Who Is An Institutional Investor ?

We shall study “Who is an Institutional Investor?”. Also, study Institutional Investor, forms of institutional investor, dangers of institutional investing, Institutional Investors vs Retail Investors: Difference between them.

The topic talks about a cooperation or legal body that trades in the market in place of their clients that may be retail investors. We refer to them as Institutional Investor.

Meaning Of Institutional Investor

Given the significant influence they have on the prices while trading daily with hefty volumes , we term them the “giants” of the stock market.

The part played and share of Institutional Investors in a Market  

Over the past ten years, the part played as well as the share of institutional investors has improved massively. They now reign over 70% of the trading volume in almost all the asset classes.  Often times, profits are made by these investors off their clients’ investment portfolios without having to trade their personal money.

They are highly sort for after the advent of quantitative and algorithmic trading which changed the market structure.  Also, they serve as vehicles of pooled investments and direct various funds at the same time. More so, they are not exposed to the same risks, as a retail investor because they are better equipped  with an alert team analyzing the constant shifts in market values and elaborating market fluctuations to notify them on the best time to trade. They are more precise and experienced navigators of financial tools when compared to retail investors. Assisting retail investors with invaluable consensus appraisals that can help them make better decisions that can improve their portfolio’s worth in the future is one major benefit of having a sell-side analyst.

Price discovery mechanism and market development contribution is influenced by them. Because, they trade in very large capacity. Very crucial and key to the market are those sum of Investment funds introduced by Institutional investors into the market. In general, being legal bodies, they abide strictly to the law. Also, they know how to use their stop-loss orders timely, minimizing loses and are less likely to risks because of their experience.

Forms of Institutional Investors  

Institutional investors exist in various forms. The six main ones are:

  • Insurance Companies: Investment comprises the pooled premiums from various clients in exchange for health coverage etc., In exchange for health coverage and other coverages, investment consists the gathered premiums from different clients, with claims being compensated directly from the investment portfolio.
  • Mutual Funds: An investment pool managed by a professional manager with each contributing investor having ownership of varying share percentages is called Mutual Funds. It is a diversified type of Investment. Mutual funds commonly deals with liquid assets on a long-term basis and is usually opted for by newbie investors.
  • Hedge Funds:   The manager serving as the general partner and the investors become the limited partners, hedge funds  are basically  pooled investments that utilize aggressive strategies and plans to beat competition and use maximal leverages. They majorly trade liquid assets.
  • Banks: Investments on behalf of their clients are placed by banks, including commercial and central e.g. bonds, private equity funds, etc.
  • Credit Unions:  Shares offered at pre-determined rates can be bought by members of this financial cooperation. The members, who are also owners of the cooperation reap the profits.
  • Pension Funds: The post-retirement era of selected beneficiaries is contributed by private and public sponsors in a pool of investment called Pension Funds.

Contrast Between Institutional Investors and Retail Investors

  • Retail investors invest in whatever portfolio of their choice and are not limited by any tenets. A short-term investment with quicker profits may suit an individual or small-cap investor. Meanwhile, large capital investments are made by Institutional investors who are more goal-oriented and prefer long-term investments.
  •  An unstable market may discourage an individual(retail)  investor because they prefer to avoid big risks, but maximum profits are made by large institutional investors who choose to take advantage of the volatile market. Side-sell analysts and other professionals directs how Institutional investors maneuver the market.
  • An institutional investor can acquire and direct larger market activities in contrast to retail investors.
  • Retail investors may find multiple asset ownership as not feasible but it is possible for an institutional investor. Therefore, the benefits of preferential market treatment and looser regulations and the possibility of acquisition of foreign securities and other such amenities is obtained by the latter.

More Info On Institutional Investor

Funds are invested on behalf of other people by Institutional investors. Examples are mutual funds, pensions, and insurance companies. The term “the Whales on Wall Street” is used to describe Institutional investors because they trade existing sets of stocks, bonds or other securities.

In general, Institutional investors are subject to less restrictive rules and are more refined than the average retail investor.


  • An organization or cooperation that invests funds on behalf of members or clients are called Institutional investors.
  • Examples of institutional investors are Hedge funds, mutual funds and endowments.
  • Institutional investors are subject to less regulatory supervision because they are known to be well informed and experienced.
  • Institutional investors cause supply and demand imbalances that leads to sudden price fluctuations in stocks, bonds or other assets by trading large positions.
  • They are considered “the big fish on Wall Street”

Understanding Institutional Investors

On behalf of their clients, customers, members, or shareholders, Institutional investors trade and directs stocks, bonds and other investment securities. Generally, institutional investors are of six forms: endowment funds, commercial banks, mutual funds, hedge funds, pension funds, and insurance companies.

Investment windows not accessible or known to retail investors are researched by institutional investors extensively due to  the resources, experience and specialized knowledge they possess. They carry out a high ratio of transactions on major exchanges and greatly influence the prices of securities because they move the biggest positions and are the biggest influence behind supply and demand in security markets.  Above all, 90% of all stock trading activities are made up by institutional investors.

A retail investors regularly researches institutional investors’ regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to foresee which securities to buy personally while the Institutional investors moves the market. By taking the same positions as the so-called “smart money”, some investors try to copy the acquisitions of the Institutional majority.

Retail Investors vs. Institutional Investors

In different markets like bonds, options, commodities, forex, futures contracts, and stocks, retail and institutional investors are active. However, some markets are basically for institutional investors rather than retail investors. This is because of the form of the securities and the way they carry out transactions. swaps and forward markets are examples of markets basically for Institutional investors.

They know institutional investors to buy and sell in block trades of 10,000 shares or more. Meanwhile, retail Investors commonly trade stocks in round lots of 100 shares or more. This is because of the larger trade volumes and sizes, there are two reasons why institutional investors often avoid buying stocks of smaller companies. Unexpected supply and demand imbalances that move share values higher and lower are as a result of trading large blocks of a small, thinly-traded stock.

They don’t breach security laws as institutional investors commonly avoid obtaining high percentage of company ownership . Restricted to the percentage of a company’s voting securities that the funds can possess are funds registered as diversified finds such as mutual funds, closed-end funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Comprehending Institutional Investment

We begin with a list of various forms of institutions and their clients:

  • Mutual funds: A set of investment funds organized professionally for individuals are Mutual funds. If you’ve skimmed through the options for a 401(k) program or chatted with a financial advisor you may have come across these. In recent times, ETFs havereplaced Mutual Funds.
  • Exchange-traded funds (ETFs): Exchange-traded funds are mostly the same as mutual funds, but they trade on an exchange. (you buy into it directly with the company and often have to pay some sort of commission or fee when you acquire a mutual fund.) Instead of a subjective choice, ETFs select investments based on a screen or factor. ETFs are an ideal starter investment that both individuals and organizations use.
  • Hedge funds: A riskier approach to investing taken by hedge funds makes them not available to the general public. Leverage, derivatives, shorting, and concentration levels that other fund types don’t often use can serve for Hedge funds. Therefore, only an institution or accredited investors can invest in hedge funds.
  • Insurance companies: The returns generated on the “float” make insurance companies a lot of their money. The refer to the aggregate amount of premiums that go to the insurance company without any claims against them as “the float”. The company invests in different fixed income assets (e.g., bonds) and sometimes stocks until they demand the float out as a claim.
  • Pension and endowment funds: Pension funds invests the money for pension payments. Also, pension funds made an investment, worth millions of dollars. Although, most pensions in the U.S. did adjust to a definite benefit plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b). Endowment funds invest on behalf of universities, hospitals, and other nonprofits. In reducing risk, both forms tend to invest conservatively and diversify heavily.

More Details

Both in the starting and in the process, Securities and Exchange Commission and file regulatory forms must register with Institutional investors. Hedge funds must report holdings above a certain dollar amount and Mutual and exchange-traded funds must report their holdings various times a year.

They restrict ownership positions in stocks worth 10% of the company to various institutions. In general, as long as they reveal the usage of the instruments, it allows institutional investors to invest using financial instruments (for example, leverage and derivatives) that some retail investors can’t use.

Dangers Of Institutional Investing

Below are some dangers and risks faced when working with institutional investors:

  • Too much money: Many institutions manage too much money, as weird as that sounds, it is a risk. They can’t get into smaller stocks and may move the market even in bigger stocks. They do not allow the flexible ability of an individual investor as they have to be very careful of where they invest.
  • Active management risk: Most institutions invest money actively following a manager’s suggestions, excluding funds invested passively (as discussed with ETFs above). Generally, individuals encounter responding to various incentives and working on different predispositions than one will like.
  • Fees: Fees can destroy investments. Institutional investors charge 0.1% to 50% of the profits made. Despite the returns, no strategy is immune. Because, Wall street knows how to navigate deals to receive payment.

Institutional Investing Market

Institutional investors are still very crucial to the market even with the above risks considered, in the sense that the market wouldn’t exist without them. There is reduction of ransaction expenses and increment in liquidity in all highly traded exchange by market makers.

When one wants to acquire shares of Nike (NYSE:NKE) for instance, your broker probably executes as soon as the put in the order. Placing the order simultaneously with another party who conveniently wants to sell the exact same number of shares is not the reason for this occurrence. But, for the reason of accepting the trade by a market maker. Market makers are trading shares throughout every day on the market. Within seconds, they trade shares between parties. They make money from the bid/ask spread and not necessarily from the trade.

You collect the bid price of the stock when you sell and pay the ask price when you buy . However, these are only a few cents apart, if that much for most stocks. Potentially, they process millions of transactions everyday and the spread made on each by market makers. It drives down the bid/ask spread, because market makers fall over each other to acquire stocks with higher trading capacity. Often not having chance to even buy without them, thinly traded stocks still have a higher spread.

Moving The Market

Institutions make up the stock market. Annually, they trillions of dollars for beginning investors and accredited investors alike are . Institutional investors move the market and they make it liquid and cheap enough for everyday people to invest but there are certain risks to being reliant on them.

Institutional Investors vs. Retail Investors: What’s the Difference?

Institutional vs. Retail Investors: An Overview

Due to various reasons, different types of investors draw close to investing. Institutional investor and the retail investor are the two main forms of investors. A company or cooperation with employees who invest in place of clients (typically, other companies and organizations) are Institutional investors. The aim of the companies or organizations they represent directs the way institutional investors allocate funds they wish to invest. Pension funds, banks, mutual funds, hedge funds, endowments, and insurance companies are common kinds of institutional investors.

Meanwhile, individuals investing personal funds on their own behalf are retail Investors. In general, the rate at which each trades, the volume of money and investments involved in their trades, the costs each pays to invest, their investment knowledge and experience, and the access each has to important investment research are the main contrasts between the institutional investor and the retail investor.


  • A company or organization that buys and sells securities in bulky quantities to qualify for preferential treatment from brokerages and lower fees are institutional investors.
  • An individual or non-professional investor who trades securities through brokerage firms or retirement accounts like 401(k)s are retail investors.
  • Institutional investors make use he funds of clients to invest and not necessarily their own personal money.
  • Commonly in brokerage or retirement accounts, retail Investors invest for themselves.
  • Relating to costs, investment opportunities, and access to investment insight and research, they contrast institutional investors and retail investors.

Institutional Investors

With large volumes of financial weight to trade, institutional investors are the giants on the block. Pension funds, mutual funds, money managers, insurance companies, investment banks, commercial trusts, endowment funds, hedge funds, and also some private equity investors are types of institutional investors.

 They can significantly influence the way the stock market moves cause they trade large blocks of shares. They consider uninformed decision-making and investments as less likely to occur. Because, they view it as experienced, sophisticated and well-informed investors. So, they give fewer of the protective regulations that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) provide to your average, common, individual investor to Institutional investors.

Some advantages Institutional investors provide fro their clients are pension plans at work, owning shares in a mutual fund and payments for any kind of insurance.

Institutional investors can regularly bargain better fees associated with their investments due to their size and the volume of their investments. Institutional investors can access investments such as investment opportunities with large minimum buy-ins.

The Retail investors can take advantage of tremendous amounts of high-quality investing and trading research. They use it to better their decision-making despite certain restrictions (when compared to institutional investors) to certain insight, tools, and other data.

Retail Investors

The Retail investors also known as non-professional investors are individuals. Through a broker, bank or mutual fund, retail investors can trade debts, equities, and other investments. Through traditional, full-service brokerages, discount brokers, and online brokers they perform their trade. They invest, not on behalf of others but for their own benefits and direct their own money.

Most often, they invest much smaller amounts less frequently, compared to institutional investors when trading for their own accounts or making long-term investments. Individual, life-event goals, such as planning for retirement, saving for their children’s education, buying a home, or financing some other large acquisitions are the driving forces of Retail investors.

Retail investors commonly have to pay higher commissions and other fees on their trades, as well as marketing, commission, and additional related fees on investments because of their weak purchasing power. One considers them to have less information, experience and potentially unsophisticated investors by the SEC. They have the obligation to guide retail investors and make sure the market operates in an orderly manner. Therefore, placing restrictions in making certain risky, large investments.

Retail investors may not have protection to behavioral partialities while they have access more than ever before to solid financial information, investment education, and sophisticated trading platforms. They may fail to understand the ways a mass of investors can drive the markets.

Institutional Investor As An Entity

An institutional investor is some kind of entity: a pension fund, mutual fund company, bank, insurance company, or any other large institution while a retail investor is an individual person. Individual investors mostly ask questions relating to mutual funds share classes . Fee-based advisors advice’s individual investors on obtaining “institutional” share classes of a mutual fund in place of the fund’s Class A, B, or C shares. These shares designated with an I, Y or Z  have smaller expense ratios and do not incorporate sales charges. It’s like a discount for institutional investors because they buy in bulk.  We get a higher percentage of return, due to the share’s decreased cost.

Key Differences

Previously, they only highlight few contrasts between the Institutional investors and the retail investors. Below is the summary of key differences that underscore the critical  aspects of size and influence belonging to each kind of investor.

The Difference Between Institutional Investors And Retail Investors

   Institutional InvestorRetail Investor
FundsCompanies and organizations for which it invests provides a large sum of investment funds.Restricted to trading and investing funds an individual can spare    
Potential Trading ImpactAn entire market can be moved in unexpected direction due to sudden price fluctuations unforeseen by other investors caused by large positions and constant transactions market movement  are barely affected by common small trade sizes and less constant transactions

Capacity Of Institutional Investors

It is almost impossible to know the figure of existing, active investors, both Institutional and retail. Although, we know more than 85% of the volume of trades on the New York Stock Exchange is on the account of Institutional investors.

Various kinds of Institutional Investors

Pension funds, mutual funds, money managers, banks, insurance companies, investment banks, commercial trusts, endowment funds, hedge funds, private equity investors, and many more are the various types of existing Institutional investors.

Definition of Retailer Fund

An investment fund, for retail investors is a  retail fund. Examples are mutual fund or exchange-traded fund. Basically, individual investors rather than institutional investors receive investment windows by retail funds. They carry out transactions in open market. They may charge large management fees (compared to those charged by institutional funds) sometimes but possess low or no minimum balance certification.

Forms of Institutional Investors

Below are various kinds of Institutional investors

  • Banks
  • Credit unions
  • Pension funds
  • Insurance companies
  • Hedge funds
  • Venture capital funds
  • Mutual funds
  • Real estate investment trusts

Because they have traders with higher experience than individuals, they offer to preferential treatment and lower fees. Also, they restrict them to fewer protective laws.

Effects of Institutional Investors

They exert a large influence on the price dynamics of various financial tools. Therefore, we know them as market makers.

The presence of big financial groups in the market positively affects the overall economics. Because the monitoring of financial markets benefits all shareholders, institutional investors’ activism as shareholders improve corporate management.

Also, they use and learn various investment tools not accessible by private investors.

Features of Institutional Investors

Below are the features of Institutional investors.

  • It is important to understand that an institutional investor is an enterprise managing a fund (e.g., a mutual fund), but not the mutual fund itself and it is a legal body.
  • They direct assets based on the interests and aims of its clients and its activity is professionally based.
  • An Institutional investor always direct huge sum of investment funds.

Individual Investors vs Institutional Investors

An individual can invest any asset available to them on the exchange. Meanwhile, an institutional investor can acquire only assets that revolve more on long-term investment.

Due to corporate opportunities, institutional investors also access big operational activities. Large institutions secure several assets that are not available to private individuals with substantial funds and certifications.

They consist of foreign securities, government business loans, changed banking policies, interest rates, and more. They are more likely to organize wholesale acquisitions if individuals work as retail Investors

Dangers of Institutional Investing

Understanding the risks that they face is very important. Their problems can be classified as follows:

  • When the don’t observe the legal rights of shareholders, they face permanent danger like a lack of certified, experienced appraisers. Also, lack of a clear and well-established policy on the payments of dividends.
  • Rifts with officials and the work organization of management structure. There is no model for determining the quality of the work of managers and analysts and their employment is formal. They also meet other divisions such as top management or marketing with these issues.


With large block transactions institutional investors can move markets and they are the big fish on Wall Street. The consider the group more difficult than the retail crow. Also, they often subject to less regulatory oversight. They are usually not investing their own money, but making investment decisions on behalf of clients, shareholders, or customers.

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