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Why do Companies Opt for ICOs?

Initial Coin Offerings are ways for new cryptocurrency or other technology companies to raise capital and put their coins into circulation. For companies too small to attract the attention of a big investment bank, this may be the best option for “going public.” In initial coin offerings, as opposed to using venture capital and initial public offerings of stock in regulated markets, the new company doesn’t actually give up any of their equity (i.e., control) in the company to third parties. 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...

How can I invest in hedge funds?

Fund managers are allowed to accept up to 35 non-accredited investors, but for the most part you will either need to satisfy the “accredited investor” requirement of the SEC to invest directly in a hedge fund. Otherwise, there are now hedge fund indexes and ETFs that track and mimic hedge fund strategies that are accessible to everyone. You should know now that the minimum initial investment requirement to participate in a hedge fund can be quite large, such as upwards of $1 million. Continue reading...

What is a Non-Current Asset?

A non-current asset is an asset on the balance sheet that is not expected to convert into unrestricted cash within a year’s time. Non-current assets may include such things as intellectual property and production/operations equipment - meaning they likely do not have a need to convert to cash. From a balance sheet standpoint, non-current assets are capitalized rather than expensed - meaning the company can allocate the asset’s cost of the asset over the number of years for which the asset will be used, instead of allocating it all in the year it was purchased. Continue reading...

Should I invest in private placements?

Different opportunities to invest in private placements may present themselves to wealthy individuals over time. Unless the opportunity comes from someone that you know and trust, and you have the ability to research the opportunity, it is probably something you should avoid. Private Placements are sometimes complex deals that cost people a lot of money. You should definitely have your guard up if one is pitched to you. In general, the company or partnership seeking the private placement will not have to register with the SEC or report their books accurately on a public record. Continue reading...

What is a Private Placement?

Investing in a private placement opportunity is done off-exchange, and usually involves a small number of investors who are either institutions or accredited private investors. There are many possibilities when it comes to the types of private placement investments that can be made, but the nature of the offering is that it is not public, it is made to a small number of institutional level or individual accredited investors (see Regulation D, Rule 505 and 506), and the offering is not registered with the SEC. Continue reading...

What is the 'Non-Current Assets to Net Worth' Ratio?

The non-current assets to net worth ratio will give the analyst an idea of how much of a company’s value is tied-up in non-current assets. As a quick refresher, ‘non-current assets’ are those that most likely will not convert to cash within a year’s time, also known as a long-term asset. Where a company’s non-current asset to net worth ratio lies depends on the industry, but generally speaking a company wants to avoid having that ratio rise above 1 to 1.5. That means the company is highly illiquid, and could be vulnerable in the event of an economic shock. Continue reading...

Where can I get information about private placements?

The short answer is, you can’t. Private placements have no reporting or registration requirements with the SEC or other entities. Sometimes this can be good for investors who enjoy the discretion. But it can also be a shield for unethical business people who prefer to avoid regulatory oversight. There is no source for detailed information about private placements unless you personally know a general partner who can describe to you his project, or who comes highly recommended with a lot of references. If an offering seeks to raise over $2 million in the capital in a year’s time, they are obligated under Regulation D to provide audited financial statements to the investors. 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...

What is a foreign tax credit?

A foreign tax credit (or deduction) allows a citizen who earned income in another country to reduce the amount of domestic income taxes owed if the foreign government has already taxed the income abroad. Workers who earn income in a foreign country may be entitled to a credit or deduction on their domestic income taxes if they show that this income was already taxed by the foreign government where the income was earned. In the US, there are at least three types of foreign income tax exemptions, with a foreign tax credit being one of them. Continue reading...

Can I Get Exposure to Virtual Currency Through ETFs, Mutual funds, or Stocks?

While there aren’t that many ways to use institutional-level, regulated vehicles to get exposure to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, there are some, and the market will likely expand. Money managers are finding ways to offer managed investments that offer exposure to cryptocurrencies, despite the hurdles presented by regulators and skepticism from large financial companies. On the over-the-counter market OTCQX, you can buy shares of the Bitcoin Investment Trust from Grayscale (Nasdaq: GBTC). This fund has seen massive gains recently but does come with a 2% fee. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has stated that it would like to start trading cryptocurrency futures, but it may be a little time before this becomes a reality, due to significant red tape and guidance needed regarding cryptocurrencies. Continue reading...

What should I know about private placements?

Private placements fall under Regulation D, usually, which stipulates the rules by which investors can be sought and placed into privately arranged contracts for equity investments. Private placements may be for non-public companies, or it may be a private offering of a publicly traded company. Regulation D stipulates the guidelines by which investors can engage in private investment without many reporting requirements. Continue reading...

What are Adjusted Earnings?

Adjusted Earnings are also known as pro forma, non-GAAP earnings, and are usually met with some cynicism. Non-GAAP methods of accounting for earnings are something that is not allowed to be used to mislead investors, according to SEC rules. GAAP stands for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and they represent the standards and SEC rulebook for a publicly-traded company’s accounting. There are times when it makes sense to use adjusted earnings instead of GAAP earnings because adjusted earnings will ignore non-recurring one-time expenses so that analysts can compare company performance in other areas without being distracted by a large one-time expense. Continue reading...

What Payout Options Do I Have?

Payout options in the realm of annuities tend to be guaranteed by the insurance company providing the annuity, and may come in many forms depending on the investor’s preference. Annuities can pay income to the annuitant in a few ways. One of the ways is to turn the entire balance of the annuity into a pension-like income stream for life, or jointly on two lives. The payout tends to be higher than the safe withdrawal rate than investors can use in an investment account, and it provide guarantees and surety where it wouldn’t exist otherwise. You can also elect to have these payments start off slightly lower, and then to increase at a guaranteed rate, to keep up with the cost of living. Continue reading...

What are Accounting Earnings?

Earnings that are reported in a given year may differ for the same company if different accounting methods were used. Earnings are the revenues of the company minus the cost of good sold, expenses, and investment losses. If that seems like something that’s pretty cut-and-dried, and will look the same no matter who is doing the accounting… well, that’s not entirely correct. Earnings can be made to look different if different non-GAAP or pro-forma methods are used. If non-recurring expenses are ignored or amortized in a pro-forma accounting method, then earnings will not match up to the GAAP-based books. Continue reading...

What is divergence analysis?

The analysis of convergence and divergence between indexes and other data seeks to find leading indicators where there is confirmation or non-confirmation of trends. Dow Theory was one of the first examples of such thinking. Charles Dow would watch the movements of Industrials and the Rail and compare the uptrend or downtrend of each. Where trends do not line up (e.g., one is trending downward with lower troughs and the other has “higher lows”) there is “divergence”, and non-confirmation of what was thought to be a trend in one index. Continue reading...

What is Adjusted EBITDA?

Basically synonymous with Normalized EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP method of making earnings valuations a little more standardized between companies. Adjusted Earnings is a valuation that has many moving parts in the form of the interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization that might be included there, in addition to the non-GAAP nature of the methods. EBITDA removes all of those moving parts and looks at the Earnings before any of the other arithmetic interferes, hence the name Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. Continue reading...

What is a Variable Annuity?

Variable annuities generally provide investors with downside protection for a fee (the insurance guarantee), while also providing market exposure that may give the investor upside potential. A variable annuity is characterized by offering market exposure, and the risk and upside potential that comes with it, in the form of “separate accounts” which are institutional-level mirrors of retail mutual funds. Typically a variable annuity will not deplete the amount of your initial investment with sales charges, and may even credit your annuity with an initial bonus amount of several percent. Continue reading...

What is an Accounting Convention?

An accounting convention is an established an agreed-upon method of documenting specific items on a company’s books. The most widely-used accounting conventions are part of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP), which is the only accounting methodology accepted for quarterly 10-Q filings with the SEC in the United States, and has also become the basis for regulatory accounting practices in other countries. Continue reading...

What are the Withdrawal Rules From My 457 Plan?

457 plans are the only retirement plan that does not require you to wait until a certain age to avoid an IRS penalty on withdrawals. Unlike 401(k)s and 403(b)s, you are allowed to take money out of a 457 Plan before the age of 59½ without a 10% early withdrawal penalty, but only if you’ve separated from service. Separation from service can mean retiring or just leaving to take a job elsewhere. Roth IRAs allow you to withdraw your principal amount early without penalty, but you will incur taxes and penalties if the gains are withdrawn. 457 plans do not have such stipulations. All other retirement accounts require certain exception criteria to be met for the IRS not to penalize you for early withdrawals. Continue reading...