Hedge: Investing in a related asset to counterbalance the risk of an investment in another.


The Difference Between Trading & Investing

Investing versus Trading - text

Investing and trading are two different ways that we can profit from the financial markets. Many people new to the world of finance can be confused over what is the difference between the two. Here we will describe what we mean for each.


The aim of an investor is to gradually build up their net worth by buying and holding a portfolio of stocks, bonds, mutual funds or other investable instruments.

Investments are often held for years or even decades. Investors take advantage of certain perks such as dividend payments, coupon payments and/or interest during this time. When the markets fall in value, many investors will hold on to their investment in the expectation that the price will rebound. Investors are therefore looking at the long-term value of their investment and aren’t too concerned with the day to day volatility in the market.

Investors take physical ownership of the instruments they have purchased. So for example, if an investor buys shares in a company they will physically own a portion of that company and will receive a certificate of ownership. A shareholder can carry certain privileges such as voting rights on certain corporate actions, as well as benefit from dividend payments on the profits.

Trading, on the other hand, is the more frequent buying and selling of financial instruments with the aim of outperforming buy-and-hold investments. There is no ownership of the underlying asset so traders are merely speculating on the price movement.

Traders can therefore profit from falling markets as well as rising ones. A trader can buy an asset just like an investor but traders also have the ability to sell an instrument without owning it. This is known as short selling and is why many people are particularly attracted to trading. It is a key concept to understand and is a major reason why traders can outperform buy-and-hold investors.

While investors are often satisfied with annual returns of up to 15% depending on the risk element of the investment, some traders seek to make returns that are a multiple of this, as they can benefit from the dips in the market as well as the increases because of the ability to short sell.

The length of time a trader has a position open for can range from seconds to years. This timeframe is entirely up to them and relates to their objectives, account size, risk profile and time they can commit to trading. Trading requires a more hands on approach than investing and regular assessment of market conditions is essential when traders have open positions.