Learning Center

Use our financial advisor learning center to learn everything you need to know about financial advisor and what they can do for you. You can find out anything from financial advisor licensure requirements to the best ways to get into contact with finance professionals in your home area. Working with a financial advisor may be the best decision you ever make regarding your personal or business finances. Take a look at our learning center and learn more about exactly what a financial advisor does and how you can choose the right one for you. We've included answers to frequently asked questions about advisors for your quick reference, and much more.

Advice

Errors in Investing

Errors in Investing Investing is not an activity for the faint of heart, nor is it something that guarantees success. No matter how well prepared you think you are to get into the market and invest, there are always potential pitfalls on the road to financial freedom. Investors make errors in investing... read more

Fee Based Advisor

Fee Based Financial Advisor A fee based financial advisor is a financial advisor who receives their compensation from their investors. This means they do not receive their compensation from a brokerage firm. The investor is their only source. Many individuals like to use the fee based financial advisor... read more

Full Service Broker

Full Service Broker A full service broker provides a number of services to their clients. The services can include researching stocks, giving advice on stocks, and also doing the actual investing. These individuals can also assist in retirement planning, can provide tax assistance, and a number of other... read more

Mutual Fund Fees

Mutual Fund Fees When employing the services of a broker to invest in mutual funds for you, there are mutual fund fees to know about. These fees occur because all transactions on the stock market are fee-based. These transactions consist of purchases, redemptions, and exchanges. [1] You then have the... read more

Purchasing a Car

Purchasing a Car Purchasing a new or used car can be a source of stress for many consumers. The amount of money we put at risk and the uncertainty of whether we will really end up with the kind of quality vehicle we want and need are all sources of strain throughout the process. Dealing with auto salespeople... read more

Researching the Company Behind a Stock

Researching the Company behind a Stock If you are considering investing, then you need to research the company behind the stock you are interested in so that you know whether or not the investment would be a wise investment. However, there is more to finding the right stock than looking at a company's... read more

Target Stock Prices

Target Stock Prices Target stock prices can be the key to a good investing experience. When researching a stock, you may find that the target stock price is a better research tool than a stock rating in many instances, making it a great way to figure out whether a stock is right for you. What you need... read more

Bonds

Amortizing a Premium

Amortizing a Premium Amortizing a premium is a process by which an investor can redistribute and potentially reduce the taxable interest on a bond over its lifetime. The Internal Revenue Service requires investors who purchase certain bonds above their face value to amortize the extra premium they paid... read more

Duration Measure

Duration Measure This article provides a brief definition and explanation on the duration measure for bonds. Duration measure is an artificial benchmark that allows bonds of differing maturities and rates to be compared against one another. It is a handy tool for comparing these bonds that would otherwise... read more

Moody Bond Ratings

Moody Bond Ratings Moody bond ratings are used to help assess the risk of investing in a bond. A bond is established by what is called the "issuer" and that issuer must pay an interest rate that will be attractive to investors. The higher the interest rate, the more attractive it is because that means... read more

Municipal Bond Terms

Municipal Bond Terms When investing in municipal bonds, there are a number of terms that you should know so that you can understand the investment that you are making. If at any point you find the terms confusing or you need help with your investment decisions, a financial advisor can help you. However,... read more

Relationship of Price and Interest Rate

Relationship of Price and Interest Rate Knowing how the price of your investment and its interest rate relates to one another can help you to make an informed financial decision regarding your investment. Issuers don't like it when the interest rate on a bond rises and here is why: If you were to have... read more

Tranches

Tranches Tranches can make or break your investment. It is important that you know what they are and how they influence your "slice of the deal" because they do make up the overall capital structure of your bond investments. So the first term you need to know is "tranche." A tranche is simply bonds that... read more

Treasury Debt Bonds

Treasury Debt Bonds A Treasury Debt Bond is called a "U.S. debt security" and has a fixed interest rate with a maturity period of over 10 years. [1] In other words, if you invest in a Treasury bond, it is in your best interest to not touch it until it has matured so that you can take advantage of the... read more

US Savings Bond for Education

US Savings Bonds for Education If you are concerned about how you are going to pay for your child's education, you can use U.S Savings Bonds for education to help pay some of the cost. When you are using Savings Bonds for education, you do not have to pay taxes on the interest that is earned since money... read more

US Savings Bonds

US Savings Bonds U.S. Savings Bonds are sound investments that many individuals in the United States use to receive a return on investment. The bond is secured over a fixed period of time at a fixed interest rate. This means that, despite the fluctuations in the market, the interest rate of the bond... read more

US Treasury Bill Values

US Treasury Bill Values U.S. Treasury Bill values can fluctuate. The feature that attracts individuals to invest is the fact that you can purchase at a discounted rate and then the bill gains value over time so that you can achieve a return. The Wall Street Journal is where you are going to find the... read more

Zero Coupon Bonds

Zero Coupon Bonds Zero coupon bonds are unique investments in that they do not accrue interest like some investments. Instead, they are traded at an extreme discount with the true profit occurring when the bond matures and is redeemed for face value. An example of a zero coupon bond is this: Assume that... read more

CDs

Market Linked CDs

Market Index Linked CDs Market index linked CDs (MILCs) are combinations of certificates of deposit and stocks. These investment hybrids try to bring two great features together: the security and low risk of CDs and the potential for great return of stocks. They way they do this is to peg the interest... read more

Derivatives

Black Scholes Option Pricing

Black Scholes Option Pricing The Black and Scholes Option Pricing Model is a specific approach designed for calculating the value of a stock option. This article briefly details that model to give some background information about it. A financial researcher named Fisher Black started on his own working... read more

Futures and Fair Values

Futures and Fair Values In the futures market, there is what is called "fair value." Fair value is that price in the middle for a futures contract. There is a certain degree of equilibrium with the price that has been stated. This is because compounded interest is taken into account over a specific time... read more

Futures Basics

Futures Basics A futures contract is an agreement between a buyer and a seller that the buyer will purchase some commodity at a fixed price on some fixed date. Conversely the opposite directional relationship is also true, meaning the seller agrees to sell that commodity to the buyer on that date for... read more

Futures Delivery

Futures Delivery Futures delivery is what it is called when a commodity is delivered to the investor. However, it is important to note that commodity delivery means the delivery of a physical object. For instance, the delivery may be grain that was sold by a farmer for a price that the grain was predicted... read more

Futures Margin

Futures Margin When trading futures and commodities, you will hear the term "futures margin" quite often. This is because this is how much money you will need to put up in order to control the futures contract. The rate is set by the exchanges such as the S&P and the CME. When you use a certified... read more

Futures Market

Futures Market The futures market is an auction market where commodity contracts are bought and sold so that they can be delivered on a specific date. If you have seen footage on television of individuals in a trading pit on Wall Street using hand signals and yelling, this is the very exciting auction... read more

Futures on a Single Stock

Futures on a Single Stock Futures on a single stock, or single stock futures, are contracts on one item and that single item is a stock. It is not unusual for the single stock investment to be on batches of 100 at a time. The overall behavior is just like a futures contract [1] in that a delivery date... read more

Single Stock Futures

Single Stock Futures Single stock futures are also called SSFs and, although they are futures, the underlying asset is a single stock rather than a commodity such as wheat. When stocks are the underlying, they are usually purchased in groups of 100. But unlike commodities, investors are able to leverage... read more

Stock Option Basics

Stock Option Basics Stock options can make for a valuable investment. Two parties reach an agreement for the buyer to purchase or sell 100 shares of stock. The price of this stock is predetermined and the stocks are delivered within a certain period of time. There are different aspects to stock options... read more

Stock Option Covered Calls

Stock Option Covered Calls A covered call is a stock option strategy that an investor uses when they want to hold a long position and sells call options on the very same asset that they are holding. This is done in an effort to increase the income produced from that asset. This usually occurs when... read more

Stock Option Covered Puts

Stock Option Covered Puts When you have options, you have the right to sell them. You are able to sell a certain quantity at a certain price and this is done within a specific period of time. Covered puts is the easiest way in which you can sell your options. Any time an options trader is bearish on... read more

Stock Option Ordering

Stock Option Ordering Order entry is very important when you are working with stock options. A single error can result in money loss. There is certain wording that is used on Wall Street amongst investors to prevent errors. Any clerks working with order entry are taught from the very first day to listen... read more

Stock Option Splits

Stock Option Splits When stocks split, their put and call options are adjusted. This is important because options investors need to be made "whole" when a stock split occurs. This is according to rules that have been put in place by the Options Clearing Corporation, or OCC. These rules are important... read more

Stock Option Symbols

Stock Option Symbols Stock option symbols are important because they are used to identify very important details regarding stock options. The different symbols include letters and numbers in certain combinations that are interpreted in a way that prevents errors from occurring when individuals are investing... read more

Education

Coverdell Education Savings Plans

Coverdell Education Savings Plans Many investors regard college savings as a very important part of their overall personal financial investment strategy among other strategies such as amortizing a premium. Over the long term, systematic contribution to selected educational savings accounts can help to... read more

Section 529 Plans

Section 529 Plans Investors who wish to set aside money for their child's education have many different choices. A few of the more prominent options are some of those that have the most beneficial tax advantages. Section 529 plans are a certain class of investments set up for families to save for educational... read more

Exchanges

AMEX

AMEX The AMEX brand is a brand that many of us know well and mainly because of the credit card products that are offered and frequently referred to as "American Express." Even as a credit card, American Express is very unique in that a person can borrow, but they have to pay back the entire amount charged... read more

Circuit Breakers

Circuit Breakers, Curbs, and Other Restrictions There are times in which panic can break out on the market because of large ranges of movement on the stock market. Stocks can move too far in one direction, which is why panic can be induced. When the market moves up, there are some that will rejoice,... read more

Instinet

Instinet Based in New York, Instinet is an electronic communication network (ECN) that is also referred to as an "alternative trading system." It is in charge of trading that occurs outside of the stock exchanges. It is the largest and the oldest communications network and is owned by Nomura Holdings,... read more

Market Makers

Market Makers "Market makers" is the term to describe brokerages that holds a certain number of a particular stock in order to trade that particular security. There is a degree of risk that is involved with this, but makes a great competition tool for those brokerages competing with others. What these... read more

NASDAQ

NASDAQ NASDAQ is an American stock exchange and it is one that we are all very aware of. It is the fourth largest trading market in the world in regards to market capitalization. What is meant by "market capitalization" is that the size of the business enterprise is rather large. It is, however, the... read more

NYSE

NYSE The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is the largest equities-based exchange in the world. At one time, it was a private organization, but became public in 2005 when the NYSE acquired Archipelago, which is an electronic trading exchange. [1] In 2007, the NYSE merged with the European exchange and the... read more

The American Stock Exchange

The American Stock Exchange The American Stock Exchange, or Amex, was the third largest stock exchange in the United States by the turn of the 21st century, trailing only the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ stock market. Hundreds of companies are listed on the Amex with hundreds of billions of... read more

The Chicago Board Options Exchange

The Chicago Board Options Exchange The Chicago Board Options Exchange was founded in 1973 as the first U.S. options exchange. In the intervening years since its inception, trading has grown from 911 contracts on the first day of trading to an average of 4.7 million contracts per day in 2008. Throughout... read more

Ticker Tape Terms

Ticker Tape Terms You have probably seen the ticker tape moving at the bottom of the screen on your favorite news station and various other channels. It is this ticker tape that shows you the performance of certain stocks. Basically, the ticker tape is used to relay financial information to investors... read more

Financial Planning

Choosing a Financial Advisor

Choosing a Financial Advisor Choosing a financial advisor may end up being one of the most important financial decisions an investor ever makes. Anyone of moderate means and up can certainly benefit from the services of a qualified financial advisor. Certified advisors with the right experience can come... read more

Compensation and Conflict with Your Financial Advisor

Compensation and Conflict with Your Financial Advisor Financial advisors are paid in several different ways, depending on the terms of their agreement with their clients. Sometimes conflicts of interest are present in the compensation scheme an advisor takes on. It is important for prospective customers... read more

Estate Planning Checkup

Estate Planning Checkup Whether for you or your parents, estate planning is very important to financial health. Your will is not enough to make sure everything is distributed the way that it needs to be when you pass away. If you do not plan your estate, what your family may find is what happens to your... read more

Saving Versus Investing

Saving Versus Investing Many individuals save money, many invest, and there are a lot who do both in order to grow their wealth. But some do not know the difference between saving and investing, which is something that is important to know. Both can yield returns, but one may work better than the other... read more

Insurance

Annuities

Annuities Annuities are investment vehicles sold mostly by insurance companies. There are several different types of annuities in existence. There are two basic characteristics that distinguish different types of annuities from one another. One of them is whether the payout on the investment is up front... read more

Life Insurance

Life Insurance Life insurance in all of its forms can be a befuddling investment to even the most financially savvy of investors. Consumers who are interested in finding out more about life insurance products need to first consider the reason why they are interested. Different people have different reasons... read more

Mutual Funds

Average Annual Return

Average Annual Return Average annual return is a metric created to evaluate long term investment performance. It allows the investor to look back at investments to see how they have performed through time, and also gives buyers a basis for projecting future performance as well. Astute investors will... read more

Broker Commissions

Broker Commissions Broker commissions are what the stockbroker makes for selling your investments for you. This is how they get paid for doing their job. As it stands, brokerage firms compete with one another heavily because there are a lot of individuals out there today wanting to invest. They want... read more

Brokers versus Fund Companies

Brokers versus Fund Companies Brokers versus fund companies are the two main options that consumers have when it comes to locating a financial advisor to help them with their investment needs. There has been a recent trend in which discount brokerage houses offer a new option that was not previously... read more

Distributions and Tax Implications

Distributions and Tax Implications When a shareholder receives distributions, that shareholder is subject to tax implications. Almost everyone who invests is subject to taxes, especially when they receive an income from their investments. The only way in which tax is not paid on the income is when it... read more

Fees and Expenses

Fees and Expenses Whenever a mutual fund manager runs a mutual fund, they have to charge a fee. This is because running a mutual fund is a business and all businesses require money to operate. Without money, the fund simply cannot exist. As for why the money is needed, there are certain fees that are... read more

Index Funds and Beating the Market

Index Funds and Beating the Market An index fund is a form of mutual fund. It may also be called a unit investment trust, or UIT. The goal behind index funds is to achieve an equal return as the market index. For example, the index fund you may have invested in is a part of the S&P 500. You want... read more

Money Market Funds

Money Market Funds Money market funds are safe investments that many investors like to make. Even those who are not heavily into investing like the money market fund because of its low risk. They more or less make for a great way to save money. The main goal of money market funds is to hold a net asset... read more

Reading a Prospectus

Reading a Prospectus The prospectus is what is given to you by your financial advisor or broker when you decide to invest in mutual funds. It is very important that you read the prospectus because it contains some vital information regarding your investment. The information that you can expect the prospectus... read more

Redemptions

Redemptions The sale of units within a mutual fund results in what is called "redemption." When it comes to redeeming the units of a mutual fund, the investor makes the decision as to whether or not to redeem their earnings. However, there may be some issues that come into play that can prevent this... read more

Stocks Versus Funds

Stocks Versus Funds Many people who are considering investing have asked themselves time and time again what the difference between stocks and funds are. They want to know what the best investments for them are. The fact, though, is that you are the determining factor as to whether or not you should... read more

Types of Funds

Types of Funds There are different types of mutual funds, which is a good because that means you can find a mutual fund that fits your individual style. This is rather important since there are currently more mutual funds on the market today than there are stocks. At least this gives you plenty of investing... read more

Real Estate

Real Estate Basics

Real Estate Basics Real estate basics are the nuts and bolts of buying and selling real estate. If you are an agent or a broker, your knowledge will go deeper. If you're an investor who specializes in real estate, you'll likely know much more. But for most of us, real estate is somewhat mysterious. We... read more

Regulation

Accredited Investors

Accredited Investors Accredited investors are a category of investors with special privileges created as part of the terms of the Securities Act of 1933. The Securities Act of 1933 was part of the New Deal offered up under President Roosevelt, another financial reform bill enacted to help prop up the... read more

Federal Reserve and Interest Rates

Federal Reserve and Interest Rates Although the Federal Reserve is the central banking system within the U.S., but what some may not know is that it is not owned by the United States government, but is an independent entity that operates under the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. It was the Federal Reserve... read more

Full Disclosure Explained

Full Disclosure Explained As strange as it may sound, full disclosure is just what it sounds like. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enacted the concept of full disclosure and made it a rule of law when Regulation FD became effective and legally binding in October of 2000. One of the... read more

Margin Requirements

Margin Requirements A margin requirement is the minimum amount an investor must deposit, which is usually a percent of the market value of the security being invested in. The deposit is allowed to be greater than the margin requirement, but never less. The New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve... read more

Money Supply Measures

Money Supply Measures Money supply measures are the different ways we have in the U.S. for counting the money supply. There are three common money supply measures in use today. Each of the three looks at the money supply from a slightly different standpoint. In years gone by it was thought that there... read more

SEC

SEC The United States Securities and Exchange Commission enforces the federal securities laws that regulate the electronic securities markets, the stock exchanges, options exchanges, and the securities industry as a whole. The organization was created in 1934 and since then there has been a number of... read more

SEC NASDAQ Settlement

SEC NASDAQ Settlement In late 1996, a settlement was reached between the SEC and NASDAQ. The goal was to achieve a price improvement that would benefit small investors. The result was a rule change that allowed individual investors to have better access to the market by improving the display of stocks... read more

SEC Registered Advisory Service

SEC Registered Advisory Service Financial advisors must be an SEC registered advisory service. They do this because it is the law. What this shows is that the personal financial advisor that you are working with has no financial fraud on their record and they have no convictions. This is to ensure that... read more

SEC Rule 144

SEC Rule 144 SEC Rule 144 is a rule that is put in place that requires those holding restricted securities to take additional steps when trying to sell them. An individual must seek out an exception from the SEC in order to lift the restriction of selling the restricted securities within the marketplace. The... read more

Retirement Plans

401k

401k A 401k is a retirement savings vehicle funded by employee contributions and often by matching employer contributions as well. The great thing about 401k investments is that contributions to these plans are taken from the employee's salary on a pretax basis, so the money that goes in has not been... read more

401k for the Self Employed

401k for the Self Employed Finding a 401k for the self employed may not be as easy as it is for people who work at companies that provide corporate 401k accounts. But Solo 401k plans are available for self employed individuals. Most self employed individuals are owners of small businesses. Solo 401k... read more

403b

403b A 403b is a specific type of retirement savings account that's funded by employee contributions and sometimes with matching employer contributions as well. These plans are offered by tax exempt organizations like churches, schools, and charities to their employees. As the years go by, the limits... read more

457b Plans

457b457b is a deferred compensation plan available to those working for governments or non-profit entities such as charities. The employer must be a state or local government or a tax-exempt 501c organization. Similar to a 401k, the 457b plans allow the employee to use pre-tax dollars to invest for their... read more

Co Mingling Funds in Iras

Co-mingling Funds in IRA AccountsCo-mingling Funds in IRA Accounts is when money from one IRA account such as a 457b package for example, is deposited, or mingled, with another IRA account. This is generally not a problem. You can have as many IRAs as you wish as long as you don't exceed the deposit... read more

Stocks

American Depository Receipts

American Depository Receipts American depository receipts (ADRs) are shares of stock of an investment in a non domestic corporation. The actual shares of this non U.S. corporation share overseas on a non U.S. exchange, so what these ADRs do is provide a vehicle that can be traded on domestic exchanges.... read more

Cyclicals

Cyclicals Cyclical stocks are stocks whose value is closely tied to the business cycle and to the cycle of the domestic economy. Prices of cyclical move up when the economy is doing well, and back down when it is not doing so well. Cyclical stocks follow what is called a business cycle, which can last... read more

Dividends

Dividends Understanding what a dividend is can help investors to refine their ideas on stocks and rethink their assumptions about how a stock has to perform in order for it to be valuable to them as a part of their portfolio. Companies that issue stocks may from time to time or at regular intervals declare... read more

Dramatic Price Changes

Dramatic Price ChangesDramatic Price Changes can and will happen if you are invested in the stock market either directly or through mutual funds, a 401k plan, HOLDR deals, or IRAs. They are a fact of life. The key is to not panic but to know you are in it for the long term. Over ten or twenty years,... read more

Holding Company Depository Receipts

Holding Company Depository ReceiptsHolding Company Depository Receipts which are also known as HOLDR, are a device developed by a certain brokerage house that allows investors to buy and sell not one stock at a time but a basket of diversified stocks in one area or group, such as utilities or transportation... read more

Tax Code

Backup Withholding

Backup Withholding Backup withholding is a method used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to recover taxes from filers who have been negligent or who have underpaid in the past. If the IRS determines that you owe them more money than you've sent, backup withholding is one method they have at their... read more

Cost Basis for Capital Gains

Cost Basis for Capital Gains Finding the cost basis for a stock or other security is often needed in order to report the gain or loss on that security when it is sold. If an investor buys a security, the cost basis for that security is they money he spent to buy it, along with any commissions or fees... read more

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