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    A business or product that generates a steady, reliable flow of profitable income - supposedly like milking a cow. A cash cow is a valuable part of a diversified company because it can produce the money needed to finance other areas of the organisation.

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    Contributions to a pension contract separate from a company pension scheme but paid by a member of that scheme. This gives the individual the opportunity to save more for their retirement and choose where the contributions are invested.

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    A policy combining life assurance and investment under which the sum assured is paid at a pre-agreed date, or on the death of the policyholder if earlier. A common use for this type of policy is the repayment of a mortgage loan.

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    An individual broker or dealer who sets the price at which stocks can be bought and sold. Each stock listed on the London Stock Exchange must have at least two market-makers. Before Big Bang , the only people allowed to make a market in company shares were called jobbers , who dealt only with agency brokers. Now stockbrokers can also be market-makers, and can deal with whomever they like.

    A marriage of two or more companies, with the pre-agreement of both, whereby one company acquires the shares of the other (as was the case with the merger of CGU and Norwich Union, which created Aviva) or the shares of both companies pass to a third party.

    A legal entity that owns other companies and whose main assets are its shareholdings (usually a controlling interest) in those other businesses. Sometimes includes the word Holding or Holdings in its company name.

    Where one company attempts to buy the shares of another and the directors of the target do not recommend acceptance of the offer. See also takeover bid.

    Commonly known as the Fed. Central banking system of the United States. It comprises 67 Federal Reserve banks under the control of the Federal Reserve Board. The Fed is involved in setting monetary policy (including interest rates), maintains reserves, issues bank notes, lends money to member banks, and monitors the economic health of the country.

    The stock market term for a share sale or purchase. It does not necessarily mean that the deal was done at a favourable price.

    An accountancy term usually used to describe the systematic reduction in value of an intangible asset due to its use over time. If something is amortised, it is written off. If the cause is not solely related to time, the effect is described as depreciation.

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