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Vanguard - Investment glossary
 
 
   
 

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Investment glossary

Here are some commonly used investment terms and what they mean.

Asset

Any property that has monetary value. Personal assets include securities, real estate, jewelry, and bank accounts.

Asset allocation

The apportioning of investment dollars among various asset classes, such as short-term reserves, bonds, and stocks. (For example, 60% stocks, 40% bonds). Also known as an investment mix.

Bond

A debt security (IOU) issued by a corporation, government, or government agency in exchange for the money the bondholder lends it. In most instances, the issuer agrees to pay back the loan by a specific date and make regular interest payments until that date.

Cash

Assets represented by currency, bank balances, checks, or money orders.

Contribution

Money placed in an IRA, an employer-sponsored retirement plan, or other retirement plan for a particular tax year. Contributions may be deductible or nondeductible, depending on the type of account.

Expense ratio

A mutual fund's annual operating expenses expressed as a percentage of average net assets. The expense ratio includes management fees, administrative fees, and any marketing and distribution fees (also known as asset-based sales charges). Expense ratios, which directly reduce returns to investors, do not take into account loads, redemption fees, or purchase or transaction fees.

Index

An unmanaged group of securities whose overall performance is used as a standard to measure investment performance.

Investment mix

See asset allocation.

Market-timing

An investment strategy based on predicting market trends. The goal is to anticipate trends, buying before the market goes up and selling before the market goes down.

Mutual fund

An investment company that pools the money of many shareholders and invests it in a variety of securities in an effort to achieve a specific objective over time.

Portfolio

All the securities held by a mutual fund or the total investment holdings of an individual or an institution.

Rebalance

A portfolio maintenance task that brings the levels of stocks and bonds in your portfolio back to your original target asset allocation.

Risk tolerance

An investor's ability or willingness to endure declines in the prices of investments while waiting for them to increase in value.

Securities

Stocks, bonds, money market instruments, and other investment vehicles.

Stock

A security that represents part ownership, or equity, in a corporation. Each share of stock is a proportional stake in the corporation's assets and profits, some of which could be paid out as dividends.

Target asset allocation

The mix of stocks, bonds, and short-term reserves that is ideal, based on your circumstances.

 

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