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  • Glossary


    Absolute return

    Funds which are managed with an objective of generating a positive return and do not concentrate on outperforming a benchmark or comparative index.

    Active management

    An active investment approach is one where a portfolio manager aims to beat the market through research, analysis and his/her judgement. (See also passive management).


    A measure which describes whether an actively managed portfolio has added value in relation to the amount of risk taken relative to the benchmark. A positive alpha indicates that a manager has produced additional value.

    Alternative investments

    Investments that are not one of the three traditional assetclasses of equities, bonds and cash. These include, among others, commodities, hedge funds, property financial derivatives and private equity.

    American depository receipt (ADR)

    Certificates issued by a US bank stating that a specificnumber of a non-US company’s shares have beendeposited with it. These certificates are denominated in US$and traded on US exchanges as if they were US securities.

    Annual management fee

    The annual consideration paid to an asset management company for managing clients’ investments.

    Annual percentage rate (APR)

    The annual rate that is charged for borrowing or made by investing.

    Annualised return

    The average return over a given period scaled up or down toan annual figure. For example, if a fund has produced areturn of 33.1% over three years, on average the fund would have produced a return of 10% a year (1.10*1.10*1.10=1.331).


    Exploiting price discrepancies between two very similar assets.

    Asset allocation

    A fund’s allotment to different asset classes.

    Asset class

    The main types of investment available. The traditional assetclasses are equities, bonds and cash.

    Asset-backed security (ABS)

    Securities backed by the income stream of income producing financial assets. These assets enable investors to gain exposure to instruments they might not otherwise be able to gain access to, such as loan repayments.

    Authorised fund

    A fund that is authorised and regulated by the competent authority of the home state, where the Fund is domiciled sothat it can be marketed to the general public.

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    Base currency

    The base currency of a portfolio.

    Bear market

    A market where prices fall consistently over a long period oftime. Investors are referred to as ‘bearish’ if they believe prices are going to fall.


    A comparative performance index.


    A statistical estimate of an asset or fund’s price movements relative to that of the market or benchmark. The market orthe benchmark is said to have a beta of 1.0, so if the beta of an asset is greater than 1.0 then it is deemed to move more than the market or benchmark and vice versa.

    Bid price

    The price at which a dealer will buy a security from aninvestor. In the context of funds, it is the price received bythe investor when redeeming a share or unit in a dual priced fund.


    A form of loan issued by a government or company.Typically, an investor should receive a regular coupon andthe return of the principal originally lent when the bond matures. Note: Not all bonds are interest bearing (see zero coupon bond), and not all bonds are fixed rate (e.g. index linked, floating rate and stepped rate bonds).

    Book cost

    The original price paid for an investment.

    Bottom-up investing

    An investment approach that concentrates on the analysis of individual companies and considers the company’s history,management and potential as more important than macroeconomic trends.

    Bull market

    A market where prices rise consistently over a long period oftime. Investors are referred to as ‘bullish’ if they believe prices are going to rise.

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    The most liquid form in which to store capital. While it is regarded as a safe asset class, over time the purchasing power of cash tends to be eroded by inflation.

    Central bank base rate

    The basic rate of interest set by a central bank that determines the cost of borrowing.

    Closed-ended fund

    A collective investment scheme that issues a fixed amount of equity capital to investors, where an investor can only gain access by buying a unit in the fund that is being sold byan existing stakeholder. Shares in closed-ended funds are often traded on an exchange as the case with investment trusts.


    Assets provided by a borrower to a lender in order to secure a loan. If the borrower defaults on a loan payment, the lender is entitled to take ownership of the assets provided as collateral.

    Collective investment scheme

    A pooled fund in which investors hold units. Unit trusts and OEICS are examples of these pooled funds.


    An asset class which comprises physical assets such as oil, base and precious metals and agricultural produce.


    A measure of how asset classes move in relation to each other. Highly correlated investments imply two assets move in the same direction while lowly correlated securities tend to react differently to certain market conditions. A combination of the latter is deemed to provide diversification benefits. Correlation is measured between 1 (perfect correlation) and -1 (perfect opposite correlation). A correlation coefficient of 0 suggests there is no correlation.


    The interest rate applied to the nominal value (principal) of a bond, paid on an annual or semi-annual basis.Credit default swap (CDS) An insurance instrument against the default of debt.

    Credit rating agency

    An institution that assigns credit ratings to debt issuers, such as companies and governments. Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s are well-known examples.

    Credit risk

    The risk that a bond issuer or borrower will be unable to meet their contractual obligations.

    Credit spread

    The differences in yield between ‘risk-free’ bonds, such as gilts or US treasuries, and non-treasury (or gilt) bonds, which are identical in all respects except for the quality of their rating. Corporate bonds tend to offer additional yield to compensate investors for the potential risk of default.

    Currency risk

    The risk of incurring losses of foreign assets due to adverse movements in exchange rates between domestic and foreign currencies.

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    Day trading

    The act of buying and selling shares on the same day in the hope of making a quick profit from the daily fluctuations in share prices.

    Debt to equity ratio

    A company’s borrowings divided by the market value of its equity. It is a measure of the amount of gearing of a company, and an indicator of financial strength.


    As opposed to inflation, it describes conditions in which there is a widespread, consistent decline in prices. It conveys the rarer occurrence of the money in one’s pocket actually increasing in buying power, rather than the more usual opposite.

    Default risk

    Essentially the same as credit risk, it is the risk that a bond issuer or borrower will not be able to meet their debt payments. To mitigate the impact of default risk, lenders often charge rates of return that correspond the debtor’s level of default risk: the higher the risk, the higher the required return.


    An instrument whose value depends on the performance of an underlying security or rate which requires no initial exchange of principal. Options, futures and swaps are all examples of derivatives.

    Developed markets

    Refers to industrialised countries with relatively high levels of economic productivity, high standards of living and stable economies.


    Refers to a slowing down in price growth, as opposed to deflation where prices are already falling.


    Holding a range of assets to reduce risk.


    The portion of company net profits paid out to shareholders.

    Dividend yield

    The annual dividend per share divided by the current shareprice.


    The country where an individual, company or investment vehicle is based for tax purposes.

    Dual priced fund

    With dual priced funds, there is a separate price for buying and selling units in the fund. The difference between the buying and selling prices is the bid/offer spread which broadly comprises the initial charge plus the difference between the buying and selling prices of the underlying investments plus any other costs involved in buying orselling the underlying investments. This means that when investments are bought or sold as a result of other investorsjoining or leaving the fund your investment is sheltered fromthe costs of these transactions.


    A measure of a bond investment’s sensitivity to changes in interest rates. The longer the duration, the more sensitive it is. Calculating ‘duration’ for a fixed income investment such as a bond is a complicated sum. It takes into account the current value of the bond, the coupon or interest payment, the book cost, and the number of years the bond has left to run. Put simply, the higher the duration number the highe rthe potential return (and the greater the risk).

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    Earnings growth

    The percentage change in a company’s earnings per share.

    Earnings per share (EPS)

    The profits of a company attributed to each ordinary share (common stock). It is calculated by dividing a company’s net income (minus dividends payable to preference shares) by the average number of outstanding shares of the period in question.

    Emerging markets

    Countries in the process of industrialising which tend to have rapidly growing economies.

    Emerging market debt

    Debt issued by governments and corporates in emerging markets.


    refers to shares. A share in a company provides an investor with part ownership of that company.

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    Financial advisor

    A professional who helps individuals manage their financesby providing advice on money issues, such as investments. Fiscal policy Refers to the taxation and public spending plans of a government.

    Fixed Income

    An investment that provides a return in the form of fixed periodic payments and the eventual return of principal atmaturity.

    Flat yield

    Describes a yield curve where short-term and long-term bonds are offering equivalent yields.

    Floating rate note (FRN)

    A note with a variable interest rate. The adjustments to the interest rate are usually made every three to six months andare tied to a money-market rate.


    When a company first issues shares to the public on a new exchange. It is also referred to as an initial public offering (IPO).

    Free cash flow

    A measure conveying the amount of cash that a company is able to generate after laying out the money required to maintain or expand its asset base. Free cash flow is important because it allows a company to pursue opportunities that enhance shareholder value.

    Frontier markets

    Less developed countries within emerging markets. Investments in these countries may be associated with higher risks, such as increased political instability and lower liquidity, than more developed markets.

    Fund of funds

    Funds that invest in other funds rather than investing directlyin the underlying financial instruments.


    An obligation to buy or sell an asset on a specific date in thefuture at an agreed price.

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    In accounting terms, gearing is the amount of a company’s total borrowings divided by its share capital. High gearing means a proportionately large amount of debt, which may be considered more risky for equity holders. However, gearing also entails tax advantages. In investment analysis, a highly geared company is one where small changes in sales produce big swings in profits. Also known as leverage.


    A bond that is issued by the British government which is generally considered low risk. Bonds issued by South African and Irish governments are also referred to as gilts.

    Global depositary receipt

    Similar to an American Depository Receipt, it is a bank certificate relating to the ownership of a foreign company’s shares that is issued in more than one country.

    Gross redemption yield

    The total return you could receive on a bond including the interest or coupon plus any capital.

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    Hedge fund

    An alternative investment vehicle available only to sophisticated investors, such as institutions and individuals with significant assets. Hedge funds target absolute returns and can invest using a broad array of strategies ranging from conservative to non-traditional investment strategies, such as short selling, gearing arbitrage and tools such as options, futures, swaps and forwards.


    A technique seeking to offset or minimise the exposure to aspecific risk by entering an opposing position.

    High yield bond

    A below investment grade rated bond, providing the investor with greater returns due to its higher default risk. (See Junk bond).

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    Illiquid asset

    An asset that cannot be sold quickly due to a lack of interested buyers. The lack of ready buyers can lead to larger discrepancies between the asking price (from theseller) and the bidding price (from a buyer) than would be found in an orderly market with a daily trading activity.

    Income distribution

    The distribution of income to unit holders of pooled funds.

    Independent fund-research rating

    A measure of the quality of a Fund’s management and investment process undertaken by third parties such as Morningstar or FE Trustnet.

    Index fund

    A passively managed fund that tracks a benchmark.

    Index-linked bonds

    Bonds whose coupons and principal payment are linked tomovements in inflation.

    Individual investor

    People who buy and sell securities for their personal account, and not for another company or organisation. (See retail investor).

    Individual Savings Account (ISA)

    A tax-free savings account. There are two main types, a Cash ISA and a Stocks and Shares ISA. You can put money into a Cash ISA and you don’t pay tax on any interest you receive. Invest in a Stock and Shares ISA, and you don’t pay tax on any further dividends or capital gains.


    Describes conditions in which there have been a consistent rise in prices.

    Information Ratio

    A risk-adjusted measure of actively-managed performance.

    Initial charge

    The amount a company charges to set up an investment portfolio.

    Initial public offering (IPO)

    The first public sale of a company’s equity resulting in a quoted stock price on a stock exchange.

    Institutional investor

    An investor such as a pension fund, insurance company or charity.


    The return earned on funds which have been deposited,loaned, or invested.

    Investment grade bonds

    Bonds considered of the highest quality by credit rating agencies. The threshold credit rating for Standard & Poor’s is BBB and Baa3 for Moody’s.

    Investment trusts

    A closed ended collective investment scheme which tradesas a company in its own right on an exchange.

    Investment universe

    The total range of investments from which a fund managercan pick - as defined by a fund’s stated investmentobjective.


    See individual savings account.


    International Securities Identification Numbering system advocated by the G30. The ISIN code is a unique 12 digit code given to a security and is used worldwide.

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    Junk bond
    A below investment grade rated bond, providing the invest or with greater returns due to its higher default risk. (See high yield bond).

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    Key investor information document (KIID)

    A document that must be provided to potential and existing clients which provides details of a fund. It should be easily understood and contains information about the fund’s investment objectives, notable risks, past performance and fees.

    Key features document (KFD)

    Similar to a KIID, it is a pre-sale disclosure document required to be provided for life policies, personal pension schemes and cash deposit ISAs.

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    Leverage (see gearing)

    When a fund is said to be leveraged it is deemed to have more than exposure than 100% of its net asset value: the aim is to take on more risk in order to generate higher returns.


    Financial obligations that must be met.

    Liability driven investing (LDI)

    A pension fund strategy that invests in assets that deliver flows over time in line with the predicted liability payments of its investor(s).


    The ease with which an asset can be sold at a reasonable price for cash.

    Long dated bond

    A bond with usually 15 years or more remaining before redemption, at which point the principal is paid to the holder.

    Long/short strategy

    Commonly used by hedge funds, this strategy involves holding both long (expecting the value of investments to rise) positions and short (expecting the value of investments to fall) positions in order to maximise returns or hedge risks.

    Long-term investment

    Holding an asset for an extended period of time. Depending on the security, a long-term asset can be held for as little as one year or for as long as 30 years.

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    Refers to the big trends in an economy as a whole, such asinflation and unemployment, while microeconomic forces refer to the factors affecting individual situations or companies.

    Management fee

    A fixed annual fee that a manager charges for his services,such as fund administration costs and investor relations. (See annual management fee).

    Market capitalisation

    The total value of a company’s equity, calculated by thenumber of shares multiplied by their market price.

    Market risk

    Also referred to as systematic risk, it refers to the risk which is inherent within an asset class or broader market and cannot be eliminated by diversification. (See non-systematicrisk).


    With regards to bonds, maturity refers to the time at which the principal of the bond is repayable and it ceases to exist. In terms of a pension fund, it conveys the average age of the membership and the time until benefits are payable.

    Mid-Market price

    The price of an asset calculated as the mid-point between its offer and bid price. Most newspapers use mid-marketprices in the stock data tables.


    Markets in Financial Instruments Directive is an EU directive which seeks to harmonise financial markets across the EU.


    The market for short-term fixed income instruments (typically with less than one year to maturity).

    Mutual fund

    A professionally managed collective investment scheme that pools money from a large number of investors.

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    Net asset value (NAV)

    In a company context, the net asset value describes total assets minus total liabilities.

    Non-systematic risk

    This is the risk attributable to an individual company, as opposed to the sector or broader market. The impact of non-systematic risk factors can be reduced by the diversification of a portfolio.

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    Open Ended Investment Company: a UK-domiciledcollective investment scheme structured as a limitedcompany in which investors can buy and sell shares ongoingbasis.

    Offer price

    The price at which a dealer will sell a security to an investor.In the context of funds, it is the cost of buying a share orunit in a dual priced fund.


    A collective investment scheme that can issue an unlimitednumber of units or shares, meaning the number of unitsfluctuates along with inflows and outflows.


    The right to buy or sell a particular asset at an agreed price,on (or before if an American option) a specific point in time.OTC (over-the-counter) contractsContracts which are traded directly between two partiesrather than on an exchange.


    The return of a fund in excess of the comparativeperformance index.


    When a fund has greater exposure to an asset than thecomparative performance index.

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    Passive management

    A passive manager seeks to build a fund that is similar in composition to a comparative index in order to closely track its performance.

    Peer group

    A group of funds that can be compared with one another for performance purposes. A peer group will usually be based on the funds’ investment scope, for example UK equities.


    The results of an investment over a given period.

    Performance fee

    A fee, which has been stipulated in advance, which is sometimes paid on top of a management fee if a fund out performs its performance comparison index or meet sother conditions stipulated in advance.

    Pooled fund / pooled vehicle

    A fund, such as a mutual fund or (UK) unit trust or OEIC, which invests the assets of many different individuals or institutions collectively.


    A grouping of financial assets, such as equities, bonds and cash equivalents. Portfolios are held directly by investorsand/or managed by financial professionals.

    Preference share

    A class of share, which like a bond, pays income at fixed periods of time.

    Price-to-earnings ratio

    A measure used to gauge the relative value of shares. It is calculated by dividing its market price by the earnings per share.


    Method adopted by a firm to set its selling price.

    Private equity
    Refers to companies whose shares are not traded on a public exchange.


    A formal legal document, which contains the facts an investor needs to make an informed investment decision.

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    Qualitative analysis

    Examining the non-numeric characteristics of an investment, such as management and process.

    Quantitative analysis

    Examining the statistical and numerical relationships between securities and their returns. By assigning anumerical value to variables, quantitative analysts try to replicate reality mathematically.


    A measure of how an investment is performing in its peer group. A top-quartile performing fund would be in the top25% of funds in its peer group.

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    A swift rise.

    Real estate

     An asset class comprising buildings and land.

    Real return

    The return on an investment minus the effect of inflation. Therefore, if the return on an investment is 6% and inflation is 2%, then the real yield is 4%.


    The repayment of bond’s principal at maturity.

    Redemption yield

    A measure of the return that an investor will earn on a bond if held to maturity.

    Retail investor

    Individual investors who buy and sell securities for their personal account, and not for another company or organisation. (See individual investor).

    Return on equity

    Essentially capturing how effectively management are using shareholder funds, it is a measure of company profitability.

    Rights issue

    A form of capital raising where existing shareholders are given rights to purchase newly used shares in proportion to their existing holding.

    Risk-adjusted performance

    The performance of a security or investment relative to its risk. There are several ways to calculate risk-adjusted performance: measuring the investment’s volatility or comparing its performance to the performance of the market as a whole or relative to securities or investments with similar levels of risk.

    Risk premium

    The extra return expected by an investor in compensation for holding a risky asset.

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    A general term for a tradable financial instrument.

    Share buy-back

    When a company buys some of its own shares in the market, which leads to a rise in the share price. It changes the company’s debt-to-equity ratio and is a tax-efficient alternative to paying out dividends.

    Sharpe Ratio

    A measure of risk-adjusted performance which captures the average additional return per unit of risk.

    Short selling

    Positioning oneself to benefit from a fall in an asset’s price. This is done by selling assets that have been borrowed from a third party, and then buying them back at a later date to return to the lender.

    Short-term investment

    Investments that are held for or mature in 12 months or less.

    Standard deviation

    A measure of risk, deriving from the historic volatility of a particular asset.


    An agreement between investors to exchange future cashflows.

    Systematic risk

    See ‘market risk’.

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    Top-down investing

    Contrasting with bottom-up analysis, a top-down approach to investment analysis begins with an assessment of macroeconomic factors, then business cycles before moving on to look at individual sectors and companies.

    Total return

    Captures both the capital appreciation/depreciation of an investment as well as the income generated over a holding period.

    Tracking error

    A measure of how closely an investment portfolio’s price movements reflect that of its benchmark.


    Debt securities issued by the US government. Treasuries fall under three categories: treasury bills (T-bills), treasury notes(T-notes) and treasury bonds (T-bonds).

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     Undertakings for Collective Investments of Transferable Securities. These are collective investment schemes that can be sold in any EU country.


    When a fund has less exposure to an asset than the benchmark.

    Unit trust

    An open-ended collective investment scheme.

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    Venture capital

    Private equity investing in young, and therefore more risky,companies.


    Price movements. Standard deviation is a measure of an asset’s historic volatility.

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    A derivative security – usually issued with a bond – that gives the holder the right to buy ordinary shares at a fixed price. The main difference between warrants and call options is that warrants are issued and guaranteed by the company.

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    Year-to-date (YTD)

    Refers to the period extending from the beginning of thecurrent calendar year to the present date.


    A measure of the income return earned on an investment. In the case of a share the yield expresses the annual dividend payment as the percentage of the market price of the share. In the case of a property, it is the rental income as a percentage of the capital value. In the case of a bond the running yield (or flat or current yield) is the annual interest payable as a percentage of the current market price. The redemption yield (or yield to maturity) allows for any gain or loss of capital which will be realised at the maturity date.

    Yield curve

    A graphical representation off all the yields of bonds of the same quality with maturities ranging from the shortest to the longest available.

    Yield spread

    The difference in yield between different bonds.
    Yield to maturityThe annualised return (internal rate of return) that would be earned on a bond if held to maturity.

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    Zero-coupon bond

     A bond which does not pay interest (coupon). It is issued at a discount to face value.

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