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Glossary of Investment Terms – The Complete Guide

When it comes to investing and saving, you can easily get lost with all the complicated terms and abbreviations, so we’ve put together the complete glossary of investment terms to help you understand their meaning.

It’s important that you fully understand finance and investing terms so you can get the most from your investments. With our glossary of investment terms we hope you learn something new and find the investment term you were looking for.



An asset can be defined as anything of value owned by an individual, business or nation that can be converted into cash.

An asset is essentially anything which can be utilised to make money, sold to create extra money or both.

The assets of a company are usually considered as equivalent to cash. They’re also included on a company’s balance sheet.

Actively Managed Fund

An actively managed fund is a mutual fund that uses a professional manager to oversee its portfolio. Most hedge funds are also considered to be actively managed funds.

While many investors prefer to invest their retirement savings in passively managed funds, such as index funds, there are some instances where an actively managed fund might be preferable.


Designed to provide for retirement, should you want a regular income for the rest of your life, you can buy an annuity. With this financial mechanism, you purchase a fund with your pension which provides a regular income. An annuity is a promise from an insurance company to pay you a fixed amount of money each year. Annuities are usually purchased with pension funds and they provide a steady flow of income for life.



A broker is an individual or entity that buys and sells assets or services for others. In the instance of a financial broker, this will include the coordination of the sale of assets and securities between the party selling the asset and the party buying the asset.

When purchasing a bond or stock, you will often utilise the services of a broker.

Bear Market

A bear market occurs when a stock falls below its normal trading range temporarily. This may occur during a period of economic instability. A bear market usually ends when investors have given up, the economy starts to improve, or stocks rise back up in value.


A bond is an investment, the return of which is linked to the performance of a specific type of asset. A bond will be on credit for a certain period of time and is usually issued by governments or large companies. Investors purchase bonds in order to earn interest, and also take advantage of their safety.

Bull Market

A bull market is an upturn in the equity or commodity markets during which the prices of stocks and commodities advance, often rapidly. The primary cause of a bull market is economic growth. Bull markets can also be called a bull market, or bull market rally. A bear market is the opposite of a bull market, meaning it is when the stock falls in value. A bear market sometimes lasts for more than six months, and usually ends with an economic recession.


Cash ISA

A cash ISA is a savings account designed to grow your money free from any tax on the interest earned. ISA stands for Individual Savings Account, and all residents of the UK are entitled to an annual ISA allowance which currently stands at £20,000 for the year 2021/22. Anything over and above this amount, deposited into an ISA in any one financial year, will be subject to income tax.

Whilst you are unable to invest your savings within a Cash ISA, the money deposited within will attract interest which can vary depending on the institution offering the Cash ISA in question.

Capital Gains Tax

Capital gains taxes are a tax on the profit you make by selling an asset, such as property or shares. They don’t affect you if you make money by holding or using an asset. They are only applied to sales and so are sometimes referred to as “sales tax.” Capital gains taxes are levied by different countries in different ways.


Contracts for difference (CFDs) particularly CFD trading platforms create contracts where the buyer will pay to the seller the difference between the current value of an asset and its value at the contract time.

Compound Interest

Compound interest is the interest gained on the interest gained. It is the best way for an individual to grow their money, and it’s also one of the key factors in economic growth. It is important to understand what compound interest is so that you can benefit from it as well. It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t.



Dividends are distributed to shareholders of a company in proportion to the number of shares they own. They are one of the sources of income for a company and can be paid to shareholders in cash, stock, or property. In general, dividends are usually paid out at least twice a year.


Derivatives are financial instruments that derive their value from underlying assets. For instance, a derivative contract can be used to speculate on future movements of stock prices. The financial instrument itself does not represent ownership of the underlying asset, but the holder has the right to receive a payoff if it moves a certain way.

Day Trader

A day trader is someone who trades stocks or other securities on the same day, at the end of the trading day. They typically buy and sell within the same trading session, with no intention of holding any of the stocks or securities they trade.


ESG Investing

ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. It is a framework for creating sustainable portfolios that account for environmental and social factors in addition to financial considerations. ESG investing is the process of investing money in companies that have good ESG practices. These companies are not necessarily producing superior financial returns, but have a track record of taking good care of their employees, the communities in which they operate. and the environment.

Earnings Per Share

When companies make money, they should be able to share some of that money with its shareholders. Earnings per share (EPS) is the amount of cash a company received from its business activities. This sum is divided by the number of shares in a company’s capital stock, and recorded as an “adjusted” figure on the company’s financial statement. EPS is an important metric because it’s a good measure of how well a company is doing relative to its peers and given the prevailing stock market conditions at the time.

Exchange Traded Fund (ETF)

An ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) is a type of open-end mutual fund that trades on an organized stock exchange. Unlike mutual funds, ETFs can trade like stocks throughout the day and are subject to price volatility when they do. ETFs are traded throughout the day on the stock exchange and are not held in institutional accounts.

ETFs are a popular investment strategy as they provide diversification, liquidity, and cost efficiency. ETFs can be created by financial institutions such as banks, brokers and even mutual funds.

Also consider: How to buy gold stocks and the best gold ETFs UK



Forex, or the foreign exchange currency market, is a global, decentralised marketplace for the trading of currencies. Currencies are traded as pairs, so when you buy a currency you sell another at the same time. Forex is the largest market in the world. The forex market usually takes place at the end of each day, and it has a 24-hour movement that is known as “the forex” (pronounced “four exchange”). The two participants in this trade are usually known as traders.

Final Salary Scheme

A final salary scheme is a type of defined contribution plan. The funds in this type of plan are not invested but rather set aside for each employee to receive on retirement. It offers a pension that is equivalent to the average salary or lower, depending on the company’s scheme design and if it is set up as a defined benefit plan. In a final salary scheme, defined benefits are usually not provided by the employer. The employer instead offers an annuity or a simple “cash balance” pension scheme with a single retirement date.


The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is a regulatory scheme set up in the United Kingdom to identify an institution that has failed in providing financial services and ensuring that compensation is paid out to those who have been affected by their failure.


Growth fund

A growth fund is a type of investment vehicle that is designed to help investors grow their capital. Growth funds are used for the purpose of generating returns that are diversified across a variety of markets and investment sectors. The main purpose of a growth fund is to generate a positive return over time.


Gilts are a type of government bond with maturities between one year and thirty years, issued by Great Britain’s treasury. The government can borrow money by selling bonds to the public. Interest on these bonds is typically not taxed because they are considered a debt owed to the federal government. Gilts are Government bonds in which are securities with the backing of the United States government. In other words, they are backed by the U.S. treasury in the event of an insolvency as well as a maturity date. In general, government bonds have lower interest rates than corporate bonds due to the risk of insolvency.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Gross domestic product is a measurement of the total market value of goods and services produced in the country over a specific time period, usually one year. The GDP is the sum of all market exchanges in a country during one year. It is calculated by adding up the total expenditures for final goods and services produced in that year, plus any net income from investments minus any taxes that were paid on those incomes.


Hedge Fund

Hedge funds are investment vehicles that aim to provide a hedge against adverse movements in the market. Management of these funds can include trading stocks and other securities, including derivatives, to gain exposure to the entire market or to specific sectors or industries.


Hedging is a financial transaction that takes place when an individual or company buys and sells, simultaneously, the same contract types of securities to mitigate their risk. Hedging can reduce the risk of potential profits being lost by market fluctuations. The term is used to describe both the act of using derivative instruments to protect an economic position and the resulting financial transaction.

Historic Yield

The historic yield is calculated by dividing the security price by the annualized total return of the security. The calculation is used to see if an investment has been growing in value over time. This calculation can also be used to determine how well a single investment has fared against other investments in that particular category.


Individual Savings Account (ISA)

An Individual Savings Account (ISA) is a savings account from which individual taxpayers can make tax-free and unrestricted withdrawals. There are two versions of this account: the Stocks and Shares ISA, which offers interest payments on investments in shares, government stock or a deposit account; and the Cash ISA, which is usually limited to deposits with a bank or building society.

Independent Financial Adviser (IFA)

An Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) is a financial planner that offers financial advice to their clients. They’re specialised in the financial markets, so they work in collaboration with their clients to create a bespoke plan that’s tailored for them.

An independent financial adviser can offer guidance on the best financial products and services for you and being independent means that they are free from any affiliations with any one provider and can therefore recommend the best financial product for your unique circumstances from across the entire market.

Index Tracker

An index tracker is an investment instrument that is typically issued by a large financial institution. Index trackers provide the investor with an easy, cost-effective and less risky way to invest their money in stocks from the stock market. Index trackers are also known as index mutual funds, index portfolios and index ETFs.

Initial Public Offering (IPO)

An initial public offering (IPO) is a type of stock market launch in which shares of a company are sold to the general public for the first time, previously only available on the inside market to insiders and company employees. The initial public offering price is set by taking into account private market transactions that have already occurred.


Junior ISA (JISA)

Junior ISAs are designed to encourage saving and provide an opportunity for children aged 7–17 to save without being penalised with tax on the interest they earn. Junior ISAs came into force in April 2017, replacing Child Trust Funds. Earnings do not get taxed until the child turns 18 years old. There are two types of Junior ISA: cash and stocks and shares. There is no monthly minimum contribution required but there is an annual limit of £4,000 per child which can be saved either into cash or stocks and shares Junior ISAs.

Junior market

The junior market is a market used for smaller and younger companies to be able to trade shares. As a company grows, it’s easier to list on Junior marketplaces. These smaller markets are less strict than the larger markets.

Junk Bonds

Junk bonds are typically debt securities that have a below-investment-grade credit rating. In other words, junk bonds are bonds with a high probability of default. This is because the company issuing the bond faces very high levels of risk. Most junk bonds have some sort of tax-favourable structure. That is, there are ways in which the bond can be characterized as a different type of security than it really is in order to lower the taxable yield to bondholders.


Key Investor Information Document (KIID)

A Key Investor Information Document (KIID) is a document that is published by companies to provide investors, potential investors, and others with key information about the company in question and investment funds.

Key Lending Rate

The key lending rate is the price of money charged by banks to other financial institutions. It’s also used by banks themselves to calculate interest charges on loans or investments. The key lending rate is often called the “refinance” rate as it determines how much interest a borrower has to pay on new debt from a bank.

Kids in Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings (KIPPERS)

Kids in Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings (KIPPERS) is adults who are still living at home with their parents even though they are of the working age. This can affect parents as parents who are still housing their kids are trying to manage their own finances and plan for their retirement while also dealing with the added expense of housing an adult.



Leverage is a result of financial trading in which the investor uses borrowed money to trade for an investment gain. By borrowing such large amounts from banks, it becomes easier for investors to anticipate high returns on trades and investments. Barriers to entry are financial and legal restraints that make it difficult for a new competitor to establish itself in a market. As competition increases, firms will begin to incur losses due to excess capacity, and the overall market equilibrium will move closer to the long-run supply curve.


Liquidity refers to the degree of which an asset or security can be turned into cash. Liquidity is a measure of the extent to which an asset or security can be converted into cash in a timely manner at the prevailing market price. It denotes the ability and willingness of financial buyers and sellers to transact business. In other words, liquidity is essentially marketability. Every asset has its price but the price will not be determined by the asset’s intrinsic value (like gold or silver) that can never be obtained.

Limit Order

Limit orders are orders placed with a specific price and an expiration date. In most cases, the order will not be executed until the expiration date has passed. The purpose of a limit order is to control the execution price. Limit orders are not guaranteed to execute. There is a possibility that the price of the stock may move down beyond the price specified by the trader, in which case the order will not be executed. Unlike market orders and stop orders, limit orders do not guarantee execution.


Market Capitalisation

Market capitalisation, also known as market cap, is a term used to refer to the value of a company. The value can be calculated by multiplying the price per share with the total number of shares outstanding. There are several ways to interpret a company’s market cap. The most obvious is to look at the value of that company from the perspective of an investor.

Mutual Fund

Mutual Funds are a vehicle for pooled investments, which typically consist of securities such as stocks or bonds. These investment entities can be invested in by an investor that creates a “mutual fund account,” and is then seen as the member of a mutual fund. Mutual funds offer diversification by pooling the investments in the fund with those of other investors. As such, funds can allocate parts of their portfolios to any number of different investment types (e.g., stocks or bonds). This diversification mechanism is one way that mutual funds are able to reduce risk relative to individual securities.

Market Index

A market index is a measure of the state of a particular stock market, mutual fund or other aggregate financial market. The index tracks how the market as a whole is doing, and it can be used to determine if one part of the market is performing better than another. The market index is a combination of market participants’ decisions on how to value the assets being traded.



NASDAQ is the acronym for the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, or the American stock market. It was initially created by members of the American stock exchange as an electronic trading platform for small and large investors. It provides a way to invest in public companies while also providing information about those companies to investors.

Net Asset Value (NAV)

The net asset value is an accounting term that is used to determine the total assets of a company as a percentage of its total equity. The calculation starts with subtracting the liabilities and adding intangible assets, goodwill, and other factors such as preferred stock. The NAV would then be multiplied by two to get the market capitalisation.

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

The New York Stock Exchange is a stock exchange, the world’s largest and most famous. The stock exchange lists more than 2,600 domestic and foreign stocks from more than 100 countries. The NYSE trades some stocks and options, but not all. All stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange are publicly traded. That means you can buy and sell them.


Occupational Pension Scheme

An Occupational Pension Scheme (OPS) is a pension arrangement set up by employers to provide long-term savings for employees’ retirement. It allows employees to contribute a proportion of their income in the form of pension contributions, which are typically deducted before tax. A proportion of this investment income is then used to pay retirement benefits. It is a type of Compensated Pension Scheme (CPS).

Ordinary Share

Ordinary shares are often the most common and tradable form of stock. They are most often offered in small rounds to investors, and they trade on exchanges with an unlimited number of shares. An ordinary share is the smallest possible unit of ownership in a company. The two main aspects of ownership of ordinary shares are: the right to receive a fixed dividend payment (dividend), which is paid out to owners of ordinary shares; and the right to vote on matters such as election.

Open Ended Investment Company

An open-ended investment company is an organisation which invests in a portfolio of securities across the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. They are a type of mutual fund, which means they typically invest in assets such as stocks, bonds, and other instruments. Open-ended investment companies function similar to hedge funds but differ in that their investments are not limited to pre-set rules or strategies.


Penny Share

Penny shares are stocks that typically trade for less than £1 in the UK and less than $5 in the US.

Preference Shares

Preference shares are shares that give their holders the right to a specified dividend before the holders of ordinary or common shares. There are two main types of preference shares: cumulative and non-cumulative. Non-cumulative preference shares do not carry any right to receive dividends in the event of a company’s liquidation. Instead, the holders of the shares are entitled to a pro rata share of the amount that the company’s assets are worth when the shareholder purchases his or her shares.


A pension is a form of income that is periodic. It is an accumulated fund of benefits granted by either the government or an employer, which can then be paid out to the individual upon retirement or death. Periodic pension usually refers to the payment of a regular amount of money, however not necessarily at regular intervals or by means of a schedule. This is when the payment is not contracted for a specific period, but on an agreed basis. Most countries have some form of a state pension scheme that is paid through the government, however in many cases, it is not always sufficient for the financial needs of retirees.

Price/Earnings Ratio (P/E)

The P/E ratio is a measure of how expensive or cheap a stock is relative to its earnings per share. It is calculated by dividing the value of a company’s stock price per share, by its earnings per share. The P/E ratio measures how much investors are paying for each dollar earned. In other words, it is a measure of demand and supply. The higher the P/E, the more investors are willing to pay for each dollar of earnings. The lower the P/E, the cheaper investors think this stock is in terms of its earnings.


Quarterly Reporting

Quarterly reporting is a term that can be used to describe the practice of companies supplying a report to investors on how their company’s stocks have been doing in the past three months. Depending on the company, this may include sectional reports, operating reports, business segment reporting and events which can be added to a quarterly report.

Quantitative Easing (QE)

Quantitative Easing (QE) is a monetary policy with the goal of stimulating economic growth by increasing the amount of money in circulation. Central banks introduce QE by purchasing or creating financial assets in large quantities, typically government bonds. The Federal Reserve conducts the largest QE program in the US as a means of stimulating the economy after the 2008 financial crisis.

Quote-Driven Market

The Quote-Driven Market is a market that functions as a cyclical market between the seller and the buyer. This is typically done by using exchanges like Amazon.com, eBay, and other online platforms where individuals (sellers) list items for purchase (by buyers). The sellers agree to offer the item at a negotiated price and accept the first bid within five minutes of posting it on their listing. This style of selling allows the buyers to generally buy the item for a fixed price within five minutes, which means sellers need to be a bit more creative with their pricing strategy. By being fairly aggressive in pricing the item, they can get a higher price than if they bid on it themselves.


Retail Price Index (RPI)

The Retail Price Index is an index that was created with the intention of measuring the cost of a constant standard of living over time. It also measures how much prices have risen over a period and how frequently they change from month to month. Some people feel that indexing for the cost of living is a better method than actual inflation. Inflation, in this case, is defined as an increase in the prices of goods and services over a period of time.

Redemption Yield

The Redemption Yield is a monthly yield that must be paid to the bondholder. In general, the redemption yield is calculated by dividing the interest payment per period by the redemption price. A redemption yield is the amount of interest paid to bondholders by a company on a monthly basis. A bondholder purchases a bond with an interest rate that is paid out equally in each month. This means that all bonds will end up with the same redemption yield after 12 months.


A robo-advisor is an online wealth management service that offers automated, algorithm-based portfolio management. They provide portfolios of various asset classes, which can be mixed and matched to customise a client’s risk profile. Robo-advising strives to be a user-friendly alternative to traditional high-fee, in-person financial planning. Their technology optimally allocates assets based on the client’s age, risk tolerance and other factors. The cost of such services is generally low (usually less than 1%) and they can be accessed from anywhere.


Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP)

A self-invested personal pension, or SIPP, is an individual personal pension scheme where the investor has some choice in how their pension fund is invested. A SIPP is a type or sub-category of personal pension, which is a tax-friendly vehicle to save for retirement. Unlike a public or occupational pension scheme, an SIPP is a personal pension where the individual takes responsibility for investment decisions.

Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC)

A SPAC is a public shell company, typically grouped with other companies of the same industry, that is created to quickly go public without incurring the costs involved with going through an initial public offering (IPO). These companies are mainly created by venture capital firms and can often be identified by their abbreviation: SPAC. SPACs are distinguished from other shell companies by the fact that they go through a “reverse merger” with an already-public company.

Stocks & Shares ISA

A Stocks & Shares ISA is a way of saving and investing tax free. There are two main types of ISAs: a cash ISA and an eligible stocks & shares one (jointly known as “stamp-duty bonds” by HMRC). Both these types of ISAs must satisfy the criteria set out by HMRC.


Tracker Fund

A tracker fund is a type of mutual fund that tracks the capitalisation weighted, specific market index. This allows the fund manager to take a more passive approach and maintain the risk profile of the underlying index as opposed to trying to actively pick securities. The drawback is that there is less management oversight as compared to actively managed funds. They are a good way to experience the performance of the market index without paying the higher fees associated with actively managed funds.

Tangible Assets

Tangible assets are resources that have a physical existence, such as buildings, machinery, cash, and land. Tangible assets can also include inventories of raw materials or finished goods in a warehouse or storeroom. The main reason for using the term tangible assets is that these words are widely understood by investors and creditors.

Thematic Fund

A Thematic Fund is a type of fund that helps to finance the development of social missions. Social missions are other types of interest-based funds that invest in the topic they serve. Unlike traditional charitable interests, these funds have a particular vision for how they want to help or get involved. These funds are often referred to as social mission funds or social mission trusts, although there are also other names.


Unit Investment Trust (UIT)

A Unit Investment Trust (UIT) is an investment trust that issues a number of shares representing the ownership of a portfolio of investments. A UIT typically invests in stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents. They are different from mutual funds in that they do not continuously offer their shares for sale, but rather issue and redeem shares on fixed schedules, often monthly or weekly.

Unborrowable Stock

Unborrowable stocks are typically unavailable and can be sold only through the company, such as employee shares. There are some funds that specialise in unborrowable stocks with a focus on high-quality companies and deeper market insight.


UCITS is the international standard for open-ended funds that can be sold and bought on exchanges and are designed to spread the risk of investment across a number of countries. UCITS funds do not have to be registered as collective investment schemes like UCITS Funds. “UCITS” are Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities.



Volatility refers to the degree of volatility in an asset’s price movements. It is usually measured as the standard deviation of logarithmic returns for a security or market index over a given time period. Volatility is often distinguished from risk because it does not measure variability in actual returns and only measures fluctuations in prices due to some event.

Venture Capital

A Venture Capital company is an investment fund which invests in early-stage companies. Venture capital funds can be categorised as early stage and late stage. A small portion of their investment is typically given to the company, and most of it is returned to them when the company goes public or sells for a higher price.


VWAP stands for Volume Weighted Average Price. It is also known as VWAP-based index. The VWAP-based index is a volume-weighted average price that has the potential to adjust for the time and volatility. The value plotted by the VWAP-based index could be either up or down, as long as it’s moving. The best thing about the VWAP-based index is that it can be easily traded. It gives a clear picture of the market trends as if you’re in the market all day and watching all the changes.


Working Capital

Working Capital is the money a company has available to operate and grow. It’s the difference between what it takes to run a business each day and how much cash the company actually has on hand. Many companies run on a tight, barely-enough-to-get-by constraint, and yet they can’t seem to generate any net profit. These businesses are pushing their day jobs to the brink and working themselves too hard. They need more capital in order to grow.

Wealth Management Association (WMA)

The Wealth Management Association is a company which provides financial advice and services to clients.

W-8 Forms

If you want to invest in a property in the US, you will need to file a W-8 form. This form is required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify your tax status, even if you’re a UK investor.

There are five types of W-8 forms including: W-8BEN, W-8BEN-E, W-8ECI, W-8EXP, and W-8IMY.



Xenocurrency is a form of digital currency which is not tied to any bank or government. It is a set of rules, not a tangible entity. The market and value of the currency are based on users’ faith in the stability of its worth.


An extension printed after the ticker symbol for a stock is called an ex-rights quote (XRT). This means that the price of a stock is trading on an unrestricted basis.

XD (ex-dividend)

Ex-dividend is a term in finance used to describe a share of stock that has gone ex-dividend, i.e. the purchaser has acquired the right to the dividend and is entitled to receive it as part of this purchase. In the UK, most dividends are paid as an ex-dividend stock split and holders of record are still entitled to it, even though they own the shares.



The yield of an investment is the return or profit from an investment over a given period of time. This may be in terms of annualized, nominal GDP growth, real GDP growth, or the rate of inflation. The yield of an investment is determined by the relationship between the amount invested, interest rate, tax rate, and the value of money. In general in economics, it is also determined by market risk as well as other macroeconomic factors.

Yield Gap

The yield gap is the difference between the dividend yield of an equity and a long-term government bond. Typically, stocks or equities have a higher yield than bonds. This is because the risk of investing in stocks is much greater than the risk of investing in bonds.

Yield to Maturity (YTM)

Yield to maturity is the amount of interest that will be expected on a fixed investment, or the current yield generated on an investment in a particular currency. In finance, yield is the amount of income from a bond that an investor will earn if the bond pays interest at maturity. It is calculated by annualizing the periodic interest rate for a one-year period.


Zeta Model

The Zeta Model is based on Monte Carlo simulation, where probabilities are taken into account when estimating future returns. It is also based on the assumption that the mean return for all possible combinations of different asset-prices will converge to zero.

Zero-Dividend Preferred Stock

A zero-dividend preferred stock is a type of preferred stock that pays no dividends. This ensures an investor will only receive the principal amount invested via maturity or resale, whichever comes first. Zero-dividend preferred stock has characteristics that make it stable and attractive, but it also has restrictions and risks. Preferred stock without dividends is an excellent investment class for those investors who want to give their money a guaranteed return.

Zombie ETF

Zombie ETFs typically refer to ETFs that focus on and track obsolete companies. The idea behind it is that these companies are “dead” in the sense that they are not growing revenue or have declining revenue. However, there might be value in these stocks as a result of the economy catching up to them.