Jargon Buster


accidental death benefit
An extra payment made under a life insurance policy if death is caused by an accident. The additional amount is usually equal to the face value of the policy.  

active fund management
A style of investment management where the fund manger seeks to improve returns or reduce costs by using their expertise to choose which stocks or bonds to buy and sell. The opposite of passive management, where the manager aims to match the performance of a market or index by replicating the composition of that market or index in their fund.  

activities of daily living
Routine self-care activities that people do every day. There are six basic ADLs: eating, washing, dressing, toileting, transferring and mobility.  

additional regular premiums
Regular additional contribution to enhance policy benefits. 

An individual or firm authorised to carry out transactions on behalf of another, such as the sale of insurance policies. Agents usually earn commission or a fee on the sale of a policy. They may be tied to a particular company and offer a limited selection of products.  

annual premium
Annual contribution towards an insurance policy. 

Another word for "pension". An annuity is a regular payment from an insurance company designed to give the policyholder an income for life after retirement. It is paid for by a lump sum saved during the policyholder's working lifetime. Annuity rates are based on yields on gilt-edged securities at the time of purchase. On death, any remaining investments usually become the property of the annuity provider.  

An item of economic value owned by a corporation or an individual that provides future economic benefit. Examples include long term assets such as real estate, intangible assets such as copyrights, and current assets such as cash. 

asset class
A group of investments that have similar characteristics and behave similarly (with similar levels of risks and returns) in different market conditions. They are usually governed by the same laws and regulations. The three main asset classes are equities (stocks), fixed income (bonds) and cash equivalents (money market instruments). 

asset allocation
An investment strategy that involves allocating investments across different asset classes to optimize rewards for a given level of risk. This is a key financial planning concept that helps to lessen investment risk by putting your eggs in different baskets. 

asset management
Investment management service provided by financial institutions on behalf of their clients.


An arrangement whereby banks and building societies sell insurance and investment products to their customers on behalf of other financial providers.  

Typically a stock market index (for example, the Sensex, Nifty) against which an investment fund compares its performance and mix of assets.  

The person who receives the benefit of a policy in case of death during the term or the policyholder who receives the benefit on maturity. 

bid price
What the market will pay, or what a seller will receive, for a particular share. 

bid/offer spread
The difference between the buying price (bid) and the selling price (offer) of units in an investment. The mid-price is the middle point between the two and is often the price quoted in newspapers. Also called the bid/ask spread. 

blue chip
A description applied to the biggest and most highly regarded companies quoted on the stock market. Shares in such companies are usually considered a reliable and profitable investment. 

When an entity (a government, municipal or a company) needs to raise capital, apart from getting a bank loan, it can issue bonds. Bonds are considered debt instruments because investors who buy these bonds act as the lender and are promised a specified amount of interest (referred to as coupon) over a specified period until the principal is returned at a specified maturity date.  

Bonus refers to the additional amount that a policyholder receives over and above the basic sum assured under a with-profit insurance policy. An insurance company aims to distribute part of their profits from their life fund to a policyholder of a with-profits insurance policy. 

bonus rate
The rate of return on a with-profit policy set by an insurance company's actuary. The rate may vary from year to year. 


Money invested typically in buildings and machinery. 

capital gain
The profit made on the sale of investments, such as shares or property. 

capital growth
Increase in the value of an investment reflected in the higher selling price. 

capital guaranteed
You are guaranteed to receive all of the initial amount that you have invested on the maturity date. You should consider the risk of whether the guarantor can fulfill its obligations. 

capital returns
See "capital growth"  

cash dividend
Payments made to shareholders of a corporation, out of the corporation's current earnings or accumulated profits. 

Central Provident Fund (CPF)
A mandatory social security savings plan that aims to help Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) address their retirement, healthcare and home ownership needs. Working Singaporeans/PRs and their employers make monthly CPF contributions which go into three accounts:

  • Ordinary Account - can be used to buy a home, for education and investment.
  • Special Account - can be used for investment in retirement-related financial products.
  • Medisave Account - can be used for hospitalization expenses and approved medical insurance.

Please refer to the CPF website at www.cpf.gov.sg for details about the CPF.  

Notification to an insurance company of a call by a policyholder to the benefits due under the terms of an insurance policy or scheme. 

claims incurred
The total of all claims sustained during an accounting period, whether paid or not. Also known as losses incurred. 

Payment made to a salesman, agent or other intermediary, normally in return for selling an insurance or investment policy. 

Earnings on an investment's earnings. Over time, compounding can produce significant growth in value of an investment. 

Fund value or total benefit amount available on maturity or death. 

CPF Board
A statutory board under the Ministry of Manpower that administers the Central Provident Fund (CPF). Please refer to the CPF website at www.cpf.gov.sg for details about the CPF.  

CPF Lifelong Income Scheme For the Elderly (CPF LIFE)
CPF Life is an annuity scheme that provide CPF members with a monthly payout starting from their Draw Down Age (DDA) for as long as they live. The amount received is dependent on their cash savings in their CPF Retirement Account. This scheme is an improvement from the Basic Retirement Sum Scheme where members receive monthly income for only up to 20 years. 
Please refer to the CPF website at www.cpf.gov.sg for details about the CPF. 

CPF Basic Retirement Sum
The Basic Retirement Sum Scheme was introduced to help CPF members set aside sufficient savings to support a basic standard of living during retirement.
Note: Since 1 May 2015, CPF Board has changed the term “Minimum Sum” to “Basic Retirement Sum”. 

CPF Retirement Account
When Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) turn 55, a retirement account is set up using savings from their CPF Ordinary Account and Special Account
Please refer to the CPF website at www.cpf.gov.sg for details about the CPF.  

critical illness 
There are a total of 37 critical illnesses listed by the Life Insurance Association of Singapore, of which insurers can select a maximum of 30 that will be covered under each policy. 

critical illness cover
A life insurance policy with the benefits payable on diagnosis of one of a number of specified medical conditions.


date of commencement
The date on which cover begins, following acceptance of the risk by the insurer.  

This is the statement or section of the form where the person is required to declare that the statements or answers are given fully and truthfully and that if it were not so, there would be legal consequences.  

deferred annuity
An annuity (or pension) due to be paid from a future date or when the policyholder reaches a specified age. A deferred annuity may be funded by the policyholder by payment of a series of regular contributions or by a capital sum.  

A person who depends upon another for financial support. A child is normally a dependant at least until reaching the age of 18.  

Financial instruments that gives the investor the option to buy or sell an asset. Derivatives include futures and options contracts. Futures contracts require delivery of a commodity or currency at a specified date. Options entitle the holder to buy or sell shares or commodities at a fixed price within a given period of time.  

disability insurance
Disability Insurance insures the policyholder’s income in the event that a disability becomes an impediment to working. Different insurance companies may define disability differently, with various plans that encompass long-term disability, short-term disability, severe disability and so forth. 

Investment diversification means spreading your total investments over different baskets of different asset classes or a specific asset class. For example, within the asset class of bonds, investors may decide to spread their investments across government bonds and corporate bonds and international bonds.


earned premiums
Premium payments received by an insurer for cover provided during the current accounting period. Premiums received for future insurance coverage are known as unearned premiums.  

Another word for profit. Broadly calculated as revenues minus costs, operating expenses and taxes, minority interests, extraordinary items and dividends on preference stock.  

ElderShield is a severe disability insurance scheme introduced by Ministry of Health www.moh.gov.sg to provide insurance coverage to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents who require long-term care. The Government has appointed three insurance companies as policy providers, namely Aviva, NTUC Income, and Great Eastern. CPF members who have reached age 40 will be offered ElderShield unless they opt out of the scheme. The plan insures those who are certified to be unable to perform at least 3 out of 6 of Activities of Daily Living (ADL). The six ADLs are washing, dressing, feeding, toileting, mobility and transferring. 

emerging markets
Developing economies such as those in Latin America and Asia that do not have a long history of equity investment and stable, reliable returns. Speculative investors prepared to accept a higher level of risk see such markets as having attractive potential for rapid growth. See also mature markets.  

endowment plan
A plan in which the amount is paid to a policyholder if he outlives the tenure of the contract or to the beneficiary if the insured person dies before the date on which the policy matures.  

Another word for " share". A shareholder’s equity is the value of the shares they hold. Also, a house owner’s equity is the value of their home minus the unpaid mortgage – so negative equity occurs if the house is worth less than the outstanding loan.  

expense ratio
Expenses associated with running an insurance business, such as commission, professional fees and other administrative costs, expressed as a percentage of premiums. Also the annual operating costs of an investment fund, expressed as a percentage of assets.  

A condition under which the benefit is not paid is referred to as exclusion. This is to avoid any misunderstanding. For example, for accidental policies, there is usually exclusion for suicide or self-inflicted injuries by the life insured. 


fixed income
An investment that provides fixed periodic payments. The principal amount will be returned upon maturity. 

fixed interest
A guaranteed rate of interest paid over the term of an investment or loan. A fixed interest security is an investment such as a government bond that provides a set level of income and usually has a redemption value, paid at maturity. 

Abbreviation of foreign exchange.  

free look period
A free look period gives the client an option to review the terms and conditions of the policy within 14 days from the date of receipt of the policy document. Where he disagrees with the terms and conditions stated in the policy, he has the option to return the policy, stating the reasons for objection. In such a case the Policy would then be cancelled and the premium paid by the client would be refunded to him, after deducting: proportionate risk premium for the period on cover, expenses incurred by the Insurance Company on medical examination of the client and stamp duty charges.  

A pool of financial assets into which premiums are invested to produce an investment return. Examples include property funds, managed funds and with-profit funds. Strictly speaking, these are "investment funds" rather than just "funds". Fund management is the act of actively looking after such investments on behalf of individual and institutional customers.  

fund value
Total benefit amount available on maturity or death.  

fund management
Management of money invested, typically, in stocks and shares, fixed interest, property and cash on behalf of individual and institutional customers. Also known as asset management or investment management. 


general insurance
Non-life insurance mainly concerned with protecting the policyholder from loss or damage caused by specific risks. Examples include motor or auto insurance, household, contents and buildings insurance, and business or commercial insurance. Normally renewable annually. Known in some markets as property and casualty insurance.  

grace period
This provision offers the policy holder additional period of time after the due date, during which the premium can be paid. The policy continues to remain in force during this grace period and the premium continues to be payable.  

group pension scheme
A pension scheme which an employer sets up for the benefit of his employees. All staff can become members of the same scheme. Group personal pension schemes are individual policies taken out by people working for the same employer that are grouped together for administrative convenience.  

growth fund
An investment fund whose aim is to achieve capital gains, rather than income, by investing in growth stocks. Typically it will focus on companies that demonstrate significant earnings or revenue growth, rather than companies paying high dividends. Growth funds can be more volatile than other types, rising more in bull markets and falling further in bear markets.  

guaranteed issuance
This refers to the customer’s ability to purchase the product regardless of health status. But usually pre-existing conditions would still be excluded. 

guaranteed renewability
For medical policies, this means that the insurer cannot cancel the policy due to the insured’s claims or ill health. The only reason the insurer can cancel the policy is due to non-payment of premiums. 

For term policies, this is an option for the policyholder to renew the coverage for a further agreed term after the original term expires, without reproducing evidence of good health


health insurance
Provides cover against loss from illness or bodily injury. Can pay for medicine, visits to the doctor, hospital stays, other medical expenses and loss of earnings, depending on the conditions covered and the benefits and choices of treatment available on the policy.  

Protecting against the risk of losses in one investment by taking up other investment positions that will reduce the risk run by the first commitment. This can mean investing in opposite positions in the same or equivalent stock or markets using complicated packages of futures and options. Though speculative, hedging is actually a cautious action which sets out to reduce the risk run by the investor. 


income fund
An investment fund that aims to generate current income in the form of dividends or payments from stocks and bonds, rather than capital growth. Income funds are regarded as conservative investment, and tend to be popular with retirees and other investors looking for a steady cash flow without taking on too much risk.  

An increase in the general level of prices over a period of time. Opposite of deflation.  

in force
An insurance policy is "in force" from its start date until the date it is terminated.  

initial charge
A set-up fee paid on some unit-linked investment policies.  

initial public offering (IPO)
The first time a company lists on the stock exchange, and asks investors to buy shares in it, is known as an IPO, new share issue, or flotation.  

A contract taken out with an insurer to protect against loss from a perceived risk. The person taking out the insurance is called the insured. Payments for the policy are called premiums.  

interest rate
Percentage rate at which money is added to savings or borrowings. The cost of borrowing or lending money.  

Buying and holding assets, such as shares, bonds, property and commodities, to earn income or to make capital gains.  

A type of long-term savings plan where premiums are used to buy units in an investment fund, such as a unit trust. The assets in the fund can be a mix of stocks, shares, bonds, property or other securities. The value of the units and the return from them can fluctuate in line with the investment performance of the assets in the fund, and there is no guarantee on the amount of capital that will be returned. 


joint liability
Shared obligations among two or more persons liable for a loan or debt. 

joint life
An insurance contract where two people are insured against death. 


key performance indicator
Often referred to as KPI, Key Performance Indicator is a set of quantifiable measures set by a company, corporation or an industry to assess performance in terms of meeting strategic and operational goals.


A company's debts and obligations, shown on the balance sheet as claims on its assets.  

life cover
Amount payable on death of life insured.  

life insurance
Promises the payment of an agreed sum of money upon the death of the insured within a specified period of time. Also known as life assurance.  

long-term savings
Collective term for life insurance, pensions, savings, investments and related business.  

lump sum benefit
A benefit arising in the form of a single, once-and-for-all payment rather than a series of payments. 


The place where transactions take place in a particular type of commodity, such as a stock exchange.  

market capitalisation
The value of a company calculated by multiplying the number of shares the company has in circulation by the market price of those shares.  

The date that an insurance policy or other financial contract finishes or "matures", and the proceeds, sometimes known as the maturity value, become payable.  

money market instrument
A short-term debt obligation, such as a banker's certificate of deposit, commercial paper or government security, generally regarded as a low-risk, low-return investment for the holder.  

A loan to buy a home. Technically, it is the security provided by a borrower to a lender in return for funds advanced - usually the property in question. Typically there are two forms of mortgage: repayment (or capital and interest), where the homeowner pays back both the loan and interest in stages; and interest only, where the homeowner pays just the interest until the end of the loan period, when the capital is also due to be repaid.  

mutual fund
This is an investment instrument made up of a pool of funds collected from many investors for the purpose of investing in securities such as stocks, bonds, money market instruments and similar assets. The fund manager then manages the fund and attempt to produce capital gains and income for the fund's investors. 


net asset value
The value of a company calculated by subtracting its liabilities from its assets. The difference is the capital, that is, the funds that would be available to ordinary shareholders if the company were wound up.  

net premiums earned
The proportion of net premiums written recognised for accounting purposes as income in a given period.  

net profit
The amount left over after deducting tax, interest, depreciation, fees, minority interests and extraordinary charges from sales revenue. Also known as net earnings, or net income.  

nominal return
Return that does not take account of the effects of inflation.  

Someone nominated to act on your behalf. Insurers usually determine the insurable interest while nominating.  

Insurance cover guaranteeing certain benefits but for which the policyholder bears no investment risk and does not gain or lose if returns differ from expectations. Pure risk business, such as term assurance, annuities, health insurance and disability cover, is normally written on a non-profit basis.  

non participating policies
These are also called "non-par policies" or "policies without participation in profits". These policies are not entitled for any share in surplus (profits) during the term of the policy


offer price
The price an investor must pay, or what the market demands, for buying a share or a unit in an investment fund. 


participating policies
These are also called "par policies" or "policies with participation in profits". These policies are not non-par policies and are entitled for any share in surplus (profits) during the term of the policy. 

A regular payment received by an individual during their retirement until they die. Also known as an annuity. It is usually bought through payment of regular contributions during the individual's working lifetime.  

pension fund
Refers to a pool of pensions contributions invested for growth. Also used to refer to a type of institutional investor who administers and invests funds for pension plans.  

pension provider
A financial institution (such as a bank or insurance company) authorised to provide pensions contracts.  

per capita
Average per person. Per capita income represents the average earnings for each person in a population, and is often used to measure a country's standard of living.  

The person who owns the policy, in this case, a life insurance policy. 

policy document
A booklet that details the full product information and terms and conditions of an insurance policy, and the policy schedule(s) which provides the specific benefits/premiums/payment conditions covered. It provides evidence that a contract exists between the insured and insurer.  

policy loan
A loan issued by an insurance company to the policyholder that uses the cash value of their policy as collateral. Interest is chargeable.  

policy term
The period for which insurance cover is available. 

A collection of financial assets - investments in shares, fixed interest stocks, cash and property - held by an investor.  

The monetary amount paid for an insurance policy. The payment a policyholder makes in return for insurance cover. Usually paid monthly, annually or as a single lump sum. Also, if the market price of a new share is higher than its issue price, it is said to be trading at a premium (the opposite of discount).  

premium allocation
Distributions of premium amount after deducting charges. 

premium holiday
Period for which one is not required to pay the premium while the life cover continues. 

premium payment term
Period for which you are committed to pay towards your insurance cover or to build a corpus.  

premium waiver
A feature in an insurance policy that waives the policyholder’s obligation to pay any further premiums if he or she becomes seriously ill, disabled or dies (in the case of a third party policy). 

A term for the original investment, or the amount borrowed, or the part of the amount borrowed that remains unpaid (excluding interest).  

Excess of income over expenses for a particular period. Figures may be given as gross profit, net profit before tax, net profit after tax, and earnings.  

profit and loss account
An account compiled at the end of the financial year showing that year's revenue and expense items, and indicating gross and net profit or loss.  

profit before tax
All profits earned in a period, including investment gains. 



rate of return
The change in value of an investment over a period of time, taking into account income from it and any change in its market value. Normally expressed as an equivalent annual percentage of the total amount invested. Also the yield from a fixed income security.  

To restore the policy after the insurance policy has lapsed. 

A form of insurance bought by insurance companies to protect themselves from the risk of large losses. One insurer pays to place part of an insured risk or an entire book of business with one or more other insurance companies, known as the reinsurers.  

regular premiums
Regular contribution towards an insurance policy. 

retirement plan
Refers to the setting of personal financial goals in preparation of retirement. These goals focus on the allocation of finances which will allow for a regular stream of income during the retirement years. 

For savings, the difference between the original sum invested and the final value of income or capital growth, given as a percentage. For shares, the overall investment performance based on the movement in the price of the shares (gain or loss) and the dividend income from the shares.  

An add-on benefit available at the option of the policyholders that may alter certain features of a policy by increasing or restricting benefits.  

The measurable probability of loss or less-than-expected returns from an investment, asset or business activity. 


savings account
An account with a bank or financial institution that pays interest. A savings account typically has little or no risk and low returns. 

Represents the original capital invested into a business or corporation by its founders. It can also mean a unit of ownership in a business, corporation or mutual fund. 

single premium
Lumpsum contribution towards life insurance policy.  

"See shares" 

sum assured
The lump sum benefit payable under an insurance policy or contract in circumstances defined within the policy (usually it represents an amount payable on death).  

The act of cancelling or cashing in the proceeds of an insurance contract before it becomes payable or reaches its maturity date for a surrender value.  

surrender value
The amount of money payable on cancellation ("surrender") of a policy with an investment element, before the benefit becomes payable (normally on death or maturity). Surrender values will depend on premiums paid and time elapsed. 


term insurance
Also known as temporary insurance. A type of life insurance where the benefit (sum assured) is paid only if death occurs during a specific period of time.  

time horizon
A period of time that an individual, company, or corporation plans to stay invested in a particular asset class before it is liquidated in order to meet financial goals. 

top ups
Addition to your contribution toward your insurance policy. 

total and permanent disability (TPD)
The inability to perform any work or engage in any occupation to obtain any wages because of an illness or injury. When the insured person is prevented from working due to their disability, they are considered totally disabled.


Someone willing to assume an insurance risk in exchange for payment of a premium. The term derives from the practice of the person who accepted the risk signing their name under the amount they insured (thereby entering into a contract).  

The process of selecting which risks an insurance company can cover, and deciding the premiums and terms of acceptance. On the stock exchange, an arrangement by which a company is guaranteed that an issue of shares will raise a given amount of money, because the underwriters promise to buy any of the issue not taken up by the public.  

unit trust
Unit trusts are collective investments schemes which allow investors to pool their money into one fund. A unit trust investor benefits from professional fund management whilst reducing risk and dealing costs.


variable rate
An interest rate that fluctuates or is periodically reset.  

The variable amount by which a share price or market value rises and falls during a period of time. 


whole life insurance
An insurance contract where the benefit is payable on death, whenever it occurs. Distinct from term insurance, which pays out only if death occurs within a specific period.  

A type of investment plan in which extra amounts may be added to the main benefit (known as the sum assured) to reflect profits earned during the course of the contract. Regular or "reversionary" bonuses may be added, usually each year, and once declared are guaranteed. A final or "terminal" bonus may be added when the policy becomes payable. With-profit funds are typically invested in a mixture of equities, property and fixed income investments. Under poor stock market conditions a "market value adjustment" (MVA) may be applied to the value of the policy if it is surrendered before the maturity date.



yearly renewable term
A type of term life insurance that is renewable on a yearly basis. Typically, premiums increase annually but does not require the policy owner to provide evidence of insurability. 

Rate of return on an investment in percentage terms, taking into account annual income and any change in capital value. Also the dividend payable on a share expressed as a percentage of the market price.  

yield to maturity (YTM)  
Yield to maturity is the rate of return expected if a bond or other dated investment is held for the full term of the contract, or until the maturity date.  

Abbreviation for "year to date". Usually means the period starting 1 January of the current year and ending today.


zero-cost strategy
A business or trading strategy that does not create any cost upon execution. Typically used with a variety of investment instruments such as equities, commodities and options, zero cost strategies tend to involve the simultaneous purchase and sale of an asset such as that both values cancel each other.