When you dream, what do you visualise for yourself?
We all aspire towards financial freedom. It may be travelling the world, purchasing the newest car model, sending our children to the best universities or retiring early and comfortably. One of the keys to building wealth and attaining financial freedom is investment.
Investing is not reserved only for the finance-savvy or wealthy. All of us can and should invest. To help start you off in the world of investing, we provide simple explanations for basic investment terms.
An annuity is a financial product that allows a person to save money for retirement. Annuities have two phases – an accumulation phase or deferred phase and a payout phase. During the accumulation phase, individuals can make either interval contributions of similar amounts or lump sum payment(s) that earn interest and are generally tax deductible up to a certain limit. At the end of the accumulation phase (maturity), the payout phase commences and provides a lump sum and/or a series of payments for the retirement years.
A type of annuity contract that delays payments of income, installments or a lump sum until the investor chooses to receive them. This type of annuity has two main phases: the savings phase when you invest money into the account and the income phase when the plan converts to an annuity and payments are received.
A bond is essentially a contract in which an investor lends money to an entity which generally will be a government or corporate body. The borrower would issue a bond in exchange for the money borrowed. Depending on the terms of the bond, the issuer (borrower) will pay the bond holder (lender) interest and/or repay the principal at intervals or all in one at the end of the contract (maturity). Interest is usually payable at fixed intervals (semi-annual, annual, etc.).
Budgeting is an estimate of revenue/income and expenses over a specified future time period. A budget can be made for a person, family, group of persons, business, government, country, multinational organisation or anyone/anything that makes and spends money.
Dividends represent a portion of a company's profits that is paid out to shareholders on a semi-annual or annual basis. The Board of Directors of the company declares dividends. It is not mandatory to declare dividends on common stock even though the company is making good profits.
Diversification is a risk-management technique. It mixes a wide variety of investments within a portfolio to minimise the impact one security can have on the overall performance of the portfolio. Diversification therefore lowers the risk of your portfolio. Many individual investors cannot tolerate the short-term fluctuations in the stock market. Diversifying your portfolio is the best way to smooth out the ride. At the same time, diversification is not an ironclad guarantee against loss. No matter how much diversification you use, investment always involves taking on some risk.
Dollar cost averaging is buying a fixed dollar amount of a particular investment on a regular schedule, regardless of the share price. More shares are purchased when prices are low and fewer shares are bought when prices are high. Eventually, the average cost per share of the security becomes smaller and smaller. Dollar cost averaging lessens the risk of investing a large amount in a single investment at the wrong time.
One of the oldest and most traditional ways to invest is to buy stocks and shares in a company. Stocks and shares are commonly called equities. An equity investment generally refers to the buying and holding of shares on the stock market by individuals and firms in anticipation of income from dividends and capital gains as the value of the stock rises. Historically, equities have out-performed safer vehicles like bank accounts and bonds and can act as the real driver for growth in your investment portfolio.
However, investment in shares exposes you to the potential to lose some or all of your money. Shares are considered a risky asset class so an individual should give careful consideration and conduct proper research when contemplating investing in equities.
Financial planning is used to achieve financial success. By having well-written financial goals and implementing them into a financial plan, you can have the means to achieve the standard of living you desire. Your values, goals, personal choices, major life events, lifestyle conditions and lifecycle needs work together to determine the details of your financial plan.
Inflation occurs when the prices for goods and services rise and purchasing power falls. As inflation rises, every dollar buys a smaller percentage of a good. For example, if the inflation rate is 2% per annum, then a $1 pack of gum will cost $1.02 in a year.
A mutual fund pools together money from many investors to perform as one investment. Mutual funds can help individuals with limited amounts of money take advantage of diversification and professional management, especially if they don’t have the time or expertise to do it themselves.
Risk refers to the degree of variability in investment returns you are willing to bear. It is the chance that an investment's actual return will be different than expected. Every investment carries some level of risk and you must establish your own level of risk tolerance.
An investor with a high risk tolerance is likely to invest in securities such as stocks in startup companies and is willing to accept the possibility that the value of his/her portfolio will decline, at least in the short-term.
An investor with a low risk tolerance, on the other hand, tends to invest predominantly in stable stocks and/or highly-graded bonds. Your risk tolerance is subjective and may vary according to your age, needs, goals, even your personal disposition.
A security is a negotiable financial instrument that represents some type of financial value. Securities are typically divided into debt securities and equities.
A debt security is a type of security that represents money that is borrowed and must be repaid with terms that define the amount borrowed, interest rate and maturity/renewal date. Debt securities include government and corporate bonds, certificates of deposit (CDs) and preferred stock.
Equities typically represent stock/shares in various companies.
The prospectus is a disclosure document that provides investors with material information about mutual funds and other investments. It usually includes a description of the company's business, financial statements, biographies of officers and directors.