What is a prospectus?
Investors can learn about a company’s investment opportunities by reading their prospectus. Find out what’s included and how it can help.
One way to help you determine whether a company’s investment opportunities align with your investment goals is to check out the information they provide in their prospectus.
A prospectus is basically a packet of information that all companies must make publicly available and file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) when offering stocks, bonds and mutual funds as investment opportunities to the public.
Purpose of a prospectus
The purpose of a prospectus is to provide detailed information about a company's investment offerings to help potential investors make better informed decisions about their investments.
Preliminary prospectus vs. final prospectus vs. summary prospectus
A preliminary prospectus is what a company will publish before it starts offering any investments. The purpose is to provide potential investors with an overview of the company’s upcoming offerings so they can decide if they’re interested in the opportunity.
A final prospectus is what a company will publish after their offering has been finalized and the investments have been made available for sale to investors. The main difference between a preliminary and a final prospectus is that the final will include the number of investments available along with the price.
A summary prospectus is just what it sounds like — an abbreviated version of a prospectus. While not required, companies often choose to publish a summary prospectus to make it easier for investors to learn about their investments.
What information is included in a prospectus?
A prospectus typically contains the following information:
- Company background
- Names of the company’s principals
- Summary of the company’s financial situation
- Description, price and quantity of investments being offered
- Fees and expenses (such as sales charges, management fees, 12b-1 distribution fees, etc.)
- Objective of the investment (its overall purpose)
- Principal investment strategies (how the fund intends to invest to attempt to satisfy its investment objective)
- Principal risks, including a narrative description of the fund's risks and an illustration of the fund's historical investment performance, if available (including one-, five- and ten-year average annual returns)
- Portfolio managers
- Procedures regarding how to purchase and sell the fund's shares including minimum investment amounts
- Tax information including details about payments to persons who sell the fund's shares, if applicable
- Information about dividends
Want to see what a prospectus looks like? Check out the investment options State Farm® has to offer.