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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...

How Often Can I Change the Allocation in My 401(k)?

By law, your plan administrator (employer) must allow you to change your allocation at least quarterly, but most plans allow for more frequent changes. Generally speaking, you can change your allocations as often as you need to with no commissions or fees; that is, up to a point. Many plans start to impose fees after about the 10th reallocation, and partially this is meant to discourage over-trading. Continue reading...

Stock Portfolio Definition

All of the investments held by an individual or mutual fund or other entity are referred to as that person or entity's portfolio. These investments can range from securities to cash to real assets held for the purpose of preservation, growth, or income; essentially anything that is part of a long-term financial strategy that is held separate from daily operations and cash flow can be considered part of a portfolio. The gains and losses of all the singular investments held are totaled up to find the overall return of the portfolio. Continue reading...

How often do I need to rebalance my portfolio?

There are different methods and theories about rebalancing, and the answer is basically “it depends.” There is no set rule for the frequency of rebalancing your portfolio, and any generic rules that exist do not necessarily apply to or predict the performance of your particular portfolio. If you’re not very familiar with it, rebalancing is the redistribution of gains from the winning areas of your portfolio to the other areas. Continue reading...

What should I compare the performance of my portfolio with?

Benchmark indices are used to gauge the performance of an investment portfolio. In order to evaluate the performance of your portfolio for any given period of time, find the corresponding index for each investment in your portfolio. For example, for US Equities, use the S&P 500 For your Small Cap portion, use the Russell 2000 Index, etc. You can also compute weighted index blends that correspond to your index allocation (e.g., 40% MSCI / 60% S&P). If your manager or the portion of your portfolio significantly (by more than a couple percent) underperforms the corresponding index, be sure to carefully monitor this manager or portion of your portfolio. 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 a Balance Sheet?

A company's balance sheet gives a picture of how all the assets, liabilities, and equities of the company "balance out." The basic accounting equation is Total Assets = Total Liabilities + Equity, and a Balance Sheet is going to detail these parts to show how everything adds up at the time of the report. With things equal on both sides of the equation, the company's books are balanced, the same way someone might go back through the carbon copies of checks they've written and "balance the checkbook" to make sure all checks written have been accounted for. Continue reading...

What is Off-Balance-Sheet-Financing?

A company might use this maneuver in order to keep their debt to equity levels in check. The most frequently used types of off-balance-sheet-financing are joint ventures, research and development partnerships, and operating leases. Continue reading...

How to use the On-Balance Volume in trading?

On-Balance Volume (OBV) is a popular leading indicator introduced in the 1960s by Joe Granville. OBV is a line built using differences between daily trading volume – in Granville’s estimation, the major driver of market behavior – adding the difference on days that the market or stock moves up and subtracting the difference on days when the market or stock moves down. It looks for instances of rising volume that should correlate with price movement, but price movement has not occurred; additionally, OBV can be used to confirm lag. Continue reading...

What is a Bank Statement?

A Bank Statement is a report issued to an account holder on a regular basis, such as monthly, which contains the account balance as of the date of the report and usually a history of transactions for the period. A Bank Statement will usually be mailed, either by the postal service or electronically, to a banking customer every month. The statement will represent a summary of the bank’s records for the recent month on a particular account, and will probably show all transactions posted to the account, along with the ending balance of the account as of the date of the mailing. Continue reading...

What are Current Assets?

Current Assets are items on a balance sheet that are either cash or are going to be cash in the near future. The current assets section of a balance sheet is an indication of cash flows and liquidity. The assets are usually listed in order of liquidity, or the amount of time that it will take for them to become cash. This section includes cash, accounts receivable, prepaid expenses, inventory, supplies, and temporary investments. (The order given here is not necessarily the order of liquidity found on a balance sheet.) 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...

What is the Accounting Cycle?

The Accounting Cycle includes all of the documentation that is collected and all of the controls and systems in place to ensure accurate accounting. The Accounting Cycle begins with the point of sale, with documentation for the transaction (invoice or receipt) and the internal expenses and inventory. There are conventions, controls and systems in place to account for and control the flow of information in a company at each stage of the process to ensure that accounts are as accurate as possible. The Accounting Cycle may refer to the length of time between trial balances, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually. Continue reading...

What is Profit and Loss (P&L) Statement?

A Profit and Loss Statement, also referred to as an “income statement,” is a corporate statement that summarizes the revenues, costs and expenses incurred by a company during a specific time period, such as a quarter or a fiscal year. The main difference between a P&L statement and a balance sheet is that the P&L is designed to show changes in line items over the period analyzed, versus a balance sheet which simply shows a comprehensive snapshot of a company’s asset and liabilities on a set date. Continue reading...

What is Liability?

As a general statement, a liability refers to some form of currency (money or service) that is owed from one party to another, typically in the form of debt or a balance outstanding. On a balance sheet, a company’s liabilities would include its loans, accounts payable, outstanding debt. Short-term liabilities are generally those owed within a year, whereas long-term liabilities might stretch beyond that. Continue reading...

What are Accounts Payable?

On a balance sheet, Accounts Payable is a section under ‘Liabilities’ that details the obligations the company has to pay off short-term debts. Goods and services rendered to a company by suppliers, banks, utilities, and so forth will need to be paid for in the short term, and these bills are accounted for in the Accounts Payable. In a Company's Balance Sheet, the Payables will appear in the Current Liabilities section, and these tend to have cycles of 30-90 days in which they should be paid. Continue reading...

What is a Bank Reconciliation Statement?

It is a useful practice to compare the balance reported by the bank and your internal accounting, in the form of a Bank Reconciliation Statement. Bank Reconciliation is the useful practice of comparing the records of the bank and a business's internal accounting for a specific accounting period. Many businesses produce Bank Reconciliation Statements (BRS) on a monthly basis. There may be pending transactions that have not settled yet, such as outstanding checks to vendors, which have shown up on the business’s books but are not represented in the bank account balance. It can be important to identify which transactions have shown up on the bank’s ledger and which ones have not. Continue reading...

What is Retained Earnings?

A company may reinvest earnings instead of paying out dividends. These earnings do not necessarily sit in a retained earnings account, but are used to improve the business and make it more profitable. This could even include paying off debt. Retained earnings is found in the Shareholder’s Equity portion of a company’s balance sheet. Despite the fact that earnings have not been dispensed to them in the form of dividends or share buybacks, shareholders will see the value of their stock appreciate when earnings are retained and used to grow the business. Continue reading...

What factors affect currency exchange rates?

Currency exchange rates will fluctuate with various macroeconomic factors such as inflation, interest rates, trade balance, and so on, as well as political climate. Currency exchange rates are influenced by a number of factors, with some experts listing 5, some experts listing as many as 10. The main variables that will affect exchange rates are inflation rates, interest rates, the trade balance / current account, speculation in Forex markets, and government policies and interventions. Continue reading...

What is Account Reconcilement?

Account reconcilement is the act of comparing and affirming multiple records of the same financial information. To “reconcile the books” is to compare different records of the same accounts to ensure that they match up. One might reconcile all the different record-keeping for the same account, such as copies of checks and receipts, to be sure that they add up to the balance and ledger shown on a bank account statement. It could be that the recipient of a check has not yet cashed it, and it is important to keep all records “synced” with one another. Continue reading...