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International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission on Warnings and Alerts

Aggressive Stock Promotions Target Unwary Investors

Aggressive Stock Promotions Target Unwary Investors

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission is warning investors to watch out for unsolicited investment offers, after receiving complaints about aggressive telephone stock promotions. Typical complaints describe high-pressure sales tactics and verbal promises that the stock will soon be listed at a higher price.

High-pressure sales tactics are a warning sign to investigate before you invest; a great investment opportunity should stand up to the test of further research. Federal securities law is designed to maintain fair and efficient capital markets. Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals closely scrutinize the laws, looking for new ways to exploit unsuspecting investors.

One example of this is the "pump and dump" schemes that operated in the late 1990's. These operations used aggressive sales tactics to sell penny stocks to investors at inflated prices. After maximizing their own profit by creating an artificial market for the stocks, they left those same investors holding worthless shares. The penny stock dealers defended their actions by pointing out that sellers are free to ask any price for their securities on the open market - it is up to the buyer to decide what price they want to pay. While this philosophy is a cornerstone of the free market economy, these companies were not upholding the spirit of the law. The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission established that the "pump and dump" operators were "not acting in the public interest" and the International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission put them out of business.

In a more recent example, the International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission has received complaints about abuse of the "Accredited Investor" exemption.

Generally, a prospectus must be issued before a registered representative can sell shares to the public, however there are exemptions to these requirements. The exemption allows a company to sell to qualifying investors without a prospectus.

Some unscrupulous salespeople have persuaded investors who do not meet the criteria to sign a form stating they are accredited, and invest in high-risk ventures.

They do this by suggesting that the government unfairly allows wealthy people to take advantage of the really great investment opportunities. The reality is that the exemption rule is in place to make it easier for small businesses to access capital, and provide protection to investors.

To protect your money:

•Be wary of unsolicited offers received over the Internet or by telephone.

•Check the registration and background of the person or company offering you the investment - you can call the International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission for additional information.

•Never sign documents you have not read, or do not accurately reflect your financial situation. If someone asks you to fill out a form with false information, ask yourself if this is the kind of person you should rely on for

.

Investors Beware of Certain Stock Promotion Practices

Investors Beware of Certain Stock Promotion Practices

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission is warning investors to beware of promoters who advise them to make misrepresentations about their financial status in order to qualify to invest in high risk exempt market securities. The concerns stem from increasing evidence of these practices in the market.

In a typical scenario, a potential investor receives a telephone call, often from a stock promoter or salesperson that they do not know. Investors should be particularly wary of investment advice given by total strangers, particularly when the advice comes in a "cold call" or over the Internet. The promoter may recommend a particular stock, and note that the investment is limited to accredited investors but that this is a technical requirement, and that an exception will be made for this investor. This advice would see the investor lie about their financial situation to qualify to buy the securities.

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission advice to break the law should be a further red flag for the potential investor - after all, if the promoter is recommending that one rule be broken, what assurance does the investor have that other rules will not also be broken, resulting in financial loss?

The reasoning behind this exemption is that if you meet these criteria, you can afford professional advice and can afford to take on a higher risk with your investment activities. If you do not meet the criteria, the investment likely carries more risk than you can afford.

Often, the promoter also makes statements about the stock's likelihood to make investors rich, either because its value is destined to increase dramatically or because it is about to be listed on a stock exchange. Those statements are further violations of the Securities Act.

Pump and Dump and Stock Swap Scam

Pump and Dump and Stock Swap Scam

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission is warning investors of a two-stage stock scam involving worthless stock, "swaps" and salespeople claiming to represent legitimate companies.

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission has received complaints concerning this scam from various investors.

Stage One: The Pump and Dump

In a typical "pump and dump" scheme, an investor is approached by a brokerage house's salesperson, and offered an incredible deal on a stock described as a once-in-a-lifetime investment.

The stock is likely to be a US-based, over-the-counter, smaller company stock worth fractions of a cent. The brokerage house, while holding a large block of the stock, actively promotes the stock so that the price is driven significantly upward.

Once a sufficient number of investors have overpaid for the stock, the brokerage house ceases to support the market for the stock and the value of the stock falls dramatically, usually to less than one cent per share.

The "brokerage house" promptly closes up shop, and the victim is left holding worthless stock for which there is apparently no demand.

Stage Two: The Stock Swap

Still holding worthless stock, the investor is approached by someone posing as a sales representative of a legitimate-sounding company. It is important to note that the company named was not involved in the scam. The scam artist simply used the name of a legitimate company to make his pitch believable.

The sales representative told the victim that he represented a group of clients trying to acquire stocks that had recently declined, in order to receive tax cuts. The sales representative proposed that the victim swap the worthless stock for recognized blue chip stock held by the tax-burdened clients.

For the purposes of the swap the victim's stocks would be valued at the price(s) that the victim paid.

Since the blue chip stock was priced higher than the value of the victim's stock, the victim was required to pay the difference in the value of the stocks. In one case, a victim submitted US$ 15,000 to an international bank where the suspect held an account. The victim did not actually receive the blue chip stock, but instead was swindled a second time.

Approach Mini-Tenders with Caution

Approach Mini-Tenders with Caution

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission, concerned that investors might be selling stock at below-market price based on misleading information, reminds investors to carefully review any offer for their shares. Firms or individuals who seek to buy shares at below-market price should warn shareholders that the offer price is below the market price and clearly calculate the final price to be paid for the shares. In addition, they should describe investors' right to withdraw from the offer, known as a mini-tender.

How do mini-tenders work?

Shareholders receive an offer for their shares, usually at a price that is much lower than the market price of the shares. The mini-tender offer or tries to buy less than 20% of the target company's shares so they don't have to file documents with the securities commissions, or communicate with shareholders. They profit by selling the shares on the open market at a higher price.

Mini-tenders should not be confused with take-over bids, which involve larger numbers of shares. Once you agree to a mini-tender you are normally locked into the deal, but in a take-over bid you may be able to change your mind. Another difference between mini-tenders and take-over bids is that the target company doesn't need to tell its shareholders about the mini-tender offer. In a take-over bid the company must notify all shareholders.

What are the risks?

You may misunderstand the offer and feel pressured to sell the shares at the offer price, or not realize that the offer price is lower than what you could get by selling the shares on the open market. Offer or that rely on such misunderstandings may be violating the anti-fraud provisions of federal securities laws. The offer or can terminate its offer at any time, delay payment for the shares, and change the offer. They may decide not to buy the shares at the last minute. Mini-tenders usually benefit the offer or at the expense of investors.

Why would anyone participate in a mini-tender?

You might participate to avoid brokerage commissions that would make selling the shares very costly, such as when you sell a small number of shares, or when the shares are hard to sell. Check with your adviser to see if a mini-tender is in your best interests.

Some tips:

•Understand how it works, before you sign. Is the offer a mini-tender or a take-over bid?

•Check the market price of your shares. Compare the market price with the offer price.

•Don't give in to high pressure sales tactics. Research the offer and the current value of your shares.

Be on the Alert for Boiler Room Tactics

Be on the Alert for Boiler Room Tactics

If you get an unsolicited telephone call about an investment opportunity, be alert to the signs of fraud, warns the International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission. You might be a target of a boiler room operation. Boiler room operations wear many disguises, and they are once again rearing their ugly head in. Boiler room operators hope to give you a false sense of security with promises of quick profits - but the only ones that profit are the scam artists, at your expense.

They may be located in the financial district near reputable firms, but their address may be nothing more than a rented space tucked away from the public eye. Rarely, if ever, are the offers they peddle to your benefit. Why would a complete stranger call to offer you a no-risk, high-return investment? It is too good to be true.

To gain your trust, the salesperson may boast of a business idea that sounds probable - perhaps a company in the medical industry with a new technological breakthrough for detecting cancer. The pitch is that with your investment, the company could go public on the stock exchange and make you more money. The scam artist may also try to play on your sympathies - he or she may know that cancer has taken the life of someone dear to you. Or perhaps they know that you are a busy professional, with extra income to invest, and little time to do your own research. Regardless of the background, the investment opportunity will be sold on the promise of quick profits.

If the offer is really such a great deal, there should be no need for a broker to cold call strangers to promote it. Ask yourself why they are calling you.

To avoid becoming a victim of a boiler room, watch out for:

•Unsolicited phone calls. Don't be afraid to tell a salesperson not to call again, or simply hang up.

•High pressure sales tactics and repeat callers. Take the time to research any investment opportunity and get a second opinion.

•Promises of high returns with no risk. Any investment that offers returns higher than the bank rate has risk. If you invest in a high-risk investment, you must be financially prepared to lose your money.

•Setups. With the first call, the scam artist may only try to gain your trust by offering information about the company and their alleged success. This is a setup for future calls, when you will be pressured to buy.

•Unregistered salespersons. Check the registration of the person offering you the investment by contacting the International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission.

The Pitfalls of Ponzi Schemes

The Pitfalls of Ponzi Schemes

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission is warning investors to steer clear of Ponzi-style investment schemes; many con artists use this process to get your money.

The first known Ponzi scheme was operated by Carl Ponzi himself. In 1920's Boston, Ponzi collected $9.8 million from 10,550 investors, including 75% of the Boston Police force. Ponzi then delivered $7.8 million to his investors as "return" on their investments and spent the rest of the money. Ponzi's original investors were please with their "returns" that they happily helped him find more investors. The Ponzi scheme thrived until the media took notice; Carl Ponzi was finally arrested and ended up in bankruptcy court. In the end everyone lost money; the bankruptcy trustee sued the individuals who made gains from the Ponzi scheme so Carl Ponzi's debts could be paid to his creditors.

How did Ponzi lure so many people into his scheme? Investors were attracted to Ponzi's plan because he guaranteed high returns over a short period of time - profits of 50% every 45 days. Unfortunately, these returns were paid from the investors' own money and the contributions of other investors. The essence of the Ponzi scheme is that money is ‘borrowed from Peter to pay Paul.'

Today's Ponzi schemes look like real investment opportunities. These schemes work well because:

•Investors receive "interest" checks (which are really the return of their own money), and they encourage their friends and family to invest;

•Investors regularly receive account statements that show profits (which are not real);

•Investors rarely research the investment, or check the background of the person offering the investment.

•The Ponzi operator often convinces investors to put their ‘profits' back into the Ponzi; ultimately they lose their original investment plus any profits they may have earned. Ponzi schemes spread by word of mouth. As more people hear of the apparently profitable investment, more investors want to get in on it. Early investors are paid out of money from new investors, at times for many years until the Ponzi collapses. The Ponzi scheme comes to an end when the number of new investors inevitably falls. With fewer new investors, there is no new money to pay the returns. If you lose your money to a Ponzi scheme, chances are you will not get your money back.

Although a Ponzi scheme can be difficult to spot, the following tips will help you protect your money from con artists:

•Watch out for investment promotions that offer guaranteed high returns and low risk. If an investment has a high return, you are taking a large risk with your money.

•Check the registration of the investment, and the person or company offering it. Many Ponzi operators are not registered to sell securities, nor is the investment itself registered.

Is it Independent Research or Paid Promotion?

Is it Independent Research or Paid Promotion.

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission is encouraging the public to consider the difference between marketing publications and investment advice. Unsolicited investment newsletters are commonly sent out by fax and e-mail by firms that are paid to promote investments. Before you act on the material, consider that it may not give you a balanced picture.

Promotional Language:

•Headings such as "Hot Tip" and "Special Alert" will attract your attention to information that seems authoritative and professional, but may not provide the whole story.

•Statements like "the potential to make our readers wealthier than they ever imagined"- potential is not a guarantee.

•Claims that other smart investors are already following this advice - in the hopes that you will follow the crowd.

What you should watch out for:

•Fine print that contradicts what's promised in the newsletter. Look for statements like "The reader assumes all risk as to the accuracy and the use of this document."

•Free stock research that you didn't ask for. Chances are that someone who doesn't know anything about you or your investment objectives doesn't have your best interests in mind.

•Promotions for companies that are not listed on a stock exchange. These companies may be subject to less regulation and have fewer disclosure requirements - which means higher risk.

•References to current events like commodity shortages and global terrorism to create a sense of urgency. These are high-pressure sales tactics.


Jack M. Fairchild jun 2 16, 04:45
0 0

Resources at International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission

Borrowing to Invest: Understanding Leverage

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission created this guide to help you understand how leverage is used in investing. It is intended as an overview of borrowing to invest. Before you invest with borrowed money, make sure you understand the risks of using a leverage strategy in your portfolio.

What is Leverage?

Leveraged investing is defined as borrowing money to finance an investment. You are familiar with the concept of leverage if you've ever:

•Borrowed money to make additional contributions
•Used a credit line for investing
•Bought securities on margin from an investment dealer
Both individuals and companies use leverage as an investment strategy; a company with a lot of debt is considered highly leveraged. Leverage can be an effective way to boost returns in your investment portfolio, but you should also understand the potential consequences of borrowing to invest.

Leverage magnifies your losses as well as your gains, and you must be able to withstand those losses if you are going to use borrowed money to invest. The leveraged investment should be suitable to your investment goals and objectives and consistent with the "know your client" information that you have provided to your dealer or adviser. It is both your responsibility and your adviser's to ensure that you understand the investment, and are comfortable with the risk level.
Can You Handle the Risk?

Is leverage right for you? Ask yourself these questions:

•Do you understand the risks of borrowing to invest?
•Can you afford to lose the collateral you pledged as security for the loan?
•Do your leveraged investments fit your risk tolerance profile?
•Are you able to comfortably pay back your loan?
•What are the interest and repayment terms of your loan?
•Are you monitoring interest rates and inflation? Do you understand their effects on your return?
•How much money will you lose in your worst-case scenario? Can you afford it?
•Are you aware of the tax consequences that apply to your investment?

Lesson #1: The Secured Investment Loan

John Doe uses $50,000.00 from a bank line of credit to buy stocks. He secures the credit line using his home as collateral. This type of investment is a form of leverage, because John is using borrowed funds to finance his investment in stocks. John hopes that the value of his investment will increase to the point where he earns more from the investment than he is paying toward the interest on the line of credit.

If John's investment decreases in value, he still has to make his monthly line of credit payment at the amount he originally negotiated. If John cannot make his monthly payment, he may have to sell the shares even if they have decreased in value. If the value of the shares does not cover the balance owing, he may be forced to sell his home.

Any asset used as collateral, including your house, can be taken by your creditor to satisfy the debt.

Lesson #2: The Mutual Fund Loan

Larry has $75,000 saved for his retirement, which is five years away. Concerned that his savings will not support his lifestyle, Larry consults with a mutual fund salesperson. He tells Larry that a lender will match the amount of Larry's investment with a $75,000 loan, which he can use to invest in more mutual funds.

According to the salesperson, Larry will easily be able to make the monthly interest payments on the loan by selling a small portion of the mutual funds each month. In this example we assume that fund companies allow 10% of holdings to be sold each year without triggering deferred sales charges.

This strategy will only work if the value of the new mutual funds steadily increases. If the funds decrease, Larry will still have to make the interest payments on the borrowed money. Larry should also realize that the mutual fund salesperson receives a commission check for the initial sale of the funds, and may receive ongoing commission (trailer fees). Larry might also consider whether he wants to go into debt for an investment that can fluctuate in value, considering his approaching retirement.

Investors should always be in a position to be able to pay for investment loans out of cash flow. Closely consider the fees associated with this type of investment. Many investors use leverage in this way to contribute more money and generate a higher tax refund. A common strategy is to use the tax refund to pay off or pay down the loan, decreasing the amount of interest payable.

Advanced Leverage Techniques

Buying on Margin

When you buy securities on margin, you pay for a portion of the value of the securities purchased, and borrow the rest of the money from a registered investment dealer. Under federal securities laws, your investment dealer can only loan you a set of percentage of the value of your investment, known as the maximum loan value. The maximum loan value depends with the type of securities you are buying.

What Are the Risks of Borrowing on Margin?

If the value of your loan exceeds the allowed loan value, the dealer makes a margin call, requesting that you deposit more money into your account to protect the loan. If you cannot meet the margin call, the dealer can sell some or all of your investment, even at a loss, to make up the shortfall.

In times of market decline, margin borrowing can be a quick way to lose money. While you can buy more securities using margin than you could without a loan, you could lose more than what you paid for the investment. You should be prepared to deposit more money on short notice, in order to meet margin requirements in a fluctuating market.

Short Selling

Short selling is a leveraging strategy that lets you take advantage of market declines. If you think the price of a security is going to drop, you can borrow shares of that security from your investment dealer and sell them at the current high price. If the share price falls, you can purchase the shares at the lower price on the open market and "return" the borrowed shares to your dealer. You profit by selling shares at the higher price, and buying at the lower price.

What are the Risks of Short Selling?

You are speculating that the security value will fall, so you can lose money if the value rises instead. Margin requirements for short selling are much higher than typical margin borrowing, because of the risk of using borrowed shares.

When borrowing on margin, understand what your obligations are, and ensure that you can meet those obligations. If you cannot pay the interest or meet a margin call on your account, the investment dealer has the right to sell your securities, even at a loss. It is not a good idea to use short selling unless your cash flow can easily cover potential losses.

How to Buy and Sell Stocks

Okay, so you've decided you want to try investing in the stock market, but how do you actually go about buying and selling stocks?

Well, there are two main ways you can go about trading stocks. The first to work with a financial adviser or salesperson that is registered with the International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission. Based on his training, knowledge of the various available stocks, and the quality of research his firm and other firms may do on companies, the salesperson should be able to recommend stocks that meet your objectives. He must work for a company that is also registered as an investment dealer and the firm must also be registered.

The second method is to go directly to a company registered as an investment dealer instead of going to a registered salesperson for advice first. Many people have self-directed accounts at discount brokerages and manage their own portfolios. But you need to be pretty savvy to be able to sift through all the information that's available out there on various investments and then decide where to invest your money.

Whether you deal with a salesperson at a dealer, or buy and sell online or over the phone, there are some key decisions you have to make with respect to making your trade orders.

The price of stocks and bonds can change from second to second throughout the day, depending on how much investors are willing to pay for them. Both the amounts you pay for them and make back when you sell later on can depend on how quickly your order is processed, or what instructions you give your dealer to handle your order.

Market Orders and Limit Orders

Placing a "market" order gives your dealer permission to buy or sell stocks for you at whatever the price for the stock is at the time.

On the other hand, placing a "limit" order gives you more control over the price your salesperson or dealer buys or sells at, but your order may not be filled right away.

A limit order allows you to set a price limit for the stock your salesperson is trying to buy or sell for you. You will not end up paying more than the limit. If you're selling some of your stock, the order will go through at or above the price you set, so you'll never end up selling your stock for less than you expected. If the price of the stock is not within your ‘limit order,' you may not end up buying or selling the stock at all.

Types of Limit Orders

You can increase your chances of the order going through by placing a certain type of limit order. For example, a "day" order can be placed, but is only good for the day the order is entered. When an "open" order is placed, it is good for a maximum of 30 days, or a GTC (good till cancelled) order can be placed, and is good until it is cancelled by you.

Orders will only be processed if you either have money in your brokerage account, or have arranged for a margin account which allows you to borrow money from the dealer for part of your investments.

If you buy a stock, the value of your investment will increase or decrease depending on a variety of factors that can affect the price of the stock, including the wellbeing of the company, the economy, and the amount of stock available to be traded.

Investing and the Internet - Be Alert to Signs of Fraud

The internet can be an invaluable tool for investors and offers a wealth of information about financial markets and personal investing. News services, government agencies, stock exchanges, mutual fund companies, securities and financial advisers have established literally hundreds of websites that provide up-to-date information on investing and products. With just a few keystrokes, an investor with a computer and modem can have access to more educational materials and current market data than ever before.

Investors who venture into the online world, however, should keep in mind that the power of the Internet is also being exploited by investment con artists and fast-buck operators who want nothing more than to separate you from your hard earned money.
The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission has mounted important new programs to stop cyber-fraud, but there are still many places on the Internet for swindlers to set up shop. This does not mean that cyberspace should be avoided, but it does mean that investors should be alert to improper practices such as:

Unregistered Trading

The law requires that people in the business of trading or advising in securities be registered or licensed in the state or territory in which they do business. Increasingly, dealers from abroad are advertising their services over the Internet and the World Wide Web and are accepting clients and conducting business in jurisdictions where they are not registered.

Online Touts and Promotions

Online bulletin boards, news groups and discussion groups dedicated to investment topics can be effective forums for investors to share ideas about personal finance. Unfortunately, some con artists have used these forums to tout specific securities for their own enrichment. Frequently using aliases, these con artists post messages calculated to spark interest in a security, usually one that is traded on a venture capital or over-the-counter market.

The messages sometimes take the form of testimonials or fake conversations. They often include unsupported share price predictions or 'hot tips' about important news that has not been publicly disclosed. What the messages do not disclose is that the person is hyping the security only for personal gain.

Misrepresentations

Information that appears on a computer is not necessarily true. Regulators are receiving an increasing number of complaints about misrepresentations in investment information distributed through the internet or by email.

Often the misinformation has been posted anonymously or through an alias, making it difficult to determine its origin. In other cases, the mis-statements are made by companies or financial advisers who do not take the same care in preparing electronic communications as they would in preparing an official filing for regulators.

Manipulation

Through anonymous online touts and misrepresentations, cyber-schemers have used the internet to help them artificially run-up the price of thinly traded securities.

•Unwary investors read about hot tips, huge potential profits and limited risk, but they aren't told that the vast majority of shares are held by a small group of people who are behind the hype and promotion.
•As investors rush to the market to 'get in on the ground floor,' the inside group cashes in, selling its cheap shares into the rising market.
•When the hype-fueled share price falters, the promoters may blame unnamed short sellers and may inflict even more damage on victims by urging them to 'average down' by buying additional shares as the price drops.
•The security often disappears from sight soon after, and investigators are left to post plaintive messages: "Whatever happened to Company X?" These manipulative schemes have been played out for decades, but the internet makes it easier for fraudsters to reach a wide audience of unsuspecting investors.

Illegal Distributions

The power of the internet has tempted many new ventures to try to sell securities to the public illegally. The general rule is that securities can be distributed to the public only after the regulators have vetted the company's. Even then, the securities must be distributed through a registered dealer.

New schemes are being uncovered regularly in which companies are advertising and selling securities to the public via the Internet without having filed a prospectus and without fulfilling the legal requirement to provide investors with detailed information about the company and its securities.

Protecting Yourself Against Online Fraud

Some of the abusive investment schemes in cyberspace are indistinguishable from those that have been used elsewhere for decades. The online world, however, represents an enormous advance in the ability of con artists to victimize the unwary.

Some simple precautions can keep you from becoming a victim.

Don't believe everything you read.

•Evaluate the information you get online in the same way that you would a whispered hot tip from a stranger.
•Exercise healthy skepticism and remember how easy it is for people to disguise their identities online.
•Keep in mind that investment schemers will often talk up projects in remote corners of the globe that can't be easily checked out, or use endless technical jargon that can only be understood by experts Don't assume you know whom you are talking to.
•Bulletin boards and discussion group participants may not be who they say they are.
•Those who recommend specific securities may have not investment qualifications and may well have ulterior motives.

Don't assume that your online service provider polices its investment bulletin boards.

•Most don't.
•The volume of postings often swamps the ones that try.
•Often there is nothing to stop a con-artist from posting one or 100 pitches for a swindle Don't buy thinly traded, little known securities on the basis of online information.
•These are the securities most susceptible to manipulation.
•Unlike blue-chip stocks, the price of thinly traded, low priced shares can be moved significantly through relatively small strategic trades, this is why online hype usually concerns little known junior companies.
•Always take the time to do your own research based on reputable information sources Don't get suckered by claims made about 'inside information'.
•Investment bulletin boards and discussion groups are riddled with supposed hot tips that are sure to send some stock soaring in value
•Ask yourself, "If this is such great news, why are they telling me?"
•These hot tips are seldom, if ever, true.
•Even if they are true, trading on inside information is illegal.

Be on the lookout for conflicts of interest.

•Some of the people who analyze and recommend securities online are being paid by the company whose shares they are recommending. Some disclose this fact, while others make no mention of their conflicts of interest.
•Make sure you know why someone is enthusiastic about an investment opportunity Make sure that the security has been qualified for sale and is being sold by a person properly registered with your securities regulator.
•Securities regulations designed to protect investors from fraud and abuse do apply in cyberspace.
•The failure of companies, dealers or advisers to comply with regulations is often a red flag highlighting a potential investment scam.
•Your securities regulator can tell you whether an individual or company is registered to trade or advice in your area and whether the company selling the securities has filed a prospectus.

Ten Tips to Keeping Track of Your Investments

With our busy lives, it's often difficult to keep track of our investments. You may find that you only review them once a year. However, it's important that you keep on top of your finances and review on a regular basis. Here are some tips to help you.

1.      Read and keep all your financial documents.

This includes your account statements and prospectuses. These contain important information about your investments, any associated risks and your returns. Many investors are now offered simplified prospectuses that are easier to read and understand.

2.     Check your trade confirmations against your account statements, and report any discrepancies.

Look for any unapproved transactions or fees. It's important that you catch and resolve any errors immediately. This is much better than having to resolve things months down the road.

3.     If you don't receive regular account statements, follow up immediately.

This is often the first sign that you are the victim of identity theft. Con artists who steal your mail get lots of information about you, and are then able to apply for credit in your name. If you suddenly stop receiving your regular statements, report it immediately.

4.     When you speak with your adviser, take notes.

You should keep records of all your conversations, including your instructions and your adviser's advice.

5.     Ask questions about your investments.

If you don't understand something, speak up. Verify the information with a credible source.

6.     Even if you don't trade online, consider getting Internet access to your account.

Internet access allows you to review your account whenever you want. It's much easier to monitor your account if you can check it online at anytime. Periodically check the balance of your portfolio and bank account. This allows you to track your returns and enables you to catch problems early on.

7.      Meet with your adviser and visit the firm.

While many transactions can be made over the phone, it's important to meet with your adviser at least once. This helps you develop a relationship and understand their investment philosophy. Check out the firm and ensure you feel comfortable having them handle your account.

8.     Conduct independent research on your investments.

Read financial statements, and learn about the company's business risks before you invest.

9.     Periodically review your portfolio.

Make sure it matches your current investment objectives. Most investors find that their objectives change over time. Ensure that your adviser understands your current financial situation and has developed an appropriate plan.

10. Check registration by calling your securities regulator

Anyone selling securities or providing advice on securities has to be registered with a regulator. Find out if they are registered, what they are registered to sell, and if there are terms and conditions attached with their registration.

Are Your Money Styles a Match?

For couples planning their wedding, financial considerations don't end once the caterer's been paid. In fact, deciding on a wedding budget is just the first of many important financial decisions you will make together. To build a strong financial future, you must first understand your own individual approach to money management and then compromise to determine your approach as a couple.

Following are the money styles

The Savvy Saver

The only thing you can recall more quickly than your phone number is your bank balance. You know your budget and you stick to it. You understand that borrowing is an important and useful tool if it is managed carefully. You have goals for the future and a plan to get there. Saving is a top priority for you. You beef up your savings before you splurge on a cute pair of shoes or a cool gadget for your car. You've got top-notch financial habits that will put you in excellent shape for the future. Just remember that it's OK to splurge now and then! Being financially prudent to ensure a prosperous tomorrow doesn't have to come at the expense of those little luxuries that keep you happy today.

Sometimes Savvy, Sometimes Super Shopper

You approach financial issues like a restaurant menu. A little voice tells you that you should have the 'side salad' instead of the 'baked potato with sour cream.' Sometimes you listen, sometimes you don't. You often know what you should be doing with your finances, and at times you are quite disciplined about budgeting and saving, but you can also let it slide when the call of the mall becomes too enticing. You have some idea of your expenses, and know how much money you should be setting aside for any big, upcoming expenses, such as a wedding or a first house. You should write out a manageable budget and find a way to stick to it. The trick for you will be identifying the things that have knocked you off course in the past and develop a proactive plan, like setting aside a certain amount of fun money each week to save towards the splurge items.

"The next round's on me!"

Tax-efficient investing, portfolio diversification, asset allocation - all incredibly boring topics to you; they just get in the way of more important subjects that occupy your day. Your budgeting plan doesn't go beyond the next one or two paychecks. You've felt the pinch of debt, most likely to do with your credit cards. You need to take a careful look at your finances and develop a long-term budget. Reviewing your plan with a financial adviser makes good sense. Having never stuck to a budget in the past, you will need to work hard at developing some discipline. It would be a wise move to set up automatic withdrawals (weekly or monthly) for your savings to make it easier to stick with your plan.

What's Next?

Not surprising, most couples have slightly different takes on life, and money is no different. You don't have to have the same money style as your spouse. But, it's important for you to recognize the differences and find ways to compromise.

Seeking the help of a financial adviser can be useful for couples with similar or very different money styles. Money is an emotional issue and an adviser can offer an impartial viewpoint that is based on financial expertise - not family politics. If you've already found an adviser and have taken steps to discuss your future finances, good for you! Best wishes for a long and happy future together!

Penny Stocks

Penny stocks are low-priced stocks that typically start out at less than one dollar per share. They are sold on the premise of significant potential growth.

Very often, companies issuing penny stocks are new to the market. They may not have been in business long enough to establish a proven track record or credible financial history. Another characteristic may be an inexperienced management team. These factors undermine market reception and the ease with which penny stocks can be traded.

Anyone investing in penny stocks should be aware that - when they may want to sell his or her stock - a market may not exist. Penny stocks are 'priced low' for a reason.

Despite their bargain basement price, penny stocks are high risk. Unless you have the financial resources to withstand the loss of your initial investment and target returns, penny stocks are not for you.

Get the Facts

Why is it so important to get the facts?

Penny stocks are extremely vulnerable to manipulation. Promoters intent on misleading or defrauding investors are counting on you not to do your homework.

A common scam is the "pump and dump." In this situation, a promoter accumulates an inventory of penny stocks. Using high-pressure sales techniques, the stock is 'pitched' to clients. Clients (or investors) are found by any means in the interest of making a market. In the course of events, the price of the penny stock will rise (possibly to several dollars per share). As long as the promoter is able to locate new investors or encourage current clients to increase his or her holdings at a higher price, the scam continues. All the while, the promoter profits. When the scam has run its course, the stock becomes illiquid and the price falls. Hapless investors are left holding the now-worthless stock.

Where to Go for Information

Unscrupulous promoters are inventive and persistent. Using any means possible, they may spread false information. It pays to double-check their claims through other sources.

Corporate information comes in many forms including:

•Annual and quarterly reports
•Financial statements
•Prospectuses

These can be obtained from the public library system, your dealer or adviser, and stock exchanges.

Stock exchanges have minimum listing requirements that a company must meet before its securities can be traded on that exchange. Among other things, these requirements relate to a company's finances, management, and share ownership. If a company is not able to meet these minimum requirements, they may trade on the over-the-counter market. The over-the-counter markets consist of a network of dealers who trade among each other either on behalf of individual investors or themselves.

The Changing Markets

Traditionally, penny stocks trade on junior exchanges or over-the-counter markets. Investors benefit from a well regulated, fair and accessible market with enhanced protection through uniform regulatory standards, consistent enforcement, and improved market information.

How Will I Recognize a Penny Stock Scam?

There are a few tell-tale signs:

Unsolicited telephone calls. Be skeptical of an unknown salesperson calling to offer you "a fantastic investment opportunity.
Promises of a great rate of return. No dealer or adviser can guarantee an exceptional rate of return, and the law prohibits promises of such future returns.
High-pressure sales tactics. Do not be pressured into making hasty investment decisions.
Claims of little or no risk. If the projected rate of return is high, the associated risk is likely to be high as well.
Offers to discount commissions. Commissions that are charged for sales of penny stocks are often at rates higher than normal.
Claims of "inside" information. It is illegal to trade on the basis of confidential or "inside" information. The penalties of insider trading can be severe.
Reluctance to provide shareholder information. A salesperson should not hesitate to provide you with the information, which may include a prospectus that is necessary for you to make an informed decision.

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission has pursued and shut down long-standing securities firms for conducting "pump and dump" scams. Whether it's a cold call or a well-known firm in the community, gets an independent opinion, or do your own research. The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission is at the forefront of investor protection but you can make a difference by understanding how the market works.


Jack M. Fairchild jun 2 16, 04:40
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What Should I Invest In?

What Should I Invest In?

As you may have noticed, there are several categories of investments, and many of those categories have thousands of choices within them. So finding the right ones for you isn't a trivial matter.

The single greatest factor, by far, in growing your long-term wealth is the rate of return you get on your investment. There are times, though, when you may need to park your money someplace for a short time, even though you won't get very good returns. Here is a summary of the most common short-term savings vehicles:

Short-term savings vehicles

  • Savings account: Often the first banking product people use, savings accounts earn a small amount in interest, so they're a little better than that dusty piggy bank on the dresser.
  • Money market funds: These are a specialized type of mutual fund that invests in extremely short-term bonds. Unlike most mutual funds, shares in a money market fund are designed to be worth $1 at all times. Money market funds usually pay better interest rates than a conventional savings account does, but you'll earn less than what you could get in certificates of deposit.
  • Certificate of deposit (CD): This is a specialized deposit you make at a bank or other financial institution. The interest rate on CDs is usually about the same as that of short- or intermediate-term bonds, depending on the duration of the CD. Interest is paid at regular intervals until the CD matures, at which point you get the money you originally deposited plus the accumulated interest payments. CDs through banks are usually insured up to $100,000.

Fools are partial to investing in stocks, as opposed to other long-term investing vehicles, because stocks have historically offered the highest return on our money. Here are the most common long-term investing vehicles:

Long-term investing vehicles

  • Bonds: Bonds come in various forms. They're known as "fixed-income" securities because the amount of income the bond generates each year is "fixed," or set, when the bond is sold. From an investor's point of view, bonds are similar to CDs, except that the government or corporations issue them, instead of banks.
  • Stocks: Stocks are a way for individuals to own parts of businesses. A share of stock represents a proportional share of ownership in a company. As the value of the company changes, the value of the share in that company rises and falls.
  • Mutual funds: Mutual funds are a way for investors to pool their money to buy stocks, bonds, or anything else the fund manager decides is worthwhile. Instead of managing your money yourself, you turn over the responsibility of managing that money to a professional. Unfortunately, the vast majority of such "professionals" tend to underperform the market indexes.

Retirement plans

A number of special plans are designed to create retirement savings, and many of these plans allow you to deposit money directly from your paycheck before taxes are taken out. Employers occasionally will match the amount (or a percentage of that amount) you have withheld from your paycheck up to a certain percentage of your salary. Some of these plans let you withdraw money early without a penalty if you want to buy a home or pay for education. If early withdrawals are not permitted, you may be able to borrow money from the account, or take out low-interest secured loans with your retirement savings as collateral. Rates of return vary on these plans, depending on what you invest in, since you can invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs, or any combination.

  • Individual retirement account (IRA): This is one of a group of plans that allow you to put some of your income into a tax-deferred retirement fund -- you won't pay taxes until you withdraw your funds. Withdrawals are taxed at regular income-tax rates, not at the lower capital-gains rates. All IRAs are specialized accounts (not investments) that allow the account holder to invest the money however he or she likes. If you qualify, some or all of your IRA contribution may be tax-deductible.
  • Roth IRA: This retirement account differs from the conventional IRA in that it provides no tax deduction up front on contributions. Instead, it offers total exemption from federal taxes when you cash out to pay for retirement or a first home. A Roth can also be used for certain other expenses, such as education or unreimbursed medical expenses, without incurring a penalty -- although any earnings that are withdrawn are subject to income taxes unless you are more than 59 ½ years old. Not all taxpayers are eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA. You may be able to qualify if you participate in corporate retirement plans and don't qualify for deductible contributions to the conventional IRA.
  • 401(k): A retirement savings vehicle that employers offer. It's named for the section of the Internal Revenue Code where it's covered. Given the tax advantages and the possibility of corporate matching -- those cases when your employer matches part of your contribution -- the 401(k) is well worth considering.
  • 403(b): The nonprofit version of a 401(k) plan. Local and state governments offer a 457 plan.
  • Keogh: A special type of IRA that doubles as a pension plan for a self-employed person, who can put aside significantly more than the contributions allowed for an IRA.
  • Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan: A special kind of Keogh-individual retirement account. SEPs were created so that small businesses could set up retirement plans that were a little easier to administer than normal pension plans are. Both employees and the employer can contribute to a SEP.

Investing in stocks

It's worth taking a closer look at stocks, because historically, they've had much better returns than bonds and other investments. Essentially, stock lets you own a part of a business. Dating back to the Dutch mutual stock corporations of the 16th century, the modern stock market exists as a way for entrepreneurs to finance businesses using money collected from investors. In return for ponying up the dough to finance the company, the investor becomes a part-owner of the company. That ownership is represented by stock -- specialized financial "securities," or financial instruments -- that are "secured" by a claim on the assets and profits of a company.

Common stock

Common stock is aptly named -- it's the most common form of stock an investor will encounter. This is an ideal investment vehicle for individuals, because anyone can take part; there are absolutely no restrictions on who can purchase common stock -- the young, the old, the savvy, the reckless. Common stock is more than just a piece of paper; it represents a proportional share of ownership in a company -- a stake in a real, living, breathing business. By owning stock -- the most amazing wealth-creation vehicle ever conceived (except for inheriting money from a relative you've never heard of) -- you are a part-owner of a business.

Shareholders "own" a part of the assets of the company and part of the stream of cash those assets generate. As the company acquires more assets and the stream of cash it generates gets larger, the value of the business increases. This increase in the value of the business is what drives up the value of the stock in that business.

Because they own a part of the business, shareholders get a vote to elect the board of directors. The board is a group of individuals who oversee major decisions the company makes. They tend to wield a lot of power in corporate America. Boards decide whether a company will invest in itself, buy other companies, pay a dividend, or repurchase stock. Top company management will give some advice, but the board makes the final decision. The board even has the power to hire and fire those managers.

As with most things in life, the potential reward from owning stock in a growing business has some possible pitfalls. Shareholders also get a full share of the risk inherent in operating the business. If things go bad, their shares of stock may decrease in value. They could even end up being worthless if the company goes bankrupt.

Different classes of stock

Occasionally, companies find it necessary to concentrate the voting power of a company into a specific class of stock, in which certain set of people own the majority of shares. For instance, if a family business needs to raise money by selling equity, sometimes they will create a second class of stock that they control and has, say, 10 votes per share of stock, while they sell another class of stock that only has one vote per share to others.

Does this sound like a bad deal? Many investors believe it is, and they routinely avoid companies with multiple classes of voting stock. This kind of structure is most common in media companies and has been around only since 1987.

When there is more than one class of stock, they are often designated as Class A or Class B shares.

Next steps

We hope this hasn't been the most painful thing you've had to read this week. You're now conversant enough in stock market matters to impress those who are very easily impressed. Although knowing the terms and general workings of the stock market is just the first step in your investing career, it's useful to know that each share of stock represents a proportional share of a business, and that the potential rewards are great, but that stocks are also riskier than putting money in the bank.


Jack M. Fairchild sep 8 16, 13:44
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How Do I Invest?

You're ready to get started -- what now?

Once you've figured out why you should invest, the next step is learning how. We'll break that question into two parts. First, we'll talk about how you can structure your financial life to make it possible to invest. Then, we'll delve into the mechanics of investing, such as opening a brokerage or mutual fund account.

What is investing?

Any time you invest, you're devoting your own time, resources, or effort to achieve a greater goal. You can invest your weekends in a good cause, invest your intelligence in your job, or invest your time in a relationship. Just as you undertake each of these expecting good results, you invest your money in a stock, bond, or mutual fund because you think its value will appreciate over time.

Investing money involves putting that money into some form of "security" -- a fancy word for anything that is "secured" by other assets. Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and certificates of deposit are all types of securities.

As with anything else, there are many different approaches to investing -- some of which you've probably seen on late-night TV. A well-dressed, wildly positive (though somewhat whiny) young man sits in front of lazily waving palm fronds, shaking his head about how incredibly easy it is to amass vast wealth -- in no time at all! Well, hey! That sounds fine! But if it were so easy, wouldn't everyone who saw the same pitch be rich? And how come you always have to send in money to learn those wealth-building secrets?

We suggest you take the $25 you'd spend on the hardcover EZ Secrets to Untold Billions book and the $500 you would shell out for the EZ Seminar, and invest it yourself -- after you've learned the basics here.

First, douse your debt

After learning why investing is a smart thing to do, you're probably itching to take the next step. You want to drop everything and start investing right now. But hold on! Would you start running a marathon without first stretching? Would you pour syrup on the plate before the pancakes are done? Having dazzled you with the power of compounded returns, we want to make sure that same principle's not working against you. Before you start investing, you've got to get rid of your high-interest debt.

The very same principle of compounding that helps your investments grow can quickly transform a dollar of debt into a few hundred dollars. Does it make sense to try to save money even as your debts are multiplying like bunnies? No way. Although some kinds of debt may be low-interest or tax-advantageous (such as your mortgage), you'll want to free yourself from the high-interest stuff before you begin to invest.

Every dollar you can put toward investing will work for you. And every dollar of yours kept out of the pockets of financial professionals or full-service brokers is also creating value for you.

Pay yourself first

To become a successful investor, make investing a part of your daily life. That's not as great a stretch as it may sound. After all, you make decisions that affect your finances every day, whether you're ordering a $7 glass of wine with dinner or getting a home equity loan to pay down credit card debt.

We're not suggesting that you obsess over every penny you throw into a wishing well. (Please don't embarrass your mother by diving in after it.) If you pay yourself first, you won't have to.

You already pay the companies behind your credit card, gas, water, electric, cable, and phone bills every month, right? Why not add yourself to the list? Heck, put yourself right at the top. Set aside a chunk of money to save or invest when you first get your paycheck, and you can happily forget about it for the rest of the month.

The Motley Fool recommends that you save as much as possible; 10% of your annual income (total, not take-home) is a good goal. Depending on your obligations, you may be able to save more or less. The more you save, the more wealth you create -- but anything is better than nothing. Even a few dollars saved now will be worth more than lots of dollars saved later.

With online banking and brokerage services, it's easier than ever to set up automatic monthly transfers between your checking account and a savings account or investing vehicle of your choice. You'll be surprised how easy it is to live on a little less money each month -- in fact, you probably won't even notice the difference.

Don't hesitate to be flexible about your savings. If you find yourself truly pinched for pennies once all the bills are paid, perhaps you're paying yourself too much. Perhaps you're not yet in a position to start paying yourself at all. That's perfectly OK -- but as soon as you can feasibly start saving, jump right in! The earlier you start, the better.

Active and passive strategies

The two main methods of investing in stocks are called active and passive management, and the difference between them has nothing to do with how much time you spend on the couch (or the exercise bike). Active investors (or their brokers or fund managers) pick their own stocks, bonds, and other investments. Passive investors let their holdings follow an index created by some third party.

When most people talk about stock investing, they mean active investing. It may sound like the superior strategy, but active investing isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Over the long haul, most actively managed stock mutual funds have underperformed the S&P 500 Index, the most popular and prominent benchmark for index funds.

In that light, you can understand why some people want an alternative to "active" management. Many people who just want a return roughly equal to that of a major stock index prefer passive investing. Beyond the S&P 500, you can find passive investments in many indexes, including the Russell 2000 for small-cap stocks, the Wilshire 5000 for the broad market as a whole, and various international indexes as well.

Investing versus speculating

Right about now, you may be thinking about that brother-in-law who "made a killing" in options. Or maybe you're reminiscing about the Nevada vacation when your one lucky quarter magically drew out 700 more with the pull of a slot-machine lever. Why put your money in slow-and-steady investment vehicles that merely promise double-digit returns, when you could have near-instant riches? With compounding, you have to wait patiently for years for your riches to accumulate. What if you want it all now?

Granted, there's nothing exhilarating about predictability. Matching the performance of the S&P 500 won't make you the life of the party. But neither will the far more common tales about how you lost your savings on some speculative gamble -- nor a recounting of your subsequent adventures in bankruptcy court.

You don't need a card dealer, dour strangers, or Wayne Newton background muzak to gamble. Plenty of stock market gamblers do an admirable job of losing their money on seemingly legitimate pursuits. At The Motley Fool, we believe investors "gamble" every time they commit money to something they don't understand.

Suppose you overhear your best friend's dentist's nanny talking about a company called Huge Fruit at a cocktail party. "This thing is gonna go through the roof in the next few months," she says in a stage whisper. If you call your broker the first thing the next morning to place an order for 100 shares, you've just gambled.

Do you know what Huge Fruit does? Are you familiar with its competition (Heavy Melon)? What were its earnings last quarter? There are a lot of questions you should ask about a "hot" company before you throw your hard-earned cash at it. A little knowledge could help keep you from losing a lot of money.

Remember, every dollar that you speculate with and lose is a dollar that's not working to create long-term wealth for you. Speculation promises to give you everything you want right now, but rarely delivers. In contrast, patience all but guarantees those goals down the road.

Planning and setting goals

Investing is like a long car trip: A lot of planning goes into it. Before you start, you've got to ask yourself:

  • Where are you going? (What are your financial goals?)
  • How long is the trip? (What is your investing "time horizon"?)
  • What should you pack? (What type of investments will you make?)
  • How much gas will you need? (How much money will you need to reach your goals? How much can you devote to a regular investing plan?)
  • Will you need to stop along the way? (Do you have short-term financial needs?)
  • How long do you plan on staying? (Will you need to live off the investment in later years?)

Running out of gas, stopping frequently to visit restrooms, and driving without sleep (this is the last of the travel analogy, we promise) can ruin your trip. So can saving too little money, investing erratically, or doing nothing at all.

Don't let yourself get away with fuzzy answers, either. Investing demands hard numbers -- get used to them. You'll need to pin down exactly how much it'll cost to send a child to college, or how much you'll need to live on in retirement. It can be liberating to see exactly what you need to reach your destination, and that precision helps you stay accountable to yourself along the way.

Don't worry -- you don't have to do all the math yourself.  Online interactive calculators can help you figure your future money needs. The more specific you can be, the more likely you are to set and achieve reasonable goals.

How stock trading works

You've whipped your finances into shape. You've set concrete financial goals. Now you're ready to learn how to start making your investments. If you use a mutual fund, the process is pretty easy: Contact the fund company and ask to open an account. But with stocks, things get a little trickier.

Stocks trade on exchanges. In the U.S., the major exchanges are the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the American Stock Exchange (AMEX), and the Nasdaq Stock Market. While there are differences in the way the various exchanges handle trades, buying and selling shares on any of them involves a similar process.

Exchanges bring together buyers and sellers. The price that buyers are willing to pay for shares is called the "bid," while the price sellers are willing to accept to sell their shares is the "ask" price. The difference between these two prices is called the "spread." Usually, the spread goes into the pockets of the exchange professionals who handle trades.

The amount of spread will vary, depending on the volume of shares traded. For heavily traded stocks, competition will make spreads quite small. Thinly traded stocks may carry a large spread, in order to compensate exchange professionals for the risk they take.

Investors can set their own bid or ask prices, too, by placing orders to sell or buy only at a specific price. (These are called "limit" orders.) Exchange professionals keep a close eye on these "open" orders, executing them when conditions are met, and using them to gauge demand for the stock.

Brokerage accounts are the most common way to buy stocks. You can either use one of the many way-too-expensive full-service (or full-price) brokers, or execute your trades through a discount broker. Learn more about how to pick one in our Broker Center, where you can compare brokers and open an account.

The perils of margin

When you use a brokerage account, you can have a cash account or a margin account. The former lets you trade only with money you actually have. The latter -- and right about now, you should be hearing alarm bells and warning sirens -- lets you purchase stocks with borrowed money. Margin accounts can increase your returns -- but they'll also increase your risk.

Brokers, who have a vested interest in enticing customers to use margin, like to say that such accounts increase your "buying power." But in reality, buying on margin only enhances your "borrowing power." You'll have to pay all that margin money back at some point -- forget that at your peril.

Brokers make a good part of their money by collecting interest on margin loans. And since margin gives investors more (borrowed) money with which to buy stocks, it generates greater commission fees for those same brokers. The broker has total control over the collateral for the loan, including the ability to step in and force you to sell stock if it thinks you're in danger of defaulting on its loan. For brokers, margin is a cash cow; for investors, it's a double-edged sword.

Dividend reinvestment plans (DRPs) and direct investment plans (DIPs)

Not yet ready to open a brokerage account? These plans offer another, steadier way to buy stock. Lovingly known by many investors as Drips, they allow shareholders to purchase stock directly from a company, with only minimal costs or commissions. Not every company offers such plans, but they're great for people who can only invest small amounts of money at regular intervals.

Summing up

All right, Fool -- you've got a rough idea of what you want to do with your finances, how much money you'll need, and how much time you have to reach that goal. And you now know how to start investing your money in the market. For your next step, it's time to start thinking about exactly what you should invest in, and the kind of returns you can reasonably expect.


Jack M. Fairchild aug 16 16, 05:27
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International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission on Investor Help

Investor Resource

A merger occurs when one firm assumes all the assets and all the liabilities of another. The acquiring firm retains its identity, while the acquired firm ceases to exist. A majority vote of shareholders is generally required to approve a merger. A merger is just one type of acquisition. One company can acquire another in several other ways, including purchasing some or all of the company's assets or buying up its outstanding shares of stock.

In general, mergers and other types of acquisitions are performed in the hopes of realizing an economic gain. For such a transaction to be justified, the two firms involved must be worth more together than they were apart. Some of the potential advantages of mergers and acquisitions include achieving economies of scale, combining complementary resources, garnering tax advantages, and eliminating inefficiencies. Other reasons for considering growth through acquisitions include obtaining proprietary rights to products or services, increasing market power by purchasing competitors, shoring up weaknesses in key business areas, new geographic regions, or providing managers with new opportunities for career growth and advancement. Since mergers and acquisitions are so complex, however, it can be very difficult to evaluate the transaction, define the associated costs and benefits, and handle the resulting tax and legal issues.

"In today's global business environment, companies may have to grow to survive, and one of the best ways to grow is by merging with another company or acquiring other companies," which in some cases are multibillion-dollar corporations.

When a small business owner chooses to merge with or sell out to another company, it is sometimes called "harvesting" the small business. In this situation, the transaction is intended to release the value locked up in the small business for the benefit of its owners and investors. The impetus for a small business owner to pursue a sale or merger may involve estate planning, a need to diversify his or her investments, an inability to finance growth independently, or a simple need for change. In addition, some small businesses find that the best way to grow and compete against larger firms is to merge with or acquire other small businesses.

In principle, the decision to merge with or acquire another firm is a capital budgeting decision much like any other. But mergers differ from ordinary investment decisions in at least five ways. First, the value of a merger may depend on such things as strategic fits that are difficult to measure. Second, the accounting, tax, and legal aspects of a merger can be complex. Third, mergers often involve issues of corporate control and are a means of replacing existing management. Fourth, mergers obviously affect the value of the firm, but they also affect the relative value of the stocks and bonds. Finally, mergers are often "unfriendly."

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission is established to promote investor confidence in the securities and capital markets by providing more structure and government oversight. The mission of the International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission is to protect investors and maintain integrity of the securities industry, overseeing major participants in the industry, including stock exchanges, broker-dealers, investment advisors, mutual funds, and public utility holding companies. The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission is concerned primarily with promoting disclosure of important information, enforcing securities laws, and protecting investors who interact with these various organizations and individuals.


Jack M. Fairchild jun 2 16, 04:46
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Seven of Warren Buffett’s Best Investing Advices

Seven of Warren Buffett’s Best Investing Advices

Everyone listens to Warren Buffett’s investing advice. Who will not want to listen to the world’s greatest investor and learn how he earned $72 billion net worth and enhanced his company, Berkshire Hathaway, into a formidable force valued at more than $212 billion.  

One fact that sets Buffett apart from others is his refusal to advice the ordinary investor to follow his example. On the contrary, he tells investors to do the opposite. Nevertheless, Yahoo Finance shares the following Buffett’s well-known insights on investing for a long-term, durable growth:

1. Cash is the worst investment over time

Having cash around, whether in the bank or at home, can be a reassuring thing. But over time, cash is an unstable investment. That is a fact; and yet people do keep enough cash with them so that they can have a certain degree of financial freedom.

2. Invest in diversified index funds that track the S&P 500

If you already have enough experience as an investor, then you need to focus deeply. For the rest of the people, aim for complete diversification. In the long run, the economy turns out well. As such, do not buy at the wrong price or at the wrong time. In general then, buy index fund at a low rice, and gradually level into a dollar-cost average. Spending merely an hour each week investing will lead you nowhere.

Read the book: “Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor” by Jack Bogle, Vanguard founder. Or if you can, read all Bogle’s books to know all you need to know about funds.

3. Invest in yourself

Warren Buffett advices people to invest in their own abilities. “Anything you can do to develop your own abilities or business is likely to be more productive.” Even in life, such advice should not be ignored.

4. If you intend to invest in stocks, avoid any business you do not understand

Investors must consider only investments they can understand. Assuming you put all your family’s net worth into a business, would they consider going into that business? Or would they refrain from doing so because they know nothing about it? If that case, they should choose another business. Like Buffet and his long-time partner, Charlie Munger, who avoid businesses they do not understand, individual investors should do the same.

5. Focus also on the competition

Investing in a company’s stocks means investing in a part of their business. If you were, for example, to invest in a local gas station or convenience shop, how would they run it? Obviously, they would look at the competition, the competitive posture of both the sector and the immediate environment, the people running the competition and other matters.

6. Invest for the long-term

Buffett has this to say: “If you aren’t willing to own a stock for 10 years, don’t even think about owning it for ten minutes.” Investing is like planting a tree for yourself: You begin with a seedling and hope to eat from its fruits later on.

7. The most difficult part of investing is learning to trust yourself

Stay away from mob-thinking. That is one sure way of becoming dumb. Buffett thinks investors are not really using their intelligence. One can be smart but also be illogical. To succeed in investing, divorce yourself from the greed and fears of the people you deal with even if you think that is very hard to do.

 


Jack M. Fairchild jul 19 16, 04:02
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Best-buy savings accounts often beat investing in the stock market, study finds

Couple meeting with their financial advisor.

Based on a major study conducted since 1995 on the performance of savings and investments, keeping your cash in a best-buy savings account can often provide better returns than investing in stocks.

So, which is really better?

The research which was done by financial journalist Paul Lewis (not related to Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com), showed that most investment periods in the last 21 years, stashing money in best-buy cash savings accounts would have given a saver more than a FTSE 100 shares tracker (following the index of shares in the biggest 100 firms on the London Stock Exchange directory).

Traditionally, investments in shares has remained the best way to build your wealth; however, that does not seem to be the case now according to the research, which likewise emphasizes the stark reality of losing money through investing.

What did the research really confirm?

The study compared gains from a simple HSBC tracker fund (which 'tracks' the FTSE 100 index of shares) with cash put yearly into a best-buy one-year deposit account with a bank or building society – also referred to as a 'one-year bond'. It assumed that dividends were invested back while the cash was also invested back yearly together with earned interest. The study showed the following:

  • Savings accounts overtook the overall gains on the tracker in 57% of the 192 five-year investment periods commencing monthly since 1 January 1995. On the other hand, the tracker scored only 43% of the same durations.
  • Over longer time durations, the difference was even more pronounced. For instance, in more than 84 14-year periods from 1995, cash-savings handily overran investments in shares with an impressive 96% score.
  • When considering a various periods of investment since 1995, such as from one to 11 years, the study found investments in funds that follow the FTSE 100 would have ended up losing money up to 33% of the time. However, keeping your money in a savings account assured you a gain over the original amount, a virtually risk-free proposition.
  • Nevertheless, savings accounts did not win in each situation. The research showed that throughout the full 21-year period from 1995 to 2016, best-buy savings accounts would have delivered an average 5 % “annual compound return” (rate-of-return on your investment) against the 6% HSBC tracker fund would have produced.

But while shares led over the entire period, this finding is still remarkable. Although investors are ordinarily told an average 'risk premium' (which is the extra gain you expect to get by 'risking' an investment in a tracker instead of keeping a bank savings account) of 3% to 8%; however, this study seems to point to a slight gain near 1%.

In short, best-buy savings accounts are more advantageous than investing in the stock market since savings account will never be lost while investments in shares may disappear.

So, how was the research undertaken?

Paul Lewis, who presents Radio 4's Money Box program, acquired data from best-buy cash records since 1995 from Moneyfacts, a financial information publisher.

He states, "This new study of the data proves that people who choose to keep their cash safe in savings accounts have a higher rate of winning over those who prefer tracker funds in most of time periods.

"Likewise, it verifies that the risk of incurring losses on stock investments is quite real. Over any investment period of one up to five years from 1995 to 2015, about one out of four chances or more resulted in the investment’s failure. For longer periods of nine or ten years, the chance of failing was about one out of ten. Only a few financial consultants are aware of such odds and even fewer tell their clients about them.

"For so long, I have long assumed that the value of cash was played down by conventional study which tend to put out poor cash rates in comparison with overstated gains in stocks investments."

So, should we then do away with investing in shares?

It really depends on one’s risk capacity. Whereas this study sheds new light on the issue, whether you invest or save, it is an individual’s choice wholly dependent on one’s outlook on risk; hence, if you are comfortable with taking risks, you may find your fulfillment in shares.

Lewis's study discovered periods when shares gave a higher gain than cash, such as from 1 November 2008 to 1 September 2009; and during the entire 21-year-period, shares enjoyed a slight advantage.

In general, however, for investment periods of five years or more, cash savings gave a better return over shares: 38 against 24, respectively.

Moreover, Lewis says: "In every situation, cash may not be right for everyone. However, for a cautious investor over long periods of time of up to two decades, this study points to the advantage of well-managed active cash over a FTSE 100 tracker in most cases. The clincher for people who look for a sure winner is that a cash account will produce more money than what they put in."


Jack M. Fairchild aug 2 16, 12:09
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The Structures of International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission

The Structures of International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission is established to promote investor confidence in the securities and capital markets by providing more structure and government oversight. The mission of the International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission is to protect investors and maintain integrity of the securities industry, overseeing major participants in the industry, including stock exchanges, broker-dealers, investment advisors, mutual funds, and public utility holding companies. The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission is concerned primarily with promoting disclosure of important information, enforcing securities laws, and protecting investors who interact with these various organizations and individuals.

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission comprises the following:

•Membership of the Financial Supervision Commission

•Supervision Division

•Enforcement Division

•Policy Division

•Authorizations Division

•Operations Division

•Companies Registry


Jack M. Fairchild jun 6 16, 04:22
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Deposit and Withdrawal at International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission (IFSRC) and Deposit and Withdrawal at Custodian (DWAC) service provides participants with the ability to make electronic book-entry deposits and withdrawals of eligible securities into and out of their IFSRC book-entry accounts using Albano Stock Transfer agent as the distribution point.

About

DWAC allows participants to instruct IFSRC regarding deposit and withdrawal transactions being made directly via an Albano Stock transfer agent. The Albano system eliminates the movement of physical securities certificates for transfers of securities registered in the name of IFSRC’s nominee, on the transfer agent’s books. IFSRC and Albano transfer agents reconcile the results of participants’ deposit and withdrawal activities electronically on a daily basis.

Who Can Use the Service

All IFSRC participants are eligible to use the service.

Benefits

This service leverages the book-entry capabilities established between IFSRC and Albano transfer agents, delivering efficiencies, risk mitigation and cost savings to participants.

How the Service Works

In order for securities to be eligible for deposit for withdrawal via the DWAC service, the issuer must use the services of a transfer agent that participates in IFSRC’s Albano Transfer program.

Participants submit their physical securities and/or transfer instructions for approval directly to their Albano transfer agent. When the transfer agent approves the transfer, the participant enters the transaction on IFSRC’s Participant Terminal System (PTS), the Part Direct Deposit/Withdrawal function on IFSRC’s Participant Browser System (PBS), or the CF2DWX file protocol. The transfer agent then approves the transaction via the CDWC function on PTS or the TA Direct Deposit/Withdrawal function on PBS.

For DWAC deposits, the requesting participant’s position in its IFSRC account is increased as is IFSRC’s Albano Transfer balance in the issue. For DWAC withdrawals, the requesting participant’s position in its IFSRC account is debited, as is IFSRC’s Albano balance in the issue.

For More Information

Please email: info@ifsrc.com


Jack M. Fairchild jun 10 16, 05:05
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International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission on Conflicts of Interest

The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission includes a number of non-executive Commissioners who importantly bring a blend of different commercial experiences to the decisions which the institution takes.

As a result such Commissioners may have interests with which conflicts can arise in the course of carrying out their work with the International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission.

To maintain public confidence in its regulation, the International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission wishes to demonstrate that the actions of Commissioners are dealt with separately from other interests which they may hold.

The Code of Conduct regarding Conflicts of Interest is published on this website and in the interests of transparency; details of Commissioners’ current directorships have also been published.

The conflicts of interests of staff generally are dealt with in the terms and conditions of service and the staff handbook and the International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission’ Code is mirrored as appropriate in the staff version.

You can like us at Facebook Page and Follow us at twitter @ifsrc


Jack M. Fairchild jun 3 16, 04:24
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