GLOSSARY

Scroll down or click a letter in the alphabet to see answers to frequently asked questions.

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

AAA: What is an AAA credit rating and what does it mean?

AAA is the highest credit rating awarded Standard & Poor's.  If a financial institution has an S&P rating of AAA it means there is an extremely low chance of it failing.  If a bond has this rating it means there is an extremely low chance of a default.

Accelerated benefit: What is an accelerated benefit an insurance policy?

If an accelerated benefit is paid out the level of some other cover is reduced accordingly.  For example, if you have $1 m of term life insurance with an accelerated trauma benefit of $200k, if the trauma benefit pays out your life cover will fall to $800k.  Taking an accelerated instead of a stand alone benefit reduces your premium, but whether or not it is a good idea also depends on why you need the cover.

Alternative or non traditional assets or investments:  What are alternative (or non traditional assets of investments)?

Alternative or non-traditional assets of Investments don’t fit into traditional classes (such as Cash, Bonds, Property, and Shares). Because of this they tend to produce returns that are not highly correlated to the returns from traditional assets – which makes them helpful for diversifying a portfolio.  However they also tend to be riskier than other assts (more volatile over shorter periods of time).  Therefore they tend to represent a relatively small part of an overall asset allocation.

Alpha: What does alpha mean in relations to investments?

Alpha is technical term for the relationship between the return from a share and the return from the market as a whole.  It is also described a 'stock-specific return'.  Stocks that rise when the market as a whole is falling have 'positive alphas'.  Stocks which fall when the market as a whole is rising have 'negative alphas'.  (See also Beta).

Asset allocation: What is asset allocation?

Asset allocation means the mix of asset classes or sectors in an investment portfolio.  At the highest level it refers to the mix of income and growth assets, and at lower levels it refers to subsets of these , such as the mix of cash and bonds within income assets; the mix of Australasian and international equities within growth assets; the mix of large and small companies, and so on.  Asset allocation (for example so as to ensure that enough income is produced) is a critical part of portfolio construction. And studies have shown that asset allocation is a major factor in determining overall investment performance. 

Asset class or sector: What do these terms mean?

Asset classes or sectors are groupings of securities with broad characteristics in common. Typical asset sectors include NZ or Australasian shares, international shares, property, fixed interest (bonds), and cash.

Asset mix:

See asset allocation.

Asset Planning: What is asset planning?

Asset planning combines aspects of tax planning and estate planning, and is primarily focused on .

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B

Balanced fund: What is a balanced fund?

A balanced fund is a fund that invests in both income and growth assets, and typically includes exposure to all the major asset classes (cash, fixed interest, property and shares – both domestically and internationally). It should provide long-term capital growth and a reasonable level of income.

Basis point: What is a basis point?

One hundredth of 1 per cent: 100 basis points equals 1 per cent.

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C

Call option: The right, but not the obligation, to buy a financial instrument, such as a share or a commodity during a given period.

Capital gain or loss: The difference between the sales price and the purchase price of a capital asset. When that difference is positive, the difference is referred to as a capital gain. When the difference is negative, it is a capital loss.

Capital growth investment: An investment that consists principally of assets most likely to increase in value, such as shares and property.

Capital: The value of an investment in a house or business, represented by total assets less total liabilities.

Cash equivalents: Short-term investments, such as treasury securities, certificates of deposit, and money market fund shares, that can be readily converted into cash.

Cash surrender value: The amount that an insurance policyholder is entitled to receive when he or she discontinues coverage. Policyholders are usually able to borrow against the surrender value of a policy from the insurance company. Loans that are not repaid will reduce the policy's death benefit.

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERcm (CFPcm): A professional credential for financial planning in NZ and around the world.  An internationally recognised credential issued by the IFA under license to the International Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB).  To attain CFPcm status an individual must belong to the IFA, complete an 8-paper graduate diploma in financial planning; go though 2 years of mentoring; pass a final professional examination, and subscribe to the IFA Code of Ethics and Practice Standards.  To keep the designation the adviser must also complete ongoing professional development as required by IFA.

CFPcm: See CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERcm Professional

Charitable trust: A Trust established for the benefit of a registered charitable organisation or organisations. Income in trusts of this type of trust are usually exempt from tax.

Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU): The highest qualification in insurance advice available in NZ.  An internationally recognised credential issued by the IFA to individuals who have completed an 8-paper graduate diploma in insurance planning; a period of professional mentoring; professional examination and or experience requirements, and who subscribe to the IFA Code of ethics and Bylaws.

CLU: See ‘Chartered Life Underwriter’

Commodities: The generic term for goods such as grains, foodstuffs, livestock, oils, and metals which are traded on national exchanges. These exchanges deal in both "spot" trading (for current delivery) and "futures" trading (for delivery in future months).

Compound interest: Interest that is computed on the principal and on the accrued interest. Compound interest may be computed continuously, daily, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

Consumer Price Index (CPI): A measure of inflation which tracks quarterly movements in the prices of a fixed list of goods and services.

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D

Deduction: An amount that can be subtracted from gross income, from a gross estate, or from a gift, thereby lowering the amount on which tax is assessed.

Defined Benefit Plan: A superannuation or pension plan under which a retiring employee will receive a guaranteed retirement fund, usually payable in instalments. Annual contributions may be made to the plan by the employer at the level needed to fund the benefit. The annual contributions are limited to a specified amount, indexed for inflation (see also Defined Contribution Plan).

Defined Contribution Plan: A superannuation or pension plan under which the annual contributions made by the employer or employee are generally stated as a fixed percentage of the employee's compensation or company profits. The amount of retirement benefits is not guaranteed; rather, it depends upon the investment performance of the employee's account (see also Defined Benefit Plan).

Derivative: Financial tool that enables investors to obtain returns from an investment in a market or a particular security without physically purchasing that security. They generally require a small deposit, can usually be bought or sold more quickly than physical securities and are generally much cheaper to transact. Derivatives can be used as a risk management tool or to speculate. They provide key benefits in that they improve liquidity and reduce transaction costs.

Direct investment: An investment that is not managed by a third party such as a fund manager.  A stake in a company or joint venture that brings a say in how the operation is run, although it does not necessarily give a controlling interest.

Discretionary trust: A trust in which the ‘Trustees’ have absolute discretion as to which if any Beneficiaries receive benefits in any year.

Diversification: The process whereby funds are spread among asset classes, fund managers, and geographical localities in order to distribute and control risk. As a result, the return on the portfolio as a whole varies less than the return on smaller lots of individual stocks.

Dividend: A pro rata portion of earnings distributed in cash by a corporation to its stockholders. In preferred stock, dividends are usually fixed; with common shares, dividends may vary with the fortunes of the company.

Dollar cost averaging: A system of investing in which the investor buys a fixed dollar amount of securities at regular intervals. The investor thus buys more shares when the price is low and fewer shares when it rises, and the average cost per share is lower than the average price per share. This strategy does not protect against loss in declining markets and involves continuous investments, regardless of fluctuating price levels.

Duration: A measure of an asset's or a portfolio's sensitivity to interest rate changes. As an indicator of risk, duration is useful for two reasons. First it provides a means of assessing the degree of mismatch between the assets and the benchmark or liabilities of a portfolio. Second, it provides an indication of portfolio volatility or risk.

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E

Efficient Frontier: A statistical result from the analysis of the risk and return for a given set of assets that indicates the balance of assets that may, under certain assumptions, achieve the best return for a given level of risk.

Endowment insurance: A type of life insurance that offers a death benefit and also accumulates cash value with a specific maturity date.  If the life assured lives to the maturity date the policy pays out as if the person had died.

Equities: See shares.

Equity: The value of a person's ownership in real property or securities; the market value of a property or business, less all claims and liens upon it.

Estate Duty: A tax payable upon the death.  The rate of Estate Duty in NZ is currently 0%.

Estate planning: Activities coordinated to provide for the orderly and cost-effective distribution of an individual's assets at the time of his or her death, including wills POS’s, and trusts.

Executor: A person named by the probate courts or the will to carry out the directions and requests of the decedent.

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F

Family trust: See ‘Trust’.

FDR (Fair Dividend Rate): Tax regime applying to most overseas shares since 1 April 2007.  Other than NZ shares and shares in Australian resident listed companies (which pay tax only on dividends), most investors in overseas equity and managed investments pay tax on up to 5% of their “opening (1 April) value” each year.  See table Taxation of investments on page 30 for more details.

Fixed income: Income from investments such as TDs, Social Security benefits, pension benefits, some annuities, or most bonds that is the same every month.

Fixed interest: Interest paid on investments such as bonds and debentures, paid at a predetermined and unchanging rate for a specified period.

Foreign exchange: A different currency.

FPSB: The Financial Planning Standards Board, the worldwide organisation that owns and licenses the CFPcm and associated marks.

Fundamental analysis: An approach to the share market in which specific factors - such as the price-to-earnings ratio, yield, or return on equity - are used to determine what stock may be favourable for investment.

Future: A type of derivative, an obligation to make or take delivery of a specified quantity and quality of an underlying asset at a particular time in the future and at a price agreed when the contract was executed.

FX, FOREX: An abbreviation for ‘Foreign Exchange’.

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G

GDP: Gross Domestic Product. A measurement in dollar terms of aggregate goods and services produced within a particular economy over a year and excluding income earned outside the country. Considered one of the main yardsticks of the health and vitality of the particular economy.

Gift Duty: Tax payable on gifts over a particular value.  The rate depends on the size of the total gift made in any 12-month period according to the following schedule:  Gifts from $0 to $27,000: 0%; Gifts from $27,000 to $36,000: 5%; Gifts from $36,000 to $54,000: 10%; Gifts from $54,000 to $72,000: 20%; Gifts from $72,000 upwards: 25%.

Gifting: (see also ‘Trust’): The process of giving and asset or forgiving a debt – often applies to the transfer of assets into a ‘trust’.

GNP: Gross National Product. The GDP with the addition of interests, profit and dividends received from abroad. The GNP better reflects the welfare of the population in monetary terms, although it is not as accurate as a guide to the productive performance of the economy as the GDP.

Growth investments: These investments generally include local and international shares, and property investments. These assets are expected to experience capital growth and a degree of risk is involved. See also interest bearing investments.

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H

Hedging: What is hedging?

Taking steps to protect against, or at least reduce, a risk; a form of insurance. The term is common in futures and foreign exchange markets where traders use facilities available to protect themselves against future price or exchange rate variations.

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I

Institute of Financial Advisers (IFA): What is the IFA?

The IFA or Institute of Financial Advisers (www.ifa.org.nz) is the main professional body for financial advisers in NZ.  IFA promotes and enforces educational and other professional standards for the benefits of consumers by enforcing its code of ethics, practice standards and rules.  IFA has complaints and disciplinary processes for members of the public who deal with members.  It also controls the CFPcm marks in New Zealand on behalf of the international Financial Planning Standards Board (www.fpsb.org)

Imputation credit: Credit for tax previously paid by a company or investment manager that can be used to offset a tax liability that would otherwise arise, but not otherwise available as a rebate. 

Index: A calculation that uses a selection of shares or bonds to gauge a certain market. The NZSE 40 for example is an index of 50 companies with the greatest free float listed on the NZ Stock Exchange.

Indexing: A low-risk investment management strategy in which, the investor trades according to the performance of a market as a whole, rather than particular stocks or assets.

Inflation: A persistent rise in the level of prices and wages within an economy. See CPI.

Income investments: 

Interest-bearing investments: Investments which contractually produce income.  These investments generally include local, and international fixed interest securities (bonds) and various ‘cash’ (short-term or call) investments.

Internal rate of return (IRR): The return from an investment over its term.  Comparable to the constant rate from a bank account assuming interest was compounded, and allowing for the timing and size of all deposits and withdrawals. The IRR is calculated to show the rate at which the present value of future cashflows from an investment is equal to the cost of the investment.

Investment Statement: A plan English document that must be registered with the Securities Commission and provided by the issuer of a managed fund or other investment offered to the public.  An investment statement is designed to give a prospective investor all relevant information about that investment.

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J

Joint and survivor annuity: Some superannuation plans offer this form of pension payout that usually pays for the life of the member with 50% of the total usually payable to a surviving spouse after the retiree dies.

Joint tenancy: Co-ownership of property by two or more people in which the survivor(s) automatically assumes ownership of a decedent's interest.

Jointly held property: Property owned by two or more persons under joint tenancy, tenancy in common, or, in some states, community property.

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K - L

Liability: Any claim against the assets of a person or corporation: accounts payable, wages, and salaries payable, dividends declared payable, accrued taxes payable, and fixed or long-term obligations such as mortgages, debentures, and bank loans.

Limited partnership: Limited partnerships pool the money of investors to develop or purchase income-producing properties. When the partnership subsequently receives income from these properties, it distributes the income to its investors as dividend payments.

Liquidity: The ease with which an asset or security can be converted into cash without loss of principal.

Listed property: Constitutes shares in property companies or units in property trusts listed on the Stock Exchange.

Local authority bond: A debt security issued by a city council or other local authority.

Long-Term Investment: An investment that is generally suitable for investors with planning horizons longer than five years.

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M

Macro: Usually in reference to economics. The study of economic aggregates and their relationships to, for example, money, employment, interest rates, government spending, investment and consumption.

Managed fund: Arrangement involving the pooling of the contributions of individual investors in a fund. The fund is usually managed by a professional fund manager with management charges and other costs deducted from the pool. After costs and taxes, income earned buy the pooled assets is credited to the fund.

Marginal tax bracket: The range of taxable income that is taxable at a certain rate. See Tax Rate.

Marginal tax rate: The marginal rate of income tax that applies in NZ depends on whether or not a taxpayer qualifies for a Low Income Rebate (LIR).  For those receiving NZ Superannuation, the LIR applies to all income of less than $9,500 pa, and for other natural persons it applies only to income from personal exertion of less than $9,500 pa, after other income (eg interest, rents, beneficiary income, etc).   Ordinary marginal tax rates were as follows at 1 April 2004: Income from $0 to $38,000: 19.5%; Income from $38,000 to $60,000: 33%; Income over $60,000: 39%.

Master trust: A managed fund vehicle which enables advisers and clients to take advantage of economies of scale in grouping administration, research, fund manager selection and reporting processes under a common trust deed.

Medium-term investment: An investment that is generally suitable for investors with planning horizons of between two and five years.

Money market fund: A managed fund that specializes in investing in short-term securities and that tries to maintain a constant net asset value of $1.

MSCI: The Morgan Stanley Capital International Index. It measures the way international shares values have changed, and includes reinvestment of dividends. This index is often chosen as a benchmark for international share portfolios.

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N

Net asset value (NAV): In a business, the net value of its assets less any liabilities.  In a managed fund, the price at which the fund sells or redeems units. The net asset value of a fund is calculated by dividing the net market value of the fund's assets by the number of outstanding units.

Non-contributory superannuation: Type of superannuation in which the member does not personally contribute.

NZ Super: See NZ Superannuation.

NZ Superannuation (NZ Super, NZS): A guaranteed retirement income available to most NZ residents from the age of 65.   It also applies to immigrants to NZ who have worked here full-time for 10 years prior to the age of 65.  NZS is taxable income and as at 1 April 2004 the rate was (single, living alone) $15,669.16 gross ($12,952.68 after tax, with no other income); (married, each person) $11,883.04 gross ($9,963.72 after tax, with no other income).

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O

OECD: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Formed in 1961 to promote cooperation among industrialised member countries on economic and social policies. The 25 members are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK and USA.

Option: A derivative; contract giving the holder the right but not the obligation to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specified price during a given period of time.

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P

PIE (Portfolio Investment Entity): New tax regime for most managed investments from 1 October 2007.  Taxed under FDR rules (but with tax on a flat 5% each year for overseas shares).  Tax is payable at investor’s marginal rate, and income does not  form part of individual income  for tax.  See table Taxation of investments on page 30 for more details.

Portfolio: A group of securities owned by an investor or institution.

Preference shares: A class of shares with claim to a company's earnings, before payment can be made on the ordinary shares, and that is usually entitled to priority over common stock if the company liquidates. Generally, preferred shares pay dividends at a fixed rate.

Pre-nuptial agreement: A legal agreement arranged before marriage stating who owns property acquired before marriage and during marriage and how property will be divided in the event of separation or divorce.

Price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio): The market price of a stock divided by the company's annual earnings per share. Because the P/E ratio is a widely regarded yardstick for investors, it often appears with share price quotations.

Principal: In a security, the principal is the amount of money that is invested, excluding earnings. In a debt instrument such as a bond, it is the face amount.

Probate: The court-supervised process in which a decedent's estate is settled and distributed.

Profit-sharing plan: An agreement under which employees share in the profits of their employer. The company makes annual contributions to the employees' accounts. These funds usually accumulate tax deferred until the employee retires or leaves the company.

Property: Usually refers to direct property investment, which covers a wide range of real assets including office (commercial), retail (shopping centres), industrial, hotel and leisure as well as residential properties.

Prospectus: A document that must be registered with the Securities Commission detailing key information about that investment, including information on the minimum investment, the fund's objectives, past performance, risk level, sales charges, management fees, and any other expense information about the fund, as well as a description of the services provided to investors in the fund.

Put option: The right, but not the obligation, to buy a financial instrument or a commodity within a specified period.

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Q

Quant (Quantitative): An approach or a specialist in portfolio management or bond research who develops systems that map past movements in financial markets with a view to predicting future equity, commodity, and currency values.

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R

Real return: The rate of return on an investment after tax, all costs and inflation.

Relationship (matrimonial) property: Generally all property acquired during a marriage or similar relationship, excluding property one spouse receives from a will, inheritance, or gift - is relationship property, and each partner is entitled to one half. This includes debt accumulated.

Resource: Any physical item produced for trade purposes. Australia's resources include coal, gold, aluminium and oil.

Risk: (1) The chance that an investor will lose all or part of an investment. 

Risk: (2) The chance that the actual return from an investment will differ from the return expected.

Risk-averse: Refers to the assumption that rational investors will choose the security with the least risk if they can maintain the same return. As the level of risk goes up, so must the expected return on the investment.

Running yield: The interest rate on an investment expressed as a percentage of the capital invested, thus showing the actual cash flow of the amount paid for the investment.

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S

Security: Evidence of an investment, either in direct ownership (as with shares), creditorship (as with bonds), or indirect ownership (as with options).

Security: Written undertaking securing repayment of money. They are typically negotiable instruments such as bonds, bills of exchange, promissory notes or share certificates which establish ownership and payment rights between parties.

Settlors: See ‘Trust’.

Shares: Also known as ‘stocks’ and ‘equities’. A person who buys a portion of a company's capital becomes a shareholder in that company's assets and as such receives a share of the company's profits in the form of an annual dividend. There are different types of shares, for example ordinary, preference, cumulative preference and participating preference shares.

Short-term investment: An investment that is generally suitable for investors with planning horizons of less than two years.

Soft dollars: Alternative rewards from suppliers of products or services based on the adviser’s sales of the supplier’s product(s).  Soft dollars can include such things as overseas trips, gifts, computers, and contributions to business costs, cash and/or other goods.  Soft dollars can influence advice away from the best interests of a client.  Hassan & Associates does not permit its advisers to accept soft dollar rewards with a value more than $300.

Split-dollar plan: An arrangement under which two parties (usually a company and employee) share the cost of a life insurance policy and split the proceeds.

Strategic plan: A long-term plan.  In business this typically relates to a future period of 3 to 5 years.  In investment planning it typically refers to the ‘normal’ investment benchmarks adopted by an investment adviser of fund manager over similar periods.

Superannuation: A pension or payment to a person retiring from full-time work on reaching a legislated age. The term also refers to the accumulating contributions by employers and employees to a superannuation fund.  See also ‘Registered Superannuation Fund’

Surplus: The excess of income or asset value over expenses or liabilities.

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T

Tax bracket: The range of taxable income that is taxed at a certain rate. Brackets are expressed by their marginal rate.  See Tax Rate.

Tax credit: Tax credits, are credits for tax that has been subtracted directly from income.

Tax planning: Activities aimed at achieving optimal tax-efficiency.

Tax rates: See ‘Marginal tax rates’.

Taxable income: The amount of income used to compute tax liability. It is determined by subtracting adjustments, allowable deductions, and any personal exemption from gross income.

TD: See Term Deposit.

Technical analysis: An approach to investing in shares in which a share's past performance is mapped onto charts. These charts are examined to find familiar patterns to use as an indicator of the stock's future performance.

Tenancy in common: A form of co-ownership. Upon the death of a co-owner, his or her interest passes to his or her chosen beneficiaries and not to the surviving owner or owners.

Term deposit: Contracted fixed term investment with a bank or other financial institution.  Interest may be compounded or payable monthly, quarterly or semi-annually.

Term insurance: Term life insurance provides a death benefit if the insured dies. Term insurance does not accumulate cash value and ends after a certain number of years or at a certain age.

Testamentary trust: A trust established by a will that takes effect upon death.

Testator: One who has made a will or who dies having left a will.

Total return: The total of all earnings from a given investment, including dividends, interest, and any capital gain.

TriMax: TriMax is a joint venture between Grosvenor and Fidelity (the largest wholly NZ-owned insurance company, with an "A- Excellent" rating from AM Best) that enables advisers to provide high quality personal insurance products to their clients at low cost.

Trust deed: The formal legal document which sets out the rules governing how a trust operates.

Trust income: Income received by a trust is subject to 33% unless it is distributed to ‘Beneficiaries’, when tax applies at their ‘Marginal rate’.

Trust, Family Trust: An arrangement through which ‘Settlors’ transfer assets to a group of ‘Trustees’ to hold for the benefit of one of more nominated ‘Beneficiaries’.  A trust can operate for a term of no more than 80 years, and can usually be terminated on the happening of a specified event (such as the death of one or more of the Settlors).

Trustee: Individual or company with the duty to ensure that the rules of the trust deed are adhered to. Trustees may be responsible for the running of a family trust,  superannuation or unit trust, and are bound by the Trustees Amendment Act.

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U

Unbundled Life Insurance: An insurance policy that combines a death benefit with a savings element.

Under/overweight: Underweight is less than the benchmark holding in an asset class; overweight is greater than the benchmark holding.

Unit price: Value of a unit in a fund, which will typically change daily according to fluctuations in the value of the assets in the fund. Unit prices may be ‘allocation’ or ‘buy’ prices (which can include commission and other costs) or ‘release’, ‘redemption’ or ‘sell’ prices (which may include exit commission or other costs).  The unit prices quoted by Hassan & Associates for are always exit prices, as no commission or other costs apply.

Unit: A share in a managed fund.

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V

Volatility: A measure of the variability of returns. It is usually measured as the standard deviation of investment returns, and is often used as a proxy for investment risk.

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W

Weighting: Percentage or proportion of the portfolio invested in each asset class.

Whole of life insurance: A type of life insurance that offers a death benefit and also accumulates cash value. Whole life insurance policies generally have a fixed annual premium that does not rise over the duration of the policy. Whole life insurance is also referred to as "ordinary" or "straight" life insurance.

Wholesale fund: A fund designed for professional and fund investors, and not usually open to smaller retail investors.  Typically have minimum investment requirements of $5m to $15m.

Will: A legal document that declares a person's wishes concerning the disposition of property, the guardianship of his or her children, and the administration of the estate after his or her death.

Withholding tax: Tax deducted from income by an employer, or from interest or dividends by the issuer of a security and paid to the Inland Revenue Department on account of a taxpayer.  A taxpayer filing a tax return can reclaim overpaid withholding tax.

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X - Y

Yield: In general, the yield is the amount of current income provided by an investment. For shares, the yield is calculated by dividing the total of the annual dividends by the current price. For bonds, the yield is calculated by dividing the annual interest by the current price. The yield is distinguished from the return, which includes price appreciation or depreciation.

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Z

Zero-coupon bond: This type of bond makes no periodic interest payments but instead is sold at a steep discount from its face value. Bondholders receive the face value of their bonds when they mature, with income tax payable on any gain.

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