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Business | Investments

Stock Market Overview

 

Stock Market (also known as Stock Exchange, Share Market or Equity Market) is a regulated and controlled environment, where tranders can buy and sell shares.

The stock market ensures price transparency, liquidity, price discovery, and fair dealings in trading activities, guaranteeing all interested market participants have access to data for all buy and sell orders.

The stock market is a component of a free-market economy. It allows companies to raise money by offering stock shares and corporate bonds and allows investors to participate in the financial achievements of the companies, make profits through capital gains, and earn income through dividends.

Shares

 

Shares are the equivalent of ownership in a public company. 

The terms "shares" and "stocks" are often used interchangeably, but they represent a company differently (For example: A company issued stock and you purchased 10 shares of it. If each share represents 1% of ownership, you own 10% of the company. The company issued stock, and you bought shares of it).

Warning: The shares represent ownership, not debt, there is no legal obligation for the company to reimburse the shareholders if something happens to the business.

Types Of Shares

  • Common Stock Shares | This type comes with voting rights, giving shareholders more control over the business. These rights allow the shareholders of a company to vote on specific corporate actions.

  • Preferred Stock Shares | This type of stock typically has set payment criteria, like a dividend paid out regularly, and takes priority over common stock if the business files for bankruptcy and is forced to repay its lenders.

Stockbrokers

 

Brokers are intermediaries between the stock exchanges and the investors by buying and selling stocks.

Stock Exchanges

  • NYSE (New York Stock Exchange)

    • Region: US

    • Market Place: New York City

    • Time Zone: EST/EDT (-5:00)

  • NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations)

    • Region: US

    • Market Place: New York City

    • Time Zone: EST/EDT (-5:00)

  • LSE (London Stock Exchange)

    • Region: UK

    • Market Place: London

    • Time Zone: GMT/BST (+0:00)

  • Euronext (European New Exchange Technology)

    • Region: Europe

    • Market Place: Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Lisbon, Milan, Oslo, Paris

    • Time Zone: CET/CEST (+1:00)

  • ETR (Deutsche Borse AG)

    • Region: DE

    • Market Place: Frankfurt

    • Time Zone: CET/CEST (+1:00)

  • SWX (SIX Swiss Exchange)

    • Region: CH

    • Market Place: Zurich

    • Time Zone: CET/CEST (+1:00)

  • B3 (Brasil, Bolsa, Balcao - formerly know as BM&F BOVESPA)

    • Region: BR

    • Market Place: Sao Paulo

    • Time Zone: GMT (-3:00)

ETF

The Biggest ETFs Issuers

  1. iShares

  2. Vanguard

  3. SPDR

  4. Invesco

The Biggest ETFs

  1. SPY | SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust

  2. IVV | iShares Core S&P 500 ETF

  3. VOO | Vanguard 500 Index Fund ETF

  4. VTI | Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund ETF

  5. QQQ | Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1

Indexes

  • S&P500 | Standard and Poor's 500 | It is a stock market index tracking the stock performance of 500 of the largest companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States.

  • FTSE100 | Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 | Also called the FTSE, or, informally, the "Footsie", is a share index of the 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange with the highest market capitalisation.

  • DAX40 | DAX Performance | The DAX is a stock market index consisting of the 40 major German blue chip companies trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Brazil Stock Market

Stock Type Codes

 

Frequent codes

  • 3 | Common Stock Shares (Example: "VALE3" Vale)

  • 4 | Preferred Stock Shares (Example: "GGBR4" Gerdau)

  • 5 | Preferred Stock Shares Class A (Example: "USIM5" Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais)

  • 6 | Preferred Stock Shares Class B (Example: "ELET6" Eletrobras)

  • 11 | Units and ETFs

    • Units (Assets composed of more than one type of share | Example: "SANB11" Santader | Composed "SANB3" + "SANB4")

    • ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds | Example: "BOVA11" Ibovespa Index)

  • 34 | BDRs (Brazilian Deposits Receipts | Foreign shares traded on the Brazilian Stock Exchange | Example: "GOGL34" Alphabet Google)

 

Not so frequent codes

  • 1 | Subscription Right (Common Stock Shares)

  • 2 | Subscription Right (Preferred Stock Shares)

  • 7 | Preferred Stock Shares Class C

  • 8 | Preferred Stock Shares Class D

  • 9 | Subscription Receipt (Common Stock Shares)

  • 10 | Subscription Receipt (Preferred Stock Shares)

Hint: Class 5, 6, 7 and 8 shares have a different list of rules, which varies depending on the company, and such rules are described in the Bylaws.

Investments in the UK

 

There are many different ways to invest in the UK for both residents and those overseas, from low-risk bonds to more aggressive equity shares.

Overview of Available Investments

  • ISA Savings

    • Cash ISA

    • Junior ISA (JISA)

    • Stocks and Share ISA

    • Lifetime ISA

    • Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA)

  • Savings Account

    • Easy Access Account

    • Regular Saver Account

    • Notice Savings Account

    • Fixed-Interest Savings Account

  • Pension

    • Workplace Pension

      • Defined Contribution (DC)

      • Defined Benefit (DB)

    • Personal Pension

      • Stakeholder Pension

      • SIPP (self-invested personal pension)

  • Investments Products

    • Shares

    • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

    • Investment Funds / Mutual Funds

    • Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

  • Bonds and Gilts

    • Government Bonds

    • Corporate Bonds

    • Local Authority Bonds

    • Green Bonds

  • Contracts for Differences (CFDs) and Spreads

    • CFDs

    • Spread Betting

  • Cryptocurrencies

FAQ (Frequently asked questions)

  • Safest Investment in the UK: Aside from cash savings accounts, the safest investment in the UK is usually considered to be government bonds. Because they are guaranteed by the British government, they have very low default risk and offer a fixed interest rate.

  • Best Investment for Monthly Income in the UK: There are several options can be considered, although the best choice for you will depend on your individual circumstances and risk tolerance. 

  • Earn the Most Interest in the UK: The highest interest rates are often found in fixed-interest savings accounts, where you agree to lock your money away for a set period. The tradeoff for the lack of liquidity is higher interest rates than on similar savings products.

  • Highest Returns in the UK: Shares in the stock market have offered high returns compared with other investment classes over long time periods. (For example: S&P 500 index, tracks the stock performance of 500 of the largest companies or FTSE 100 Index, which tracks the 100 largest companies listed on the stock markets)

ISA Savings (Individual Savings Accounts)

It is a tax-efficient savings account. It is one of the most popular types of investments in the UK.

  • Limit: Up to £20,000 per tax year

  • Taxable: Not Taxable

  • Protection: Subject to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which protects up to £85,000 of your money if the financial institution fails. This protection applies per person, per institution.

Types of ISA Savings

Cash ISA

It works like a regular savings account, but with the ISA benefits.

 

  • Suitable: Short-term savings goals or as an emergency fund

  • Risk: low-risk

  • Withdrawal: You can withdraw any time

 

Junior ISA (JISA)

It is an ISA for children under age 18 living in the UK and you can open for your child or grandchild. The money belongs to the child, and they can access it when they turn 18.

 

  • Suitable: Parents and grandparent, for the future of the children

  • Risk: low-risk

  • Limit: Up to £9,000 per tax year

 

Stocks and Shares ISA

 

It is an ISA that holds investments such as shares of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
It works like a regular investment account but with ISA benefits.

 

  • Suitable: Long-term savings goals or as a way to grow your wealth

  • Risk: High-risk

Lifetime ISA (LISA)

 

You can use your LISA savings to buy your first home or saving for retirement. You can hold cash or investments, or a combination of both. LISA lets you save up to £4,000 per year with the government adding a 25% bonus on top of what you save (i.e. up to £1,000 per year).

 

  • Suitable: Buying first home up to £450,000 or Retirement.

  • Risk: Cash low-risk / Investment high-risk

  • Application Rule: If you are age 18 to 39, you can keep contributing until you are 50. After your 50th birthday you can't contribute any more. If you have cash LISA the next 10 year you will receive interest, and in case of investments LISA, the valuation of the shares.

  • Limit: Up to £4,000 per tax year, and it is part of the overall aggregated ISA £20,000 annual allowance. (The government bonus does not count toward the £20,000 limit, so you can still get up to £1,000 of extra money every year from the Lifetime ISA bonus)

  • Withdrawal: You can withdraw to buy a house after 12 months or on your 60th birthday.

  • Withdrawal Penalty: If you withdraw early, you will pay a 25% withdrawal charge, which recovers the government bonus and applies a small penalty. That means you can lose money.


Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA)

 

It is a type of ISA that allows you to invest in qualified peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding platforms, which match up investors with borrowers or businesses.

Suitable: Investors due to the potentially higher returns compared with other ISA options

 

  • Risk: High-risk

Savings Account

Savings accounts can cater to different saving habits and needs. Each comes with its own set of benefits and constraints.

 

  • Taxable: Yes

  • Protection: Subject to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which protects up to £85,000 of your money if the financial institution fails. This protection applies per person, per institution.

 

Types of Savings account

Easy Access Account

It is a more flexibly savings account. You can add or withdraw funds whenever you wish, without penalties. The interest rates are usually variable and lower than those of fixed-interest accounts.

 

  • Suitable: Good option if you might need to access your savings quickly

  • Risk: low-risk

 

Regular Saver Account

It is type of savings account that encourage consistent saving habits by offering attractive interest rates to those who commit to making regular deposits.

  • Suitable: To save bit by bit and do not need to use the money for everyday spending

  • Risk: low-risk

  • Limit: Usually £50 to £500 every month, but maximum deposits vary by bank.

  • Withdrawal: It may also have restrictions on withdrawals

 

Notice Savings Account

 

It is a type of savings that requires you to provide a set notice period (typically 30 to 90 days) before you can withdraw your money.

 

  • Suitable: This can help you resist the temptation to dip into your savings, and in return, you’re usually offered a higher interest rate than easy access accounts.

  • Risk: low-risk

  • Withdrawal: Usually 30 to 90 days

 

Fixed-Interest Savings Account

 

Fixed-interest (or fixed-rate) savings accounts are a type of savings account where your money is locked away for a specified period, usually from several months to up to five years. In return for committing your money, you’re rewarded with a fixed interest rate, typically higher than that of an easy access savings account.

 

  • Suitable: For Long-term investments with higher returns 

  • Limit: Usually it will have no limit to invest.

  • Withdrawal: Few months up to 5 years

Pension

 

A pension is a tax-efficient way of saving money for your retirement. It is form an integral part of financial planning for retirement later in life. 

  • Limit: Up to £60,000 per tax year 2023-24 (The total amount you can build up in all your pensions without facing tax charges, excluding the State Pension, is currently limited to £1,073,100)

 

Types of pensions

Workplace Pension

A workplace pension, also known as an occupational, company, works, or work-based pension, is a pension scheme arranged by your employer. You, your employer, and the government all contribute to this.

You contribute a certain percentage of your salary every payday, and these contributions are usually automatically deducted from your salary before tax, providing immediate tax relief. Your employer also contributes an additional sum to your pension pot, which is essentially free money toward your retirement.

In addition, the government provides tax relief on your contributions. This means the money that would have gone to the government as income tax instead goes into your pension pot. For basic-rate taxpayers in the U.K., for every £40 you pay into your pension, your employer typically puts in £30, and the government will contribute an additional £10 in tax relief.

 

There are two main types of workplace pension:

  • Defined contribution (D.C.): A pension pot based on how much is paid in by the employee. They’re sometimes called “money purchase” pension schemes.

  • Defined benefit (D.B.): A guaranteed pot based on your salary and how long you’ve worked for your employer. They’re sometimes called “final salary” or “career average” pension schemes.

 

Personal Pension

A personal pension is a pension that you set up for yourself. You can contribute to your personal pension regardless of your employment status. Like workplace pensions, personal pensions also offer tax relief. However, if you’re a higher-rate or additional-rate taxpayer, you’ll need to claim the additional rebate through your tax return.

Suitable: It is particularly useful for the self-employed or those not enrolled in a workplace pension scheme.

There are two main types of personal pension: stakeholder pensions and SIPPs:

  • Stakeholder pensions have low and flexible minimum contributions, capped charges, and a default investment strategy, which can be helpful if you don’t want to make investment decisions. Many default investment funds feature “lifestyling.” Lifestyling is when your funds are automatically moved into lower-risk investments as you approach retirement.

  • A SIPP (self-invested personal pension) works in a similar way but offers a wider choice of investments. You have more control over your pension pot and can invest in a range of assets, including shares, bonds, funds, and even commercial property. 

Investments Products

Shares

 

Shares, also known as equities or stocks, represent a portion of residual ownership in a company. Buying shares in a company means that you sort of own a small slice of that company. As a shareholder, you could potentially profit in two ways.

  • Capital Gains: If you sell your shares for more than you paid

  • Dividends: It is a portion of the company’s profits distributed pro rata to shareholders

Shares are traded on stock exchanges, with the London Stock Exchange being one of the most prominent in the UK.

  • Suitable: For people with a more bold profiles, who accept possible losses to have greater gains

  • Risk: high-risk (share prices can be volatile and fluctuate due to various factors such as the company’s financial performance, economic conditions, and market sentiment)

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Real Estate Investment Trusts are entities that own, and often operate, income-generating real estate. Investing in an REIT allows you to indirectly invest in property without having to directly own any real estate. This could be residential properties, commercial properties such as offices and shopping centers, or even specialist properties like hotels.

 

REITs are required to distribute a majority of their taxable income to shareholders, making them an attractive option for investors seeking regular income, similar to dividend-paying stocks. Besides, they offer potential for capital growth if the value of the underlying properties increases.

  • Suitable: For those who want to invest in real estate without having to buy a physical property

  • Risk: high-risk (potential risk for property value decreases and rental income reductions)

Investment Funds

Investment funds (mutual funds) pool your money with other investors to invest in a wide range of assets, including shares, bonds, and property.

  • Active funds: It is a type of investment fund where the investments are managed by professionals. These fund managers make decisions about where to invest the fund’s money, aiming to outperform the market or a specific benchmark. In return for this expertise, active funds generally charge higher fees than passive funds (e.g., index funds).

  • Index funds: Also known as tracker funds in the UK, aim to replicate the performance of a specific market index, such as the FTSE 100. Rather than trying to beat the market, these funds simply try to match it. This passive management approach typically results in lower fees than active funds, making them a cost-effective way to diversify your portfolio.

This shared approach can provide access to a diverse range of investments that you might not be able to afford individually, spreading the risk.

  • Suitable: For investors who want to invest in a wide range of assets, spreading the risk

  • Risk: high-risk

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are investment fund shares that are traded on stock exchanges, much like individual stocks. ETFs can track a wide range of indexes, from broad market indexes to specific sectors, commodities, or even geographical regions. They offer a flexible and cost-effective way to diversify across a wide range of assets, with the added benefit of liquidity and the ability to buy or sell shares in the ETF throughout the trading day at market prices.

  • Suitable: It is a long-term investment, for those who invest in a wide range of stocks, and spread the risk

  • Risk: high-risk

Bonds and Gilts

Essentially, a bond is a loan made by an investor to a borrower, typically corporate or governmental. As an investor, when you purchase a bond, you are lending money to the issuer of the bond in return for periodic interest payments and the return of the bond’s face value when it matures.

Investing in bonds can provide a predictable income and is generally considered less risky than investing in stocks.

  • Risks: Credit risk (the risk that the issuer will default on their payments) and interest rate risk (where a rise in interest rates can cause the value of the bond to fall).

  • Taxable: Tax and regulatory implications may vary based on the investor’s country of residence

There are several types of bonds available to investors

Government Bonds

 

It is also known as “gilts,” are considered among the safest investments because they are backed by the government. They pay a fixed interest rate (known as the coupon) twice a year until they mature, at which point the investor receives the face value of the bond. The term of a gilt can range from a few years to several decades.

  • Risk: low-risk (They are backed by the Government)

Corporate Bonds

 

It is issued by companies to raise capital for various reasons, such as funding expansion or paying off other debts. They typically offer a higher interest rate than government bonds to compensate for the additional risk, as they rely on the company’s ability to meet its financial obligations. They can be an excellent way for investors to generate regular income and diversify their portfolio. Retail bonds are a form of corporate bond issued directly to the public and can be traded on the London Stock Exchange’s Order Book for Retail Bonds (ORB).

  • Risk: Depends on the issuer

Local Authority Bonds

 

It is issued by local governments to finance public projects. These bonds are often tax exempt and offer competitive interest rates, making them an attractive option for those looking for a balance of risk and return.

Green Bonds

 

It is a newer addition to the bond market. The proceeds from green bonds are used to fund projects with environmental benefits. They are an excellent option for socially conscious investors who want their investments to support sustainability initiatives.

Contracts for Differences (CFDs) and Spreads

Contracts for differences (CFDs), spread betting, and other similar financial derivatives can also offer another avenue for retail investors. However, these types of products come with a high level of risk and complexity, so they may not be suitable for everyone.

  • Risk: high-risk (for inexperienced investors ​may be considered very high-risk)

  • Taxable: Tax laws can change and may depend on individual circumstances

CFDs

 

It is a type of derivative for speculating on the prices of fast-moving global financial markets, such as shares, indexes, commodities, currencies, and treasuries. When you trade a CFD, you are agreeing to exchange the difference in price of an asset from the point at which the contract is opened to when it is closed. You never actually own the underlying asset, but you can still benefit if the market moves in your favor, or you face a loss if it moves against you. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. While still legal, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has imposed limits and restrictions on the marketing, distribution, and sale of CFDs to retail consumers in the U.K. due to concerns about losses.

 

  • Risk: high-risk

  • Taxable: Yes. Capital gains tax and stamp duty

Spread Betting

 

It is another type of derivatives trading. It involves speculating on the direction of price movements. A spread betting company quotes two prices, the bid and offer price (also known as the spread), and investors bet whether the price of the underlying asset will be lower than the bid or higher than the offer. The main difference between spread betting and CFD trading is their tax treatment

 

  • Risk: high-risk

  • Taxable: No. It is free from capital gains tax and stamp duty

  • Protection: Regulated by the FCA in the UK, and providers must meet certain standards and protections, including segregating client money.

Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies are a relatively new addition to the investment landscape and have gained significant attention globally, including in the U.K. They represent a form of digital or virtual currency, secured by cryptography, making them nearly impossible to counterfeit, and they can be bought and sold via online cryptocurrency exchanges. (the most well-known cryptocurrency is Bitcoin).

Investing in cryptocurrencies can be appealing due to their high potential returns.  However, it’s essential to understand that cryptocurrencies are highly volatile and can fluctuate in value significantly.

 

  • Risk: Very high-risk

  • Additional Risks: In addition to high volatility, other risks such as scams are frequent in the crypto market

  • Protection: There is no protection

References: HM Revenue & Customs (www.gov.uk); Investopedia (www.investopedia.com); Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org)

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