Securities and Investments
A mutual fund is a financial vehicle that pools assets from shareholders to invest in securities like stocks, bonds, money market instruments, and other assets. Mutual funds are operated by professional money managers, who allocate the fund's assets and attempt to produce capital gains or income for the fund's investors. A mutual fund's portfolio is structured and maintained to match the investment objectives stated in its prospectus.
Mutual funds give small or individual investors access to professionally managed portfolios of equities, bonds, and other securities. Each shareholder, therefore, participates proportionally in the gains or losses of the fund. Mutual funds invest in a vast number of securities, and performance is usually tracked as the change in the total market cap of the fund—derived by the aggregating performance of the underlying investments.
Third Party Money Management
A money manager is a person or financial firm that manages the securities portfolio of an individual or institutional investor. Typically, a money manager employs people with various expertise ranging from research and selection of investment options to monitoring the assets and deciding when to sell them.
In return for a fee, the money manager has the fiduciary duty to choose and manage investments prudently for clients, including developing an appropriate investment strategy and buying and selling securities to meet those goals. A money manager may also be known as a "portfolio manager," "asset manager," or "investment manager."
An alternative investment is a financial asset that does not fall into one of the conventional investment categories. Conventional categories include stocks, bonds, and cash. Alternative investments can include private equity or venture capital, hedge funds, managed futures, art and antiques, commodities, and derivatives contracts. Real estate is also often classified as an alternative investment.
Exchange Traded Funds
An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is a type of pooled investment security that operates much like a mutual fund. Typically, ETFs will track a particular index, sector, commodity, or other assets, but unlike mutual funds, ETFs can be purchased or sold on a stock exchange the same way that a regular stock can. An ETF can be structured to track anything from the price of an individual commodity to a large and diverse collection of securities. ETFs can even be structured to track specific investment strategies.
529 College Savings Plans
A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to help pay for education. Originally limited to postsecondary education costs, it was expanded to cover K-12 education in 2017 and apprenticeship programs in 2019.
The two major types of 529 plans are education savings plans and prepaid tuition plans.
Education savings plans grow tax-deferred, and withdrawals are tax-free if they're used for qualified education expenses. Prepaid tuition plans allow the account owner to pay current tuition rates for future attendance at designated colleges and universities. That means that, most likely, you can lock in a lower cost of college attendance.
529 plans are also referred to as qualified tuition programs and Section 529 plans.
Certificate of Deposits
A certificate of deposit (CD) is a savings product that earns interest on a lump sum for a fixed period of time. CDs differ from savings accounts because the money must remain untouched for the entirety of their term or risk penalty fees or lost interest. CDs usually have higher interest rates than savings accounts as an incentive for lost liquidity.
The money market refers to trading in very short-term debt investments. At the wholesale level, it involves large-volume trades between institutions and traders. At the retail level, it includes money market mutual funds bought by individual investors and money market accounts opened by bank customers.
In all of these cases, the money market is characterized by a high degree of safety and relatively low rates of return.