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What are financial market participants?

Financial market participants

They're all the people and organisations that do business in a financial market, from banks and other lenders to individual investors. There are two basic financial market participant categories – investor v speculator, and institutional v retail.

Where have you heard about financial market participants?

Large financial institutions such as banks, hedge funds, mutual funds and wealthy individuals are the biggest players in the markets. Action taken by central banks is usually regarded as intervention rather than participation.

What you need to know about financial market participants.

Participants may enter on the supply side, providing capital in the form of investments, or on the demand side, borrowing capital.

  • Investor v speculator: An investor is classed as an individual or company that regularly buys equity or debt securities for financial gain. A speculator trades commodities, bonds, equities and currencies for a higher than average profit, but more risk.
  • Institutional v retail: Institutional investors are the banks, financial services firms and mutual fund companies that make hefty investments usually over the long term. Retail investors are individuals and small groups who invest in the equity markets.

Find out more about financial market participants.

Read our definitions of institutional investor and speculator.

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