#### 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 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&amp;P 500. Continue reading...

#### What is a Variable Cost?

When budgeting for companies, some expenses are fixed overhead and some are variable, which depend on the amount of work being done. The direct cost of materials and labor are a good example of variable costs that will fluctuate with production levels. There may be an equation that the company can use to reliably predict these variable costs, but they are not fixed costs. From an accounting perspective, of course, these costs would be in separate sections. Fixed costs include warehousing, depreciation, insurances, rent, taxes, salaries, and so forth. These can be put into the budget before anything else happens or any orders have been taken for the year. The variable costs must be taken into account on the fly. 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 does hypothesis testing mean?

A theory about what will happen and why is a hypothesis, and to prove the hypothesis has some relevancy it will have to be compared to the probability of getting those results by pure chance. A hypothesis is a testable prediction of results that should be observed due to the effects of an independent variable. Such predictions must be tested against the probability of the resulting observations happening due to complete chance instead of the influence of the independent variable. Continue reading...

#### What is Universal Life Insurance?

Universal Life Insurance is a permanent cash value insurance that has a term-insurance component and a savings component as well. The savings component is invested in a tax-deferred account, designed to create a cash build-up that can increase the death benefit or to be used at the discretion of the policy-owner. The cash grows inside the policy tax-deferred, and if money is taken out as a loan, it avoids taxation as income. Continue reading...

#### What Types of Life Insurance Exist?

There are more than a few types of life insurance, and more are introduced as time passes. There is group life, term life, whole life, universal life, variations of these, as well as situations that use these products in contexts that warrant their own category such as bank owned life insurance (BOLI), captive insurance companies, and others. Term life insurance is the most common type of life insurance, and it serves as pure insurance, with no cash value, and a limited time in which it has level premiums or will pay the guaranteed death benefit. Continue reading...

#### What is the Contribution Margin Ratio?

The contribution margin ratio is a financial metric that presents the profit (less variable expenses) as a percentage of net sales. It helps businesses understand the profitability of individual products or the entire business and can be used to make informed decisions about pricing, production, and profitability. However, the contribution margin ratio has limitations and should be considered in conjunction with other financial and non-financial factors when making business decisions. Continue reading...

#### What is Contribution Margin?

Contribution margin measures how efficiently a company can produce a good relative to its variable cost. Goods with high contribution margins are the most profitable. The contribution margin can be helpful in deciding what goods can go on sale and for how much, and it allows management to decipher how to improve efficiency in production while keeping variable costs low. Additionally, if there is a bottleneck in the supply chain for an input that is used to produce two different products, management could use contribution margin to decide which product takes takes priority. Continue reading...

#### What Investment Options Do Annuities Have?

The investment options in an annuity depend on the insurance company offering the product. The investment options are generally limited, however. If you decided on a Fixed Annuity, the insurance company agrees to pay you a fixed percentage for a set period of time – the rest is completely handled by the company. Usually, this percentage is higher in the beginning (teaser rate), and might go down periodically. Continue reading...

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#### What are the Different Types of Annuities?

There are fixed annuities, fixed/indexed annuities, variable annuities, hybrid annuities, income annuities, period income annuities, and possibly more. Insurance companies, and the insurance subsidiary wings of investment companies, have had many years to develop strategies and marketing ploys that help clients accumulate, protect, and distribute assets within various kinds of annuities. Variable annuities allow the annuitant to participate in the market through mutual funds — or, more accurately, “separate accounts” that mimic mutual funds. Continue reading...

#### What does correlation mean?

Financial traders use correlation to describe the movement of securities – how and when they move – relative to each other during a given time period. These relationships lend themselves well to pairs trading, where traders have developed an understanding of correlations and their behavior that allow them to confidently exploit slight changes to minimize risk and maximize profitable transactions. Continue reading...

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#### What are the Basics of Annuities?

Annuities are financial products/contracts generally sold by insurance companies to protect an investor’s assets against downside market risk and long life expectancies. Investors have to pay premiums/fees in order to secure the guarantees. Annuities are very important investment instruments, and can be an indispensable part of your overall investment portfolio. Keep in mind that annuities are very aggressively marketed, and it is very important to understand exactly how they work. Continue reading...

#### What is a Fixed Annuity?

Fixed annuities, generally speaking, are annuity products that give the purchaser of the annuity the guarantee of fixed income payments for life. Annuities must come with the option to be paid out in equal payments either over a certain number of years or the lifetime(s) of the annuitant(s). This is the case for variable and fixed annuities, and these payments will be fixed and guaranteed. Where they differ is how they are invested before any annuitization takes place. Continue reading...

#### What is an Annuity?

Annuities are financial products developed and sold generally by insurance companies, and they are designed to protect an investor’s principle against the risks of market fluctuations and longevity (life expectancy). Annuities get their names from a series of payments which are based on an annualized payout rate. Annuities formerly just offered fixed payments for life, like a pension, and they were developed by life insurance companies who would use their mortality tables to determine the payout rates. Continue reading...

#### What is an Income Annuity?

Income annuities are used by people in retirement to give them a steady, dependable stream of income until they die. It is a financial product sold by a life insurance company, which serves as a kind of longevity insurance, so that people cannot outlive their money. People often roll lump sums from 401(k)s into these plans. Though inflexible, the income payout rate is designed to be appealing when compared to most retirement investments. Continue reading...

#### What is a Mortgagor?

The mortgagor is the borrower in a mortgagor/mortgagee relationship, where the mortgagee is the lending institution that makes the mortgage loan. Mortgages are used to purchase real property, usually single family homes. The purchase of a home with a mortgage and the payments on the mortgage are one of the largest financial decisions or obligations that a mortgagor will ever make. If a mortgagor is delinquent on payments, he or she might be categorized as a home debtor, and the loan would be subject to foreclosure. If there is a foreclosure, the bank or lender will reposes the house, evict the former owner, and sell the house as quickly as possible, sometimes through an auction. Continue reading...

#### What is an Adjustable Rate Mortgage?

A mortgage whose rate is variably adjusted according to the interest rate environment is known as an ARM. With an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) , the interest rate is lower at the beginning than the fixed-rate alternative, but the customer bears the risk of interest rates going up in the future. The bank or institution creating such a product will usually peg the rate to a specific index or benchmark rate, and will also probably give the customer a cap at which rate hikes would stop. 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 does covariance mean?

Covariance is a measure of what degree the returns on two assets move in tandem. A positive covariance implies that returns on two assets move together in the same direction, while the opposite is true with negative covariance. In a diversified portfolio, an investor ideally owns securities with negative covariance, so that returns may be smoothed out over time. Continue reading...