The Wealth Management Glossary by Nitrogen

Welcome to Nitrogen’s Wealth Management Glossary, a comprehensive resource crafted to empower financial advisors and investors with clear, concise definitions of key financial terms. Here, you’ll find essential concepts and terminology explained in a straightforward manner, enhancing your financial literacy and aiding in informed decision-making. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just beginning your investment journey, this glossary is designed to be your go-to guide for financial clarity and understanding.

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Active Management

Active management is an investment style aiming to outperform the market index and discover favorable risk-adjusted returns. This approach involves investors or outside managers using numerous strategies, such as fundamental and technical analyses, to pinpoint undervalued assets.

Unlike passive management, active fund managers may buy and sell assets more frequently. This enables them to leverage tax management benefits. However, it can also translate into losing out on gains from holding assets in the long term. Frequent changes in a client’s portfolio may affect their market sentiment, and so active management may be better suited to clients with a higher risk tolerance.

Active management advisors trade more frequently to offset losses and charge higher fees. This can affect their gains, as the benchmark for matching the market will be higher. Furthermore, some active managers charge a fee based on fund performance.

Advisor as Portfolio Manager (APM)

Financial advisory and portfolio management require similar but distinct skill sets and tools. An APM program provides advisory professionals the ability to combine both services with the help of comprehensive wealth management tools.

An APM is a program that combines investment guidance with portfolio management. This approach enables advisors to build portfolios from scratch while reducing administrative tasks. APM Solutions provides tools and support for advisors to better leverage portfolio management tools for customized asset allocation, model positions, and liquidity tools.

Many ARM programs also include features for client billing, prescription trading, and trade or portfolio notifications. As an APM is meant to be a flexible tool, it may also include or accept APIs to further enhance the program. In addition, some APM solutions offer a library of strategies and additional investment solutions to further tailor financial plans and portfolios according to a client’s risk tolerance or goals.


Alternative Investments

Alternative Investments refer to non-traditional asset classes that fall outside the conventional investment categories of stocks, bonds, and cash. These include assets like real estate, private equity, hedge funds, commodities, and tangible assets such as art and antiques. For wealth managers, alternative investments are an important tool for diversification and risk management, as they often display lower correlation with standard asset markets. They can provide unique opportunities for growth, income, and hedging against market volatility or inflation.

Annual Contract Value (ACV)

The ACV is a metric to evaluate the annualized revenue per client contract. This formula does not include one-time fees. It is used to measure the regular revenue from a subscription-based client contract. You can calculate ACV with the following equation:

(Total contract value (TCV) – One-time Fees) / Contract Term Length

In contrast to the annual contract value, TCV includes revenue with client contracts and one-time fees. Total contract value also does not take time into account.

The ACV metric is often more useful for industry comparisons as it is annualized and considers long-term regular revenue rather than optional or one-time fees.

Let’s look at an example:

A client stays with your firm for 3 years, and your firm has earned a total of $56,000. Your onboarding cost was $6,000. To find the ACV, you would plug in the numbers:

ACV = (56,000 – 6,000) / 3
ACV = 50,000 / 3
ACV = 16,666.67

Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)

Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) measures the money generated annually for a subscription. It demonstrates the health of a subscription or contract-based business. Furthermore, ARR can be used to predict growth, measure client churn, and budget for growth.

Typically, ARR is unaffected by billing cycles so long as the contract period remains the same. It does not include one-time charges or fees, only the base contract amount.

In addition, ARR calculations work best when the contract period is consistent across all accounts. Most use a year to accurately gauge revenue.

The formula for ARR is simple:

ARR = Total Contract Value /  Contract Period

For example, if a client is worth $50,000 in recurring revenue over 5 years, the equation would look like this:

ARR = $50,000 / 5
ARR = $10,000

It is possible to break down ARR based on client segmentation. For example, you can calculate the ARR for new customers versus renewals or churned clients. You can also measure added revenue from upgrades or downgrades, depending on how your recurring service fees are set. 

Annual Report

An annual report is a disclosure document required by public companies that provides in-depth information on a company’s financial and operational condition for shareholders. Registered mutual funds must also submit an annual report. This report includes financial data, operational information, market segments, management discussion, auditor’s report, accounting policies, product plans, subsidiary activities, research and development, and other essential information.

The annual report is filed with the SEC using Form 10-K. It is possible to find these reports in the SEC’s EDGAR database. Companies may choose to send this report or an additional report to shareholders. Companies must submit this report to shareholders during annual meetings to elect directors to the board.

The objective of annual reports is to provide shareholders with accurate and relevant information about a company or mutual fund so they may better evaluate its performance. For example, it’s possible to compare an organization’s expenses and revenue or estimate the likelihood of paying its debt. 

Application Programming Interface (API)

An API allows different software types to work together. An API may provide a dashboard and documentation. An API is not meant to be used by the end-user. Instead, it is a set of rules on how certain features connect and work within the main system.

In other words, an API acts as an intermediary between different programs. Application programming interfaces can be used for internal or external operations. The aim of API implementation is to save time and foster transparency.

Using an API often helps advisors and staff to seamlessly monitor or edit client information as needed. In some cases, APIs can enhance the original program through additional features. As a result, it can limit redundancy and boost productivity.

For example, Nitrogen’s API enables financial advisory firms to connect our core features with other tools. This includes the Nitrogen Risk Number®, GPA®, Risk Tolerance Questionnaire, Retirement Maps, Get Client, and Models and Portfolios. 

Asset Allocation

Asset Allocation is the strategic distribution of investments across various asset classes such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and cash, in a manner that aligns with the investor’s risk tolerance, time horizon, and financial goals. This diversification is fundamental in managing investment risk and optimizing potential returns. Asset Allocation strategies are dynamic and may change over time as market conditions, economic factors, and the investor’s personal circumstances evolve.

Assets Under Management (AUM)

Assets under management measure the total market value of the financial assets managed by an individual or firm. Advisory firms, mutual funds, venture capital firms, and other financial institutions use AUM to report asset market value. Some organizations may also include bank deposits, mutual funds, and cash in their calculation. The AUM for a firm changes based on the flow of money and asset performance and a higher metric is generally seen as a positive sign of an institution’s financial health and management.

This measurement is also used when calculating fees or as part of the minimum required to qualify for certain investment transactions. Many funds, for example, require a minimum AUM before allowing investment advisors access. These requirements are often higher than what an individual can afford on their own. Therefore, a high AUM can also be a competitive advantage when acquiring and maintaining clients.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act and the regulations set by the SEC, the asset under management (AUM) threshold for mandatory SEC registration of investment advisers was raised from $30 million to $110 million. Before July 2011, investment advisers were usually regulated by the state where their main office was located. They could only register with the SEC if they managed at least $25 million in AUM, and were obliged to do so upon reaching $30 million. Advisers managing less than $110 million may be excluded from SEC registration, depending on their AUM size and other specific criteria.

The revised thresholds and rules for registration can be summarized as follows:

  • Advisers with under $25 million in AUM cannot register with the SEC if they are in a state that regulates advisers, which includes all states except Wyoming.
  • For mid-sized advisers with AUM between $25 million and $100 million:
    • Registration with the SEC is mandatory if the main office is in New York or Wyoming, unless exempted (e.g., certain private fund advisers).
    • SEC registration is not permitted if the main office is in any other state and the adviser is required to be registered in that state. If not required to register in the state, SEC registration is necessary unless exempted.
  • Advisers nearing $100 million in AUM can utilize a “buffer” range of $90 million to $110 million. Such advisers:
    • May register with the SEC after reaching $100 million in AUM.
    • Must register with the SEC upon reaching $110 million, barring any exemptions.
    • Once SEC-registered, they need not switch to state registration unless their AUM falls below $90 million.
  • Large advisers with $110 million or more in AUM must register with the SEC, except in cases where exemptions apply.


Assets on Platform

There are two models for holding assets – on-platform and off-platform. Investors who keep their assets on the platform use a third-party system to manage client assets, while off-platform firms keep their operations entirely in-house.

Assets on the platform are often cost-effective for advisors and offer a greater level of access to essential services. Asset platforms enable advisors to leverage scalable technology. For example, choosing to use a custodian to manage assets allows you to also use their various integrations. You can connect client and asset information to marketing and enhanced analysis tools to automate workflows and fine-tune both communication and investment processes.

When managing assets on a platform, advisory firms do not require additional administration or maintenance costs. This saves a considerable amount of money and time, which can then be used to grow the firm and better support clients.  

Automated Customer Account Transfer (ACAT)

Developed by the National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC), ACAT streamlines asset transfer between client accounts and brokerage or bank accounts. This system aims to reduce costs, increase transfer speed, and eliminate human error. Funds may be transferred from the system within 3-6 days to complete.

Traditionally, clients wanting to move to a new brokerage or RIA investment firm would need to liquidate their current positions and repurchase those assets at their new firm. Not only was this process lengthy and costly, but it caused friction during the onboarding process. ACAT solves these issues.

It supports the FINRA-compliant transfer of various assets, such as stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, options, annuities, cash, and CDs. This system also works with all account types, including IRAs, trusts, 401(k)s, and brokerages. Qualified NSCC and Depository Trust Company (DTC) bank members are eligible to use the ACAT system. 

Average Annual Return (AAR)

An average annual return is a metric that demonstrates the average historical profit or loss of a mutual fund over a period as a percentage. The AAR is used to compare and review a mutual fund’s long-term performance. While you can use a one-year return, you can also review longer periods, such as a five- or ten-year return.

Average annual return calculation uses the share price appreciation, capital gains, and dividends. This measurement does not include brokerage commissions or similar sales charges.

It is not the same as an average annual rate of return. The rate of return uses a regular mean and includes compounding, while the average annual return does not.

The AAR formula is as follows:

[(1+r1) x (1+r2) x (1+r3) x … x (1+ri)] (1/n) – 1

In this equation, r represents the annual rate of return, and n refers to the number of years.

Back-end Load

Sometimes referred to as a deferred sales charge or a back-end exit fee, a back-end load is a fee for selling a mutual fund share. Usually, back-end load is applied to Class B and Class C shares. It is shown as a percentage of the share’s value. The fee amount may change the longer you hold the share, or it may be a flat fee.

For example, a $500 share may have a back-end load fee of 5%, which will decrease to 0% over 5 years.

Similar to front-end load fees, a back-end load is used to pay for an advisor’s sale commission. It is used to reduce overtrading, and unlike front-end loads, investors may avoid paying them if they hold the mutual fund for a certain amount of time.

While back-end loads are used to pay commissions or operating expenses, they do not necessarily increase returns. Furthermore, they tend to be poorly suited for investors needing higher liquidity. 

Basis Point

A basis point, also called bp, bps, or bips, measures percentage changes in the value of financial product benchmarks. It is often used to calculate shifts in interest rates, ETFs, and mutual funds. and fixed-income securities.

One basis point is 0.01% of 1%, often represented as a regular number. This is done to eliminate confusion. For example, if the Federal Reserve raised the Federal Funds Rate of 1% by 15 basis points, it would raise the rate by 0.15% to 1.15%.

Common basis points to percentages include:
– 1 bp ? 0.01%
-5 bp ? 0.05%
-10 bp ?> 0.10%
-100 bp ?> 1%

You can use the following to convert the number of basis points to a percentage using the following equation:

-Percentage = basis points / 100

The use of basis points helps to improve accuracy in discussing rate changes and reduce ambiguity. For that reason, this metric is often used when comparing costs of funds. They are generally not used with stock prices, as these equities are discussed in dollars.

Behavioral Finance (BeFi)

Behavioral Finance, commonly abbreviated as BeFi, is an interdisciplinary field that combines elements of economics and psychology to explore how psychological influences and cognitive biases affect financial decision-making. This field challenges the traditional assumption of rational and efficient markets by examining how emotions and heuristics (mental shortcuts) impact investor behavior.

Key aspects of Behavioral Finance include:

  1. Cognitive Biases: BeFi studies various biases like overconfidence, herd behavior, loss aversion, and confirmation bias, which can lead to systematic errors in investment decision-making. Understanding these biases helps in recognizing patterns that might not be explained by traditional financial theories.
  2. Emotional Factors: It delves into how emotions, such as fear and greed, can cause investors to act irrationally, often leading to sub-optimal financial decisions like panic selling or exuberant buying.
  3. Heuristics: BeFi examines how investors use rule-of-thumb strategies in decision-making, which can be efficient but sometimes lead to inaccuracies that affect investment choices.
  4. Market Implications: By understanding the behavioral patterns of investors, BeFi can provide insights into market anomalies and inefficiencies, offering a more nuanced view of market dynamics.

A bond is a type of fixed-income financial product. It is technically a loan, and investors can “loan” money to corporations or the government.

Each bond issued includes a coupon rate and a maturity date.

The coupon rate is an interest rate, which may be fixed or variable. Interest rates correlate to bond prices. When interest rates go up, bond prices fall, and vice versa. Therefore, when a client buys a bond in January and the interest rate rises in March, the value of the bond decreases. However, they have no lost money unless they sell before the maturity date.

The maturity date signifies when the principal will be returned. If the initial funds are not returned to the investor, the bond issuer risks default, and its credit rating is impacted. In some cases, bonds may have a call date. Once this date passes, an issuer may redeem the bond before its maturity date.

There are different grades of bonds, with the highest being “investment grade” and the lowest being “junk bonds.”

Bond Fund

Bond funds are a collection of debt instruments, including multiple types of bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Like singular bonds, a bond fund is a fixed-income asset.

These funds do not have a maturity date, as it is based on a colletion of bonds. As a fund contains several types of bonds, these funds offer diversification.

Investors may also leverage interest payments. Usually, interest payments are made monthly, as each bond within the fund has its own maturity date. This also means that the monthly income will be less predictable.

Similar to individual bonds, there are different types of bond funds. For example, an investor may purchase a corporate or government bond. They may also buy bond funds based on maturity, such as short-term or long-term bonds.

Government bond funds are considered the safest option, although the return is usually lower than other types. The Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS) is one example of such a fund. High-yield and junk bonds are usually more risky but may offer higher returns.

Like other securities, bond funds can be sold in the marketplace for their current market net asset value (NAV). 

Bond Rating

Investors use bond ratings to determine the creditworthiness of a bond using letter grades from independent rating services. Fitch Ratings Inc., Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s Investors Service are examples of common rating services investors look to for evaluating bond ratings. 

Generally, the higher the grade, the more “safe” the bond is determined to be. As a result, these higher-rated bonds tend to have lower interest rates. The lower the bond rating, the riskier the investment, and the higher the interest rates. 

These services use the following grades for investment-grade bonds:

  • Standard & Poor’s: AAA and BBB
  • Firth Ratings Inc.: AAA and BBB
  • Moody’s Investors Service: Aaa and Baa3

Junk bonds typically hold the following letter grades:

  • Standard & Poor’s: BB+ to D
  • Firth Ratings Inc.: BB+ to D
  • Moody’s Investors Service: Baa1 to C

Bonds are evaluated based on the issuer. Bond rating agencies examine debt, bill payment, liquidity, and other criteria. 


A broker-dealer are independent financial advisors who earn commissions from fund managers for selling specific financial products. These advisors are not fiduciaries, and they adhere to a lower suitability standard.

When looked at separately, a broker executes trades on behalf of a client. There are two types of brokers: Full-service and discount brokers. A full-service broker provides one-on-one advice. A discount broker is solely focused on executing trades. A dealer executes a trade on behalf of its own organization.

However, broker-dealers often provide a wide range of investment products. This can include mutual funds, annuities, hedge funds, tax credits, non-qualified plans, and other alternative investments.

Generally, this type of financial advisor is governed under the Securities Act of 1933. While this law does require advisors selling securities to be registered with the SEC, there are some filing exemptions under Regulation D. As a result, broker-dealers have fewer reporting requirements.

It is also possible for broker-dealers to obtain a dual license, which enables them to act as both a broker and fiduciary. In other cases, broker-dealers may be affiliated with an RIA firm to complement their product offerings. 

Capacity Planning

Capacity planning revolves around balancing your workload with your resources. Too high of a capacity can negatively impact revenue and reduce growth opportunities. High capacity often translates into having far more resources than work. Meanwhile, a lower capacity signals there is too much work for the amount of resources, which can quickly become unsustainable.

Therefore, capacity planning enables RIAs and advisory firms to strategically allocate resources for expected capacity. Balancing the two ensures that the organization can optimize revenue and growth. 

There are three general strategies for capacity planning:

  • Lag: In this case, you would increase resources, such as hiring new advisors or upgrading software, as your client base grows. 
  • Lead: A lead strategy is when you anticipate growth via forecasting and increase your capacity ahead of time.
  • Match: This method involves gradually adjusting your capacity based on market shifts, actual growth, and forecasted growth.

Capital, in the context of wealth management, refers to the financial assets or resources that individuals, companies, or organizations hold and use for investment, production, or wealth creation. It encompasses a wide range of asset types, including:

  1. Financial Capital: This includes cash, stocks, bonds, and other securities. Financial capital is often invested in markets or used for other financial ventures to generate income or capital gains.
  2. Physical Capital: This type of capital consists of tangible assets like real estate, equipment, or machinery. Physical capital is often crucial for businesses as it’s used in the production of goods and services.
  3. Human Capital: Although not a direct financial asset, human capital represents the skills, knowledge, and experience possessed by an individual or within a workforce, which can significantly contribute to earning potential and wealth creation.

In wealth management, the effective allocation and management of capital are crucial. It involves strategies to maximize returns, manage risks, and achieve long-term financial goals, whether that’s growing personal wealth, ensuring a steady income stream, or funding business operations and expansions.

Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM)

The Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) calculates the expected rate of return for an investment while factoring in systematic risk. Generally, the CAPM uses the following asset properties:

  • Beta
  • Equity risk premium
  • Risk-free rate

The equity risk premium can be defined as the expected ROR minus the risk-free rate. 

This metric is often used with stocks and other riskier securities. 

There are some disadvantages to CAPM, which is why it shouldn’t be the sole indicator of potential success. For example, it uses unrealistic assumptions, namely that the market is efficient by default and dominated by rational thought. The linear connection between risk and returns further adds unreliability to the equation. 

However, it can still be used to evaluate the general probability of future returns or compare investments. The CAPM can also measure a specific portfolio against the overall market and review portfolio performance. 

Capital Gains Tax

Capital Gains Tax is a tax on the profit realized on the sale of a non-inventory asset that was greater than the amount realized on the sale. Most commonly, this involves assets like stocks, bonds, precious metals, real estate, and property. In wealth management, understanding the implications of Capital Gains Tax is crucial for effective tax planning and investment strategy, as it affects the net return on investments and can influence decisions on when and what assets to buy or sell.

Certificate of Deposit

A Certificate of Deposit (CD) is a fixed-income asset in which investors earn interest on a lump sum over a fixed period. This form of investment is a middle-ground between bonds and savings accounts for many investors. A CD typically has higher interest rates than savings accounts but must be held until maturity. Something to note: Investors who remove funds from a CD early can incur penalties.

While they typically offer less interest than bonds or other variable assets, CDs are often considered safer investments. They are protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), depending on whether a CD is issued from a bank or credit union, respectively. These assets offer a guaranteed rate of return, less volatility, and some growth opportunities. Furthermore, there are many options out there depending on a client’s preference and goals. Banks, credit unions, and brokerages offer CDs.

CD interest rates are likely to fluctuate, as these rates are based on the Federal Fund Rate. For example, inflation during the pandemic and post-pandemic economy led the Federal Reserve to raise the fund rate. As a result, CD rates followed suit. When the fund rate decreases, so do CD interest rates.

Certified Financial Planner

A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a credentialed professional skilled in guiding individuals and families through their financial journey. With expertise in investments, retirement, tax management, insurance, and estate planning, CFPs meet rigorous standards set by the CFP Board. Their fiduciary duty – prioritizing clients’ interests – distinguishes them from other financial advisors, ensuring advice is impartial and client-focused.

Although CFPs typically provide general financial planning, many opt for further specialization, catering to specific careers (like doctors, small business owners, educators), employees of certain companies (such as Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft), or distinct financial scenarios (including high-net-worth individuals, retirees, expatriates).

Eligibility for CFP certification involves a bachelor’s degree, specialized financial planning education, and passing a comprehensive board exam. Candidates must also fulfill either 6,000 hours of professional experience or 4,000 hours in an apprenticeship program.

Channel Alliance Representatives

In some cases, advisory firms can use partnerships to attract more clients and referrals. These relationships may be called partnerships but also channels, alliances, or channel alliances. Essentially, alliances are enhanced partnerships, such as partnering with a large accounting or law firm.

Channels involve selling through your partnership. This goes far beyond a referral. A partner channel may directly onboard or send proposals to prospects. Likewise, you may include these partners’ services when signing on new clients. Channel Alliances may also be used to co-market or share technology.

A Channel Alliance Representative manages these partnerships for a firm. They are responsible for creating and maintaining these relationships and providing recommendations on better integrating these channels into a firm’s operations or marketing strategy.

A check-in is a type of follow-up survey and retention tool in Nitrogen’s platform. These automated emails provide an early warning signal when client confidence in their portfolio or the market decreases. This feature enables behavioral coaching for a seamless client experience. 

Check-ins enable advisors to be more proactive with client follow-ups and needs. They can be used to prioritize client communication or check client’s views between annual meetings. Clients are asked two questions:

  • How are you feeling about the markets? 
  • How are you feeling about your financial future?

Once answered, clients receive a dynamic message specific to their investments that helps them understand their portfolio. This message includes adaptive analytics to show them what is ‘normal’ for their portfolio. 

Check-ins are an automated feature. Depending on the client’s sentiment, you can support portfolio explanations with stress tests and portfolio scenario reports.

Client Account Manager

A client account manager handle clients that provide significant revenue or are of strategic importance to a firm. These employees are meant to strengthen and protect relationships with these clients, and are not always the same person who closed the deal with a client. Instead, they are focused on managing interactions with this client, answering client questions, and following up.

In a financial advisory firm, most advisors act as both salespeople and account managers. Senior advisors may manage their most significant clients, while junior advisors are focused on client acquisition and smaller accounts.

Larger firms often distinguish these two roles. As the firm scales, it makes sense for an advisory firm to hire a full-time account manager. This ensures better collaboration between advisors and other supporting roles within a firm.

A client account manager often has a financial planning or wealth management background to properly provide support and advice to clients.

Client Churn Rate

The client churn rate is a metric that shows what percentage of your clients leave the firm over a period of time. The most normal periods to measure churn are monthly or annually. 

The churn rate formula is as follows:

Churn rate = (Lost clients / total number of clients at the beginning of the time period) x 100

For example, if you had 100 clients at the beginning of 2023 and 80 clients at the end, your churn rate would be:

Clients lost = 100-80

Clients lost = 20

Churn = (20/100) x 100

Churn = 20%

This would be an example of a high churn rate, as a study found that 5-10% churn is typical for average firms. 

Client engagement can be defined as a client’s relationship with a firm or advisor. When an advisor successfully fosters client engagement, they are encouraging trust and nurturing an emotional connection.

There are many strategies to improve client engagement, including:

  • Personalization
  • Multiple client communication channels
  • Relevant content
  • Client appreciation events
  • Discussions outside of portfolio management and financial advising
  • Quick responses
  • Proactive check-ins
  • Social media interaction 

In other words, there are several options for client engagement activists based on your client’s needs and your marketing preferences.

Client engagement can result in higher retention rates and more referrals. 

You can measure the effectiveness of your client engagement strategy with the following KPIs:

  • Client retention rate
  • Client churn rate
  • Client satisfaction ratings
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Conversion rate 
Client Success Managers

Client success managers ensure the client journey seamlessly transitions from prospect to long-term client status. These managers are focused on improving retention through proactive client relationship-building strategies. 

Some responsibilities include:

  • Communicate successes and potential problem areas with clients
  • Collaborate with sales, other advisors, and any relevant touchpoints
  • Resolve client questions and challenges
  • Monitor client churn and retention
  • Ensure clients are engaged
  • Maintain updated client profiles

A client success manager aims to prevent miscommunication and potential issues by highlighting portfolio performance, client achievements, and regular client touchpoints. For many advisors, they must assume this role as well as perform portfolio management work. In some cases, aspects of this role can be outsourced or automated.

Communication tools and simplified financial data reports are examples of solutions that can be automated without sacrificing personalization. These and similar tools can help advisors to manage both roles.

Closed-End Fund

A closed-end fund is a mutual fund with a fixed amount of shares from an initial public offering (IPO). In other words, once all shares are sold, none will be created. The goal of this type of fund is to raise capital for an investment.

Municipal bond funds are common examples of closed-end funds. As these funds are used for an initial investment, they tend to be actively managed. These investments also tend to be focused on a specific sector or industry.

Closed-ended funds offer diversification and transparent pricing. There is also the possibility of higher yields compared to other funds. Companies issuing these funds don’t need to repurchase shares and can borrow money to improve returns further.

At the same time, there are some disadvantages to consider. These shares may only be available to certain brokers and may be discounted if they do not sell well. They also tend to offer less liquidity than open-ended funds.

Collective Investment Trust

A collective investment trust (CIT) is a group of accounts held by a financial institution that are a part of a more extensive portfolio. Also called a collective investment fund (CIF), this asset is normally held by larger organizations. Individual investors can take part through their employer. CITs can involve employer-sponsored pension plans and retirement accounts.

There are two variations:

  •  A1 assets are used for investments
  • A2 assets are used for federal tax-exempt activities, such as certain retirement plans and stock bonuses 

Unlike other investments, CITs are regulated under the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). 

CITs allow organizations to leverage profit sharing at a lower cost. However, they can also manage portfolios while optimizing administrative costs, as all investments are grouped into a single fund. 


A commission is an income stream based on selling products. Advisor-brokers often earn based on commission from the fund company, while registered investment advisors (RIAs) earn from client fees.

Advisors earning based on commission are not considered fiduciaries unless they obtain a dual license. This is because earning commissions is considered a conflict of interest, as a broker benefits from selling specific products. Commission-based advisors often sell insurance or mutual funds.

Commission-based roles appeal to many advisors as income grows not by how many clients an advisor has but by how many products the advisor sells. Many brokers work under well-known firms with little or no salary. As a result, commissions are their only source of income. Some firms require brokers to earn a specific amount to continue with the organization.

However, unlike fee-only advisors, commission-based advisors often do not require a minimum amount of assets from clients. As a result, brokers working on commission have a larger client pool.

Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures

The Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures (CUSIP) is a system that enables all stakeholders in an asset’s lifecycle to accurately identify and evaluate specific financial instruments. These identifiers extend worldwide and are used with stocks, bonds, hedge funds, and other asset types.  

Three parts constitute this system:

  • CUSIP – The 9-character for specific financial instrument
  • CINS – CUSIP’s International Numbering System
  • CUSIP-based ISIN – The assignment of CUSIP International Securities Identification Numbers

Financial advisors use this system to better evaluate risk exposure, asset performance, and other data essential to making a well-informed investment decision. The CUSIP identifier is useful for traders to track performance, compared with tickers which are more for a snapshot view of an asset’s risk and reward potential. 

The CUSIP Global Services (CGS) is the organization that assigns these identifiers to financial instruments across the globe. CUSIP also offers training webinars and seminars for a better understanding of its system.


Commodities are fundamental goods used in commerce that are essentially interchangeable with other goods of the same type. They are often used as building blocks of more complex products and services. Commodities are categorized into several types:

  1. Agricultural Commodities: This includes crops like wheat, corn, soybeans, and also livestock such as cattle and hogs. Prices for these commodities can be influenced by factors like weather, harvest yields, and changes in demand.
  2. Energy Commodities: Oil, natural gas, coal, and gasoline fall under this category. Their prices can be highly volatile, influenced by geopolitical events, changes in supply and demand, and technological advancements.
  3. Metal Commodities: This encompasses precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum, as well as industrial metals like copper and aluminum. Precious metals are often seen as a hedge against inflation and currency devaluation, whereas industrial metals are closely tied to economic cycles.
  4. Environmental Commodities: These include renewable energy credits or carbon credits, which have emerged more recently in response to the global push towards sustainability.

Commodities are traded on various exchanges around the world, and they play a significant role in the global economy. They can be attractive to investors for diversification, hedging against inflation, or simply speculation. However, investing in commodities can be risky due to their price volatility and the complexity of factors affecting their markets.

Contingent Deferred Sales Charge (CDSC)

Contingent deferred sales charges (CDSC) are fees for selling Class-B shares. Also referred to as a sales charge, exit fee, or back-end load, this fee is usually relevant for up to 10 years of holding a share. Over this course of the designated period, the fee drops until it reaches 0.

There are a few reasons that a mutual fund uses a back-end load. CDSC fees aim to reduce active trading and encourage investors to hold shares longer. At the same time, these fees offer a way to compensate advisors for marketing and selling the share.

Usually, CDSC fees apply only to Class-B and Class-C shares. It is important to be conscious of the expense ratio of this fee. Furthermore, a share with a back-end load may not have a front-end load.

A share with a lower sales charge may have a higher expense ratio. These fees must be disclosed and can be found on a share’s prospectus.

Current Yield

The current yield is the estimated return an investor can expect from a bond or other fixed-income investment based on holding the asset for a year. To calculate the current yield, investors can use this formula:

Current yield = Annual income / Current market price

Annual income includes interest payments and dividends.

Typically, bond securities are issued at a face amount. However, the value of a bond fluctuates based on adjustments to the federal fund rate. As this rate rises, the value of current bonds drops. Likewise, as the federal fund rate drops, the value of the bond increases. Therefore, the current yield provides insight into the asset’s current value.

In contrast to the current yield calculation, investors can compare it with the yield-to-maturity metric to determine the total amount earned on a bond or fixed-asset investment. This calculation would include discount rate assumptions and capital loss costs.

Department of Labor

The Department of Labor (DOL), established in 1913, is a pivotal federal agency within the U.S. government, dedicated to promoting safe work environments, safeguarding workers’ rights, and endorsing fair employment standards.

Key functions of the DOL include:

  • Enforcing workplace safety protocols, notably through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • Regulating and supervising wage and hour standards.
  • Managing unemployment insurance programs.
  • Overseeing employee benefits, including retirement and health plans.

Additionally, the DOL is instrumental in shaping labor laws and policies to cultivate a productive, equitable workforce. It actively works to empower American workers, support economic stability, and ensure equal job opportunities. The department is also a vital source of economic data, influencing business employment practices nationally.

For wealth management professionals, the DOL’s guidelines are particularly relevant in determining employment classifications, such as distinguishing between employees and independent contractors. This distinction is crucial for advisors considering firm expansion, as it impacts compliance with labor laws and employee benefits management.

Designated Investment Alternative

A Designated Investment Alternative (DIA) is an alternative investment allowed by your retirement plan. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, investment options should not be a brokerage window or self-directed account. 

This regulation complements the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) in reducing liability related to investment performance for fiduciaries managing retirement accounts such as 401(k)s. 

Qualified designated investment alternatives, as defined by the Department of Labor (DOL), must:

  • Allow for transferring investments within the plan without financial penalty
  • Be managed by the investment manager or an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940
  • Be diversified
  • Invest in securities outside of direct employer securities

These investments can include life-cycle funds, targeted-retirement-date funds, balanced funds, and professionally managed accounts. There is no limit to how many investment alternatives a plan can offer. When working with DIAs, fiduciaries must be careful to show that they are committed to carrying out their fiduciary duties, especially when handling only a few investment alternatives.

Direct Access Trading

Direct Access Trading (DAT) is a system used by day traders or active investors to trade directly with clients or exchange floor specialists. This technology enables traders to rapidly execute transactions. For that reason, DAT is more common among active investors and not investors holding long-term assets. Retail brokers, meanwhile, tend to use in-house specialists rather than DAT systems.


Traders using DAT depend on quick price changes to generate profit. As traders often earn commissions based on trading volume, having an accurate and fast DAT system is essential. This technology has reduced unnecessary delays in trade execution and enabled traders to leverage better market prices. 


Investors using a DAT system are able to trade on electric communication networks (ECNs). This has erased the need to manually trade on the stock exchange floor. Traders can rapidly send orders to any market maker. 

Directly Responsible Individual

A directly responsible individual (DRI) is a leadership role tasked with making critical decisions and ensuring project completion. This person is more than a project manager, as they may be directly involved in completing a task. It is a common role in technology development, SaaS, and startup environments. But they can also be helpful for financial advisors. 


There are many benefits to bringing on a DRI. This role should greatly reduce or eliminate redundancies, ensure transparency within the organization, and maintain accountability. When performed correctly, a DRI should also save an organization time and money.


Large financial firms may onboard a DRI to assist in managing growing teams of advisors, marketers, billers, and other potential staff. These individuals can also train or onboard new advisors, manage long-term campaigns, and help firm leaders in making decisions. 


A directly responsible individual can be either a new hire or someone from the current team, ideally, someone action-oriented with experience in leading teams.


Diversification is a risk management strategy used in investing where a portfolio is composed of varying types of assets in order to reduce exposure to risk from any single asset or risk factor. This strategy is founded on the principle that different assets often perform differently under the same market conditions, and thus, a diversified portfolio is likely to experience less volatility and more consistent returns over time compared to a portfolio concentrated in a single asset class or sector.

Key components of diversification include:

  1. Asset Class Diversification: This involves spreading investments across different asset classes such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and cash. Each class responds differently to market conditions.
  2. Geographical Diversification: Investing in markets of different countries or regions can protect against region-specific economic downturns and take advantage of growth in different geographical areas.
  3. Sector Diversification: This means investing across various industry sectors (like technology, healthcare, finance) to mitigate risks associated with a particular sector.
  4. Time Diversification: Investing with different time horizons can also be a form of diversification, especially in retirement planning.

Diversification doesn’t guarantee against loss but can be an effective strategy to reach long-range financial goals while minimizing risk. It’s a key concept in financial planning and wealth management, providing a balanced approach to achieving steady, long-term returns.

Nitrogen enhances this concept with its interactive chord diagram, a tool designed to visually represent the relationships between the largest allocations in a client’s portfolio. Features like this help make complex concepts like diversification more accessible and actionable for clients.

Dollar Cost Average

Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA) is an investment strategy used to reduce the impact of volatility in the market. It involves regularly investing a fixed amount of money into a specific asset or portfolio, regardless of the asset’s price at the time of purchase. Here’s how it works:

  1. Consistency: Investors commit to investing a predetermined amount of money at regular intervals (e.g., monthly or quarterly) into a particular investment, such as a mutual fund or stock.
  2. Market Fluctuations: The fixed investment amount buys more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high. This strategy can potentially lower the average cost per share over time.
  3. Risk Mitigation: By spreading purchases over time, DCA reduces the risk of investing a large amount in a single investment at an inopportune time. It avoids the need to ‘time the market.’
  4. Long-term Approach: DCA is typically used as a long-term investment strategy. It’s particularly suitable for investors who wish to accumulate assets over time without the stress of active market monitoring.
  5. Flexibility: The strategy can be adjusted based on changes in financial situation, investment goals, or market conditions.

DCA is often favored by individual investors due to its simplicity, discipline, and potential for reducing the impact of market volatility. However, it’s important to note that while DCA can help manage risk, it does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.

Dual License Advisor

Also called a “dually registered” or “dual hat” financial advisor or firm is a representative that holds both a broker and fiduciary advisor registration. In other words, this license enables advisors to act as fiduciaries while also earning commissions from working as a broker.

Dual license advisors must disclose all of their operations, including potential conflicts of interest with the SEC. It is also possible to register with the Certified Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) to further confirm their commitment to their fiduciary duty.

There are some benefits to being registered as a dual hat advisor. Advisory firms with this designation can offer a broader range of financial services. It can also be efficient to have the capability to help clients execute their financial plans, such as through selling mortgages to home buyers or offering life insurance.

Due Diligence

Due Diligence in the context of wealth management is the comprehensive investigation and analysis conducted before making investment decisions. It involves evaluating the financial, legal, and operational aspects of potential investment opportunities. This process is crucial for identifying and understanding the risks and benefits associated with an investment. For wealth managers, conducting thorough due diligence is essential to ensure that investment recommendations align with a client’s goals, risk tolerance, and overall financial plan. It is also a key aspect of adhering to fiduciary responsibilities and maintaining the trust of clients.

Emerging Market Economy

An emerging market economy, often shortened to “emerging markets,” defines a rapidly developing economy. These markets often have the infrastructure and economic policies to steer a country toward developed status, but it has not reached that plateau.

Emerging market-based investments tend to carry higher risks than those of developed nations—but they also offer aggressive growth potential. For that reason, emerging market funds and related assets are used to grow a portfolio.

As of writing (2024), there are four major emerging economies: Brazil, India, China, and South Africa. Prior to the war in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions, Russia was also considered an emerging market.

Emerging markets tend to have a low-middle income per capita but are shifting from an agricultural economy to rapid industrialization. These nations, however, may also suffer from political or geopolitical instability and lack of advanced infrastructure, making their economies more volatile.

Employee Retirement Security Act

The Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA) is a federal law passed in 1974 that sets standards for employer-sponsored retirement plans and protects the rights of employees who participate in these plans. It is enforced by the US Department of Labor (DOL).

The purpose of ERISA is to ensure the financial security and well-being of employees upon retirement. It establishes rules for the administration and governance of pension and retirement benefit plans, including requirements for plan reporting and disclosure, fiduciary responsibilities, and employee participation and vesting rights.

ERISA also created the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a federal agency that provides a limited guarantee of pension benefits in the event of plan termination or financial distress. By regulating retirement plans, ERISA aims to safeguard employees’ retirement savings and promote the stability and integrity of employer-sponsored retirement benefits.

The DOL emphasizes fiduciary responsibilities for advisors managing these plans, including avoiding conflicts of interest, diversifying investments, and filing disclosures.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) is a framework used by investors to evaluate the extent to which a corporation exercises socially responsible and sustainable practices. This approach goes beyond the traditional financial analysis, adding a layer of ethical consideration to investment decisions.

  1. Environmental: This criterion assesses how a company’s operations impact the natural environment. It encompasses factors such as the company’s carbon footprint, waste management, resource conservation, and overall environmental policies. Investors use this metric to evaluate how a company’s environmental practices might affect its financial performance, considering the increasing emphasis on sustainability.
  2. Social: This aspect focuses on how the company manages relationships with its employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Key considerations include labor practices, diversity and inclusion initiatives, employee engagement and retention, as well as the company’s stance on human rights. The social component is often used to assess a company’s brand reputation and potential to attract and retain talent.
  3. Governance: Governance pertains to the company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights. It examines how a company is governed and the transparency of its operations. Effective governance practices can mitigate risks, prevent corporate scandals, and ensure that the interests of the company align with those of its stakeholders, including shareholders.

In the context of wealth management, ESG investments are becoming increasingly popular. According to PwC, ESG institutional investments will make up 21.5% of all assets under management by 2026. 

ESG-focused investments can be stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs and offer a way for advisors and investors to align investments with personal or corporate values.

Equity Indexed Annuities

Equity Indexed Annuities (EIAs) are financial products that provide investors with the opportunity to earn returns based on the performance of an underlying index. The most common index used is the S&P 500. Unlike traditional fixed or variable annuities, EIAs offer a unique combination of principal protection and potential market-linked growth.

Upon purchasing an EIA, the investor typically makes an upfront payment or a series of payments, accumulating over time. The annuity then credits earnings based on the performance of the chosen index. If the index performs well, the investor can benefit from higher returns. However, if the index performs poorly, the investor’s principal is often protected from losses.

This type of annuity is considered a long-term investment, and there may be limitations on liquidity and withdrawal options. Additionally, EIAs often come with fees and surrender charges. It is important for investors to carefully consider their financial goals, risk tolerance, and the terms and conditions of the specific EIA before making an investment decision.

Equity Wash Restriction

Equity wash restriction is a rule aimed at preventing the artificial generation of tax losses through the sale and reacquisition of securities that have experienced a decline in value. It is commonly referred to as the “90-day equity wash.” This practice is commonly used to offset gains and reduce tax liabilities.

The restriction seeks to curtail this strategy by disallowing the recognition of losses when substantially identical securities are repurchased within a specific timeframe. This action is meant to maintain the integrity of the tax system and prevent the abuse of tax benefits.

By limiting the ability to manipulate losses through quick transactions, the restriction ensures that taxpayers cannot exploit loopholes for personal financial gain. Compliance with equity wash restriction is essential to maintain a fair and equitable taxation system, discouraging abusive practices and promoting transparency in financial transactions.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process of preparing for the management and distribution of one’s assets upon death or incapacitation. It involves creating legal documents and strategies to ensure that an individual’s wishes are fulfilled while minimizing taxes and administrative costs.

Estate planning typically includes the creation of a will or trust, which specifies how property and assets should be distributed, as well as designating guardians for minor children. Additionally, it may involve powers of attorney and healthcare directives, which grant trusted individuals the authority to make financial and medical decisions on behalf of the individual in case of incapacity.

Estate planning often includes multiple steps, such as drafting a will, setting up trust accounts, updating beneficiaries, and reviewing funeral arrangements.

Exchange Traded Fund

Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) is a fund that is listed and traded on a stock exchange. ETFs offer investors the opportunity to gain exposure to a diversified portfolio of assets, such as stocks, bonds, commodities, or a combination thereof, without individually purchasing the underlying securities. This makes ETFs a popular choice for investors seeking diversification and flexibility.

ETFs are designed to replicate the performance of a specific index or sector, tracking its underlying assets closely. They are typically passively managed and aim to mirror the performance of the target index rather than attempting to outperform it.

By investing in ETFs, investors can easily access a wide range of markets and assets. ETFs can be bought and sold throughout the trading day at market prices, providing liquidity and flexibility. As a result, ETFs have gained popularity due to their cost-efficiency, transparency, and ease of trading compared to traditional mutual funds or individual securities.

Exchange Traded Note

An Exchange Traded Note (ETN) is a type of bond that tracks the performance of an underlying index or asset. Like an exchange-traded fund (ETF), an ETN provides investors easy access to diverse investment opportunities. However, there are some key differences.

Instead of holding actual securities or assets, an ETN is a debt instrument issued by a financial institution, typically a bank. The value of an ETN is derived from the performance of the underlying index or asset it is designed to track. ETNs trade on stock exchanges, just like stocks, and can be bought or sold throughout the trading day.

One significant advantage of ETNs is that they offer exposure to markets that may be otherwise challenging to access. However, inventors do not own the securities. Furthermore, if the index does not perform well, investors may end up receiving less capital at maturity than what they originally put in.

Expense Ratio

The expense ratio is a metric that measures the annual cost of managing and operating an investment fund or portfolio. It is shown as a percentage and represents the proportion of a fund’s total assets used to cover expenses such as management fees, administrative costs, marketing expenses, and other operational charges. However, it is also important to check for front-end and back-end loads when addressing asset costs. These are not included in the expense ratio.

The expense ratio is an essential consideration for investors as it directly impacts the net returns earned on an investment. A lower expense ratio indicates lower costs and can potentially lead to higher returns over time.

It is disclosed in a fund’s prospectus and is an essential factor for investors to evaluate before making investment decisions. By comparing expense ratios among different funds, investors can better understand the costs associated with their investments and make informed choices based on their investment goals and risk appetite.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is a government agency in the United States that provides insurance to depositors using member banks. Established in 1933 during the Great Depression, the FDIC promotes stability and public confidence in the financial system.

The FDIC insures bank deposits up to a specific limit, currently set at $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank. Financial institutions must be member organizations to receive FDIC insurance. In the event of a bank failure, the FDIC steps in to protect depositors and ensure they can access their funds. By providing deposit insurance, the FDIC plays a crucial role in maintaining the stability and security of the U.S. banking system.

The FDIC doesn’t cover certain investments, including bonds, mutual funds, annuities, life insurance policies, and stocks. In other words, it does not cover non-deposit investments.

Fee-only Advisor

Fee-only advisors are financial professionals who provide advice and guidance to clients solely based on a fee they charge for their services, usually 0.5% to 2% of assets under management (AUM). Unlike commission-based advisors who earn a commission from product sales, fee-only advisors operate on a transparent and objective model.

These advisors are registered as fiduciaries and, therefore, prioritize the best interests of their clients. In comparison with brokers who earn off commission, a fee-only advisor’s compensation is independent of any financial product recommendations. This structure eliminates potential conflicts of interest and ensures that advisors are motivated to offer unbiased advice tailored to the specific needs and goals of each client. By adhering to a fee-only approach, these advisors maintain a fiduciary duty to act in their clients’ best interests, promoting trust, transparency, and accountability in the financial advisory industry.


A fiduciary is a term commonly used in the financial industry to describe a trusted relationship between a financial advisor and their clients. In this context, it refers to the legal and ethical duty of the advisor to act in the best interests of their clients while managing their financial affairs.

Fiduciary advisors are generally registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 or a state equivalent. Brokers are not considered fiduciaries and therefore lack access to institutional investments. However, a broker may also register as a fiduciary and become a dual license advisor.

As fiduciaries, financial advisors must prioritize their clients’ interests above their own and provide diligent and unbiased advice. This includes disclosing any potential conflicts of interest and making recommendations that are in line with the client’s goals and risk tolerance. By adhering to the fiduciary standard, financial advisors are held to a higher level of accountability and must always act with integrity and honesty.

Field Marketing Organization

A Field Marketing Organization (FMO) is an organization that promotes and distributes insurance and financial products through a network of independent agents and advisors. FMOs act as intermediaries between insurance carriers and agents, providing them with marketing support, training, and access to a wide range of insurance products.

These organizations help agents expand their business by offering comprehensive tools and resources to enhance their sales and marketing efforts. FMOs also assist agents in navigating licensing and regulatory requirements, while maintaining a strong relationship with insurance carriers.

FMOs play a crucial role in supporting and empowering agents to effectively meet the needs of their clients in the insurance and financial sectors. The expertise and industry knowledge of FMOs often provides significant assistance to new brokers.

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a self-regulatory organization that oversees and regulates securities firms operating in the United States. With the aim of protecting investors and ensuring fair and transparent markets, FINRA sets and enforces rules and regulations governing the brokerage industry. It monitors the conduct of member firms and their registered representatives, promotes market integrity, and provides education and resources to investors.

FINRA plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity and stability of the financial industry, promoting investor confidence, and safeguarding the interests of market participants.

This organization also administers licenses. Potential financial advisors must obtain a Series 6 or 7 and Series 63 license to work within a state. Advisors looking to sell real estate, life insurance, and commodities will also need a Series 3 license.

Fintech (Financial Technology)

Fintech, short for Financial Technology, refers to the integration of technology into offerings by financial services companies to improve their use and delivery to consumers. It primarily works by unbundling services offered by traditional financial institutions and creating new markets for them. Fintech includes a wide range of applications, from mobile banking and peer-to-peer payment platforms to retirement and crowdfunding. It’s rapidly transforming the finance industry by making services more accessible, efficient, and user-friendly.

Fixed Annuity

A fixed annuity offers individuals a guaranteed income stream for a specified period of time. It is typically offered by insurance companies, although fiduciaries may also have access to commission-free annuity options.

This investment serves as a contract between the individual and the insurer. With a fixed annuity, the individual makes a lump sum payment or a series of payments to the insurer. In return, the insurer promises to provide a fixed rate of return on the investment. This rate of return is predetermined and remains constant for the duration of the annuity.

The income received from a fixed annuity is generally paid out on a regular basis, such as monthly or annually. Generally, the earnings are not paid out immediately but after a specified date. This type of annuity provides individuals with a sense of stability and security, as the income payments are not subject to market fluctuations.

In comparison, variable annuities pay rates according to investment portfolio performance.

Fixed Index Annuity

A Fixed Index Annuity (FIA) is a type of insurance contract that provides individuals with a guaranteed minimum interest rate while offering the potential to earn additional interest based on the performance of an underlying market index, such as the S&P 500. This asset is also called equity index annuities or index annuities. It is often used in retirement planning.

Clients often make payments for a fixed period or for life.

Unlike variable annuities, the principal amount in a Fixed Index Annuity is protected from market downturns, providing a level of security for the annuity holder. The interest earned in a Fixed Index Annuity is typically credited annually. It is subject to a cap or participation rate. This cap rate determines the maximum amount of interest that can be earned. For this reason, FIAs generally have higher fees than other asset classes. They may also be subject to a surrender fee, usually around 7%.

Front-end Load

A front-end load is a fee charged upfront when an investor purchases certain mutual funds or other investment products. This fee, typically expressed as a percentage of the total investment amount, is deducted from the initial investment before it is applied to the fund.

The purpose of a front-end load is to compensate the financial intermediary or advisor who sold the investment product. It is considered a one-time payment that helps cover the costs associated with marketing, distribution, and sales commissions. As a result, the actual amount of investment initially allocated to the fund is reduced by the front-end load.

This fee structure differs from back-end loads or no-load funds, where the fees are charged at different stages or not at all.

Fund of Funds

A fund of funds is a type of investment that pools money from investors and allocates it across a diversified portfolio of multiple underlying funds. Instead of investing directly in individual securities or assets, a fund of funds invests in other funds. For example, fund of funds invest in mutual funds, hedge funds, or private equity funds. This allows investors to achieve greater diversification and gain exposure to a broad range of investment strategies and asset classes.

The fund of funds manager selects and monitors the underlying funds, aiming to optimize returns and manage risk on behalf of the investors. By investing in a fund of funds, investors can access professional fund management and benefit from the expertise of various investment managers within a single investment.

Glide Path

Glide Path is a financial strategy used in retirement planning. It is a systematic investment approach that aims to gradually shift the allocation of assets from riskier investments, like stocks, to more conservative ones, such as bonds or cash, as an individual approaches retirement. 

A Glide Path aims to reduce investment risk and ensure a smoother transition into retirement by safeguarding the accumulated wealth. This strategy recognizes that as retirement nears, individuals have less time to recover from potential market downturns. By gradually reducing exposure to volatile investments, the Glide Path aims to preserve capital and provide a more stable income stream during retirement. 

The specific allocation adjustments and timing along the Glide Path are typically determined based on an individual’s risk tolerance, time horizon, and investment objectives. Some variations of the glide path include:

  • declining path in which the investor gradually reduces equities and increases their investment in safer assets annually.
  • A static path in which the allocations remain the same. 
  • A rising path in which there are more fixed-income assets than equities and only increases in variable assets as the fixed-income ones mature. 
Goal-based Financial Planning

This is a financial planning approach that identifies specific financial goals and sets out a roadmap to achieve them rather than broadly accumulating or preserving wealth. Common goals include purchasing a house, getting married, or paying for a child’s education.

To accomplish this, financial advisors must account for several factors. Age, income, time horizon, and risk tolerance all play a part in successfully planning to meet financial goals.

Clients may have already identified goals but may struggle to prioritize them. Advisors provide guidance in further identification, prioritization, roadmap creation, and monitoring progress.

These action plans have several benefits for clients and advisors, including improved decision-making and motivation. However, goal-based financial planning can also reduce flexibility and create a sense of overconfidence in clients, as having a plan does not necessarily mean goals will be accomplished according to the set time horizon. This can lead to unrealistic expectations if not managed appropriately and friction in the investment process.

Governance, Risk, and Compliance

Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) refers to the framework organizations use to manage their operations in a controlled and ethical manner. Governance involves establishing structures and processes to guide decision-making and ensure accountability. Risk management focuses on identifying, assessing, and mitigating potential threats to the organization’s objectives. Compliance entails adhering to laws, regulations, industry standards, and internal policies.

The GRC guidelines aim to promote transparency, integrity, and responsible behavior within an organization. By implementing effective GRC practices, businesses can proactively manage risks, meet legal requirements, protect stakeholders’ interests, and maintain their reputation. GRC frameworks typically involve the collaboration of various departments, including legal, finance, and IT, to establish and enforce policies, monitor performance, and ensure compliance with applicable regulations.

Growth Fund

A growth fund is a type of investment fund that focuses on investing in companies with strong upside potential. These funds primarily seek out companies that are expected to experience rapid earnings growth and capital appreciation in the future.

The objective of a growth fund is to generate long-term capital gains by investing in stocks of companies that are in their early stages of development or have the potential to expand significantly. Growth funds are often favored by investors willing to take on a higher level of risk in exchange for the possibility of higher returns.


Hedging refers to the strategic use of financial instruments or market strategies to offset the risk of adverse price movements in an asset. Essentially, it’s akin to taking out an insurance policy on your investments. When an investor hedges, they are taking steps to protect themselves from potential adverse events while still allowing for the possibility of profit.

The practice of hedging involves using derivatives, such as options and futures contracts, to strategically manage and mitigate the risk of losses in an investment portfolio. For instance, if an investor holds a significant position in a particular stock, they might use options contracts to protect against a potential decline in the stock’s value.
Hedging can be applied in various scenarios, including currency risk, interest rate risk, and commodity price risk. It is a sophisticated investment strategy that requires a deep understanding of the market dynamics and the instruments involved. While it can reduce potential losses, it’s important to note that hedging can also limit potential gains and involves costs, such as the purchase of derivatives or other hedging instruments.

In the context of wealth management, hedging is a vital tool for financial advisors to manage portfolio risk, particularly in volatile market conditions or for high-net-worth clients with significant exposure to market shifts.


HiddenLevers was a financial technology firm known for its prognosticative stress testing tools. It specialized in providing assessments and macroeconomic analysis for financial advisors, asset managers, and various institutions in the wealth management industry. In 2021, it was acquired by Orion Advisor Solutions. Post-acquisition, the identity of HiddenLevers has gradually been phased out under Orion’s stewardship, leading to a renaming and a shift in strategic direction. Despite the change in branding, there remains a notable gap in terms of achieving seamless integrations and market adoption that were anticipated from this acquisition.

Inception Date

The inception date refers to the specific date on which an investment or financial product was established or began operating. Although it originated as a part of insurance policy documentation, it is now used for various assets.

This date marks the starting point of the investment’s performance track record and signifies the date from which the investment’s returns and other related metrics are calculated. It is essential for investors to assess the historical performance and evaluate the investment’s growth over time.

Independent Broker-Dealer

An independent broker-dealer (IBD) is a financial firm that operates outside of a larger corporate structure and provides investment services to clients. Unlike broker-dealers, which work with major banks or financial institutions, independent broker-dealers are typically smaller and offer more personalized services. In addition, the IBDs may have higher commissions.

These professionals have the freedom to offer a wide range of investment options, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and alternative investments. Independent broker-dealers act as intermediaries between investors and the financial markets. They execute buy and sell orders on behalf of their clients, as well as provide financial advice, research, and support to help clients make informed investment decisions. With their focus on independence and flexibility, independent broker-dealers aim to cater to the unique needs and objectives of individual investors.

Independent Marketing Organization

An Independent Marketing Organization (IMO) is a business entity that operates independently from insurance companies and provides distribution services for products such as life insurance, health insurance, and annuities. IMOs act as intermediaries between insurance carriers and insurance agents or brokers, helping with product selection, training, compliance, and marketing support.

They allow insurance agents to access a broader range of insurance products and carriers, expanding their offerings to clients. IMOs play a crucial role in the insurance industry by bridging the gap between insurers and agents, facilitating the efficient distribution of insurance products, and helping agents meet the diverse needs of their clients. With their expertise and support, IMOs contribute to the growth and success of insurance professionals within a competitive market.

Individual Advisor

An individual advisor, also known as a personal advisor or financial consultant, is a professional who provides personalized guidance and advice to individuals regarding their financial goals, investments, and overall financial well-being. These advisors typically work in fields such as wealth management, retirement planning, estate planning, or tax planning. They analyze a client’s financial situation, risk tolerance, and future objectives to develop tailored strategies and recommendations.

Individual advisors stay updated on market trends, investment opportunities, and relevant regulations to ensure their advice is current and insightful. They may also assist with portfolio management, asset allocation, and monitoring financial performance. The primary goal of an individual advisor is to help clients achieve their financial objectives and navigate complex financial decisions with confidence.

An individual advisor may be a broker, fiduciary, or dual license advisor.

Individual Advisor Representative

An Individual Advisor Representative (IAR) is a professional who works within the financial services industry, specifically as a representative of an investment advisory firm. An IAR is responsible for providing personalized investment advice and recommendations to clients. They work closely with individuals or households to develop and implement tailored financial plans based on the client’s goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

These professionals typically hold certifications, usually the Series 63 and Series 65 licenses, which authorize them to provide investment advice. An IAR is expected to have a comprehensive understanding of various financial products, portfolio management, and market trends. They play a crucial role in assisting clients in making sound investment decisions and achieving their long-term financial objectives.

Individual Retirement Account

An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a type of retirement savings account that offers tax advantages to individuals in the United States. It allows individuals to set aside a portion of their income on a tax-deferred or tax-free basis, depending on the type of IRA. There are two main types of IRAs: traditional and Roth. 


With a traditional IRA, contributions may be tax deductible, and earnings grow tax-deferred until withdrawal. Taxes are then paid on the distributions during retirement. On the other hand, with a Roth IRA, contributions are made with after-tax dollars, and qualified withdrawals in retirement are tax-free. IRAs provide individuals with the opportunity to save and invest for their future, making them a valuable tool in retirement planning.

Interest Rate Risk

Interest rate risk refers to the potential for changes in interest rates to impact the value of investments, particularly fixed-income securities. It is the uncertainty that an investment’s future cash flows, such as interest payments or principal repayments, will be affected by fluctuations in interest rates. When interest rates rise, the value of fixed-income investments, such as bonds, tends to fall as their lower yield becomes less attractive compared to newer, higher-yielding securities.

Conversely, when interest rates decline, the value of fixed-income investments increases. Interest rate risk affects individual investors and financial institutions, as it can significantly impact the profitability and value of investment portfolios. To manage interest rate risk, investors may diversify their portfolios, utilize hedging strategies, or adjust the duration of their fixed-income holdings.

International Securities Identification Number

An International Securities Identification Number (ISIN) is a unique code assigned to a specific security, such as stocks, bonds, or options, to facilitate their identification in international financial markets. The ISIN is a 12-character alphanumeric code that helps investors, traders, and regulatory authorities accurately identify and track individual securities across borders.

The ISIN includes the country of issuance, the unique security identifier, and a check digit for validation. With ISINs, investors can easily retrieve information about a particular security, such as its issuer, maturity date, and interest rate. This standardized identification system promotes transparency, facilitates efficient trading, and allows for accurate reporting and analysis in the global investment landscape.

Investment Advisers Act of 1940

The Investment Advisers Act of 1940 is a significant piece of legislation that established regulations and requirements for investment advisers operating in the United States. Enacted by the U.S. Congress, the act aims to protect investors and maintain the integrity of the financial industry.

Under the act, investment advisers are required to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or state securities authorities, depending on the size of their business. It sets standards for disclosure and fiduciary duty and prohibits fraudulent practices. The act also outlines the responsibilities and obligations of investment advisers, ensuring they operate in the best interests of their clients. By implementing these regulations, the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 plays a crucial role in safeguarding investors and promoting transparency in the investment advisory industry.

Investment Policy Statement

An Investment Policy Statement (IPS) is a document that outlines the guidelines and objectives for managing and investing an individual or organization’s assets. It serves as a formal guide for investment decisions, providing a clear framework for investment managers to follow.

The IPS typically includes essential details such as the client’s risk tolerance, time horizon, investment objectives, asset allocation strategy, and any restrictions or preferences. It helps to align the investment portfolio with the client’s overall financial goals and risk appetite. Its transparent framework ensures that the IIPS aids investors in making sound investment decisions, monitoring performance, and ensuring accountability. It also serves as a communication tool between the client and the investment manager, enabling both parties to have a shared understanding of the investment approach.


The ‘J-Curve’ concept is primarily used to describe the expected pattern of returns on a private equity investment over time. The term derives its name from the shape of the letter ‘J’, which mirrors the typical performance trajectory of such investments.

Initially, after the investment is made, there is often a period of negative returns or underperformance. This initial dip represents the early stage of the investment, where costs and fees are incurred, and the investment is yet to yield significant returns. This phase might also include restructuring costs or other initial expenses associated with the investment.

As the investment matures and the strategies begin to take effect, the curve starts to rise, reflecting improved performance and an increase in the value of the investment. The upward slope of the J-Curve indicates growing returns, ultimately surpassing the break-even point and moving towards higher profitability.

The J-Curve is particularly relevant in private equity and venture capital, where investments are typically locked in for a longer period, and returns are not immediate. Understanding the J-Curve is crucial for wealth managers and investors in these fields, as it sets realistic expectations about the performance timeline of such investments and underscores the importance of patience and a long-term perspective in achieving substantial returns.

Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable metrics used to evaluate and measure the success or performance of an organization, department, or individual in achieving specific objectives. These indicators serve as benchmarks to assess progress toward goals and provide valuable insights for decision-making. 

KPIs can vary based on the nature of the business and its objectives, but they are typically aligned with key strategic priorities. They help identify areas of improvement, track trends over time, and facilitate performance management. Some examples of KPIs for advisory firms could include:

  • Client retention rate
  • Advisors churn rate
  • Revenue retention rate
  • Distribution of revenue per client
  • Client revenue per hour

By setting and monitoring KPIs, organizations can gain a clear understanding of their performance and make informed adjustments to optimize efficiency, productivity, and outcomes. KPIs are vital tools to drive accountability, enhance performance, and ensure continuous improvement.

Key Person Insurance

Key Person Insurance is a life insurance policy a company purchases on a key employee’s life, where the company is the beneficiary and pays the premium. This type of insurance is used to protect the company from the financial impact that could result from the death or extended incapacity of an important member of the business, typically someone whose skills, knowledge, or leadership are crucial to the company’s financial success. In wealth management, Key Person Insurance is essential in business succession planning and risk management strategies, especially for small businesses and partnerships.

A lead generation questionnaire is a structured set of questions designed to gather valuable information about potential customers or clients. It is specifically tailored to identify individuals who have expressed interest in a product or service and are likely to become leads or sales prospects. 

By collecting relevant data such as contact details, demographics, preferences, and interests, a lead generation questionnaire helps businesses identify and qualify potential leads, enabling targeted marketing efforts and increasing the chances of conversion.

There are different types of questionnaires advisors can use to attract leads, with Risk Tolerance questionnaires being one of the most common.

Lifecycle Fund

A Lifecycle Fund, also known as a Target-Date Fund, is a type of investment designed to assist investors in achieving their long-term financial goals, such as retirement. This type of fund operates on the principle of adjusting its asset allocation over time to become more conservative as the target date approaches. Initially, the fund focuses on higher-risk, higher-reward investments, such as equities, to take advantage of long-term growth potential.

As the target date approaches, the fund gradually shifts towards more conservative investments, such as bonds and cash, to preserve capital and reduce volatility. The aim of a Lifecycle Fund is to automatically manage and adjust the portfolio’s risk level based on the investor’s time horizon, providing a convenient and streamlined investment solution.

A Lifecycle Fund often follows the fund-of-funds approach to investing.

Linsco/Private Lender

Linsco, also known as a Private Lender, refers to an individual or private organization that provides funding for personal or commercial loans outside of traditional banking institutions. These lenders can include wealthy individuals, investment firms, or specialized lending companies. When borrowers are unable to secure loans from traditional sources or require more flexible terms, Linsco/Private Lenders step in to offer customized lending solutions.

They often assess loan applications based on the borrower’s assets, income, and creditworthiness but may be more open to risky or unconventional projects. Linsco/Private Lenders typically charge higher interest rates compared to banks, reflecting the increased risk they bear. Their services cater to borrowers seeking quick financing or those with unique financial circumstances.

It’s important to consider a client’s risk tolerance when recommending a Private Lender, as this option is often considered riskier than with traditional lenders.


Liquidity refers to the ease with which an asset can be bought or sold in the market without causing significant price changes. It measures the degree of financial flexibility and the ability to access cash quickly. High liquidity implies an asset can be easily converted into cash, while low liquidity suggests difficulties in selling or buying the asset.

Liquidity is crucial for the functioning of financial markets as it ensures smooth transactions and reduces the risk of price volatility. It is influenced by factors such as trading volume, bid-ask spread, and market depth. Liquidity plays a vital role in determining the stability and efficiency of financial systems and is a key consideration for investors and traders.

Living Will

A Living Will is a legally binding document that outlines an individual’s preferences and instructions regarding their medical treatment and end-of-life care in the event that they become incapacitated or unable to communicate their wishes.

This document allows individuals to specify their desires regarding life-sustaining treatments, such as resuscitation, intubation, or artificial nutrition, ensuring that their healthcare decisions align with their personal values and beliefs. The purpose of a Living Will is to provide guidance to healthcare providers and family members, ensuring that the individual’s wishes are respected and followed, even when they are unable to voice their preferences.


The MSCI EAFE Index is a widely recognized benchmark that measures the performance of equity markets in developed countries, excluding the United States and Canada. EAFE stands for “Europe, Australasia, and the Far East,” representing the geographical regions the index covers. It includes companies from 21 developed markets across Europe, Australia, and Asia.

The index is market-capitalization-weighted, meaning that larger companies have a greater influence on its performance. The MSCI EAFE Index provides investors with a comprehensive view of the performance of international developed markets, offering insights into trends and opportunities outside the US market. It serves as a reference point for asset managers, investment analysts, and other market participants to assess and compare the performance of international portfolios.

Managed Accounts

Managed Accounts are investment accounts that are owned by an individual investor and overseen by a professional wealth manager. In a managed account, the manager makes investment decisions, often tailored to the client’s specific goals, risk tolerance, and investment preferences, under a discretionary mandate. This personalized approach allows for a higher degree of customization than what might be found in pooled vehicles like mutual funds. Managed accounts are ideal for offering clients a tailored investment experience, providing transparency, control, and potentially greater tax efficiency.

Market Risk

Market risk refers to the potential for financial losses due to fluctuations in the overall market conditions. It encompasses the uncertainty and volatility of financial instruments such as stocks, bonds, commodities, and currencies.

Market risk arises from various factors, including economic trends, geopolitical events, interest rate changes, and market perceptions. It impacts investors, traders, and financial institutions, affecting the value of their investments or portfolios. As a result, investors can experience both gains and losses from particular risks, making it an inherent part of investing and trading activities.

Investors employ strategies like diversification, hedging, and risk assessment models to mitigate potential losses and enhance overall portfolio performance.

Marketing Qualified Lead

A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) refers to a prospect or lead who has been identified by marketing efforts as having a higher likelihood of becoming a client. MQLs are individuals or companies that have expressed interest in your firm’s service through active actions such as subscribing to a newsletter, downloading an ebook, or attending a webinar. They meet specific criteria set by the marketing team, indicating their fit with the target audience and their level of engagement.

MQLs are typically nurtured through personalized marketing campaigns to further educate and engage them, to eventually convert into paying clients. Identifying and qualifying MQLs are crucial for effective lead generation and conversion strategies.

Maturity Date

The maturity date refers to the final repayment date of a financial product or loan. It is the deadline for the borrower to fully repay the principal amount and any outstanding interest. This date marks the loan term’s completion or the investment period’s end.

For example, in the case of a bond, the maturity date is when the bondholder receives the face value of the bond. In the context of loans, such as mortgages or personal loans, the maturity date indicates the final installment payment. Understanding the maturity date is crucial for both borrowers and lenders, as it helps plan future financial obligations and ensure timely repayments.

Model Marketplace

A Model Marketplace in wealth management is a platform where financial advisors can access a diverse range of investment models. These models are typically created and managed by experienced investment managers or asset management firms. The marketplace serves as a centralized hub, offering a variety of investment strategies and asset allocations that advisors can choose from to align with their clients’ specific financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizons.

The key features of a Model Marketplace include:

  1. Diversity of Investment Models: It offers a wide array of investment models ranging from conservative to aggressive strategies, covering different asset classes, geographic regions, and investment themes. This diversity enables advisors to tailor portfolios to individual client needs more effectively.
  2. Efficiency and Scalability: By using these pre-built models, advisors can streamline the portfolio construction process, reducing the time and complexity involved in creating individualized investment strategies from scratch. This efficiency allows advisors to manage a larger number of client portfolios effectively.
  3. Expert Management: The models in the marketplace are typically designed and maintained by professional investment managers who continuously monitor market conditions and adjust the models as necessary. This expertise provides an added layer of oversight and strategic management.
  4. Customization and Flexibility: While the models provide a starting point, they often allow for customization to accommodate specific client needs or preferences. This flexibility ensures that advisors can provide personalized advice while leveraging the expertise embedded in the models.
  5. Cost-Effectiveness: Utilizing a Model Marketplace can be cost-effective for both advisors and clients. It often leads to lower operational costs and can provide access to institutional-quality investment strategies that might otherwise be out of reach for individual investors.
Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT)

Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) is an investment theory that proposes how rational investors can use diversification to optimize their portfolios, and how a risk-averse investor can construct portfolios to maximize expected return based on a given level of market risk. MPT emphasizes that the risk and return of an individual investment should not be assessed alone, but by how it contributes to the portfolio’s overall risk and return. It has been foundational in the development of many investment strategies and financial models.

Monte Carlo Method

Investment advisors use the Monte Carlo Method, also called a multiple probability simulation, to determine the probability of outcomes in situations that involve unknown or random variables. It helps investors evaluate risks in forecasting models, assuming a stable or efficient market.  

Unlike other methods of forecasting or estimation that use a single average variable for unknowns, the Monte Carlo technique uses several values. The several results generated from this method are then averaged to create an estimate. The average is used as the different outcomes caused by random variables form a bell curve, and the middle of this curve is the most likely return.

There are five steps to using the Monte Carlo Method:

  1. Project one price trajectory. The following formula is used: Periodic Daily Return = ln(Day’s Price/Previous Day’s Price)
  2. Calculate the drift with the result’s average, standard deviation, and variance inputs.
  3. Use a random input.
  4. Repeat this calculation several times, with each equation representing a day. 
  5. Average the results to determine potential future price movement.

However, the Monte Carlo Method must use historical price data. An unforeseen event may disrupt the historical pattern and thus render the estimate inaccurate.


Morningstar is an investment research and financial services company based in the United States. They assign ratings to funds based on performance and provide data, such as historical returns and expense ratios, to aid investors in making decisions. While their fund ratings and historical data offerings, including returns and expense ratios, are designed to guide investors, it’s important to recognize the scope and methodology limitations inherent in any singular analytical perspective.

As the financial landscape evolves, reliance on a single source like Morningstar could pose limitations in addressing clients’ complex needs.

Mutual Fund

A mutual fund is an investment vehicle that pools money from multiple investors to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other securities. Managed by professional fund managers, mutual funds offer individuals the opportunity to gain exposure to a variety of assets that may be difficult to access individually.

By investing in mutual funds, investors can benefit from diversification, as their money is spread across various securities. The funds are typically structured as open-end investment companies, meaning they issue and redeem shares on a continuous basis at their net asset value (NAV). Mutual funds are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and provide investors with a convenient and accessible way to participate in the financial markets.

National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA)

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is an association of fee-only financial advisors committed to providing comprehensive and objective financial planning advice to individuals.

NAPFA members adhere to a strict fiduciary standard, putting clients’ best interests first. This means they do not receive commissions or sell products, allowing them to provide unbiased and independent advice. NAPFA promotes professionalism, education, and high ethical standards within the financial planning industry.

Members of NAPFA must meet rigorous criteria, including holding recognized professional credentials and maintaining continuing education requirements. Advisors must take a fiduciary oath every year, notify the association of legal events, and comply with NAPFA standards.

Net Asset Value

Net Asset Value (NAV) refers to the per-share value of a mutual fund, exchange-traded fund (ETF), or any other investment vehicle. It represents the total value of the fund’s assets, less its liabilities, divided by the number of outstanding shares.

NAV is calculated at the end of each trading day. It provides investors with an estimation of the fund’s intrinsic value and is crucial for determining the price at which shares are bought or sold. NAV allows investors to assess the performance and value of their investments, as well as compare different funds. It serves as an indicator of the fund’s overall health and can be influenced by factors such as changes in the market value of the fund’s holdings and its income or expenses.

Nitrogen has been revolutionizing how financial advisors and wealth management firms grow since the launch of Riskalyze in 2011. Today, Nitrogen is the leading client engagement platform for wealth management firms, helping advisors turn leads into meetings, meetings into valued clients, and clients into referral champions. The company invented the Risk Number®, built on top of a Nobel Prize-winning academic framework, and is the champion of the Fearless Investing Movement — tens of thousands of financial advisors committed to our mission of empowering the world to invest fearlessly.

Like the essential element that enriches the earth, Nitrogen invigorates wealth management with groundbreaking growth and client engagement tools.

The company invented the Risk Number®, built on top of a Nobel Prize-winning academic framework, and is the champion of the Fearless Investing Movement — tens of thousands of financial advisors committed to our mission of empowering the world to invest fearlessly.

We’re the catalysts for change, transforming data into decisions and insights into action. Where there’s Nitrogen, there’s growth.

No Platform Fee

No Platform Fee refers to a business model or service that does not charge a fee to individuals or businesses for using its platform. This means that users can access and utilize the platform without incurring any additional costs or charges.

The absence of a platform fee can be advantageous for both individuals and businesses, as it eliminates financial barriers and allows for greater accessibility and participation. By waiving the platform fee, companies can attract more users and foster a larger and more diverse user base. This can be particularly beneficial in online marketplaces, crowdfunding platforms, and other digital platforms where the presence of a platform fee may discourage potential users from engaging with the platform.

No Transaction Fee

A no-transaction fee, sometimes called a no-load asset, refers to a financial arrangement where no charges are imposed on the execution of a trade or transaction. In this context, it typically pertains to investment platforms or brokerages that offer services without charging a fee for buying or selling securities, such as stocks, ETFs, or mutual funds.

These funds are able to cut out transaction fees as there is usually no middle-man involved. Front-load and back-load fees help to cover sales commissions from third-party agents. No-transaction fees are used when there is a direct sale. Funds without a fee are particularly attractive to investors and traders, as there are fewer expenses.

By eliminating transaction fees, investors can buy or sell securities without incurring additional costs. This can be particularly beneficial for those making frequent trades or investing smaller amounts. However, it’s important to note that other fees may still apply, such as account maintenance fees or management fees for certain investment products.

No-Load Fund

A no-load fund is a mutual fund that does not charge investors a sales fee or commission when buying or selling shares. Unlike load funds, which have upfront or back-end sales charges, no-load funds allow investors to purchase shares directly from the fund company at the net asset value (NAV) without any additional costs. This means that the entire investment amount is used to buy fund shares, maximizing the investment’s potential.

No-load funds are popular among investors seeking lower costs and higher returns, as they do not incur sales charges that can eat into investment gains. Additionally, by eliminating sales charges, investors have the flexibility to buy and sell shares without incurring additional expenses, enhancing their investment strategy.

North American Securities Administrators Association

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) is an international organization dedicated to investor protection and securities regulation. Founded in 1919, NASAA serves as a collective voice for state, provincial, and territorial securities regulators in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Its primary aim is to promote fair and transparent markets, enforce securities laws, and educate and inform both investors and industry professionals.

NASAA works closely with government agencies, industry stakeholders, and other regulatory bodies to develop and implement policies that ensure the integrity of the financial markets. Through collaboration and cooperation, NASAA seeks to foster investor confidence, maintain market integrity, and facilitate efficient capital formation within North America.

Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction (OSJ)

The Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction (OSJ) refers to a regulatory entity within the financial industry that exercises oversight over specific broker-dealer advisory branch offices with the goal of ensuring compliance. Usually, the OSJ is the firm’s main office, and FINRA requires all member firms to establish an OSJ branch. It serves as a primary supervisory authority, ensuring compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and internal policies.

The OSJ monitors and evaluates the activities of registered individuals, reviewing their client interactions, investment recommendations, and sales practices to maintain ethical standards and mitigate potential risks. It also plays a crucial role in conducting audits, inspections, and ongoing supervision to detect and address any misconduct or violations.

As OSJ is often involved in several functions of an advisory firm, such as advertising, client accounts, and trading.

Outsourced or Outside Chief Investment Officer

An Outsourced Chief Investment Officer (OCIO), also known as an Outside Chief Investment Officer, is a professional or firm hired by an organization to manage its investment portfolio and make strategic investment decisions on its behalf. The OCIO operates independently from the organization’s internal management team and provides objective expertise in navigating the complex world of investments. They work closely with the organization to understand its investment goals, risk tolerance, and financial objectives.

The OCIO takes on the responsibilities of designing and implementing investment strategies, asset allocation, manager selection, and ongoing monitoring and reporting. By outsourcing the investment management function to an OCIO, organizations can leverage the expertise and resources of external specialists, allowing them to focus on their core competencies while benefiting from access to sophisticated investment strategies and market insights.

Passive Management

Passive management, also known as passive investing or index investing, is an investment strategy that aims to replicate the performance of a specific market index. Unlike active management, which involves short-term trades in an attempt to outperform the market, passive investing often involves holding assets for long periods of time.

Passive management typically involves investing in index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track the chosen index. Investors aim to achieve broad market exposure, diversification, and lower costs with this strategy compared to actively managed funds. This approach is based on the belief that the market is efficient and that it is difficult for active fund managers to consistently beat the market over the long term.

Passive management is popular among investors seeking a hands-off approach to investing with a focus on long-term, steady returns with typically lower fees.

Portfolio Turnover Rate

The Portfolio Turnover Rate measures how frequently the securities within a portfolio are bought and sold over a given time period. It is expressed as a percentage and is calculated by dividing the total value of securities transactions within the portfolio by the average value of the portfolio.

A high turnover rate indicates that the portfolio manager is actively trading securities, potentially in an attempt to take advantage of short-term market fluctuations. Therefore, higher turnover tends to be associated with aggressive investing strategies. On the other hand, a low turnover rate suggests a more passive approach to investing, with securities being held for longer periods.

The turnover rate can have implications for investors, as it can impact transaction costs, tax consequences, and the potential for capital gains or losses. Therefore, it is important for investors to consider the portfolio turnover rate when evaluating investment strategies.

Potential Annual Return

Potential Annual Return is a time-weighted percentage representing the possible gain or loss an investment may yield over one year. It is a key indicator of an investment’s projected profitability and risk. The calculation considers the initial investment amount, expected returns, and the holding period.

This metric provides investors with a quantitative assessment of the possible gains or losses they could realize from their investment. It is particularly significant for individuals seeking to evaluate various investment options and make informed decisions about allocating their capital. Furthermore, the potential annual return helps investors gauge the potential rewards against the risks involved, enabling them to compare different investment opportunities and determine which ones align with their financial goals and risk tolerance.

You can use this metric with liquid assets, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs.


Probate is the legal process after someone passes away, in which their assets are distributed according to their will or the laws of intestacy. It involves validating the deceased person’s will, paying any outstanding debts and taxes, and transferring property ownership to beneficiaries. The probate court oversees this process to ensure that the deceased person’s wishes are carried out correctly.

The court will appoint an executor or personal representative to manage the probate process, who is responsible for gathering and inventorying assets, notifying creditors and beneficiaries, and distributing the estate. Probate can be a lengthy and complex process involving legal fees and court involvement. However, it provides transparency and protection for all parties involved, ensuring a fair distribution of the deceased person’s assets.

It is often in a client’s best interest to avoid probate due to the extra expenses involved. There are ways to circumvent the probate process, such as drafting a living will, gifting assets, joint accounts, and designating a beneficiary.


A prospectus is a mandatory document that offers information about an investment opportunity, usually provided by a company issuing securities or a mutual fund. A company must file a prospectus with the SEC. It serves as a comprehensive guide for potential investors, outlining essential details such as the investment objectives, risks, financial performance, and legal obligations associated with the investment.

The prospectus also includes information about the company or fund’s management team, historical data, and expected future developments. It helps investors make informed decisions by providing a transparent overview of the investment opportunity’s potential risks and rewards.
Investors are encouraged to carefully review the prospectus before investing to understand the nature of the investment and make informed decisions based on their financial goals and risk tolerance.

Qualified Retirement Plan

A Qualified Retirement Plan is a financial vehicle designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States, which offers tax advantages to encourage saving for retirement. These plans are governed by specific rules outlined under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and are designed to meet certain IRS requirements for tax benefits.

There are two primary types of Qualified Retirement Plans: Defined Benefit Plans and Defined Contribution Plans.

  1. Defined Benefit Plans: These plans, often known as traditional pension plans, promise a specified monthly benefit at retirement. The benefit is usually calculated based on factors such as salary history and duration of employment. Employers bear the investment risk and are responsible for ensuring that the plan has enough funds to pay future retirees.
  2. Defined Contribution Plans: The most common examples are 401(k) plans and 403(b) plans. In these plans, employees contribute a portion of their salaries into individual accounts within the plan. Employers can also make contributions, and the final benefit received by the employee depends on the contributions made and the investment performance of those contributions. The employee bears the investment risk.

The key benefits of Qualified Retirement Plans include tax-deferred growth of investments and tax deductions for contributions. Additionally, employers who offer these plans can benefit from tax incentives. These plans play a crucial role in retirement planning, providing a structured and tax-advantaged way for individuals to accumulate savings for their retirement years.

Rate of Return

Advisors and investors use the rate of return (ROR) to review the profit or loss on an investment during a specific period. This differs from the real rate of return rate, which accounts for taxes and inflation. This metric can be used to evaluate any asset, including tangible assets such as real estate.

Investors often use this measurement to compare similar investments. It is expressed as a percentage.

The formula for calculating an investment’s RoR is:
ROR = [(Current Value-Initial Value)/Initial Value)] x 100

The current value includes both dividends and interest earned from the asset.

Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)

A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a type of investment vehicle that allows individuals to invest in income-generating real estate properties without directly owning them. REITs are publicly traded companies that own, operate, or finance various types of real estate, such as residential, commercial, or industrial properties.

REITs provide investors with exposure to the potential income, diversification, and long-term capital appreciation associated with real estate ownership without the need for significant financial resources or management responsibilities. REITs are required by law to distribute a significant portion of their taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends, making them an attractive option for income-oriented investors. Additionally, REITs offer more liquidity than owning real estate outright since shares can be bought and sold on stock exchanges. This makes it easier for investors to enter or exit their investments.

Real Rate of Return

The real rate of return refers to the net gain on an investment after accounting for inflation. It measures the actual increase in purchasing power that an investor achieves. In simple terms, it represents the rate at which an investment grows in real terms, taking into consideration the impact of inflation.

To calculate the real rate of return, the nominal rate of return is adjusted by subtracting the rate of inflation. This adjustment is crucial because inflation erodes the value of money over time. By deducting the inflation rate, investors can assess the true value of their investment and determine its actual growth.

Understanding the real rate of return is essential for making informed investment decisions. It provides a clearer picture of the profitability and performance of an investment, enabling investors to compare different investment options and evaluate their long-term benefits.


Rebalancing refers to the act of adjusting or realigning the distribution of resources, assets, or investments to a portfolio’s desired risk and return profile. For example, at the beginning of the year, a portfolio may comprise 40% securities and 60% bonds. However, at the end of the year, the income from securities shifted the portfolio’s makeup to 50% securities and 50% bonds. As a result, an advisor may rebalance a client’s portfolio to return to the original percentages.

This may involve buying or selling certain securities or asset classes to bring their weightings back in line with the intended allocation. Rebalancing is done at regular intervals or when there are significant deviations from the target allocation. This practice helps investors aim to control risk, optimize returns, and prevent their portfolio from becoming overly concentrated in a particular investment or asset class. It is considered a disciplined approach to portfolio management that helps to ensure diversification and maintain long-term investment strategy.


Redemption in the context of investing refers to the process of selling or redeeming an investment, such as mutual funds or bonds, to recoup the invested principal or receive the monetary value of the investment.

Typically, redemption involves requesting the sale of the investment units or securities from the issuing institution or intermediary. The redemption value is determined based on the current market price of the investment, which may be higher or lower than the initial purchase price. The redemption process may involve certain fees or restrictions, such as redemption fees or holding periods.

Investors may choose to redeem their investments for various reasons, including the need for liquidity, changing investment objectives, or following the maturity of fixed-term investments. Redemption provides investors with the opportunity to exit their investments and realize their gains or losses. It is important for advisors to counsel clients on potential fees and penalties related to early redemption.

Redemption Fee

A redemption fee, in the context of investing, refers to a fee charged by certain mutual funds or investment companies when an investor sells or redeems their shares within a specific timeframe. The purpose of this fee is to discourage short-term trading and to protect long-term investors by disincentivizing frequent buying and selling.

Redemption fees are a percentage of the amount being redeemed and can vary depending on the fund or company. The fee is deducted from the investor’s redemption proceeds and is used to compensate remaining shareholders for any costs incurred as a result of the redemption. Redemption fees aim to promote stability, discourage market timing strategies, and align the interests of investors with long-term goals.

Registered Investment Advisory

A Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) is a professional firm or individual that provides personalized investment advice and manages assets on behalf of their clients. RIAs are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or relevant state securities authorities and must adhere to fiduciary standards, which require them to always act in their clients’ best interests. They must provide transparent and unbiased advice while disclosing any potential conflicts of interest. An RIA advisor is typically a fee-only advisor.

RIAs offer various services, including financial planning, portfolio management, retirement planning, and estate planning. By conducting thorough research and considering their client’s goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon, RIAs aim to develop customized investment strategies. Using their expertise and knowledge of financial markets, RIAs assist clients in achieving their financial objectives while maintaining a high level of professionalism and ethical conduct.

Release of Information Form

A Release of Information Form, in the context of investing, is a document that authorizes the disclosure of confidential and sensitive financial information from one party to another. It is a legal document that facilitates the exchange of necessary information between investors and financial institutions, investment firms, or financial advisors. A Release of Information Form is often used during client onboarding.

The form typically includes details such as the client’s name, contact information, and account number, along with a comprehensive list of the specific information that can be disclosed and to whom. This may involve financial statements, investment portfolio summaries, transaction history, tax documents, and other relevant records.

The purpose of the Release of Information Form is to ensure transparency and enable informed decision-making for investors while also protecting the privacy and security of their financial dat

Request for Proposal

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a formal document issued by an organization or government agency that asks for bids from potential service providers for a project. The RFP outlines the organization’s objectives, expectations, and selection criteria and provides interested parties with the necessary information to submit their proposals.

There are several benefits to using RFPs. The asking organization may save money with competitive bids, broaden their vendor options, and review each vendor’s unique perspective on the project. It also acts as an advertisement.

Some businesses and organizations use RFPs to identify new investment managers or financial advisors.

Retirement Map

retirement map is a financial visual that helps individuals navigate their retirement journey. It serves as a guide, outlining the steps and strategies needed to achieve a secure and fulfilling retirement. 

Generating a retirement map may also help clients answer questions about their savings habits and whether they are ready for retirement. This map takes into account various factors such as income, expenses, investments, and risk tolerance to create a personalized roadmap for retirement savings and investment choices. It also considers potential challenges and contingencies, like market fluctuations, healthcare expenses, and inflation. Individuals can make informed decisions, track their progress, and adjust their strategies as needed to ensure a comfortable and worry-free retirement by following their customized map. 

Retirement Plan

A retirement plan is a financial arrangement that helps individuals save and invest for retirement. These plans are designed to provide a stable income stream when individuals are no longer working. Retirement plans can be sponsored by employers (such as a 401(k) or pension plan) or self-funded through individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Contributions to retirement plans are typically made on a pre-tax basis, allowing individuals to lower their taxable income while saving for the future. These funds are then invested in various financial instruments, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, with the goal of growing the savings over time. Upon retirement, individuals can start withdrawing from their retirement plans to cover their living expenses. The specific rules and regulations governing retirement plans vary depending on the country and the type of plan. Furthermore, retirement planning also considers which accounts to withdraw funds from first to reduce the tax burden.

Return on Investment

Return on Investment (ROI) is a financial metric used to assess the profitability and efficiency of an investment. It measures the return gained relative to the initial cost of the investment. ROI is usually expressed as a percentage and is calculated by dividing the net profit (or gain) from the investment by the initial investment cost and multiplying by 100.

A higher ROI implies a more profitable investment, while a lower ROI suggests lower profitability or potential loss. By analyzing ROI, advisors and clients can together make informed decisions on allocating resources, optimizing financial strategies, and identifying opportunities that maximize returns. It is essential to consider other factors alongside ROI, such as risk, time frame, and market conditions, for a comprehensive investment evaluation.

Revenue Per Advisor

Revenue Per Advisor (RPA), or revenue per employee productivity, is a financial metric used to measure the performance and profitability of financial advisory firms or individual advisors within a firm. It is calculated by dividing the total revenue generated by the firm or advisor by the number of advisors. RPA provides insights into the average revenue earned by each advisor, indicating their ability to generate income for the firm.

A higher RPA suggests that advisors are successful in attracting and servicing clients, while a lower RPA may indicate potential areas for improvement. By monitoring RPA over time, firms can assess individual advisor performance, set performance targets, and identify opportunities to enhance profitability and optimize resource allocation.

Revenue Sharing

Revenue sharing or “rev share” refers to a model where the profits generated from an investment are distributed among the investors, typically in proportion to their initial investment amounts or agreed-upon terms. This approach allows investors to receive a share of the revenue generated by the investment, providing them with a potential return on their investment beyond traditional dividend payments or capital appreciation.

Revenue-sharing arrangements are commonly used in various investment vehicles, such as private equity funds, real estate partnerships, and crowdfunding platforms. This mechanism aligns the interests of investors with the success of the investment, as they stand to benefit directly from the revenue generated by the underlying asset or project. Revenue sharing can provide investors with a diversified income stream and the opportunity to participate in the financial success of a project or investment venture.

The Risk Number™ is a metric used to assess the level of risk associated with an investment portfolio. It provides investors with valuable insights into their investments’ potential volatility and downside risks. A number between 1-99 is calculated by analyzing various factors such as historical performance, market trends, and asset allocation. 

A higher Risk Number indicates a greater likelihood of experiencing significant fluctuations and potential losses in the portfolio. A lower Risk Number suggests a more conservative and stable investment strategy. By understanding your Risk Number, investors can make informed decisions and align their investment objectives with their risk tolerance. It serves as a valuable tool by creating a common standard for financial advisors and individuals seeking to manage their investment risk effectively and optimize their overall portfolio performance.

Risk Questionnaire

Risk Questionnaire is a tool used to assess an individual’s or an organization’s tolerance for risk. It involves a series of carefully crafted questions that aim to gather information about an entity’s risk appetite, financial goals, and investment preferences. 

Questionnaires help to identify and evaluate the level of risk that a client can handle comfortably. Financial advisors and wealth managers use this tool to gain insights into a client’s risk profile and tailor their investment strategies accordingly. 

The Risk Questionnaire is a structured approach to understanding and managing risk. It aids in making informed decisions, aligning investments with risk objectives, and optimizing risk-reward trade-offs. Ultimately, a Risk Questionnaire aims to minimize potential losses and maximize the potential for achieving desired financial outcomes.

Risk Target

Risk Target is a strategic objective set by investors in the context of investing that aims to manage and control the level of risk in their investment portfolio. It refers to the specific level of risk tolerance or desired risk exposure that an investor is willing to accept in order to achieve their financial goals.

The Risk Target can be based on various factors, such as the investor’s time horizon, investment objectives, and personal risk tolerance.

Investors use these targets to better align their investment strategies and asset allocations accordingly. This helps them balance potential returns with the associated risks, ensuring that their investment portfolio remains within their desired risk parameters. Regular monitoring and adjustments are often necessary to maintain alignment with the Risk Target as market conditions and investor circumstances evolve.

Round-Trip Restriction

A round-trip restriction is a regulatory measure imposed on investors to prevent them from engaging in a quick buying and selling cycle of a particular security within a short timeframe. Called round-trip trading, the process of rapidly buying and selling creates fake trading volume and reduces trading volume data accuracy. Implementing a restriction aims to curb market manipulation, maintain fair trading practices, and promote stability in the investment landscape.

Under a round-trip restriction, investors are prohibited from executing buy and sell orders for the same security within a specific time period, typically within a single trading day. Violating the round-trip restriction may lead to penalties or even suspension from trading activities.
Round-tripping differs from day trading or swap trading, practices which have their own regulations.


Salesforce is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform that helps businesses manage customer interactions, sales processes, and marketing campaigns. It provides comprehensive tools and features to streamline and enhance customer engagement. Salesforce enables companies to store and access customer data in a centralized database, facilitating a 360-degree view of customer interactions across multiple channels.

With its customizable dashboards and reports, businesses can gain valuable insights into their sales pipelines, customer behaviors, and campaign performance. Salesforce also offers various applications, including sales, service, marketing, and commerce, allowing organizations to tailor their CRM solution to meet their specific needs.

Salesforce also integrates with several software solutions, including Nitrogen.

Scenario Analysis

Scenario analysis is a strategic planning tool to assess the potential outcomes and impacts of various future scenarios on a particular situation or event. It involves creating and analyzing multiple scenarios based on different assumptions, trends, and factors that could shape the future.

By considering a range of possible scenarios, organizations can better understand the risks, opportunities, and potential outcomes associated with their decisions. It exposes advisors to a wide range of plausible futures for a client’s portfolio, making it a valuable tool for navigating complex and uncertain markets.

Through scenario analysis, stakeholders can enhance their understanding of the potential consequences of their actions and make informed choices that improve the resilience and adaptability of their portfolio in the face of unpredictable circumstances.

Scope of Work

Scope of Work (SoW) is a comprehensive document outlining the specific tasks, deliverables, and timeline for a project or engagement. It serves as a blueprint for all involved parties, including clients, contractors, and team members, ensuring clear expectations and a shared understanding of project objectives. The SoW is often included in a client proposal or when hiring independent contractors.

The SoW provides a detailed description of the project’s goals, requirements, and constraints, helping to define the boundaries and scope of responsibilities. It typically includes a breakdown of key deliverables, milestones, resources, and financial considerations.

A well-defined SoW helps to minimize misunderstandings, manage risks, and facilitate effective communication throughout the client lifecycle. It serves as a crucial reference point, guiding the project’s execution, monitoring progress, and enabling stakeholders to evaluate performance against the agreed-upon criteria.

Securities Act of 1933

The Securities Act of 1933, also known as the “truth in securities” law, was enacted to regulate the sale of securities and protect investors from fraudulent practices. It requires companies issuing securities to provide full and accurate disclosure of relevant information to potential investors.

The Act aims to ensure transparency and fairness in the securities market by mandating the registration of securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and requiring companies to disclose financial statements, business details, and any potential risks associated with the investment. In addition, it prohibits fraudulent activities, market manipulation, and misrepresentation. It serves as a crucial foundation for investor protection and promotes the integrity of the financial markets in the United States. By providing investors with reliable information, the Securities Act of 1933 helps maintain confidence and stability in the securities market.

Securities Exchange Commission (SEC)

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is a regulatory agency in the United States that oversees and enforces federal securities laws. Its primary mission is to protect investors, maintain fair and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.

The SEC works to ensure that companies provide accurate and complete information to the public when offering securities for sale. It also regulates the activities of securities brokers, dealers, and exchanges to promote transparency and integrity in the financial markets. By enforcing regulations, conducting investigations, and bringing enforcement actions against violators, the SEC aims to maintain investor confidence and foster a level playing field for all market participants. As a vital component of the U.S. financial system, the SEC plays a crucial role in safeguarding investors and promoting market integrity.

Separately Managed Account (SMA)

A Separately Managed Account (SMA) refers to an investment vehicle wherein an individual investor’s assets are managed separately from other investors’ funds. In this arrangement, a professional money manager makes independent investment decisions tailored to the specific requirements and objectives of the individual client.

SMAs offer a high level of customization and transparency, allowing investors to have greater control over their portfolio and asset allocation. These accounts typically require a higher minimum investment compared to other investment options. The assets within an SMA can include various securities such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

Investors benefit from direct ownership of the underlying securities, potential tax advantages, and the ability to closely monitor and align their portfolio with personal investment goals and risk preferences. SMAs are often preferred by high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors seeking personalized investment strategies.

Service Organization Control (SOC)

Service Organization Control (SOC) is a set of auditing standards developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). It provides assurance to stakeholders regarding the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of a service organization’s systems and data.

SOC reports, such as SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3, are comprehensive assessments that evaluate the design and effectiveness of internal controls at a service organization. These reports are essential for organizations that outsource services, as they demonstrate that appropriate controls are in place to protect sensitive information.

SOC 1 reports focus on financial controls, while SOC 2 reports cover security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy controls. SOC 3 reports provide a summarized version of a service organization’s SOC 2 report, making it suitable for public distribution.

Software solutions that have SOC certification assure their clients of their commitment to maintaining a secure and reliable environment, enhancing trust, and mitigating risks associated with outsourcing services.

Smart Beta

Smart Beta is an investment strategy that combines the benefits of passive investing and the advantages of active investment strategies. It seeks to passively follow indices while taking into account alternative index construction rules based on factors such as volatility, dividends, and size. This approach aims to provide a better risk-return trade-off than traditional market-capitalization-weighted indices, offering the potential for improved returns, reduced risk, or increased diversification.

Socially Responsible Investing

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is an investment approach that seeks to align financial goals with ethical and sustainability considerations. It involves selecting investments based on social and environmental factors in addition to financial performance. Certain clients may prefer SRI-focused portfolios, so advisors must be careful to align assets with this approach.

SRI aims to support companies that prioritize practices such as environmental sustainability, social justice, human rights, and corporate governance. By incorporating these criteria, investors can promote change while still pursuing financial gains.

An SRI strategy may involve investing in companies that operate in renewable energy, engage in fair labor practices, or promote diversity and inclusion. They may also avoid investing in industries such as tobacco or weapons manufacturing.

Tactical Asset Allocation (TAA)

Tactical Asset Allocation (TAA) is an investment strategy that aims to actively adjust the allocation of assets in a portfolio based on short-term market conditions and economic trends. Unlike strategic asset allocation, which focuses on long-term goals and maintains a fixed asset mix, TAA seeks to exploit market inefficiencies and capitalize on opportunities by frequently rebalancing the portfolio.

This investing approach relies on analyzing various factors, such as market valuations, interest rates, economic indicators, and geopolitical events, to make informed investment decisions. TAA aims to enhance returns and manage risks effectively through diversification.

The main objective of TAA is to generate higher returns than a passive buy-and-hold strategy by dynamically adjusting the portfolio’s asset mix. This strategy requires active monitoring, research, and expertise to identify potential opportunities and react swiftly to changing market conditions.

Target-Date Fund

A target-date fund, also known as a lifecycle fund or age-based fund, is an investment type designed to help individuals plan for retirement. It is offered by mutual fund companies and comprises a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, and other assets.

What sets target-date funds apart from other fund types is their unique feature of adjusting asset allocation based on the investor’s target retirement date. As the target date approaches, the fund gradually shifts its holdings from higher-risk to lower-risk investments, aiming to reduce volatility and preserve capital.

This automatic rebalancing makes target-date funds suitable for individuals seeking a “set-it-and-forget-it” approach to retirement savings. They provide convenience, diversification, and professional management, catering to investors with varying risk profiles and time horizons.

However, it’s essential to carefully evaluate and select the appropriate target-date fund based on their retirement goals, risk tolerance, and investment preferences.

Total Contract Value

Total Contract Value (TCV) refers to the total projected worth of a contract between two parties, typically in a business or commercial context. It represents the anticipated revenue that will be generated from the contract over its entire duration. Financial advisors can use this metric to better understand revenue generated from a specific client.

TCV takes into account not only the base contract amount but also any additional revenue streams such as renewals, upsells, or add-ons that may occur within the contract period. It is a comprehensive measure that provides an overview of the total financial impact of the contract. TCV aids organizations in forecasting revenue, evaluating the success of sales efforts, and determining the long-term viability of client relationships.

Turnkey Asset Management Platform (TAMP)

A turnkey asset management platform (TAMP) is a solution that provides financial advisors with a streamlined approach to managing their clients’ investment accounts. It offers a ready-to-use system with tools and resources to efficiently handle investment-related tasks. A TAMP combines technology, investment management, and operational support into a package.

With a TAMP, advisors gain access to a wide range of investment options, including model portfolios, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These platforms often offer research tools to assist advisors in making informed investment decisions. Additionally, TAMPs can provide back-office support services such as trading, rebalancing, and performance reporting, simplifying the operational aspects of managing client portfolios.

These turnkey platforms may also integrate with other essential systems, such as growth platforms, marketing software, and billing solutions.

Turnover Ratio

Turnover Ratio is a measure used by investors and analysts to assess the trading activity of a particular security or a portfolio of investments over a given period. It represents the frequency with which investments within the portfolio are bought or sold. This ratio is calculated by dividing the total value of purchases or sales by the average value of the portfolio during the same period.

A high turnover ratio indicates a more actively traded portfolio and thus affects an investment’s tax burden. In contrast, a low ratio suggests less trading activity. This metric is often used to evaluate the liquidity and efficiency of a fund or investment strategy, as well as to assess the potential impact of transaction costs on investment returns.

Unified Managed Account

A unified managed account (UMA) is a comprehensive investment management service offered by financial institutions. It provides investors with a single account that combines various investment products such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs.

The key feature of a UMA is its ability to customize and manage a diversified portfolio based on each investor’s unique investment goals, risk tolerance, and tax considerations. Unified management accounts offer flexibility in asset allocation and rebalancing, allowing for dynamic adjustments as market conditions change. Additionally, UMAs provide consolidated reporting, allowing investors to track and analyze their portfolio’s performance efficiently. By centralizing the management of multiple investments into a single account, UMAs offer investors convenience, transparency, and the potential for improved risk-adjusted returns.

Unit Investment Trust

A unit investment trust (UIT) is a company that pools together funds from multiple investors to create a portfolio of securities such as stocks, bonds, or other assets. Unlike mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), UITs last for a fixed period of time with a predetermined portfolio of investments. Furthermore, the company issues them directly through an initial public offering (IPO).

UITs issue units that represent proportional ownership in the portfolio’s assets. These units are sold to investors, who can buy or sell them on an exchange or through a broker. UITs are known for their passive management approach, and they are used to generate dividend income. At the end of the predetermined term, the unit is typically liquidated, and investors receive their share of the net assets. UITs provide investors with diversification and can be a suitable option for those seeking long-term investment strategies.

Variable Annuities

Variable annuities are financial products that offer individuals a combination of investment and insurance features. Unlike traditional fixed annuities, variable annuities allow policyholders to invest their premiums into a range of investment options, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. The value of these investments ultimately determines the performance of the annuity. This investment may provide potential for higher returns, but it also comes with a higher level of risk compared to fixed annuities.

One key feature of variable annuities is the ability to receive regular income payments during retirement. These payments can be a fixed amount or based on the performance of the underlying investments. Additionally, variable annuities can include a death benefit, providing a payout to beneficiaries in case of the policyholder’s death. It’s important for individuals considering variable annuities to carefully assess their risk tolerance and understand the associated fees and charges, as these can vary significantly among different annuity providers. Variable annuities sold on commission may have high surrender fees, while institutional options often have lower or no surrender fees.

Wealth Management

Wealth management is the professional service of managing an individual’s or entity’s financial assets and investments to achieve their financial goals. It encompasses a comprehensive approach to wealth preservation and growth through strategic planning, asset allocation, risk management, and ongoing monitoring.

Wealth managers provide customized financial solutions tailored to clients’ unique needs and circumstances. They offer expertise in various areas, including investment management, tax planning, retirement planning, estate planning, and wealth transfer.

The primary objective of wealth management is to optimize the client’s financial resources and help them build, preserve, and transfer wealth across generations. This involves the development of a holistic financial plan, regular portfolio reviews, and adjustments based on changing market conditions and personal goals.

Wrap Fee

A wrap fee refers to a comprehensive, bundled fee charged by investment advisors to manage a client’s portfolio of assets. The fee encompasses various services, including investment advice, portfolio management, and transaction costs. With a wrap fee, clients can benefit from professional guidance and a simplified approach to investing. Rather than paying individual fees for each service, the wrap fee offers a convenient package that covers all aspects of portfolio management.

This arrangement gives investors a clear understanding of the costs involved and eliminates the need for frequent transactions or additional charges. The wrap fee structure is often used by Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) and provides transparency to clients regarding the costs and services rendered.

The common range for wrap fees is 1% to 3% of assets under management.


X-Efficiency refers to the level of efficiency in the use of resources within a firm, particularly in financial institutions or investment firms. It’s a concept that captures how effectively a company utilizes its inputs (like labor, capital, technology) to produce outputs, in contrast to the theoretical ideal of ‘perfect efficiency’ found in competitive markets.

In the context of wealth management, X-Efficiency becomes crucial when assessing the operational aspects of financial institutions or investment firms. It’s about how well these entities manage their internal resources to maximize client returns, minimize operational costs, and provide competitive services. Factors impacting X-Efficiency include organizational structure, technology adoption, management practices, and employee motivation.

A high level of X-Efficiency in a wealth management firm indicates that it is effectively managing its resources to deliver optimal services to its clients. This involves not only achieving strong financial performance but also delivering high client satisfaction through efficient service delivery, innovative product offerings, and effective risk management.


Yield refers to the return or profit generated from an investment, usually expressed as a percentage. It is a key financial metric used to evaluate the profitability of an investment. Yield can be calculated in various ways depending on the asset class.

In the context of stocks, yield usually refers to dividend yield, which represents the annual dividend payment received relative to the stock price. On the other hand, bond yield represents the income generated by a bond in the form of periodic interest payments.

Furthermore, yield is influenced by factors such as interest rates, market conditions, and the creditworthiness of the issuer. A higher yield indicates a potentially higher return but may also entail higher risk. It is important for investors to consider both the yield and associated risks when making investment decisions.

Investors can use expected yield to forecast potential income from their investments, allowing them to assess and compare different investment opportunities.

Zero-Coupon Bond

A Zero-Coupon Bond is a debt security that doesn’t pay interest (a coupon) but is traded at a deep discount, offering profit at maturity when the bond is redeemed for its full face value. Here are key aspects of Zero-Coupon Bonds:

  1. Discounted Purchase Price: Investors buy these bonds at a price lower than their face (par) value. The discount amount essentially represents the interest that will be earned.
  2. No Periodic Interest Payments: Unlike typical bonds, Zero-Coupon Bonds don’t make periodic interest payments. The investor’s return is the difference between the purchase price and the face value paid at maturity.
  3. Maturity Profit: The profit for the investor comes at maturity, when the bond is redeemed. The longer the time to maturity, typically, the greater the discount.
  4. Interest Accrual: Although not paid out, interest on these bonds accrues annually. Investors are typically required to pay taxes on this accrued interest each year, despite not receiving it until maturity.
  5. Variety of Maturities: They can have a wide range of maturity dates, from short to long-term, allowing investors to choose based on their future cash needs.
  6. Risk Profile: While Zero-Coupon Bonds have no reinvestment risk (since there are no periodic interest payments to reinvest), they are still subject to interest rate risk, credit risk, and inflation risk.

Zero-Coupon Bonds are an attractive option for investors seeking a predictable, fixed income at a future date, such as for college tuition or retirement planning. They can also be beneficial for investors who want to avoid the risk and hassle of reinvesting interest payments.

12b-1 Fee

A 12b-1 fee is an annual cost to some managed mutual funds attributed to marketing or distribution costs. This fee originated in the Investment Company Act of 1940, which states that mutual fund advisors may take payments from fund assets for marketing and distribution costs.

Generally, this fee often rewards broker advisors for selling a specific mutual fund or hiring an investment team. Therefore, it is listed as an operational expense and aims to offset costs for fund managers, not investors.

The 12b-1 fee ranges from 0.25% to 1% of the fund’s assets. It can be broken down into a service and distribution fee. The service fee is capped at 0.25%, while the marketing and distribution fee maxes out at 0.75%.

Not all funds have 12b-1 fees. Typically, class B and C shares sold by brokers have these fees. Some class A broker-sold shares also include 12b-1 fees, particularly if they are no-load funds or have no back-end load.