Glossary

ABS (Asset-Backed Securities)

Financial instruments issued in connection with securitisation transactions by a particular intermediary called a special purpose vehicle (SPV) and backed by assets. The purpose of issuing an ABS is to finance the purchase of the portfolio of assets that are the subject of the securitisation transaction. Cash flows from the assets in the sold portfolio are used to repay interest and the nominal value of the securities issued by the SPV.

The underlying assets are typically mortgages, loans, bonds, trade receivables, credit card receivables or other.

Absolute return

A strategy that aims to produce returns irrespective of the performance of the main market indices.

The objective is to preserve and grow the capital steadily over time. The only parameters taken into account are the time horizon, the expected level of risk and the target return.

Active management

Strategy where the manager pursues an asset allocation different from the reference benchmark, in order to obtain an extra return.

The manager may, therefore, vary the weights of the assets in the portfolio according to his expectations and the results of his analyses.

 

Allocation of income

The Fund's or SICAV's policy with regard to the use of income: in particular with regard to its redistribution to investors or its accumulation through reinvestment in the management itself.

Annual Fund Report

Document, compulsory by law and drawn up annually, providing investors with general information and financial details on the mutual fund.

Alpha

Risk-adjusted performance metric. The Alpha takes into account the volatility of a mutual fund ("Fund" or "Mutual Fund") and compares the risk-adjusted performance with a benchmark index. The extra return of the Fund compared to the return of the benchmark index is called the Fund's Alpha.

Asset allocation

Allocation of the assets of a portfolio based on risk appetite and investment objectives.

 

Asset management company

A joint stock company with registered office and general management in Italy authorised to provide collective asset management services. SGRs may carry out various activities, the main one being collective management, i.e. setting up and/or promoting mutual funds. The main activity is collective management, i.e. setting up and/or promoting mutual funds. In addition, SGRs may also manage individual investment portfolios on behalf of third parties, set up and manage pension funds, provide custody and administration of units of collective investment undertakings (OICR) set up by the SGR, provide investment advice on financial instruments and related or instrumental activities indicated in the Consolidated Law on Financial Intermediation.

Auditing company

Registered in a special register kept by Consob, it carries out the activity of control of the regularity of the Fund's accounts and the correct recording of the management facts in the Fund's accounting records. Following the analysis, the company issues a specific certification report, typically attached to the Fund's annual report/semi-annual report.

Benchmark

Objective reference parameter used to relate the performance of a portfolio to that of the market.

Beta

Metric of a fund's sensitivity to market exposure. The market beta is by definition equal to 1. For example, a beta of 1.1 means that the fund has outperformed its benchmark index by 10% in rising markets and 10% worse in falling markets, assuming all other conditions are equal.

Bond fund

Open-ended mutual fund that invests in bonds and other debt securities.

Bottom up selection

Investment approach that minimises the importance of economic and market cycles and focuses on analysing individual securities. For example, when you turn your attention to a specific company rather than the sector in which the company operates or the economy as a whole, as opposed to the top-down approach.

 

Bund

Fixed income securities (bonds) issued by the German government.

Capitalisation

The product between the number of outstanding shares of a company and their unit price; with reference to a market, it represents the total value - at market prices - of all listed securities.

Collateralised debt obligations (CDO) 

Debt instruments issued out of a portfolio of heterogeneous assets: bonds, debt instruments, securities in general. The instruments in the portfolio differ in their degree of risk and the quality of the issuer.

Depending on the underlyings, there are CBOs (Collateralised Bond Obligations), with a bond portfolio as underlying, or CMOs (Collateralised Mortgage Obligations), with a pool of loans/mortgages as underlying.

 

Convertible bond

Hybrid securities in which the holder has the option to decide whether to remain a creditor of the issuing company throughout the life of the loan, or to convert its status from creditor to shareholder at certain times on the basis of a predetermined exchange ratio.

 

Corporate bond

Bonds issued by a company.

 

Coupon

Synonym for dividend or periodic interest accrued by a bond (in the case of dematerialised securities). Technically, it means the coupon attached to the certificate representing a security which enables the holder to collect accrued interest (bond) or dividends (share), as well as to exercise (in the case of shares) administrative and economic/asset rights.

 

Correlation

A relationship between two financial instruments, which implies the tendency of one of them to vary in relation to the other. If this variation is in the same direction, the correlation will be positive, negative if they move in opposite directions and zero if the two instruments move independently.

 

Credit

Debt capacity of an entity, individual, company or government. Fixed income securities issued by companies (corporate bonds) or any type of loan granted to a company.

 

Credit default swap (cds)

An agreement whereby the holder of a debt obligation undertakes to pay a fixed periodic sum to the counterparty, which then assumes the credit risk associated with the asset. In short, an investor (A) has a claim against a debtor counterparty (B). Investor A wants to protect itself against the risk that party B will go bankrupt and that the claim will lose value or become uncollectible. To this end, it turns to a third party C, who is willing to bear this risk; counterparty C acts as if it were an insurance company and is called a protection seller in technical jargon. Party A undertakes to pay C a periodic amount, the amount of which is the "price" of the cover and is the main subject matter of the contractual agreement; in exchange for this cash flow, the protection seller (C) undertakes to reimburse party A for the nominal value of the security in the event that debtor B becomes insolvent (an event defined in jargon as a credit default). The contractual agreement between A and C on the underlying security B is referred to as a credit default swap (CDS).

Curve steepening

The yield curve steepens when long-term bond yields rise faster than short-term yields, or short-term bond yields fall while long-term yields rise.

Custodian Bank

An entity entrusted with the custody of the assets of a Fund/Compartment and with the control of the management in order to guarantee the criteria of accounting separation and the principles of fairness and administrative transparency.

Derivatives

Financial instruments whose value and price depend on underlying assets. They can be used to gain positive or negative exposure to an asset or to protect against changes in the underlying asset.

 

Diversification

A risk management technique based on investing in a variety of assets, which should perform independently of each other. In a well-diversified portfolio, a loss from a single position should be offset by gains from other positions, thus reducing the overall impact on the portfolio.

Dividend

Amount distributed by the company to shareholders as a return on invested capital.

Duration

Average cadence of expected cash flows, weighted by the contribution of the present value of each flow to price formation. A high duration corresponds to a high sensitivity of the security's price to changes in the rate of return and vice versa.

It also measures the effect of interest rate changes on the price of a fixed income security or portfolio. Duration is measured in years.

EONIA (Euro OverNight Index Average)

The rate to which very short-term transactions refer, calculated as a weighted average of the overnight rates of transactions in the interbank market. It is the reference for several derivative instruments.

Equity fund

Open-end mutual fund with a portfolio consisting mainly of ordinary shares.

 

ESG (Social, Environmental and Governance)

Factors linked to company operations that investors take into consideration before making an investment to be socially aware. These are environmental factors (how a company behaves in relation to the environment), social factors (how a company manages its relations with its stakeholders) and governance factors (relating to the leadership/management of the company).

EURIBOR (Euro Interbank Offered Rate)

Daily reference rate based on the average interest rate at which banks are willing to lend unsecured funds to other banks on the interbank market.

Financial leverage

Debt ratio which can also be defined as the ratio of debt to total liabilities of a company, sometimes referring to the use of debt to improve the net return on equity of a company, due to the favourable tax effect of the deductibility of interest expense from taxable income.

It may also refer to a fund borrowing money or using derivatives to take a larger investment position.

 

Financial Instruments

All financial products and all other forms of investment of a financial nature.

Flight to quality

Shifting capital from riskier to safer investments, i.e. from more volatile to more prudent instruments.

Financial intermediaries

Firms that professionally provide investment services to the public, i.e. banks, trust companies, asset management companies (SGR), etc.

 

Forward contract

A contract between two parties to buy or sell a financial instrument at a specified price on a future date.

 

Fundamental analysis

Analysis aimed at assessing the appropriateness of an equity investment by estimating the intrinsic value (fair value) of the shares and comparing it with the market value.

Fund Management Regulations

Document supplementing the information contained in the Offering Prospectus of a Fund/Compartment. The Regulations must be approved by the Bank of Italy and contain the set of rules defining the modalities of operation of a Fund and the tasks of the various parties involved, and regulating relations with Unitholders.

Fund of Funds

Open-end mutual funds that in turn invest in other underlying funds.

 

Future

Derivative contract to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specified future date and for a pre-fixed price.

Goldilocks economy

Economy that is in an optimal state (low unemployment rate, moderate but steady GDP growth, rising asset prices, low inflation).

 

Growth

Investment strategy that selects securities with a history of growth and the potential to increase the future value of capital. This usually applies to companies with good earnings growth or projected earnings.

Growth strategy

Strategy based on choosing stocks with above-average short-term growth prospects.

High Watermark

System for calculating incentive fees. According to this mechanism, fees are calculated only when the value of the unit is higher than the value of the index to which it is intended to refer and the difference with the index to which it is intended to refer is greater than the difference ever before realised.

 

High Yield Bond

A bond with a high yield and a lower credit quality than investment grade bonds, government bonds and local authority bonds, resulting in a higher return.

Information ratio

A measure of a manager's supplementary return divided by the amount of risk the manager takes on against a benchmark index.

Interest rate swap

A derivative instrument whereby one party exchanges an interest payment stream for the cash flow of another party.

 

Inversion of the yield curve

A scenario in which, given the same credit quality, long-term debt instruments offer a lower return than short-term ones.

Investment grade bond

A bond is defined as investment grade if its credit quality is BBB- or higher according to Standard & Poor's or Baa3 or higher according to Moody's.

ISIN

International code that uniquely identifies securities and financial instruments.

KIID - Key Investor Information Document

Document that the subscriber of a mutual fund is obliged to receive containing the key information on the mutual fund in question.

LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate)

Average interbank interest rate.

Liquidity

The ability of an investment in real or financial assets to convert easily and quickly into currency without price disadvantages relative to the current price.

Management report

A document prepared by the directors containing information on the development and prospects of operations.

Management fee

Cost applied as remuneration for the management of the Fund's securities and represents that percentage of the Fund's total assets that the management company retains.

Market timing

An investment strategy through which an investor invests and disinvests in securities or funds, relying on technical and economic indicators to try to predict market movements.

Maturity

The date on which the principal of a debt instrument, e.g. a bond, must be repaid.

Modified duration

A measure of the sensitivity of a bond, or bond fund, to changes in interest rates, expressed in years. The longer the duration of a bond or bond fund, the more sensitive it is to changes in interest rates.

Mutual fund

Collective Investment Scheme (UCITS) is an investment vehicle whose function is to pool the capital of a plurality of savers into a single undifferentiated asset, which is then invested in financial assets.

Net Asset Value (NAV)

The ratio of the sum of the market values of the assets in a mutual fund/SICAV's portfolio to the number of units/shares outstanding.

Passive management

Management strategy where the manager pursues an asset allocation that replicates the benchmark as closely as possible.

It follows the hypothesis of efficient markets, i.e. if markets are efficient, it is not possible to beat them systematically net of information costs.

Performance

The term indicates the variation of an instrument over a period of time.

Performance fee

Amount paid to a manager if he/she achieves a given level of performance within a specified period of time. It may refer to the achievement of a return on the Fund in excess of an investment target or benchmark.

Placement

An investment service carried out by authorised intermediaries which takes the form of the dissemination and distribution on the market of financial instruments (shares, bonds and government securities) that are newly issued or already in circulation.

Recommended investment horizon

Expressed in terms of years and determined in relation to the degree of risk, the type of management and the cost structure of the financial investment, in accordance with the principle of risk neutrality.

Reference indices

They have the function of synthetically representing the performance of an entire reference market. As such, they are opposed to partial indices, which are representative of only a limited number of securities, classified according to a specific criterion, and to sectoral indices selected on the basis of a specific product and/or geographical area. 

 

Rating

A rating assigned by an independent specialised agency regarding the issuer's creditworthiness.

Recession

When the real GDP of a country falls for at least 2 consecutive quarters.

Risk

The possibility that one's investment will perform differently than expected, including losing all or part of the initial investment.

Risk premium

A return in excess of the expected risk-free rate for an investment, representing compensation to investors for the increased risk taken.

Risk aversion

Attitude of individuals to tolerate to a greater or lesser extent the risks involved in a certain financial transaction. An investor with high risk aversion might choose to deposit his cash in a deposit account with a low but guaranteed interest instead of buying corporate shares that might yield high dividends but also imply a high probability of losing value. Risk aversion thus makes people reluctant to accept a deal with uncertain (though potentially high) remuneration in preference to one with lower but secure remuneration.

 

Risk/return ratio

The ratio of the expected return on an investment to the amount of risk taken.

Security

A share or other security representing the minimum unit of participation in the capital of a company.

Sharpe Index

A risk-adjusted performance measure that measures the return on a portfolio per unit of overall risk. It is calculated using standard deviation and supplementary return to determine the return per unit of risk. The higher the Sharpe index, the better the Fund's historical risk-adjusted performance.

SICAV

A joint-stock company with variable capital having as its exclusive object the investment of its assets, raised through the placement of its shares with the public.

 

SRI - Sustainable and Responsible Investment

Investment that aims to create value for the investor and society through a medium- to long-term financial strategy that integrates financial analysis with environmental, social and good governance analysis when assessing companies and institutions.

Standard deviation

A measure of uncertainty about future price movements of an asset or financial asset, i.e. volatility. The greater the fluctuation in yield, the riskier the Fund itself is likely to be.

Stock

A share or other security representing the minimum unit of participation in the capital of a company.

 

Strategic Asset Allocation

Portfolio strategy based on the periodic rebalancing of the portfolio's composition in order to maintain a long-term objective.

Sub-fund

The division of a Fund or a Sicav into a number of autonomous assets with a different investment policy and risk profile.

Subscription fees

Cash payment requested by an asset management company at the time of the first subscription of units of the Fund managed by the SGR itself. The commission may be fixed or percentage.

Subscription form

Form signed by the investor by which he joins the Fund/Compartment -by purchasing a certain number of its units/shares- according to the characteristics and conditions indicated in the Form itself.

Switch

An operation whereby the Unitholder proceeds to disinvest units/shares of the subscribed Funds/Compartments and at the same time reinvests the countervalue received in units/shares of other Funds/Compartments.

Tactical asset allocation

Active portfolio management strategy based on rebalancing the percentage of assets in different categories to take advantage of market price anomalies or stronger market sectors.

Total expense ratio (TER)

A measure of the total cost of an investment in funds, based on the various fees and other expenses. It is calculated by dividing the total cost by the total assets of the fund and is expressed as a percentage.

Treasury

Fixed income securities issued by the US government.

Value at Risk (VaR)

A risk indicator which, in relation to an investment, measures the loss that will not be exceeded with a given level of confidence over a certain time horizon.

Value strategy 

An investment that selects stocks that are attractively priced relative to the company's earnings or internal value or, in some cases, relative to the market. The rationale behind this approach is that the price of these companies will rise over time to reflect their true value.

Volatility

An indicator measuring the uncertainty or variability in the performance of a financial asset.

Yield curve

Distribution of effective yields of identical bonds, but not for their maturity, which expresses the relationship between the yield of bonds and their maturity as a function of residual life.

Zero-coupon bond

Bond without coupons, the return on which is determined by the difference between the issue price and the redemption value.

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