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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 the difference between active and passive money management?

The debate on whether active or passive management is better for investors has polarized many advisors and theorists for years. There are two schools of thought when it comes to long-term investing. One basically states that you should determine a proper allocation of asset classes for yourself, buy index funds to reflect each particular asset class, and possibly rebalance the portfolio periodically. This basically means “set it and forget it,” and the investor must be willing to ignore fluctuations in the markets and maintain a faith in an Efficient Market. Continue reading...

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 are Actively-Managed ETFs?

At their conception, ETFs only tracked indexes, but today there is also demand for actively-managed ETFs. ETFs tend to look a lot like passive index mutual funds, except that they can trade intra-day like stocks, while mutual funds only settle within 24 hours. In the last decade or so, there has been an increasing market for actively-managed ETFs as well. It is somewhat ironic that the popularity of actively-managed mutual funds has decreased while an abundance of actively-managed ETFs has appeared. The popularity of ETFs has grown enough for fund managers to attempt more and more things. Continue reading...

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 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 are the Expenses Associated with Buying and Owning Mutual Funds?

Several forms of fees and expenses may be charged to those who own, buy, or even sell mutual funds. With mutual funds, there two types of charges that might be paid by the investor: expenses and fees. Different types of share classes may have different types structures to their fees and expenses. Expenses are the operating costs of the fund company, essentially, and these show up in all mutual funds, usually labeled as expense ratios. The returns reported by the fund will be after expenses. Continue reading...

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 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...

What does net long mean?

Investors are net long when they own more long positions than short positions in a security, derivative, or fund. It could mean that a fund manager, for instance, is net long on all of the holdings in the funds, i.e., the fund holds more long positions than short positions. Some funds could be the opposite and be net short. A long position - or to be “long a stock” - means that an investor has share ownership and will receive economic benefit if the share price rises, and vice versa. Creating and maintaining a long position is simple: an investor buys and owns the investment. Some asset managers will employ a “long-only” strategy, only buying and selling securities in the portfolio as a management strategy - they will not use options or shorting strategies as a result. Continue reading...

Where can I find information about hedge funds and their performance?

Not all hedge funds are obligated to disclose their holdings, trades, or performance. About half of them are, however, and their performance can be found online through Morningstar and other sources. This information may not be as detailed as you would like, and you may try other means. Since the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, more information about hedge funds is available to the public. This does not mean that all the information you seek will be readily available, however, and there are many hedge funds that do not make their information public. Continue reading...

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 market neutral fund?

Market neutral funds might be hedge funds or mutual funds or ETFs whose strategy is not based on bullish or bearish market predictions but instead seeks to be in a position to profit whether the market goes up or down. Most mutual funds and ETFs out there are inherently bullish — you invest in those funds because you believe or hope that the industry or geographic region or cap-size that they invest in will grow in the future. Some funds offer bears a place to hole-up when the bubble inevitably bursts (or so they think). Continue reading...

What is IRS Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes)?

IRS Link to Publication — Found Here Owning multiple properties and receiving rent or lease income from those which are not personally used is a common way to increase wealth. Some individuals also own a vacation home which they use some of the time and rent out the rest of the year. Both of these sources of income addressed in Publication 527. Publication 527 describes how to report income from residential property, as well as how to depreciate it, what forms are needed for different situations, and categorizes different types of arrangements where individuals might own or rent only part of a property or only for certain times of the year, as well as not-for-profit rental. Continue reading...

What are Mid-Cap Mutual Funds?

Mid-cap mutual funds invest in medium-size companies. A middle capitalization mutual fund invests mostly in medium-size companies. While the definition of “medium-size company” varies, most professionals define it as a company with a market capitalization from $2 billion to $10 billion. Companies you may have heard of within this size range are Eaton Vance, Guess, and others. In general, mid cap companies are more volatile than large cap companies, and the choice of the right fund managers becomes more important. Continue reading...

What Are the Basics of Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds come in many varieties, but here are some basics to keep in mind to help you find your way. While most people have definitely heard the term mutual fund, many people do not understand how they work and how to use them. With over 10,000 mutual funds available in the marketplace today, the average person may have a hard time selecting appropriate mutual funds for his or her portfolio, determining a good asset mix, and understanding all of the charges associated with buying, owning, and selling mutual funds. Continue reading...

Is there a Benefit to Self-Managing?

An investor may be able to save money in management fees self-managing, but there are also limitations and risks. Perhaps the biggest risk is the role that emotion can play in investing. Even the most skilled professionals are tempted by emotions in the market - big declines like the financial crisis can make one second-guess whether the market has hope of recovering, and big gains can create confidence that leads to less prudent risk-taking. Continue reading...

What is an Investment Manager?

An investment manager’s job is to adhere to the guidelines set forth in a prospectus while directing the decision-making process for a pooled investment company such as a mutual fund. He must remain accountable to the shareholders and observe SEC regulations while attempting to generate the best returns possible. Investment managers direct the flow of assets and trading in an investment account, usually a pooled investment using the funds of various numbers of investors, while seeking to serve the best interests of the investors whom he serves. Continue reading...

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...