Financial jargon explained

Here you’ll find a simple explanation of some of the most commonly used investment terms. If there is any other financial jargon you want translated, please call our Customer Service Team free on 0800 597 2525 or email us at enquiries@willisowen.co.uk and they will be pleased to help.

  


S

Securities

Instruments traded on the stockmarket. These are usually Shares or government bonds.

SEDOL Number

Stock Exchange Daily Official List numbers issued for Unit Trusts, OEICs and Shares. SEDOL numbers are unique numbers allocated to UK (and Irish) securities which enable them to be easily identified by stockbrokers and market makers. The numbers are allocated by the UK Stock Exchange. SEDOL numbers (and ISIN numbers) are also quoted in the Financial Times.

Share Class

An OEIC sub-Fund can have a range of share classes. Each class can have different characteristics such as charging structures, currencies or choice of distributions.

Share Exchange

A scheme enabling investors to exchange existing holdings for Shares in an OEIC. These schemes can often be of great benefit as some Shares can be sold without paying dealing expenses.

Shares

These are stakes in the ownership of companies. Shares traded on the stock market are also known as equities. There is no maturity or redemption date and shareholders not wishing to hold the Shares any longer must sell in the market.

Sharpe Ratio

This is a commonly-used measure which calculates the level of a Fund's return over and above the return of a notional risk-free investment, such as cash or Government Bonds. The difference in returns is then divided by the Fund's standard deviation - it's volatility, or risk measurement. The resulting ratio is an indication of the amount of excess return generated per unit of risk.

Sharpe is useful, when comparing similar portfolios or instruments. There is no absolute definition of a 'good' or 'bad' Sharpe ratio, beyond the thought that a Fund with a negative Sharpe would have been better off investing in risk-free government securities. But clearly the higher the Sharpe ratio the better: as the ratio increases, so does the risk-adjusted performance. In effect, when analysing similar investments, the one with the highest Sharpe has achieved more return while taking on no more risk than its fellows.

Shorts

Short dated government stock (gilts), i.e. with a life of less than five years.

SICAV - Société d’Investissement à Capital Variable

This is the European (offshore) version of an 'OEIC' – it is an investment company that is 'open-ended’ (i.e. its Shares can be bought or sold on any dealing day).

Instead of having an Authorised Corporate Director (ACD), a SICAV tends to have a board of individual directors, which may or may not appoint an investment manager.

Socially Responsible Funds

This group includes any Fund that invests according to non-economic guidelines. Funds may make investments based on such issues as environmental responsibility, human rights, or moral views.

For example, socially responsible funds may take a proactive stance by selectively investing in environmentally-friendly companies or firms with good employee relations. This group also includes funds that avoid investing in companies involved in promoting alcohol, tobacco, gambling, or involved in the defence industry.

Soft Closure

A ‘soft close’ is a term that is used to cover a variety of actions that an investment group takes to try and stop a Fund becoming too large. Read more

SRRI

This stands for Synthetic Risk Reward Indicator. It was first proposed by the European SEcurities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and its aim is to provide a simple measure of risk across all Funds. This indicator is typically in the Key Investor Information Document (KIID) from a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being typically lower risk and 7 being higher.

This indicator is calculated using historical data and so future indications cannot be guaranteed as it may change over time.

Stags

An investor who applies for a new issue of Shares with the intention of selling them (at a profit) as soon as the secondary market starts dealing.

Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT)

A tax payable on purchases of UK equitities. In addition, in certain circumstances an authorised investment Fund may pay a small, additional amount of SDRT calculated on the basis of transactions in the Fund units or shares, and the proportion of taxable assets of the Fund.

Standard deviation

The standard deviation measures how much a Fund’s total returns have varied in relation to its historic mean, usually calculated on the most recent 36 monthly returns. It is the most common risk measure used by investors as a gauge for the amount of expected volatility. A volatile Fund will have a high standard deviation while a stable Fund will show a low standard deviation. The standard deviation is expressed in percentage terms, like the returns.

Stewardship

Morningstar's corporate Stewardship Rating represents an assessment of management's stewardship of shareholder capital, with particular emphasis on capital allocation decisions.

Analysts assign one of three stewardship ratings: "exemplary", "standard", and "poor". Analysts judge stewardship from an equity holder's perspective. Ratings are determined on an absolute basis. Companies are judged not against peers within their industry, but against ideal stewardship of shareholder capital. Most companies will receive a standard rating, and this should be considered the default rating in the absence of evidence that a management team has made exceptionally strong or poor capital allocation decisions.

Sub-Fund

An OEIC can be made up of a single Fund or a series of Funds (sub-Funds) under an umbrella OEIC.

Sub-Investment Grade Bonds

These are corporate bonds issued by companies with lower credit ratings and therefore considered to offer high risk, but with the potential of higher rewards.

Switching

When you move an investment (or part of it) out of one Fund and into another.

Synthetic Risk and Reward Indicator

The Synthetic Risk and Reward Indicator (SRRI) is a measure of risk calculated by the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR). It divides the annualised volatility of a Fund’s total returns over the past 5 years into 7 categories with 1 representing the lowest volatility (or risk) and 7 the highest.