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Investing

Mar 24, 2020 When you're looking for a safe way to invest your money, things don't get any more solid than government-backed securities. The U.S. Department of Treasury offers several different low-risk options, including notes, bonds and bills. Treasury bills, or T-bills, can be appealing because you're not required to tie up your money for a long period of time. However, they're not necessarily right for every kind of investor. If you have questions about T-bills, stocks or any other type of investment, speak with a financial advisor in your area. Read More...

May 01, 2020 Wealth management firms are all different. You need to make sure to do the work to pick the right one for you. Wealth managers work with their clients to identify financial goals and map out a plan for achieving them that's built around choosing solid investments that'll grow over time. If you're ready to build serious wealth, here are some tips to help you choose the right wealth management firm. You can also use SmartAsset's free financial advisor matching tool to help you find the right manager for you.  Read More...

Aug 15, 2019 Investing intimidates a lot of people. There are a lot of options, and it can be hard to figure out which investments are right for your portfolio. This guide walks you through 10 of the most common types of investment and explains why you may want to consider including them in your portfolio. If you’re serious about investing, it might make sense to find a financial advisor to guide you. SmartAsset can help you find the right advisor for you with our free financial advisor matching service. Read More...

Jan 04, 2021 If you're looking to invest $100,000, you have a lot of options -- but some are absolutely better than others. If you're patient, putting the money in a deposit account may make the most sense. You could also invest in real estate, or put some of the money into a diverse basket of stocks on the market. No matter what you do, you always want to make sure you're being smart and considering all of your options. One way to make thins a bit easier, of course, is to find a financial advisor to help you invest your $100,000 (and to manage the money as it grows.) Read More...

Feb 05, 2020 Passive investing - also referred to as passive management - is an investing strategy that involves buying and holding investments for a long period of time, rather than making frequent trades to try to beat the market. It is a go-to strategy for long-term investors, because it capitalizes on the typical upward trend of the overall market over many years. By minimizing trades, it also ensures that transaction costs are as low as possible. Want to use a passive investment approach for your portfolio? Consider speaking with a financial advisor in your area. Read More...

Sep 05, 2018 Whether you're new to investing or have been doing it for years, mutual funds offer a great way to invest your money. It allows you to invest in multiple stocks and bonds without the hassle of choosing and buying each individually. Plus, mutual fund companies can do all this work for you. While convenient, mutual funds aren't always accessible to all investors due to their potentially high minimums. Read More...

Jul 09, 2019 Warren Buffett said it best: “Read 500 pages like this every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned investor in need of a refresher, reading some of the best investing books is a great way to sharpen your knowledge. With these books, you can pick Peter Lynch's brain, learn the history of Wall Street or simply figure out if you're ready to use that spare money tucked away in your savings account to start investing. And if you want some extra guidance as you apply your newly acquired knowledge to your portfolio, consider enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Jun 05, 2020 A wealth manager is a subset of financial advisor that primarily offers  high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients wealth management services. But a wealth manager's role is far more comprehensive than just offering investment advice. They focus on a holistic suite of services that encompasses all parts of a person's financial life. This can include investment management and financial planning, as well as accounting and tax services, retirement planning and estate planning. To find a financial advisor in your area, try using SmartAsset's free advisor matching tool. Read More...

Sep 24, 2018 When it comes to investing, millennials aren't known for being a reckless bunch. According to a study published by UBS earlier this year, Americans aged 21 to 36 are the most fiscally conservative generation since the Great Depression. Their better-safe-than-sorry attitude can be chalked up in part to the economic turmoil of the last few years and the unique financial challenges they face. Read More...

Feb 08, 2018 Everyone makes mistakes and when it comes to your investment strategy, some wrong moves can be worse than others. Whether you're dipping your toes into the investment game for the first time or you've been playing the market for years, there's always the possibility that your strategy may backfire. Maxing out your returns means knowing what you should and shouldn't do with your money. Here are some of the most common pitfalls investors should try to avoid. Read More...

Jan 26, 2021 There is not a good reason to use ChoiceTrade. This low-cost, feature-limited  trading platform has been in business since 2000, and offers inexpensive options and stock trading. Unfortunately, for the modern trading world, that’s just not good enough anymore. Investors can get low-commission trading platforms just about anywhere these days, and most of them offer a more robust set of features than you’ll find on ChoiceTrade. This review breaks down how it works. If you're looking for valuable insight, consider working with a financial advisor to plan your next investing move.  Read More...

Jan 23, 2021 Investors who use TradeStation get a full-feature trading platform built with active and high-volume users in mind. It is not for newcomers or long-term, buy-and-hold investors. But if you are an experienced investor who executes frequent trades or complex trades you should give this product a try. A financial advisor can help you decide what type of platform is best for your financial strategy and tactics as well as developing realistic financial goals. Read More...

Jan 23, 2021 Israel-based eToro is cryptocurrency trading platform. Unlike traditional investment platforms, it does not offer access to any form of standard financial products or assets. You cannot trade stocks, bonds, funds or options. Although investors outside of the U.S. can use eToro to trade foreign currencies, which was the platform’s original product before it branched out into crypto, this feature is not available in the U.S.due to regulations around this marketplace. A financial advisor can give you sound advice about how cryptocurrencies might fit into your financial plans. Read More...

Jan 23, 2021 There’s a reason you may not have heard of SpeedTrader. This is a niche product in a niche market. SpeedTrader is an investment platform for day traders. This product is built for professionals. Its main features, such as its ability to shave seconds off a transaction, have virtually no value to the ordinary investor. If you aren’t a professional day trader, you can safely move on. If you are, however, this platform might be worth a look. Even if you aren't a day trader but are curious about what that entails, a financial advisor can give you the proverbial lay of the land and explain how day trading might fit into your investing style. Read More...

Jan 23, 2021 M1 Finance strikes a balance between the completely hands-off approach of a robo-advisor and the technical complexity of a full-service investment firm. It allows investors to build an investment portfolio based on stocks, funds and professionally managed portfolios that they select. If you’d like the simplicity of a robo-advisory but want to have a little more control over your money than they offer, it might be worth checking this platform out. If you want hands-on guidance from an expert professional, though, consider enlisting the services of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Jan 23, 2021 Do not get paid to trade. Free money schemes are never your friend. In finance, as with most walks of life, the best tools are generally boring and don't need such incentives to try a product. SogoTrade is no different. There is one key area of investing, though, where SogoTrade comes in as a strong option, and it will be discussed below. Meantime, consider working with a financial advisor as you set financial goals and create a strategy for building an investment portfolio. Read More...

Jan 23, 2021 If you bank with Wells Fargo and keep a low-activity portfolio, WellsTrade might be a useful platform on which to trade stocks and other securities. Current clients can use the trading screen to see all of their finances, banking and investments alike, in one place. Investors who do relatively few trades might find this particularly useful. For other investors, WellsTrade probably isn’t the best tool on the market. Its research options are limited, and it lacks some asset classes that will appeal to more sophisticated investors. Pound for pound, such investors can probably do better. It may behoove those seeking hands-on guidance to enlist the services of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Jan 23, 2021 By now most mainstream trading platforms are free. Five years ago, offering low-cost trades helped a service stand out. You could accept the wrong fit on a platform in exchange for a free trade. Today no-commission trading is a standard pitch offered by even the full-featured platforms. This has left Lightspeed somewhat behind in the retail market. Despite advertising itself as “low cost stock and options trading.” Lightspeed still charges trading commissions. At the same time it offers a set of highly specific tools that can benefit extremely active (read: fast) traders. Between the two, you have a system which is only particularly useful to traders who want to make high-volume, high-speed transactions, and which charges for each of these (ideally numerous) trades. If you are a professional trader making some real money off of this system, it may work well for you. The benefits of Lightspeed’s tools may outweigh the costs of using it. For a retail investor, you will probably do better to look elsewhere. Here's an overview of the platform. Read More...

Jan 22, 2021 Firstrade is an online trading platform that offers two portals, its primary brand, Firstrade, and a secondary brand called Firstrade Navigator. They are competitively priced, offer many types of securities, including  mutual funds, give users the ability to engage in sophisticated types of trading and provide high-caliber research material. However, the website's design leaves something to be desired, a weakness apparent as soon as you open this product and continues as you click past its homepage. Keep in mind that a financial advisor can help you create a solid investing plan and set of goals, and that, in turn, will be useful as you decide on which platform to do your investing. Read More...

Jan 14, 2021 Webull is an online trading platform that allows you to trade and invest commission-free. It bills itself as primarily organized around app-based trading, although as we will note below, Webull’s more sophisticated tools make it easier to use through the website. As a trading platform, Webull attempts to strike a balance between the high-speed world of app traders and serious technical analysis. The result is a strong platform for casual trading. Of course, it's always a good idea to work with a financial advisor as you make these decisions. Read More...

Jan 14, 2021 Betterment has established itself as one of the most well-known standalone robo-advisors on the market. At the same time, a brokerage giant backs Fidelity Go. While both platforms come from very different beginnings, they share many similarities, such as how they design investment portfolios using robo-advisor technology and offer low-cost funds. But, they also have their differences that cater to distinct types of investors. So, to identify which platform might be right given your financial plan, here is what you need to know. Remember that coming up with long-term financial plan is something a  financial advisor can be extremely helpful with. Read More...

Jan 14, 2021 Interactive Brokers has been a leader in the active investing space since its start in 1993. It is not alone, however, in standing out. One of the pioneers of online brokerage firms, TD Ameritrade, offers intuitive platforms and educational resources geared toward the beginner investor. While both platforms are similar in many ways, a few key differences that set them apart. To better understand which platform makes sense for your investing needs, here is what you should know before working with Interactive Brokers vs. TD Ameritrade. A financial advisor can help you determine which online brokerage service makes most sense given your investment goals, risk profile and investing style as well as help you put together a personalized financial plan. Read More...

Jan 13, 2021 Robinhood and E*TRADE may be the two most important names in online trading. In many ways E*TRADE introduced the world to online investments, taking stocks and bonds from the world of corner offices to kitchen tables. A couple decades later, Robinhood lapped its predecessor and took trading from laptop screens to smartphones. In other words, E*TRADE invented website-based trading as we think of it today, while Robinhood may have moved that revolution to investment apps. A financial professional can offer advice on investing, retirement planning, financial planning and various other areas of finance.  Find a financial advisor today.   Read More...

Jan 12, 2021 As you begin investing, you’ll likely hear about two popular online investing companies: Vanguard and TD Ameritrade. These are two of the largest brokerage firms in the U.S. While the companies have a few similarities, they each cater to vastly different investors. In either case, it's wise to work with a financial advisor to develop financial goals and realistic steps to reach that goal. Here is what you need to know before deciding to work with Vanguard or TD Ameritrade. Read More...

Jan 12, 2021 Two of the most popular online brokerages are Robinhood and Vanguard. The former is a highly streamlined platform designed for  new investors. It presents users with a clean trading interface, without the intimidating wall of information and options that can scare off novices. Vanguard, meanwhile, offers a full-service trading platform and specializes in mutual funds. Here is what you need to know before deciding whether one or the other is best for you. Whether you have already made a decision about an online trading platform or are still mulling your options, a financial advisor can give you valuable advice on how best to proceed. Read More...

Jan 12, 2021 Online trading platform  Vanguard offers a full-service securities trading capability but is best known for its huge range of mutual funds. E*TRADE, which arguably ushered in the modern era of online finance, offers a streamlined, easy-to-use day trading app where investors can trade stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETF), futures and options. Each product is aimed at two distinct types of investors. From fees to features and more, here's what you need to know about each one. It is wise to work directly with a financial advisor who can give you more information on the ins and outs of what you should look for in a platform. Read More...

Jan 04, 2021 Investing in the stock market can help you build a portfolio and grow wealth. But there is a certain amount of risk involved when purchasing stocks and other securities. Paper trading is something you might consider if you’re a newer investor who’s still learning the basics of how the market works. Though it may sound like a complicated concept, it simply involves creating hypothetical trades on paper without actually placing them in the market. Paper trading is relatively easy to do, though it does have some pros and cons to keep in mind. Read More...

Dec 29, 2020 Money makes money. It might not be fair, but it’s one of the oldest rules of investing. The more cash you have to put into your portfolio, the more choices and opportunities you have to grow those investments even further. Looking for ways to invest a large amount of money can be fairly tricky, although it’s certainly a good problem to have. Figuring out what to do with all your money is the sweet spot of personal finance. But it’s also complicated. Even six-figure financial planning can open up the kind of long-term planning unavailable to someone managing a smaller portfolio, along with assets and investment categories you might not otherwise have been able to afford. Of course, getting the input of a financial advisor in these situations is strongly recommended. Read More...

Dec 29, 2020 Wealthfront and Vanguard specialize in two different types of online trading platforms. While Vanguard offers a full-service trading platform, it specializes in mutual funds. Wealthfront, on the other hand, is what is known as a robo-advisor service. This means that you don’t select any specific security at all. Instead the firm helps you to select financial priorities and goals, and based on these choices it allocates your money among a series of pre-made portfolios. Each firm's online service is an excellent choice for long-term, hands-off investors, yet each approaches this subject in a different way. Coming up with long-term financial goals is something a  financial advisor can be extremely helpful with.  Read More...

Dec 29, 2020 Investors looking for online investing platforms choose Charles Schwab or Robinhood for two very different experiences. With Charles Schwab you will get a full-featured investment platform, with all of the opportunities and complexity that this entails. Investors using Schwab’s tools can trade almost any way they want to but will have to learn how to wade through the data-rich world of a serious trader. Robinhood, on the other hand, offers an intuitive trading experience through an investment platform almost entirely devoid of complexity. Yet in the process this eliminates most of the tools and assets that serious traders rely on to navigate the market. Here’s how the two stack up. Read More...

Dec 29, 2020 Charles Schwab and E*TRADE are two of the most popular investment platforms available today. Both are full-service products, meaning that they support most mainstream assets and research options. Furthermore, they are largely comparable in both price and services. There are, however, differences between the two. Here's how the two of them stack up against one another. Read More...

Dec 29, 2020 You would be hard pressed to find two more opposite trading platforms than Betterment and Robinhood. The former is a robo-advisor, about as hands-off as you can get while still making decisions about your money; the latter is a trading platform whose users can invest at the speed of Tinder. Here's a description and comparison of their strengths, weaknesses and costs and which one might be best for you. Read More...

Dec 29, 2020 Betterment and Acorns are two of the most popular robo-advisors on the market. As robo-advisors, neither lets you directly invest money on your own. You can’t buy or sell any individual assets through either platform. This includes even bundled assets such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETF), meaning that investors who would like to directly manage their money should select another service. If you’re looking for a hands-off investment option, either Betterment or Acorns may be the right choice for you. Here are key similarities and differences between the two. Read More...

Dec 29, 2020 Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts: Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade offer very similar online trading platforms. Both Schwab and Ameritrade offer full-service trading platforms that allow you to access most mainstream securities and research using all or almost-all mainstream forms of data. Whether you are experienced or a newcomer, either of these products will serve you well. In fact, the significant similarities may mean you should choose which firm has the largest retail presence in your area. Here's a review of these two online trading platforms (but not their retail or other offline services). Read More...

Dec 28, 2020 Investing in stocks while building a diversified portfolio can help you build wealth over the long-term. There are a number of indicators you can use to analyze stocks when deciding where to invest, including the moving average. A stock’s moving average represents its average price over a set time period, which can be anywhere from a few days to a few months. If you’re interested in using a technical analysis approach to vet equities, it’s helpful to know what the moving average means and what it tells you about a stock’s price. Read More...

Dec 28, 2020 Trading securities online entails using specialized lingo so that your precise intentions are carried out. One key term that you should be familiar with, whether you are an active trader or someone who trades less frequently, is "time in force" (TIF). Time in force is a measurement of how long an order will remain active before it’s executed by your broker or it expires. It can give you control over the timing of the trade orders you place when buying and selling securities. For hands-on assistance with your investing needs, consider enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Dec 28, 2020 A certificate of deposit, or CD, offers a safe and secure way to save money that you may not need to use right away. CDs can offer a guaranteed rate of return on your money, in exchange for leaving those savings in the CD until it matures. A brokered CD is a savings option you may see offered through your brokerage. These CDs share some similarities with the CDs you may find at your bank or credit union. But there are some things that set brokered CDs apart from the crowd. Read More...

Dec 17, 2020 A 401(k) retirement plan fiduciary is a person who has the responsibility of managing the plan to the best interests of its participants. Federal law recognizes three types of 401(k) fiduciaries, 3(16), 3(21) and 3(38) fiduciaries. The names refer to the sections of the law describing their functions, with 3(16) fiduciaries overseeing administration of the plan, 3(21) fiduciaries making investment recommendations and 3(38) fiduciaries actually managing investments. Learn what each of these fiduciaries does. Read More...

Dec 16, 2020 The choice between Betterment and Vanguard has more to do with your investment strategy than features offered by each product. Betterment is a robo-advisor service so users invest in a series of funds automatically managed by the brokerage and cannot use this platform to invest in individual stocks, bonds, options or other securities. Vanguard is a trading platform so users can trade most mainstream securities. Here's how these two compare and contrast. Read More...

Dec 14, 2020 Vanguard and Charles Schwab have both made their names as retail firms that offer personal financial services and investment advice. While both continue to sell financial and investment management as their flagship products, they have also gotten into the online trading platform game. Each offers clients a web- and app-based portal for trading. Although they are similar in many ways, there are a few key differences. We cover these companies' online platforms (not their retail financial or other offerings). Read More...

Dec 21, 2020 Fidelity and Robinhood are about as different as two trading platforms can get. Fidelity is a full-service brokerage firm. You can trade most securities through its platform, either on your own or with the help of an advisor, and there's lots of information about whatever security you're considering available. Robinhood, on the other hand, offers a stripped-down trading platform that emphasizes ease of use, includes fewer types of securities for trade and less information about them. Here’s a look at both of them. Read More...

Dec 03, 2020 E*TRADE arguably ushered in the modern era of online finance. Although far from the only option on the market, it established itself as the brand name for web-based trading in the late '90s and early 2000s. Fidelity, by contrast, has long been one of the biggest players in the world of brick-and-mortar investments. A well-known firm for brokerage and financial advice, it has carried that reputation smoothly into the world of trading platforms. Here's what to know about each one. Read More...

Dec 03, 2020 As investing platforms, Charles Schwab and Fidelity make for a very apples-to-apples comparison. Both are long-standing brokerage houses with a history of financial management, personal advising and retail services. Both have introduced online trading platforms in the form of apps and websites. And both offer full service platforms with a wide variety of assets and information available to individual traders. Yet there are some differences. Read More...

Dec 03, 2020 TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE are two popular investment brokerages. The companies help consumers trade and invest online. If you are deciding which online company to use to help you invest your funds, then you’re probably wondering what the differences are between the two. This article compares their fees, services, online experiences, mobile features and more. Read More...

Dec 21, 2020 Many people choose to begin their investment portfolios online and even on mobile apps, of which there are many options. With so many possibilities available, it's challenging to know where to begin. Stash and Robinhood are two popular investment platforms that beginners sometimes choose. Here's a look at how these two products differ in terms of fees, services, online experiences, mobile features and more. Read More...

Dec 02, 2020 TD Ameritrade and Fidelity are two of the most popular full-service trading platforms on the internet. Ultimately between these two giants, there are relatively few points of true distinction. If you’re looking for a trading platform that will give you access to all mainstream asset classes and a broad base of data with which to invest, either of these services will work for you. However, there are a few important points of comparison. Read More...

Dec 21, 2020 Comparing TD Ameritrade and Robinhood is a little bit of an exercise in apples-to-oranges. TD Ameritrade is a full-service brokerage firm offering storefront advising, online and app-based trading platforms and robo-advisors. Robinhood is a highly streamlined, primarily app-based trading platform in which investors make their own decisions. Here’s how to evaluate these two services. Read More...

Dec 21, 2020 Acorns and Robinhood are online investment tools both geared toward younger, newer investors, but they are still quite distinct. Acorns is a robo-advisor tool that helps people invest by automatically skimming the spare change off their digital purchases. This overage is then invested according to the platform’s algorithms and recommendations, and the result is a set-it-and-forget-it portfolio.  Robinhood is a streamlined platform designed to make investing as easy and comprehensible as possible. With a design that is often compared to Twitch gameplay or the quick reactions of Tinder, Robinhood makes engagement with a portfolio simple and fun. Read More...

Nov 23, 2020 When opening a brokerage account, you may also be given the option of opening a cash management account. Cash management accounts share some of the same features as checking accounts but they’re not traditional bank accounts like the kind you’d find at a bank or credit union. Also known as CMAs, these accounts can be helpful for managing money, including cash that you don’t plan to invest right away. Learning more about how a cash management account works can help you decide if opening one is right for you. Read More...

Nov 19, 2020 Set by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the federal funds rate directly controls whether banks will lend any excess reserves to meet federal requirements. This rate has a huge impact on inflation, short-term borrowing and even investing. In this guide, we explore the federal funds rate and explain how it works.  Read More...

Nov 11, 2020 Webull and Robinhood are two popular online stock trading platforms where users can invest and make trades largely commission-free. Webull advertises itself as much to the desktop market as to app-based users, if not more, and tends to aim toward more sophisticated investors. Robinhood has built more of a “gamification” market, emphasizing its app-based approach and ease of use for new investors. However, Robinhood’s appeal to inexperienced investors is a marked contrast to its emphasis on options trading, a highly sophisticated area of the market, and this can create problems for some users. Here’s how these two investment apps compare and contrast. Read More...

Nov 09, 2020 A volatility ETF is an exchange traded fund (ETF) that tracks share price changes in a specific index of the stock market. These funds make their money based on the degree to which prices are changing across the market. The specifics are different based on individual funds, as various volatility ETFs offer exposure to volatility in varied ways. However, if you want to trade based on how turbulent you think the market will be, these are often worth considering. Here's what you need to know to make an investment decision about these securities. Of course, it's always a wise idea to consult with a financial advisor when considering an investment, including an ETF investment. Read More...

Nov 09, 2020 A blank check company is a publicly traded company created for the purpose of buying or merging with another company or companies. For reasons explained below, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has particular regulations for blank check firms, which differ from shell companies and venture capital companies. Here's what you need to know about these unique business structures and the opportunities they can present to retail investors. Read More...

Nov 09, 2020 One way the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) protects investors is by restricting who can put their money into particularly high-risk, loosely regulated or complex financial offerings. While anyone who has the money can buy stocks and bonds, the SEC restricts participation in ventures that are more lightly regulated, opaque or risky to what it calls the "sophisticated investor." Here's what you need to know about this type of investor and what it takes to become one. Read More...

Nov 09, 2020 Dilutive securities are any financial instrument that can increase the number of shares a company has outstanding. Examples include convertible bonds, options, warrants and preferred stock. The effect of dilutive securities is to reduce the price of shares and earnings attributable to each share. That's one reason many shareholders object when a board of directors issues dilutive securities. Read More...

Nov 06, 2020 Mutual funds can offer a streamlined way to build an investment portfolio. Rather than purchasing individual stocks or bonds, you can buy mutual fund shares to gain exposure to multiple investments in a single basket. Evaluating the quality of mutual funds means looking at different factors, including its expense ratio, the fund manager's track record and its past performance. Trailing returns can tell you how a fund has performed over a set time frame, though they aren't a guaranteed indicator of a fund will perform in the future. Read More...

Nov 06, 2020 When deciding where to invest your money, there are different ratios you can use to find the right companies to back. One of them is earnings per share (EPS), which is one way to measure a company's profitability. The higher this number, the more profitable a company is likely to be. But what is a good EPS and what influences a particular company's ratios? Asking those kinds of questions can help you better evaluate a company and its profit potential when deciding whether to add it to your investment portfolio. Read More...

Nov 04, 2020 Buying the dip is a tactic in which traders buy an asset, usually a stock, immediately after its price declines, anticipating that the price will go back up in the near term. There are many reasons why a trader might employ this approach, but when traders refer to buying the dip, they specifically are referring to buying the shares right after a price drop to capture specifically anticipated, generally near-term, gains. Read More...

Nov 04, 2020 One of the most important features of an asset is how quickly or slowly it can be converted into cash. Whether it's investors seeking details about a company's finances or market players trying to figure out the fair market value, an asset's liquidity or lack thereof, known as illiquidity, is a vital piece of financial information. Learn what an illiquid asset is and why it matters in both  accounting and finance. Read More...

Nov 04, 2020 If safety is a top priority for your investments, you should consider Series I bonds. They are bonds issued by the U.S. government that carries a zero-coupon interest rate and are annually adjusted for inflation. The return on these bonds, which are typically considered variable interest bonds, are generally low. However, this reflects the high security they enjoy because of being backed by the federal government. Here's what you need to know about these unique securities. Read More...

Nov 03, 2020 While a company's sales, also known as revenue, often get a great deal of attention from the public, business owners, managers, investors and lenders pay particularly close attention to another key metric, EBITDA. That's an acronym for “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization." It is a more nuanced tool than revenue and can illuminate how well or poorly cash flow is generated from operations. Here's what to know about revenue and EBITDA. If you want help understanding how a firm's EBITDA impacts its investment potential, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Oct 30, 2020 A commercial mortgage-backed security (CMBS) is a type of income-generating security that's backed by commercial real estate mortgages instead of residential property mortgages. These assets can be good investments in one regard, given the steady returns they generate but are somewhat speculative in another, given that the commercial real estate market can often be volatile. However, they are rarely available to retail investors, often being more expensive than products available on the common market. Here's what you need to know about this type of investment. Read More...

Oct 30, 2020 StarCraft changed the world. This computer game was arguably the first major esport, or electronic sport, with immense popularity and a professional circuit in many parts of the world, particularly the U.S. and East Asia. Today many games have a professional following, and it’s possible to invest in them. Read More...

Oct 29, 2020 One of the most important questions for investors is how efficiently a company uses its assets to generate revenue. This information is not readily found in the most common financial reports, such as  balance sheets. The performance numbers of a large business may hide otherwise poor performance. This obscurity sometimes plagues legacy firms that may not have adapted well over the years but which have significant wealth on which to coast. On the other hand, a small but well-run general partnership, for example, can nevertheless look like a poor investment based on its share price or relatively modest assets. As a result, stock investors have developed metrics such as the asset turnover ratio (ATR) to gauge how efficiently a company uses its assets to bring in revenue.  Read More...

Oct 29, 2020 The FAANG stocks are a collection of five high-value securities in the tech sector and some of the most valuable shares traded on the U.S. exchanges. Together they are Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google. The stocks in the FAANG acronym, originally coined by Jim Cramer of "Mad Money" and TheStreet.com, make up a hefty plurality of the S&P 500’s value and are attractive to investors. Read More...

Oct 27, 2020 The Russell 2000 Index is a stock market index that measures the performance of approximately 2,000 of the smallest-capitalization U.S. corporations in the Russell 3000 Index, which is made up of 3,000 of the largest American stocks. It is a useful alternative to indexes like the S&P 500, which tracks the shares of the 500 largest U.S. corporations, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which tracks the shares of the nation's 30 largest industrial corporations. Read More...

Oct 27, 2020 Bitcoin is both one of the most valuable and one of the most volatile individual assets on the market. At the time of writing a single bitcoin was valued at more than $13,650, up from a low of $5,000 six months earlier and down from its heights of nearly $20,000. For investors interested in this borderline unique asset, either as a currency or as an investment, bitcoins can be bought online, at an ATM and even in person. Here's what you need to know about each of these options. Read More...

Oct 23, 2020 Perhaps the single greatest mistake that investors make is the idea that trading is a purely technical practice, one driven exclusively by the logic of numbers. But the truth is that traders work on emotion just as often as they work on rationale. In fact, as Warren Buffet is known for noting, much of the market is driven by a balance of fear and greed. This raises the question of whether there are even ways that could help gauge this emotion in the first place. The Japanese candlestick chart is an example of one such tool. It attempts to measure that emotion and help investors understand it. Here's what you need to know to use it and make better investing decisions. Read More...

Oct 14, 2020 Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds can make investing easier. Instead of buying individual stocks or bonds, you can buy a collection of them in a single fund. But all mutual funds aren't the same, and it's important to know what type of fund you're buying. A blend fund is one example of a mutual fund that follows a specific investment strategy. If you're looking for exposure to growth and value stocks in one place, blend funds could be right for you. But it's helpful to understand how these funds work and the pros and cons before making an investment. For additional expert guidance, consider getting paired with a trusted financial advisor in your area. Read More...

Oct 12, 2020 Free cash flow is a measure that helps business owners, investors and others assess a business’s financial performance and outlook. Free cash flow is defined as operating cash flow minus capital expenditures. Strong free cash flow can indicate that a company is well-run and making money off its operations. It can also be affected by investing more or less in long-term capital assets, changing the way a company collects from customers and pays suppliers and by selling off corporate assets. Read More...

Feb 11, 2020 For certain investors, a unified managed account (UMA) could help streamline investment management. It is professionally managed, and can hold a variety of different investments. However, you might prefer this option if you have a high net worth and substantial assets. Here's more UMAs and how they work. Read More...

Feb 08, 2020 Companies of all sizes repurchase outstanding shares of their stock for a variety of reasons. It can help boost share prices or save some shares as incentives for a company's employees. Repurchased shares are known as a treasury stock. Here's how they affect investment and a company’s balance sheet. Read More...

Feb 08, 2020 You buy insurance to protect you and your things. So how do insurance issuers protect themselves? Well, reinsurance is insurance for insurance companies. It minimizes the risk of any single event, disaster, or other emergency. Here’s a breakdown of how reinsurance works for insurance companies. Read More...

Jan 16, 2020 As you build your wealth, it's important to protect your assets against any unforeseen events. While not as direct a way of saving as investing, insurance planning can save you significant amounts of money over the long-term. Think of insurance planning as a precautionary investment that shelters you from financial loss. As you get older, you may want to consider incorporating such coverage into your financial plan because it can be the deciding factor in how much you spend compared to how much you earn. Below, we'll look further into the different types of insurance and explore the process behind paying for different policies. To access the help of a financial advisor, consider using SmartAsset's free financial advisor matching tool. Read More...

Jan 13, 2020 An annuity can provide a stream of guaranteed income for life, taking some stress out of retirement planning. But what happens to an annuity when you die? That's a question you might be pondering if you currently own an annuity or you're thinking of purchasing one for retirement income. Read More...

Jan 08, 2020 Three financial documents can evaluate the health of a business: the balance sheet, the income statement and the cash flow statement. Each measures and reports on different aspects of a company’s financial condition. However, the balance sheet and income statement hold particular importance. Read More...

Dec 19, 2019 When you go to a doctor, you may prefer one who puts your health first. When it comes to your money, you likely want a professional with your interests in mind. An Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst (AIFA) can work in your best interests. Here’s how people get that title and how they work for you. Read More...

Dec 11, 2019 Personal investing is one thing, but can governments invest too? (Hint: The answer is yes.) A sovereign wealth fund, or SWF, is a state-owned investment fund that taps into a country's cash reserves. The goals of an SWF are to boost a country's economy and the well-being of its citizens through investments in stocks, bonds, real estate and other areas with growth potential. Read More...

Jan 08, 2020 Unless you're dreaming of  becoming a landlord or trying your hand at flipping houses, real estate funds might be just the investment you've been looking for. There are a number of reasons why  real estate holdings make attractive additions to a portfolio. If you're interested in venturing into real estate funds, here's what you need to know. Read More...

Jan 21, 2020 Want to go beyond stocks, bonds and cash? Alternative investments can include everything from real estate to fine art. If you're looking for another way to diversify your portfolio, alternative investments may be worth considering. Read on to discover if alternative investments make sense for your portfolio. Read More...

Jan 08, 2020 Your time horizon is a crucial element of your investing plan. By understanding your time horizon you can select the most suitable investments to help you achieve your financial goals. Read on to discover what a time horizon is, why it matters and how to determine your time horizon. Read More...

Jan 08, 2020 Due to trade war fears, policy uncertainty and a host of other factors, investors are leery about what the future holds for the stock market. But certain funds are designed to bet against the market or weather a bear market. Read on to discover how bear market funds work and if they can protect your portfolio. Read More...

Dec 06, 2019 Whether they hedged against inflation or worried about the market crashing, investors regularly resorted to gold to offset risk. There are many ways to invest in gold, including gold mutual funds. Read on to discover how to invest in specialized gold ETFs and gold mutual funds; and what to look for in a fund. Read More...

Jun 01, 2020 Municipal bonds ( or “munis”) are a fixture among income-investing portfolios. Investors who want a higher returns can invest in high yield municipal bonds. These bonds pay more than investment-grade counterparts, but are risky. There’s a realistic chance you’ll never get that money back. Here’s how they work. Read More...

Dec 06, 2019 Investors with an eye for growing economies can invest in emerging market funds such as a mutual fund and an ETF. Over the past 20 years, investors have found great success in countries such as China and India. These countries have had dramatic growth and investors have reaped exceptional returns buying securities linked to these economies. Here's where to find emerging market funds and what to look for in such funds. Read More...

Oct 30, 2020 Investing in a small-cap value fund is a simple way to diversify your portfolio. These funds offer exposure to companies with a smaller market capitalization and an investment focus on value instead of growth. Small-cap value funds can come in a few different forms, such as traditional mutual funds, index funds or even ETFs. But although the small-cap stocks of early-stage companies have the potential to provide prosperous growth, they can often be equally volatile. A financial advisor can help you build and manage a diversified portfolio. Speak with a local financial advisor today. Read More...

Dec 05, 2019 Many companies have a chief investment officer (CIO), someone who’s in charge of a company’s financial assets. They typically manage  long-term investments, portfolios of securities, pension funds, ensure adequate liquidity and a team of financial experts. Not all companies need to hire a full-time CIO, who is sometimes a director, and some can’t afford such a full-time salaried position. Instead, some companies are better off outsourcing CIOs. Here’s what an outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) is and when it’s a good time to hire one. Read More...

Jul 29, 2020 High-yield bonds, also known as junk bonds, are corporate or government debt securities that analysts believe are likely to default. Junk bonds are suitable for investors comfortable with high risk. For retail investors these securities can play an important role in their portfolio, provided the risk is understood. Here’s what you should know. Read More...

Dec 05, 2019 Bond duration is a double-edged sword. Companies that issue bonds repay their debts over 10, 20 or even 30 years. For investors bond coupons generate limited but steady returns for years. They also lock up money. Short term bond funds solve that problem by maturing in less than a year. Here’s how they work. Read More...

Jan 08, 2020 You most likely heard about quantitative easing during the Great Recession. With talk of recession more common recently, you will likely hear about it again. Quantitative easing is when central banks use newly printed money to purchase large numbers of securities. Here's how it works and what it does. Read More...

Oct 15, 2020 Corporate social responsibility is the idea that a company, though they are obviously driven primarily by a profit motive, have the duty to think about how their business impacts the world and to minimize harm and maximize positive societal outcomes. The growing realization that a corporation's conduct will have either a positive or negative effect on stakeholders and the environment has made corporate social responsibility (CSR) an important aspect of modern-day business operations. It also has become an important consideration for retail investors. If you run a small company and need help with corporate social responsibility or any other issues, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Jan 15, 2020 Commodities trading involves buying and selling hard assets that are typically agricultural in nature or naturally occurring. Investing in commodities often means trading futures contracts, which can be profitable but risky. Commodity mutual funds are an alternative way to diversify using commodities, and they can yield several benefits to investors. If you're interested in branching out with your portfolio, this guide walks you through the most important things to know about commodity funds. Read More...

Jan 08, 2020 Utility funds are designed to target the utilities sector of the stock market. You can invest in traditional mutual funds or choose utility exchange-traded funds (ETFs) instead. Both have their pros and cons when constructing a diversified portfolio. If you're unfamiliar with what the utilities sector covers, this guide explains how the various utility funds work and how to invest in them. Read More...

Nov 29, 2019 Looking for an investment that can help manage risk in your portfolio? Consider market neutral funds, which aim to provide stable returns and mitigate risk in various stock market environments. But like with any investment strategy, it's worth weighing the pros and cons before you commit. Here's what you need to know about market neutral funds, and the potential benefits and drawbacks they bring. Read More...

Aug 28, 2020 Equity refers to the value of a company's ownership shares. This is most often utilized in the context of a company's balance sheet, and there is a specific calculation that dictates its valuation. More specifically, equity is the complete, liquid value of a company minus any applicable debts or liabilities. Knowing exactly what this term means is essential to understanding a company's finances. In turn, if you better understand a company's financial situation, you'll be able to make more educated investment decisions about its stock. If you need hands-on help with your investments, consider working with a financial advisor in your area. Read More...

Jan 14, 2020 There are some financial chores you might have down to a science, like budgeting, filing  taxes or auto-payments. And if you're an investor, you should add portfolio optimization to this list. With regular portfolio review, you can make adjustments and increase the likelihood you'll end up with comfortable returns instead of frustrating results. A few quick exercises can help make portfolio optimization more straightforward. If you're just getting started, a financial advisor may help you establish routines for a lifetime of investing. Read More...

Nov 29, 2019 Investing in futures is a way to benefit from stock market movements without actually owning a particular security. Managed futures is considered an alternative investment strategy that can be used as a hedging tool within a portfolio. Though there are several benefits to investing in managed futures, it's not necessarily right for everyone. If you're thinking about adding managed futures to your portfolio, here's what you need to know. Read More...

Nov 26, 2019 There are many ways to invest in real estate. Two of the most obvious are purchasing a rental property or investing in fix-and-flip projects. Investing in global real estate is also a possibility. If you're expanding your horizons, here's what you should know about real estate beyond your backyard. Read More...

Nov 26, 2019 The terms "Wall Street" and "Main Street" get tossed around a lot in conversations about the financial industry. But not everyone has a clear understanding of how they differ — especially when it comes to investing their money. Here's how Wall Street and Main Street are different, and why that matters when it comes to shaping your investing strategy. Read More...

Dec 03, 2019 A market maker is typically a large bank or institution. They help ensure the liquidity of a market by offering to both buy and sell securities. As an investor, there are some things you need to know about market makers. Here's how they work, why they’re important to the market, and how they use supply and demand. Read More...

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