A CUSIP number is a unique identifier for a stock, bond, mutual fund or other investment opportunity. You can look up a CUSIP number through the fund or the organization that issued the security, or you can look the number up through a mutual fund CUSIP lookup tool available through financial news and information sites or a broker. In some cases, you might find the name of the fund or a ticker symbol, if it has one, is even more useful than the CUSIP.
How a CUSIP Number Works
A CUSIP number is a unique number that identifies a security, such as a stock or bond, or a mutual fund. They're issued by the Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures, an industry group that gives the CUSIP numbers their name. The first digits identify the organization that issued the bond or stock or operates the fund, and the rest specify the actual investment.
If you have an investment's CUSIP number, you can use that to search for information about it on financial sites and sometimes to buy the investment. While they're most commonly used to identify municipal bonds, they can be used for other investments as well.
If you are using a CUSIP number to buy, sell or research investments, make sure you double-check the CUSIP number and compare the name of the investment if it's visible. It's not unheard of for people to mistype or be wrong about identifiers of investments and end up putting their money in the wrong place.
Mutual Fund CUSIP Search
If you want to know the CUSIP number of a mutual fund or another investment opportunity, you can use a number of search tools to find it. One option is to simply contact the company that runs the fund or visit the fund website to see if the CUSIP is listed. It might be on the fund home page or in a document such as a prospectus.
You can also search for the CUSIP on a financial news and information site or via a brokerage. For example, you can use the Fidelity CUSIP lookup tool to search for a security and find its CUSIP number, even if you're not a Fidelity customer. Copy and paste the CUSIP to where you need to use it or write it down once you find it.
Alternatives to the CUSIP Number
The CUSIP number isn't always the handiest way to refer to an investment. They're long, difficult to memorize and not easily recognizable to investors or anyone else in the financial community. It sometimes makes sense to use another identifier for a fund, stock or bond instead.
With stocks, it's more common to use the stock's ticker symbol to refer to a security. These ticker symbols are commonly used in the financial press and are often related to the name of the company, making them easy to recognize and remember. You can usually use a ticker symbol to look up a stock on a financial site or on a brokerage site if you want to invest. Ticker symbols are often listed on company investor relations pages.
Ticker Symbols for Funds
Some funds also have ticker symbols. These are usually what are called exchange-traded funds, and their shares can be bought and sold through most brokers, similarly to how you would buy and sell stock. Many of them are also index funds, meaning they mirror the performance of stock market indexes like the Standard & Poor's 500, and they often have ticker symbols related to the index name. Look up a fund's ticker symbol through an online search tool or the fund manager's site.
In some cases, it may also make sense to simply refer to a fund by name rather than using any symbol at all.
Steven Melendez is an independent journalist with a background in technology and business. He has written for a variety of business publications including Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, Innovation Leader and Ad Age. He was awarded the Knight Foundation scholarship to Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.