A to Z of financial terms

See our definitions to help you understand financial and legal terms.

First published: 20/03/2023 Last updated: 20/03/2023

This is a new service and we are still building our library of terms - please let us know any comments or suggestions for new definitions in the page feedback section below.

Carbon credit (trading)

A carbon credit is a certificate or permit representing the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon credits can be traded for money; however, many investors have reported they can’t sell or trade their carbon credits and so can’t make any profit. See more on carbon trading and how to protect yourself from scams.

Claims management company (CMC)

Claims management companies (CMCs) can help you claim compensation, or other benefits, if you have a complaint about a financial service or product. You don’t need to use a CMC to make a claim, it's free and simple to do it yourself. If you use a CMC, you will need to pay a fee. Read more about CMCs.

Client money

Client money refers to money that a firm holds on behalf of a client.

Clone firm

Fraudsters sometimes claim to be from genuine firms authorised by us. They may use details, such as the names and addresses of authorised firms or individuals, and 'firm reference numbers' (FRN) to suggest they're genuine. Find out more about clone firms and how to protect yourself from scams.

Collective investment scheme (CIS)

A collective investment scheme (CIS), sometimes known as a 'pooled investment', is a fund that usually has several people contributing to it. The fund manager of a CIS will invest investors' money into assets, such as stocks, bonds or property. CIS may be authorised UK schemes or 'recognised' schemes from other countries. If a CIS isn't authorised or recognised it's considered an unregulated collective investment scheme (UCIS)

Community shares

Co-operative and community benefit societies can sell shares to the public to raise money to help run the society. These are often called community shares. They can usually be withdrawn but are non-transferable (depending on the society’s rules). These shares aren’t regulated by us, which means you won’t be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) or the Financial Ombudsman Service if something goes go wrong.

Consumer credit

Helps consumers to buy goods and services by spreading repayments over time, and to manage cash-flow shortages. The sector is made up of: 

  • credit products such as credit cards, personal loans, retail and motor finance
  • high-cost credit including payday loans, home-collected credit, rent-to-own, buy now pay later, overdrafts, guarantor and logbook loans
  • services such as debt collection, debt advice, credit information and credit broking

Contracts for Difference (CFDs)

CFDs are high-risk derivative products including spread betting and rolling spot foreign exchange. Because they are high risk, they're not suitable for all customers. Our rules mean that these products must be marketed and sold appropriately to the right customers. 

Crop and overseas property scams

Overseas property and crop schemes may offer you the chance to buy a plot on a plantation that harvests agricultural commodities such as teak trees, jatropha, paulownia and biofuels. We don't regulate the sale of land, trees or crops, which means that you wouldn't be protected if things go wrong. Find out more about how to protect yourself from scams.


Crowdfunding is one way that individuals, charities and businesses (including start-ups) can raise money from the public to support a project, campaign or person. There are several types that are regulated in different ways. Read more about crowdfunding

Cryptoasset and cryptocurrency

The term 'cryptoasset' covers many different types of products. The most popular forms of cryptoassets include tokens like Bitcoin, Ether and Litecoin. We call these 'exchange tokens' because they are intended to be used as a method of payment. They're also referred to as cryptocurrencies, cryptocoins, or payment tokens. Exchange tokens operate using distributed ledger technology (DLT), like blockchain, and aren't issued or backed by a central bank or other authority. Most cryptoassets are not linked to any currency or other asset and so aren't considered to be a currency or money. Read more about investing in cryptoassets and cryptoasset scams.