Marketable Securities 2024 [Benefits, Risks, And Trading Processes]

Updated On: 08/21/2023 is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

When you think about investing, your mind likely jumps to buying stocks or real estate. What about marketable securities, though?

Have you ever considered them as viable options for diversifying your financial portfolio? If you are scratching your head wondering, what are marketable securities? You've come to the right place.

Marketable securities represent an often overlooked yet precious segment of the investment world.

These unique financial instruments can be pretty beneficial. As their name implies, these securities are easy to sell due to their high liquidity and broad market appeal.

The journey into understanding and harnessing their potential starts here, so buckle up and prepare to broaden your investment literacy.

What Are Marketable Securities?

Marketable securities are a type of liquid asset that can be quickly converted into cash with minimal impact on price. Due to their highly liquid nature, companies and individual investors often use these as short-term investment options. Key attributes include:

  • Highly Liquid: Marketable securities can be sold almost instantaneously.
  • Easily Transferable: They can be conveniently moved from one owner to another.
  • Value Consistency: Unlike tangible assets like cars or electronics, the value of marketable securities is unlikely to depreciate due to physical wear and tear.
  • Examples: These include government bonds, corporate bonds, treasury bills, and common stock.

A broader perspective of marketable securities reveals them as reliable safety nets during financial emergencies.

They offer a viable way of storing surplus funds, poised for quick dispossession without losing value.

Marketable securities should not serve as your primary investment but rather as a financial cushion or quick source of cash. You tailor your mix of these assets based on your risk tolerance and financial goals.

Types of Marketable Securities

Marketable securities can be broadly classified into two categories: Equity Securities and Debt Securities.

Types of Marketable Securities

Equity Securities

These are shares or stocks that you purchase from a company. By owning equity securities, you essentially possess a piece of the business and claim part of the company's assets and earnings.

  • Common Stocks: This is the most direct way for individuals to own a piece of a company. With these shares, you may be entitled to voting rights at shareholders' meetings.
  • Preferred Stocks: These shares have fewer voting rights but provide more predictable dividends.

Also Read: Preference Shares vs Ordinary Shares In 2024 [Complete Guide]

Debt Securities

These loans - whether to a government, municipality, or corporation - pay interest over time and return the principal at maturity.

  • Government Bonds: These are loans made to the government in exchange for regular interest payments and the return of principal at maturity.
  • Corporate Bonds involve lending money to businesses for interest payments and principal returned over time.
  • Municipal Bonds: Local governments often issue tax-exempt bonds to finance public projects.

Further on, let's understand some examples that fall under these securities:

  • Treasury Bills (T-bills): Issued by the U.S. government, T-bills are short-term securities that mature in one year or less from their issue date.
  • Money Market Instruments: Includes certificates of deposit (CDs) offered by banks with usually higher yield than savings accounts but require keeping money deposited for a fixed amount of time.
  • Banker's Acceptance: Similar to T-bill but issued by a commercial bank ensuring payment at maturity.
  • Commercial Paper: Unsecured short-term debt instrument corporations issue for financing accounts payable, inventories, and meeting short-term liabilities.

Marketable securities hold immense importance in financial markets because they provide investors safety due to their liquidity and profitability thanks to their earning potential.

By striking this balance between risk and reward, marketable securities continue to drive investor interest across all market conditions.

Value and Importance of Marketable Securities

The value of marketable securities cannot be overstated. Here's why:

  • High Liquidity: Marketable securities can be readily converted into cash. This means you have ready access to funds when needed - an attribute that enhances business sustainability and personal financial security.
  • Flexibility: These securities provide flexible investment management due to their easy transferability. They can be bought or sold based on market conditions and personal needs without significant restrictions or delays.
  • Risk Management: Those with a lower risk appetite appreciate that marketable securities usually offer less volatile returns. Though they may not always bring high yields, they guarantee money back, which is invalid for many other investments.
  • Portfolio Diversification: Combining different types of securities with varying degrees of risk can spread your exposure and potentially enhance overall returns.

A 2016 JP Morgan Asset Management report showed that over 20 years (end-December 1995 to end-June-2015), the S&P 500 showed gains in 78% of all rolling one-year periods. This data underscores the long-term growth prospects of marketable securities.

Moreover, marketable securities play a critical role in managing the monetary supply within an economy.

The Federal Reserve often uses these tools (Open Market Operations) for controlling inflation rates and maintaining economic stability.

The converging attributes of liquidity, flexibility, risk diversification, and overall ease make marketable securities crucial in personal finance management and corporate treasury operations.

The Role of Marketable Securities in Business Finance

The Role of Marketable Securities in Business Finance

Here is a comprehensive look at how marketable securities play an essential role in your business finance:

Cash Management:

  • Marketable securities offer a pragmatic approach toward cash management. Companies often have surplus cash that they want to put to good use.
  • Investing these funds in marketable securities ensures that liquidity is maintained while earning a return on those funds.


Utilizing equity and debt securities helps diversify corporate portfolios, mitigating risk while potentially enhancing overall returns.

Asset Safety:

Unlike many other assets, marketable securities are not subject to physical degradation. As such, their value can be maintained or even grow over time.


Due to their ready transferability, businesses can adjust their marketable security assets based on prevailing market conditions.

According to the Federal Reserve, as of Q3 2020, nonfinancial corporate businesses held over $4 trillion worth of marketable security investments. That's a solid testament to the essential role these investments play.

While investing, companies must consider the potential risks involved with these securities, including interest rate risk for bond investments and volatility for equity investments.

Remember, ensuring a balanced portfolio is critical; too much concentration of any one asset type could increase vulnerability during an economic downturn.

The robust mechanisms offered by marketable security investments make them invaluable for managing cash flows while reducing investment risk as much as possible.

Benefits Associated with Marketable Securities

There are multiple benefits of adding marketable securities to your portfolio:

  • Liquidity: Marketable securities are, by definition, easy to convert into cash. This high liquidity makes them a valuable choice for those needing quick access to their funds.
  • Potential Returns: Depending on the type and issuer, some marketable securities generate decent returns on the investment. For instance, a company's bonds often have an attractive interest rate.
  • Diversification: Owning different types of marketable securities helps spread your risk across various asset classes, sectors, or geographical regions. Equities (stocks), money market instruments, and debt securities (bonds) all behave differently from each other under varying economic conditions.
  • Defensive Investment Strategy: During market volatility or economic downturns, investors often flock to safer investments like T-bills or highly rated corporate bonds.

Risks Associated with Marketable Securities

Despite the appealing features of marketable securities, like any investment, they are not without risks:

  • Market Risk: Also known as systematic risk, it cannot be eliminated through diversification. Fluctuations in the financial market can affect the pricing of these securities.
  • Interest Rate Risk: For fixed-income securities like bonds, changes in interest rates have an inverse relationship with bond prices. That is to say, if rates rise, bond prices fall, and vice versa.
  • Credit Risk/Default Risk: Especially for corporate bonds or commercial paper, there is a chance that the issuer might default on their payments.

Considering benefits and risks is crucial before investing in any form of security so as you ponder adding marketable securities into your portfolio mix.

The key is balance—blending high-risk, high-return investments with stable yet less lucrative options can be a successful strategy.

Trading Processes for Marketable Securities

Trading Processes for Marketable Securities

The trading process can seem overwhelming for a novice investor due to its fast-paced environment.

However, with a grasp of the basics, you can navigate through marketable securities trading with relative ease:

Step 1: Brokerage Account

For any securities trading in the US market, your first step should be opening a brokerage account. Some famous brokerage firms include Merrill Edge, Fidelity, and Schwab.

Step 2: Market Analysis

Before you make a purchase decision, analyze financial news and understand current market trends. Resources like the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg can be helpful.

Step 3: Making The Purchase.

Start by inputting the stocks you want to buy in the provided platform by your chosen broker. You then place either a market order (buy at the current market price) or a limit order (buy at a specific price or better).

Step 4: Monitor Your Investment

Regularly review your investment status using provided tools on your broker’s website or other third-party platforms such as Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, etc.

It's important to remember that despite their liquidity and straightforward nature of trade, marketable securities come with risks tied to market conditions.

While trading securities, keep up with critical economic indicators like the GDP growth rate, inflation rate, etc., as these often influence the performance of financial markets.

The Impact of Current Trends on Marketable Securities

Despite their simplistic and highly liquid nature, marketable securities are not immune to prevailing market trends and global events. Here's how current trends could have significant implications for these assets:

Economic Conditions

Inflation and interest rate shifts directly impact bonds' prices, where increases can lower their value due to the inverse relationship between bond prices and interest rates.

Recovering economies often foster positive investor sentiment, driving up equity security prices.

As per a 2018 study in the Journal of Finance, evidence links monetary policy announcements to immediate reactions in stock markets.

It further suggests that small changes in Federal Reserve policy rates can significantly impact marketable security values.

Technology Advancements

Blockchain technology reshapes how securities are traded and owned, offering improved transparency and efficiency.

Robo-advisors influence investment decisions by delivering data-driven insights, leading to increasingly automated trading of marketable securities.

According to a 2020 report by Deloitte, robo-advisors will manage about $16 trillion globally by 2025, up from around $2 trillion in 2020.

This massive growth underlines how technology is shaping the marketable securities landscape.

Sociopolitical Climate

Uncertainties associated with geopolitical conflicts or health crises can spur increased investments in less risky assets like these securities.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a noteworthy impact on marketable securities. As verified by a 2020 IMF report, falling stock prices during early 2020 exposed many firms' vulnerability to economic shocks.

In a nutshell, no investment operates in isolation. Considering broader economic factors when investing in marketable securities would be best.

Furthermore, keep an eye on technological progressions as they redefine the fabric of investing practices while minding societal happenings that affect investor sentiment worldwide.

Diversification Techniques Using Marketable Securities

Diversification stands as a cornerstone in financial planning. It's a strategic approach to spread your investments across different types of assets to mitigate risk, and marketable securities play a fundamental role in this process.

Here, you’ll learn how to diversify your investment portfolio by employing marketable securities.

Complementing Core Investments

Marketable securities can complement your core investments. For instance, if most of your investments are tied up in real estate or private business equity, adding highly liquid assets like marketable securities can provide balance. They offer a quick source of cash if needed.

Key Point: Balance high-risk investments with the relative safety of marketable securities.

Variety within Marketable Securities

Diversity within the universe of marketable securities is also critical.

  • Equity Securities: A mixture of common stocks across various sectors reduces the effect of one industry performing poorly.
  • Debt Securities: Consider corporate bonds with different credit ratings and maturities, as well as T-bills and municipal bonds for tax benefits.

Key Point: Don't put all your eggs into one type or category of marketable security; spread them around.

Geographic Diversification

Incorporating international marketable securities increases geographical diversity.

Equities from emerging markets or government bonds from stable foreign countries can add another layer of diversification.

Key Point: Geographic diversification reduces the risk of economic downturns in any country or region.

A 2018 study published by ValueWalk highlighted that owning 20 to 30 stocks eliminates approximately 90% of the unsystematic risk associated with individual stocks.

Moreover, research by Dundas Global Investors pointed out that around $7 trillion, about 72% of global stock dividends iii came from outside the US during Q4 2020 – indicating potential opportunities outside the domestic arena.

Diversifying wisely entails aligning your investment mix to suit your risk appetite and financial goals – because there's no 'one-size-fits-all' strategy in financial planning.

Regulatory Issues Associated with Marketable Securities

Regulatory Issues Associated with Marketable Securities

Marketable securities are subject to comprehensive regulatory oversight at the federal and state levels in the United States.

The cornerstone of these laws is investor protection. Let's dive deeper into some of the critical regulatory issues.

Financial Reporting Standards

The most stringent standards surround financial reporting. If you're investing or involved in a company, you're probably familiar with balance sheets and income statements.

What you might not know is that these statements require strict adherence to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) regulations:

  • Marketable Securities Categories: According to GAAP, marketable securities are divided into three categories: trading, available-for-sale, and held-to-maturity. Each category has a specific accounting treatment for valuing securities and recognizing unrealized gains or losses.
  • Fair Value Accounting: GAAP requires companies to record specific marketable securities at their fair value. This means adjustments may be made based on current market values at each reporting period.

Securities Laws & Compliance

Specific laws govern the issue and trading of these securities:

  • Securities Act of 1933 mandates that any offer or sale of securities must either be registered with the SEC or meet an exemption.
  • Securities Exchange Act of 1934 governs secondary trading, which usually occurs on exchanges or over-the-counter markets.

Adherence to these laws ensures transparency and fairness within the marketplace.

Regulatory Bodies

Several federal agencies oversee different aspects of marketable securities, including:

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): Enforces US laws on selling and issuing securities.
  • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA): Regulates brokerage firms and their registered representatives.

Understanding these regulations guides prudent investment decisions and reduces the risk exposure associated with non-compliance.

Investor education is critical in fostering a secure environment for marketable security trades. Recognizing what rules are in play when maneuvering within this space is vastly beneficial.

Evaluating Performance: Key Metrics for Marketable Securities

The following are key metrics you should consider when evaluating the performance of marketable securities in your portfolio:

Return on Investment (ROI)

  • Your ROI measures an investment's earnings as a percentage of its initial cost. A higher ROI indicates a greater return on each dollar invested.
  • ROI can be calculated using the formula: ROI = (Current Value - Initial Cost) / Cost of Investment * 100


  • Yield is defined as annual income from an investment expressed as a percentage of the investment’s price.
  • For bonds, yield is often quoted as Yield to Maturity (YTM), which calculates total returns from a bond given all its future cash flows, including its price appreciation/depreciation at maturity.

Risk Metrics

Risk metrics such as Beta (comparison of security's price volatility to market volatility), Standard Deviation (the extent to which returns vary from the average return), etc., should be analyzed to understand the inherent risk associated with these securities.

Price/Earnings Ratio

Commonly known as the P/E ratio, it’s used extensively for evaluating stock investments. It shows how much investors will pay for $1 of company earnings.

Earning Per Share (EPS)

EPS signifies a portion of a company's profit allocated to each outstanding shareholder. It’s commonly used in making profit projections and calculating other valuation metrics.

While evaluating marketable securities, one must remember that it's not just about raw profit or return numbers. Instead, it would be best to focus on balancing assets and managing risk exposure effectively.

Every investor's goal must be unique according to their respective financial goals and situations.

Constantly evaluate your securities with your needs rather than just running behind high returns or trends.

FAQs About Marketable Securities

What makes marketable securities highly liquid?

Marketable securities are highly liquid because they can be quickly and easily sold or transferred on public exchanges with a negligible price impact.

How do marketable securities enhance a portfolio's diversification?

Marketable securities, like bonds and stocks, provide varying levels of risk and return, thereby allowing investors to diversify their portfolios balancing risk with potential returns.

Can small businesses benefit from investing in marketable securities?

Yes, small businesses can maximize their idle cash by investing in marketable securities, ensuring liquidity while earning some return.

Are marketable securities only for short-term investments?

While typically used for short-term investments due to their high liquidity, specific marketable securities, such as stocks, can also be held for long-term growth potential.

Do all types of Marketable Securities come with guaranteed returns?

No, the returns on Marketable Securities like stocks and corporate bonds are not guaranteed as they depend upon the company's performance and prevailing market conditions.


Overlooking marketable securities in your investment strategy might make you miss out on some beneficial aspects of these financial instruments.

They're highly liquid and easily transferable but also hold value consistency over time and can be tailored to suit your specific risk tolerance and financial goals.

While not meant to be the primary investment, marketable securities can function as a financial cushion or a quick source of cash.

Understanding marketable securities' types, examples, values, benefits, and drawbacks empowers you to diversify your portfolio strategically.

Furthermore, knowing the metrics to gauge their performance can help you track your investments more effectively.

By considering all these details about marketable securities, you can navigate the investing landscape more confidently and make informed decisions that align with your financial objectives.

Michael Restiano

I support product content strategy for Salt Money. Additionally, I’m helping develop content strategy and processes to deliver quality work for our readers.

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