How Can You Buy a Stock?

There are many services online and custodians that that can facilitate stock trades. Anybody can buy shares of a publicly traded company, but it must be done through a brokerage firm or a custodian. Brokers and brokerage firms act as middle men between the buyer and the seller. Some brokerage houses such as E-Trade, Ameritrade, or Charles Schwab offer low-cost services online to anyone with a checking account, and offer no personal advice. Other brokerage firms focus on the human element, offering investment advice and making additional money through long-term client relationships and the commissions and fees that result from portfolio management. Continue reading...

What Happens If I Withdraw Money From My Cash-Balance Plan Before I Retire?

What Happens If I Withdraw Money From My Cash-Balance Plan Before I Retire?

In general, this won’t even be an option for many. Cash balance plans do not permit partial withdrawals. If you have separated from service at the employer, you can take your entire vested amount with you. You can cash out your balance and pay income taxes on it, as well as a 10% IRS penalty if you’re younger than 59 ½. This penalty may also be avoided if you separated a from service after age 55; these rules are the same for 401(k)s and other qualified plans. Continue reading...

What are Resistance and Support Levels?

What are Resistance and Support Levels?

In technical analysis, a level of resistance is an imaginary barrier that keeps the price of a security from rising beyond a certain level. Conversely, a level of support is an imaginary barrier that keeps the price of a security from falling beyond a certain level. A resistance line can be thought of as the theoretical glass ceiling that a security price has difficulty breaking through. Resistance lines (along with moving averages, standard deviation, and similar calculations) are used to put a range of probability on the expected movement of a security price, with the resistance line representing the top of that range. Continue reading...

What is the Head-and-Shoulders Bottom (Bullish) Pattern?

The Head-­and-­Shoulders Bottom pattern is formed when the price of a pai rcreates a center trough (the inverted head, labeled 3) and the left and right inverted shoulders (1, 5). As you can see, this pattern is vertically symmetrical to the usual Head­-and-­Shoulders pattern and is formed when a pair is testing new lows on a downtrend. After reaching the lowest low (the Head, 3) the next low is shallower and the trend reverses course to the upside. Continue reading...

What is Unlevered Beta?

What is Unlevered Beta?

Unlevered beta measures the Beta (a volatility indicator that denotes how closely an investment follows movements in the market as a whole) of a company when the effects of debt (leverage) are removed, allowing investors to gauge risk strictly as a function of company assets. The beta of a company’s equity stock is a measure of volatility relative to the rest of the market, impacting Price-to-Earnings (P/E) calculations and other valuations. When beta increases, the cost of equity increases, and results in a higher P/E. Unlevering the beta can give a clearer picture of the market risk of a company’s equity shares, as higher debt relative to equity usually constitutes more risk to investors. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Open Market Committee?

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the monetary policy-making body of the Federal Reserve System. The FOMC makes the decision on “raising” or “lowering” interest rates, which refers to moves in the federal funds rate. The FOMC consists of 12 members, which is comprised of the seven members of the Board of Governors and 5 of the 12 Reserve Bank presidents. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York always has a seat on the FOMC, while the other presidents rotate for one year terms. This policy-making body meets eight times a year to decide monetary policy, which consists of setting the benchmark interest rate and make decisions regarding the supply of money. All dependent on economic conditions. Continue reading...

What is Acquisition Accounting?

Also known as Business Combination Accounting, there are specific guidelines and bits of information that must be documented on the books during an acquisition. Acquisition Accounting is a standardized way to account for the assets and liabilities of companies who are part of a merger or acquisition. International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) stipulate that even in a merger where a new company is formed, one company must play the role of acquirer and the other of acquiree, but that rule really only applies outside of the US. Continue reading...

What is Convertible Preferred Stock?

A convertible preferred stock is one that gives the owner the option to convert shares to common stock, usually by a predetermined date. The shareholder usually has control over when to convert the shares, but in some cases there are provisions that allow the company to force conversion. An investor may choose to do this conversion if they believe the company has high upside potential, and they want common stock exposure which would allow them to participate more in market gains. Continue reading...

Should I Trust an Article Such as “What Are the Best Mutual Funds?”

Probably not, but it might get you thinking in the right direction. The short answer is “no.” The title of such an article should be enough to deter your from it. If such information were widely available, everyone would instantly act on it and nobody would be able to profit. In fact, if such lists are analyzed, almost none of the funds will appear on the next year’s list. That’s too bad, since mutual funds are not meant to be as liquid as stocks and ETFs, but are designed to be held for 3 years or more. Continue reading...

How old should my portfolio manager Be?

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...