BLUE SKY LAWS
Every state has its own set of securities laws—commonly referred to as “Blue Sky Laws”—that are designed to protect investors against fraudulent sales practices and activities. While these laws do vary from state to state, most state laws typically require companies making offerings of securities to register their offerings before they can be sold in a particular state, unless a specific state exemption is available. The laws also license brokerage firms, their brokers, and investment adviser representatives. Source Blue Sky Laws | Investor.gov
Fun Fact: The first blue sky law was enacted in Kansas in 1911 at the urging of its banking commissioner, Joseph Norman Dolley, and served as a model for similar statutes in other states. Learn more by reading “A Century of Investor Protection 1911-2011”
Under federal securities laws, only persons who are accredited investors may participate in certain securities offerings. One reason these offerings are limited to accredited investors is to ensure that all participating investors are financially sophisticated and able to fend for themselves or sustain the risk of loss, thus rendering unnecessary the protections that come from a registered offering. Unlike offerings registered with the SEC in which certain information is required to be disclosed, companies and private funds, such as a hedge fund or venture capital fund, engaging in these exempt offerings do not have to make prescribed disclosures to accredited investors. These offerings involve unique risks and you should be aware that you could lose your entire investment.
An investment adviser is a firm or person that, for compensation, engages in the business of providing investment advice to others about the value of or about investing in securities – stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange traded funds (ETFs), and certain other investment products and/or in issuing reports or analyses regarding securities, as part of a regular business. Advisers typically provide ongoing advice about buying, selling and/or holding investments and will monitor the performance of your investments and their alignment with your overall investment objectives. The fee that you pay for this advice is typically based on the value of all of the assets held in your account with the adviser. You may pay other fees and costs related to servicing your account and the investments that you buy, sell or hold. Advisers also may give advice about market trends or asset allocation or offer financial planning services.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COMPANIES (BDCS)
BDCs are a way for retail investors to invest money in small and medium-sized private companies and, to a lesser extent, other investments, including public companies. BDCs are complex and have certain unique risks. This Investor Bulletin discusses BDCs whose shares can be bought and sold on national securities exchanges, or “publicly traded” BDCs.
A time when stock prices are rising, and market sentiment is optimistic. Generally, a bull market occurs when there is a rise of 20% or more in a broad market index over at least a two-month period.
Source Bull Market | Investor.gov
A time when stock prices are declining, and market sentiment is pessimistic. Generally, a bear market occurs when a broad market index falls by 20% or more over at least a two-month period.
Source Bear Market | Investor.gov
THE RULE OF 72
The Rule of 72 is a great way to estimate how your investment will grow over time. If you know the interest rate, the Rule of 72 can tell you approximately how long it will take for your investment to double in value. Simply divide the number 72 by your investment’s expected rate of return (interest rate). Assuming an expected rate of return of 9%, your investment will double in value about every 8 years (72 divided by 9 equals 8).
DEFINED BENEFIT PLAN
A defined benefit plan promises you a specified monthly benefit at retirement. The benefit may be a fixed dollar amount or may depend on a plan formula that considers factors such as salary and years of service. Defined benefit plans also are known as pension plans. Employers sponsor defined benefit plans and typically hire investment managers to make investment choices. The employer shoulders the investment risks.
DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLAN
A defined contribution plan, such a 401(k) plan, does not promise you a specific payment upon retirement. In these plans, you or your employer (or both) contribute to your individual account under the plan, sometimes at a set rate, such as 5% of your annual salary. In a defined contribution plan, the employee shoulders the investment risks, and the value of the account will fluctuate due to changes in the value of the investments. Upon retirement, you receive the balance in your account, which depends on contributions plus or minus investment gains or losses.
A 401(k) plan is an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan. 401(k)s are largely self-directed: You decide how much you would like to contribute, and which investments from among those offered by the plan you would like to invest in. Traditional 401(k)s are funded with money deducted from your pre-tax salary. Your earnings are tax deferred until you withdraw your money from your account. Roth 401(k)s are funded with after-tax income, but withdrawals are tax free if you follow the rules.
Source: Retirement Accounts | FINRA.org
A 403(b) plan, sometimes known as a tax-sheltered annuity (TSA) or a tax-deferred annuity (TDA), is an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan for employees of not-for-profit organizations, such as colleges, hospitals, foundations and cultural institutions. Some employers offer 403(b) plans as a supplement to—rather than a replacement for—defined benefit pensions.
Source: Retirement Accounts | FINRA.org
These tax-deferred retirement savings plans are available to state and municipal employees. Like traditional 401(k) and 403(b) plans, the money you contribute and any earnings that accumulate in your name are not taxed until you withdraw.
Source: Retirement Accounts | FINRA.org
INDIVIDUAL RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS (IRAS)
Individual Retirement Accounts provide tax advantages for retirement savings. You can contribute each year up to the maximum amount allowed by the IRS. There are several types of IRAs available:
- Traditional IRA – Contributions typically are tax-deductible. You pay no taxes on IRA earnings until retirement, when withdrawals are taxed as income.
- Roth IRA – Contributions are made with after-tax funds and are not tax-deductible, but earnings and withdrawals are tax-free.
- SEP IRA – Allows an employer, typically a small business or self-employed individual, to make retirement plan contributions into a traditional IRA established in the employee’s name.
- SIMPLE IRA – Is available to small businesses that do not have any other retirement savings plan. The SIMPLE, which stands for Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees, IRA allows employer and employee contributions, similar to a 401(k) plan, but with simpler, less costly administration, and lower contribution limits.
HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT (HSA)
Tax-advantaged savings account that you can use to pay for eligible medical expenses. Eligible medical expenses include, for example, co-payments, deductibles, or coinsurance. By law, you can only contribute money to an HSA if you participate in a qualified high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP). However, you can always hold and spend money you have already contributed to your HSA. This applies even if you no longer participate in an HDHP. HSAs offer accountholders the chance to save. Some HSAs also offer accountholders the chance to invest, including in securities like mutual funds or ETFs. You can use this money to pay for both current and future medical expenses. An HSA may offer several advantages over using a traditional checking or savings account to pay for medical expenses: 1) Tax-deductible contributions 2) Tax-deferred growth 3) Tax-free withdrawals for eligible medical expenses 4) Unused balance carried over year after year (no “use it or lose it”)
EDUCATION SAVINGS PLAN (529)
A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future educational costs. 529 plans, legally known as “qualified tuition plans,” are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. There are two types of 529 plans: prepaid tuition plans and education savings plans. All fifty states and the District of Columbia sponsor at least one type of 529 plan. In addition, a group of private colleges and universities sponsor a prepaid tuition plan.
The Kansas-sponsored 529 plan can be found at: Kansas Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Program
ABLE SAVINGS PLAN (529A)
An Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account provides a tax-advantaged savings method for disability-related expenses. Contributions are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes, but your investments can grow tax-free and remain so when withdrawn and used for disability-related expenses. Similar to 529 college-savings plans, ABLE programs are administered by the states. Many states have established ABLE programs and you may have the option to choose your own state’s plan. As with 529 plans, you can typically choose among several investment options with an ABLE account, which often includes mutual funds and money market funds. You may also be able to allocate funds to savings or checking options and access account funds via checks or ATMs. When making your investment choices, it is important to understand your goals and expected uses for the money you have in an ABLE account.
The Kansas-sponsored ABLE plan can be found at: SaveWithABLE.com
Test Your Knowledge…
Investing Knowledge Quiz
Continue Your Journey…