What Is FINRA – History and Rules for Arbitration & Mediation

Millions of securities transactions of all types and sizes take place every day in the United States. You may invest in mutual funds through your 401k at work, or engage in derivatives trading through your online brokerage account. Fortunately, a plethora of information is available to you regarding your transactions and investments. The financial firms with whom you transact business also have great incentive to treat you fairly.

Although the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is primarily responsible for creating this “safe” trading environment, another organization known as FINRA acts as the first line of defense in protecting investors and regulating the securities industry.

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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) History & Fraud Cases

sec seal logoThe Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is a regulatory agency that oversees a major segment of the economy along with the IRS, the Consumer Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission.

Specifically, the SEC oversees “Wall Street” where market activity is measured in the trillions of dollars and intersects with virtually every other facet of the economy.

Thousands of transactions are routed and filled instantly by sophisticated computers that take orders from buyers and sellers all over the globe. All of them fall under the jurisdiction of the SEC.

Nature and Purpose

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Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) Certification – Designation Requirements

cebs designation manBenefits make up a key element of any employee compensation package. As a result, employers must fully understand how they work in order to use them to best meet their employees’ needs.

Certified Employee Benefits Specialists (CEBS) are thoroughly trained in all aspects of employee benefits and their proper use. The CEBS certification is currently recognized as the leading credential in the employee benefits arena and is provided by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) in partnership with the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Over 100,000 professionals have earned this mark since it was first introduced in 1976.

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Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) – Insurance Designation Requirements

clu logoThe Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation is the oldest financial credential in existence. The American College for Financial Planning in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania created it specifically for life insurance agents in 1927, and it’s been carried by insurance professionals ever since.

This credential is to life agents what the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) credential is to financial advisors. There is one important distinction, however, in that no comprehensive board exam is required to attain the CLU. In that sense, it may be somewhat easier to achieve than its counterpart.

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Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) – Requirements, ChFC vs CFP

chfc flag logoFor decades, the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation was the premier financial and insurance planning credential sported by life insurance agents and financial planners who marketed their products and services to the public.

Then, the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation was created in the 1970s and grew in popularity until it became the premier financial planning designation, partly because of its perceived lack of bias toward life insurance.

However, in 1982, the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania decided to create a new financial planning designation tailored to insurance professionals in an effort to level the playing field.

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Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) – Certification Requirements & Exam

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation is globally considered to be the premier investment management designation in the financial industry. The three levels of rigorous exams required in the CFA curriculum leave lawyers and CPAs as the only other professionals whose pre-certification requirements rival those of the CFA.

This prestigious credential is offered by the CFA Institute, formerly known as the Association of Investment Management and Research (AIMR). The designation originated in the United States in 1963 and has since spread across Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Rim. Today more than 90,000 certificants proudly display this credential behind their names in over 135 countries.

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Certified Financial Planner Certification – How to Become a CFP

cfp logoSince 1985, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has issued the Certified Financial Planner designation to those who have met the educational and experiential requirements and passed the rigorous board exam. This credential is now known all over the world as the definitive professional designation for financial planners and advisors.

Different types of financial professionals earn this credential including stockbrokers, registered investment advisors, insurance agents, estate planners, bankers, and tax professionals. Many in the financial industry can benefit from carrying the CFP mark on their business card.

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Self-Directed IRA Rules & Prohibited Investments

investment ira typesWhen you participate in an IRA (e.g. traditional IRA or Roth IRA), a custodian or trustee will serve as the administrator of your account. You’ll find a myriad of IRA custodians available, and different custodians have different rules for the kinds of investments you can include in your account. Some administrators only allow customers to purchase CDs or mutual funds, while others are more liberal and will let you hold most types of registered securities in your account.

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What Is a Variable Annuity Explained – Definition, Pros & Cons

variable coin stacksAnnuities are among the oldest investment options – in fact they have centuries of history. Especially over the past century, fixed income annuity contracts have gained popularity with conservative investors as a safe means of growing their money on a tax-deferred basis.

But in the bull markets of the ’80s, a new type of annuity contract allowed investors to participate in the debt and equity markets and enjoy the benefits of annuities at the same time. These vehicles, known as variable rate annuities because of the variability of the returns realized, began in 1952 as a funding vehicle for pension plans. Originally started by the Teachers Insurance and Annuities Association – College Retirement Equity Fund (TIAA-CREF), these vehicles became more popular after the Tax Reform Act of 1986 closed many of the other tax loopholes that were available to investors.

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What Is a Fixed Annuity – Definition, Pros and Cons

money lockedHave you been looking for a way to invest your money with relatively low risk, but with a higher return than the interest rates of CDs offered by banks and credit unions?

Look no further than fixed annuities. For decades, fixed annuities have provided a secure form of savings for millions of conservative investors on a tax-deferred basis. They are by far the simplest type of annuity contract and offer all of the benefits provided by any type of annuity except for the opportunity for market participation.

Let’s look at the details of a fixed annuity and how to decide if it’s the right investment for you.

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