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What You Should Know About Investing

Whether you’re interested in investing for the first time or whether you’ve been investing for years, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has advice on how you can get the most from your investments.

Checking the background of an investment professional is easy and free.

Details on an investment professional’s background and qualifications are available through the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website and FINRA BrokerCheck. If you have any questions on checking the background of an investment professional, call the SEC’s toll-free investor assistance line at (800) 732-0330.

Diversification can help reduce the overall risk of an investment portfolio.

By picking the right mix of investments, you may be able to limit your losses and reduce the fluctuations of your investment returns without sacrificing too much in potential gains. Some investors find that it is easier to achieve diversification through ownership of mutual funds or exchange-traded funds rather than through ownership of individual stocks or bonds.

Promises of high returns, with little or no associated risk, are classic warning signs for fraud.

Every investment carries some degree of risk and the potential for greater returns comes with greater risk. Ignore so-called “can’t miss” investment opportunities or those promising “guaranteed returns” or, better yet, report them to the SEC.

Some investments provide tax advantages.

For example, employer-sponsored retirement plans and individual retirement accounts generally provide tax advantages for retirement savings, and 529 college savings plans also offer tax benefits. Individuals who are interested in learning about the tax impact of their investment decisions should consult their tax adviser or visit the IRS website.

Active trading and some other very common investing behaviors actually undermine investment performance.

According to researchers, other common investing mistakes include focusing on past performance, favoring investments from your own country, region, state or company, and holding on to losing investments too long and selling winning investments too soon.

Find more tips and advice for keeping your money safe and growing your investments from the SEC’s 13 Things Everyone Should Know About Investing.