Common Stock

The terms stock and share both refer to a fractional ownership interest in a corporation. As owners, stock holders vote for the company's Board of Director, and receive information on the firm's activities and business results. Stockholders may share in current profits through dividends declared by the firm's Board.

When a corporation business is first organized, investors contribute money to fund the enterprise, and in return receive shares of stock representing their ownership in the company. If the business is successful, it will grow and have increasing profits, and the shares generally become more valuable. If the business is not successful, the value of the shares usually declines.

Preferred Stock

A class of ownership in a corporation that has a higher claim on its assets and earnings than common stock. Preferred shares generally have a dividend that must be paid out before dividends to common shareholders, and the shares usually do not carry voting rights. Preferred stock combines features of debt, in that it pays fixed dividends, and equity, in that it has the potential to appreciate in price. The details of each preferred stock depend on the issue.


A bond is a debt investment in which an investor loans money to an entity (typically corporate or governmental) which borrows the funds for a defined period of time at a variable or fixed interest rate. Bonds are used by companies, municipalities, states and sovereign governments to raise money and finance a variety of projects and activities. Owners of bonds are debt holders, or creditors, of the issuer.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETF)

An ETF, or exchange traded fund, is a marketable security that tracks an index, a commodity, bonds, or a basket of assets like an index fund. Unlike mutual funds, an ETF trades like a common stock on a stock exchange. ETFs experience price changes throughout the day as they are bought and sold. ETFs typically have higher daily liquidity and lower fees than mutual fund shares, making them an attractive alternative for individual investors. Because it trades like a stock, an ETF does not have its net asset value (NAV) calculated once at the end of every day like a mutual fund does.

Limited Partnerships (LP)

An investment that has different income tax treatment than traditional equity investments for the distributed earnings.  Limited Partnerships frequently emphasize distributions (income) instead of growth as the primary objective.  They are used to enhance portfolio diversification and can either be private or publicly traded investments

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)

A REIT is a type of security that invests in real estate through property or mortgages and often trades on major exchanges like a stock. REITs provide investors with an extremely liquid stake in real estate. They receive special tax considerations and typically offer high dividend yields.

Venture Capital

Money provided by investors to startup firms and small businesses with perceived long-term growth potential. This is a very important source of funding for startups that do not have access to capital markets. It typically entails high risk for the investor, but it has the potential for above-average returns.