An investment is a gamble: instead of the security of guaranteed returns, you're taking a risk with your money.
You can invest in Shares, Bonds, Funds, Government bonds (gilts), UK property market or even Farmland, Vintage cars, Wine, Fledgling technology, firms or art.
For most, investing means putting money in the stock market.
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One is when the shares increase in value (and you profit when you sell), the other is when they pay dividends.
Dividends are a bit like interest on a savings account. If a company makes a profit, it gives some of it back to you.
The value of each unit will rise or fall depending on demand in the market for the fund.
Funds can invest in almost anything – countries, energy, gold, oil, even debt.
All funds have a theme – anything from geography (European, Japanese, emerging markets), industry (green companies, utility firms, industrial businesses), types of investment (shares, corporate bonds, gilts), to the size of the company.
An FTSE 100 tracker fund invests in the UK's 100 biggest companies and therefore is much more mainstream.
Many companies use the insights of financial managers and external consultants to manage their risk. A one-size-fits-all solution is not yet in existence when it comes to risk management.
These companies usually use derivatives like forwards, options, swaps and futures to offset their risk, but without a clear set of risk-management goals, the use of derivatives can increase the risk substantially.