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Glossary of financial terms




Stock Exchange Electronic Trading Service. The new stock exchange dealing service that handles the leading shares on the market. It is also referred to as the order book.


The Securities and Futures Authority (SFA) regulates about 1,300 firms involved in all the organised City investment markets -the stock market, eurobond, financial futures, commodity futures markets - and also corporate finance specialists and off-market traders. About half the SFA's firms are overseas-owned.


Small self-administered pension schemes for small businesses that can cover up to 12 members. It provides the company with some control over the choice of investments which can include purchase of company property and shares.

Self-investment personal pension

A Sipp is a personal pension that gives the holder freedom of investment choice.

Self-select Pep

A general Pep, usually sold by stockbrokers, that allows the investor to choose which investments to hold in the tax shelter.


The administrative process by which shares are transferred from the seller to the buyer. Settlement day is the date on which you get your money after selling shares.


Also known as an equity in Britain and confusingly called a stock in America. Shares traditionally carry a higher level of risk but a greater possible reward than Government stocks. You can also reduce the risk of share investment by buying unit trusts. Ordinary shareholders are entitled to vote on company policy and to receive a slice of the company's profits in the form of dividends.

Share account

This confers membership of a society with all the rights and potential benefits that can arise, for example, if it demutualises. Savers with deposit accounts, however, are not members. Any individual who still has a deposit account should arrange for it to be converted to a share account without delay.

Single-company personal equity plan

£3,000 can be invested in the shares of just one company and protected from tax through a single company Pep. The sale of new single company Peps will stop on April 5, 1999, but existing schemes will be allowed to continue.


Most investment business is carried out by 6,250 firms regulated by three self-regulating organisations (SROs) recognised by the Financial Services Authority. An SRO is a body which, once recognised by the FSA, has the power to authorise firms to conduct investment business in the UK (and now, under the Investment Services Directive, throughout the European Economic Area). The SROs include Imro, the SFA and the PIA.


An investor who buys shares in a new issue in the hope of making a fast profit when the stock begins trading.


In Britain a gilt-edged investment in Government debt. You get a reasonable level of interest on a very low risk investment. In America a stock is more likely to be a share.


Most unit trust companies allow investors to switch between their various funds at a reduced charge.

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