Cover Your Bases Before You Invest

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2014 Student Intern

cover basesIn order to invest wisely, it is important to be familiar with the investment you are considering purchasing. Different types of investments offer varying levels of risk and rates of return. In addition, the securities market requires regular disclosure such as corporate filings for stocks issued by public companies or offering statements for bonds. Unfortunately, the vast majority of investors are unsure how to access this information or unsure what it all means. Below are some commonly overlooked tools that can help you become better informed and just might keep you from making a bad investment decision.

FINRA’s Market Data Page

FINRA’s Market Data Page provides detailed market data for stocks, bonds, and other common types of securities. It also includes a full profile for every exchange-listed company, listing all the securities the company issues along with recent news articles and SEC filings. Investors are able to search by industry, maturity range, and credit rating among others, using an Advanced Bond Search. Investors are also able to create an interactive “Watchlist” which allows them to select certain securities and view them all in one display.

FINRA Fund Analyzer

The FINRA Fund Analyzer is an innovative tool for mutual fund investors. Investors can search and compare multiple funds at once and view detailed fund analysis information regarding fees and potential breakpoints (discounts on front-end sales charges or loads for larger investments). Using this tool, investors can also see sales charges, annual operating expenses, and average annual returns over various time periods dating back to when the fund was created.

FINRA BrokerCheck

BrokerCheck is another important tool investors should utilize when choosing an investment professional. It allows investors to check the background of a professional or firm registered with FINRA to determine if they have any history of complaints or disciplinary action that may be of concern.