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Investment Terminology and InstrumentsBasicsInvestment TerminologyTrading 1 on 1BondsMutual FundsExchange Traded Funds (ETF)StocksAnnuities
Technical Analysis and TradingAnalysis BasicsTechnical IndicatorsTrading ModelsPatternsTrading OptionsTrading ForexTrading CommoditiesSpeculative Investments
Cryptocurrencies and BlockchainBlockchainBitcoinEthereumLitecoinRippleTaxes and Regulation
RetirementSocial Security BenefitsLong-Term Care InsuranceGeneral Retirement InfoHealth InsuranceMedicare and MedicaidLife InsuranceWills and Trusts
Retirement Accounts401(k) and 403(b) PlansIndividual Retirement Accounts (IRA)SEP and SIMPLE IRAsKeogh PlansMoney Purchase/Profit Sharing PlansSelf-Employed 401(k)s and 457sPension Plan RulesCash-Balance PlansThrift Savings Plans and 529 Plans and ESA
Personal FinancePersonal BankingPersonal DebtHome RelatedTax FormsSmall BusinessIncomeInvestmentsIRS Rules and PublicationsPersonal LifeMortgage
Corporate BasicsBasicsCorporate StructureCorporate FundamentalsCorporate DebtRisksEconomicsCorporate AccountingDividendsEarnings

What is the Fiduciary Standard?

The Fiduciary Standard stipulates that an advisor must place the client’s best interests first. The best way to understand the fiduciary standard is to think in terms of another standard, called the suitability standard. The suitability standard says that a broker/advisor need only recommend investment products that are “suitable” for the client - but those investments do not necessarily have to be in the client’s best interests. Continue reading...

What is the Suitability Standard?

The suitability standard states that a broker-dealer is obliged to, in the very least, make investment recommendations that are suitable for their clients. The SEC defines a broker as someone who acts as an agent for someone else, and a dealer as someone who acts as a principal for their own account. The suitability standard only details that the broker-dealer has to reasonably believe that any recommendations made are suitable for clients (in terms of the client’s financial needs, objectives and unique circumstances) instead of having to place his/her interests below that of the client. An example would be a broker recommending a proprietary bond fund for a client looking for a fixed income solution. Continue reading...

What is standard deviation?

Standard Deviation is a measurement of how far from the average (mean) the majority of a data set lies. Standard Deviation is a measure of variability, and it is on a different scale for each data set being measured; there is no “standard” standard deviation. It is possible to normalize it for comparison to other data sets using measurements like r-squared and the sharpe ratio. The number arrived at when computing standard deviation is going to reveal the distance, in terms of one of the quantifiable variables being observed, from the average, in either a positive or negative direction, within which 68% of the data set falls. 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 Mortgage Suitability?

Mortgage suitability is a standard that does not technically exist in a regulatory way at this point, even though some legislators and consumer protection groups have sought such a standard. Some financial services representatives, for instance, operate under a suitability standard that takes the financial situation and goals of the individual into account when making investment recommendations. This protects consumers to the extent that it deters some professionals from taking advantage of the consumer and being possibly subject to fines, sanctions, and suspension or loss of license due to violations of the standard. Continue reading...

What is coefficient of variation?

A coefficient of Variation is a statistical measure of expected return relative to the amount of risk assumed. It’s also known as “relative standard deviation,” which makes sense since that implies that your expected risk is adjusted based on the expected return. You can easily calculate the Coefficient of Variation by dividing the standard deviation of the security by its expected return. 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...

Who Establishes a 401(k)?

Employers make the decision to establish a 40(k), but it has to be good enough for employees to want to participate. An employer is responsible for establishing a 401(k) and for overseeing it as the sponsor and fiduciary. A self-employed individual can also establish an Individual 401(k), which has the same contribution limits and requires none of the testing or auditing of a regular plan. Other options for work-site retirement plans are SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, and various kinds of profit-sharing and deferred compensation arrangements. Continue reading...

Should I pay for financial planning services?

Any professional that you work with for financial planning is going to be compensated for the work they do, but there are different ways they earn their pay. Whether it’s worth it to you is another question. If you have enough knowledge and time on your hands, and your investment portfolio is not very complicated, you may be able to manage it on your own. This can save you some money on financial advisor fees. Continue reading...

What is a resistance line?

A resistance line is the inverse of a support line and represents the glass ceiling through which a security price has difficulty breaking through. Resistance lines are calculated as part of analysis methods which use moving averages and standard deviation, or similar calculations, 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 Volatility?

Volatility is a measure of the variance, deviation, or movement of a stock. Volatility is all the extra movement of a stock or other security over and above (and below) a line of averages. Put another way, it is a measure of how many changes in price, and by how much, a security experiences over an amount of time. Computations of Standard Deviation and Variance are measures of the degree of volatility which exists in the movement of a stock. Volatility will also be measured relative to a benchmark index, and the degree to which a security adheres or deviates from the benchmark is called Beta. People will also trade on derivatives of the VIX, which is the volatility index of the S&P 500. Continue reading...

What is Sharpe Ratio?

The Sharpe Ratio is a risk-weighted metric for returns on investment. It measures whether an investment offers a good return for the amount of risk assumed by the investor. The risk/return trade-off is a positive linear relationship in most theoretical depictions – if an investor seeks greater returns, they will have to take on greater risk. For more stability and less risk, an investor will have to sacrifice some potential returns. Continue reading...

How to use Bollinger Bands in trading?

Bollinger Bands were developed by famous trader John Bollinger as a technical analysis tool to discern the likely trading range of a security. A Bollinger Band is typically two standard deviations from a moving average line, both above and below the average. Standard deviation is another word for the average volatility of a price over a length of time. It is typical for a trader looking up the historical price chart for a security to compare it to a moving average line. Continue reading...

What is a credit rating?

A credit rating is given to a company or debt issue after a disinterested third party evaluates the strength of the business or cash flow and rates its ability to pay all of its liabilities. Third-party institutions such as Standard & Poor’s (S&P), Moody’s, and Fitch will conduct research in order to give investors an idea of how likely a business, bond issue, or insurance company can pay all of its obligations. Continue reading...

What are Household Expenses?

Household expenses are sometimes also called a family budget. In some cases this can be limited to items purchased such as food and clothing, and services paid for such as utility bills, which only have to do with the livability of the home and the health of the family. This can be extended to included all out of pocket expenses for a family, from health insurance to school tuition. Household expenses are things that people feel that they must pay for to maintain their standard of living, for themselves and their family. You may not have to pay for natural gas to get heat and hot water, but you most likely do, and this is a household expense. The same goes for food and other necessities. Continue reading...

What are Bond Ratings?

The possibility of a company or municipal government defaulting on their bond obligations, usually by going bankrupt, is a real one. For this reason, all bonds are rated according to the financial stability of the issuer. A look at the history of corporate and municipal debt will illuminate the fact that the possibility of the issuer being unable to pay its obligations to bondholders is a very real one. There is an established system of bond ratings that gives a rough estimate of the bond's reliability. Continue reading...

What is the Capital Market Line?

The Capital Market Line is a complex concept, but put simply, it is a calculation meant to give the investor/analyst a range of potential returns for a portfolio, based on the risk free rate and the standard deviation of the portfolio. The Capital Market Line is a part of the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) that solves for expected return at various levels of risk. It takes into consideration a portfolio’s risk assets and the risk-free rate. Continue reading...

What is Lifestyle Inflation?

Lifestyle inflation is a term used in personal financial planning for the tendency of people to increase their spending and standard of living right along with any raises and monetary resources, even if it’s is at the detriment of any plans for debt reduction or long-term savings. Monetary inflation describes the phenomenon when more money has no more utility value than a lesser amount used to because the cost of goods is going up. Lifestyle inflation is when people select higher-priced goods and lifestyle spending habits when they have the money available to do so. Continue reading...

What is beta in investing?

Beta is a volatility indicator that denotes how closely an investment follows movements in the market as a whole; when examining mutual funds, it indicates how similarly the funds move to their relevant indexes. It is often referenced with its counterpart, Alpha; a risk ratio which measures gains or losses relative to a benchmark, indicating whether an investor is being compensated with a return greater than the volatility risk being taken. Continue reading...

What is an Accounting Interpretation?

Similar to the practice of law, the standards and practices of accountants will change based on an ongoing interpretation and application of tax law and codes. Accounting interpretations are generally publications from groups like the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). These interpretations are not official standards, and do not have to be followed the way a standard does, but they give insight and suggestions for situations which may be new developments. Continue reading...