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Active Strategy: An investment strategy that seeks to outperform the average returns of the financial markets.
Asset Allocation: The process of assigning investments to one or more asset classes in an investment portfolio.
Beneficiary: Any person or institution named to receive benefits if you die during the accumulation period or if you (and your annuity partner, if you have one) die before the end of any guaranteed period.
Blend: An account or fund that generally includes stocks from different market capitalizations, as well as both growth and value.
Broadly Based Accounts: Investment accounts or funds that encompass a wide range of different types of investment styles and capitalizations, and offer exposure to the various choices within a particular asset class.
Business Day: Any day the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is open for trading. A business day ends at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time or when trading closes on the NYSE, if earlier.
Calendar Day: Any day of the year. Calendar days end at the same time as business days.
Commuted Value: The present value of annuity payments due under an income option or method of payment not based on life contingencies.
Contribution Limits: Contributions can be either plan contributions required by an employer and/or voluntary additional amounts employees make on their own.
Diversification: The process of allocating investments over a variety of asset classes, with the aim of "spreading the risk" and offsetting potential market volatility and subsequent losses.
Eligible Institution: A non-profit institution, including any governmental institution, organized in the United States.
Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA): The federal pension law governing the rights of participants and beneficiaries of private pension plans and the duties of plan fiduciaries. It is not applicable to government plans like those at state colleges and universities.
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Equities: An asset class that represents shares of ownership in companies.
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Fixed Income: An asset class that includes bonds — securities that are designed to pay a rate of interest over a set time period and then return the investor's principal.
Growth Stocks: Stocks of companies believed to offer above-average prospects for capital growth as a result of their strong earnings and revenue potential.
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Guaranteed: An asset class containing investment offerings that protect an individuals principal and guarantee a minimum interest rate.
Indexing: An investment strategy that seeks to match, rather than outperform, the return and risk characteristics of a specific benchmark by holding all securities that make up an index (or a statistically representative sample of the index).
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Lifecycle Funds: A ready-made diversified portfolio option, comprised of "funds of funds" that seek high total return over time through a combination of capital appreciation and income.
Market Capitalization (cap): A determination of a company's value, calculated by multiplying the total number of company stock shares outstanding by the price per share.
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Money Market: An asset class consisting of short-term debt instruments and government securities that carry little risk.
Portability: This feature allows participants to continue contributing to a plan originated through a prior employer.
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Real Estate: An asset class that provides low correlation with other asset classes, a hedge against inflation and long-term growth potential.
Risk and Return: The relationship between risk and return whereby, as a rule, the potential return on any investment corresponds to its level of risk.
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Socially Responsible Investing: A "socially sensitive" approach to investing where investors choose fund (or other investment) allocations they feel are committed to promoting political, social or moral issues.
Valuation Day: Any business day plus the last calendar day of each month. Valuation days end as of the close of all U.S. national exchanges where securities or other investments of CREF are principally traded. Valuation days that are not business days end at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Value Stocks: Value stocks trade at lower than average valuations but have lower growth prospects than growth stocks.