Shares of individual stock can be bought through the companies transfer agent or through any broker dealer. Shares of mutual funds in most cases can be bought directly through the fund company. However working with one financial firm is typically the most convienent. If you know what you want to buy I would recomend TD ameritrade or Schwab. They're very cost effective.
Most funds have minimum intial investments of at least $1000-$2500
The rules outside of the US may differ quite a bit.
Share investment is risky. You should start off by doing some fundamental study. Then, move to technical analysis. From both, you will get the common sense and write out a plan for your share investment.
I use Scottrade specifically but there are various on-line discount brokers for investing if you make your own decisions. You should develop an investment plan based upon your level of risk acceptance, goals and needs. There are many factors to consider such as: age, marital status or expectation of marriage and children, years before retirement, etc. I personally do not recommend Mutual Funds or Annuities. Mutual Funds have minimum initial investment requirements, restricted trading (not bought or sold until after market close) and possible redemption restrictions. Annuities have high commissions, management fees, redemption penalties and something like 85% plus of Annuities are passed to beneficiaries upon death and they must pay the tax on the appreciation, unlike stock ownership.
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