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Hello nrivkis,

welcome at the boards of TMF. Your question is very general. Short answer: depends on what X is (a stock? a bond? a mutual fund? cotton? house in Antarctica? John's private business?)... What fish you want to catch will define the location you will go fishing.

The first thing to clear in your mind is to have a general idea, even a very vague one, about what kind of investments are of your interest. Apparently the "physical mechanics" are different if you care to invest in China than if you want to invest in USA, if you want to invest on something like a house or if you want to invest on stocks or if you want to invest on a private business. At least in a very general way you must decide about this yourself (just the general categories that interest you, not the specific choices within each category) before you start searching further. I assume you want to invest in USA and basically at products like common stocks (businesses listed at the stock exchanges) or mutual funds, bonds etc.

The second step is to have an idea in your mind about if you will need advice concerning choosing specifing investments (a stock or a mutual fund etc), advice about your general financial condition and targets you want to achieve etc or not. If you decide that you will not be able to make such decisions without help from someone (or just do not feel comfortable doing it alone) then you must look for a financial advisor. The decision about doing it alone or using help of a (competent) advisor is a crucial one.

If you decide that you are able to handle things alone (concerning the decisions you will take) then you only need someone to execute your decisions. In this case where you should look to find out how your wishes will be executed depends again on what exactly you want. For example if you simply want to invest on mutual funds and you know already which fund you want, you can do it usually directly through the fund company or indirectly through a broker or other institution (bank etc) that carries the fund you want. If you want to invest on common stocks you usually need a broker that will buy and sell the stocks you want according to your orders (on some occasions you can even do it directly through the company you are investing in and their "direct purchase" programs). If you want to invest on US Treasuries you can do it through the Bureau of the Public Debt of US Treasury Department or through other institutions that offer bonds and notes.

Have you read the 13 steps of Motley Fool? They explain in a general way some things and they might answer some of your questions. At the homepage of Fool, at the bottom you can see a link that drives you to a page "How to Invest" - you can arrive at that same page by following the link "Fool's School" located at the top of the pages under the "Home" category. Except the 13 steps that should be your first read to get a general idea, at that section you can also find some general answers to questions like "how to find a broker" etc. Note that some of the "how to guides" links, lead to stuff that you need to purchase separately.

I suggest you read the 13 steps to get a better general idea and then you come back and post new questions at the boards. In case you are not aware of it, there is also a board named "Ask a Foolish question" . You can ask there too such general questions (more people there than on this board), hoping to receive more answers.

Last comment: do not worry, the "physical mechanics" how to buy/sell a stock are not that difficult, the hard part is to find the right investments and/or a competent financial advisor if you need one. And no need to rush in quick decisions. The markets will be available two, three, six months from now. Take your time to find and understand well the answers to your questions.

best regards
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