings, money market, investment, or other kind of financial account. This usually refers to transactions that were originated by the account owner, such as buying and selling securities or withdrawing and depositing in bank accounts, but could also include activity such as dividends, interest, fees, and other sorts of automated activity generated by the custodial institution. Continue reading...

What is Account History?

Account history is a term especially useful for investment accounts, where transactions beyond a current month or year’s records are useful for reference. Most people are familiar with the transaction history that is available for the current month, quarter, or year on an individual’s savings, checking, and credit card accounts. These are often called “activity ledgers” or something similar. Account history that reaches further back might be more useful for investment accounts, where the current value of investments, and their cost basis, will depend heavily on account history from potentially years in the past. This sort of query can be made easily with online investment account viewing software from a broker or custodian company. 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 accommodation trading?

What is accommodation trading?

Accommodation Trading is when two traders enter into a non-competitive trade agreement which disregards the current market price for the securities being traded. The primary reason to engage in accommodation trading is for an investor to avoid taxes by harvesting more losses than actually occurred. One investor will buy shares from another investor for a price significantly below the market value so that the selling investor can report more losses. The partners will typically agree to allow the selling party to buy the shares back later at the same price. Continue reading...

Who is an activist investor?

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 a Currency Transaction Report (CTR)?

What is a Currency Transaction Report (CTR)?

CTRs (Currency Transaction Reports) are required filings to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to report all transactions and deposits in cash (in any currency) worth over $10,000. This includes multiple transactions that add up to over $10,000. This rule is closely tied to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules and reporting requirements which have become more stringent since the turn of the century. Continue reading...

How Do I Find the Best Mutual Fund?

How Do I Find the Best Mutual Fund?

It requires a great deal of due diligence, but investors should understand that past performance is not indicative of future performance. Focus on experience. In the stock market, as with most things in life, hindsight is 20/20. There are countless lists on the internet with titles like “The Best Mutual Fund Families” and “50 Winning Mutual Funds.” It is important to understand that the names on those lists are a function of hindsight and not foresight. Continue reading...

What is passive investing?

What is passive investing?

Passive investing relies on market indices and unmanaged approaches to investing, with the idea being that attempting to beat the market is futile, especially if such attempts involve fees and speculation. Passive investing favors buy-and-hold strategies using no-load, low-fee index funds and other securities meant to be held long-term, in a portfolio allocation suiting the investor that will usually be rebalanced over time to prevent overweighting anything. Continue reading...

What can I do to make my portfolio grow faster?

What can I do to make my portfolio grow faster?

If your portfolio isn’t growing enough for your liking, you might need to take on more risk or change your active management company. The answer is surprisingly simple: find good managers, fill your portfolio with more risky assets, and rebalance it regularly. The last point has more of a long-term focus, since harvesting and redistributing the gains of successful investments may stunt the growth, but it could also prevent you from losing as much when the winners experience a corrective downturn. 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...

What is market efficiency?

What is market efficiency?

Market efficiency describes the degree to which relevant information is integrated into the price of a security. With the prevalence of information technology today, markets are considered highly efficient; most investors have access to the same information with prices and industry news, updated instantaneously. The Efficient Market Hypothesis stems from this idea. Efficient markets are said to have all relevant information priced-in to the securities almost immediately. High trading volume also makes a market more efficient, as there is a high degree of liquidity for buyers and sellers, and the spread between bid and ask prices narrows. Continue reading...

What is a Mortgage Subsidy Bond?

Mortgage subsidy bond is another word for a mortgage revenue bond, which are municipal bonds which are used to fund mortgage relief programs and refinancing arrangements through the state or municipal government. In 1980, the Mortgage Subsidy Bond Tax Act established some rules and definitions surrounding mortgage subsidies and their bonds, and, more specifically, removing their exemption from federal taxation. Continue reading...