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Individual Investing Complete Guide

Individual Investors

A retail or individual investor is someone who makes their own investments in securities and other assets, typically in modest amounts. They frequently purchase stocks in increments of 25, 50, 75, or 100. The stocks they purchase are a part of their personal portfolio and do not represent any particular company. 

What Is a Retail Investor?

A non-professional investor who buys and sells securities or funds that comprise a variety of assets, such as mutual funds and exchange traded funds, is referred to as a retail investor, sometimes known as an individual investor (ETFs). 

Retail investors use traditional or online brokerage firms, as well as other kinds of investment accounts, to carry out their trades. Compared to institutional investors, retail investors frequently trade in much lower sums and buy assets for their own individual accounts. The phrase “institutional investor” refers to larger-scale investments made by qualified portfolio and fund managers, such as those in charge of pension or mutual funds. 

How Retail Investing Works 

Opening a brokerage account with a conventional or online broker is the first step for novice investors. Investors who prefer a hands-off approach to establishing a financial portfolio may benefit from automated accounts, sometimes known as robo advisers, which online brokers may offer. 

Transferring funds into a brokerage account allows investors to purchase and sell securities, such as a variety of stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and mutual funds. They can also instruct a financial expert to buy and sell shares on their behalf. 

Depending on their investing objectives and risk tolerance, retail investors may decide to invest in a variety of assets. For instance, a shareholder seeking long-term gain would elect to invest in stocks, whereas a shareholder seeking consistent income might decide to invest in bonds. By purchasing a variety of securities, including stocks, bonds, and alternative assets, retail investors can further diversify their portfolios. 

When working with a professional, investors may have to pay commissions and other costs to execute trades. These fees could be expensive due to the smaller trade sizes that individual investors frequently make. Nevertheless, several online brokerages have cut or abolished their commission fees for customers who trade specific securities like stocks or ETFs. By avoiding frequent trades and holding shares for a long time, investors can reduce the impact of commissions or fees.

Key differences between individual and institutional investors 

Investment volume/access 

Individual investors typically deposit modest sums of money, such as a small portion of each check. They frequently make workplace investments in mutual funds or purchase exchange-traded funds (ETFs) through an internet broker. 

On the other hand, institutional investors typically have far more money to trade than retail investors, thus they tend to buy or sell in larger quantities. They now have access to institutional funds with minimum investment amounts that are out of the price range of the majority of private investors. 

However, having a lot of money does have certain drawbacks. Because it just won’t “move the needle” on their performance, large investors are unable to invest in the smallest stocks on the market. Instead of worrying that institutional investors will scoop up all the best deals, individual investors can purchase a variety of smaller but nonetheless appealing stocks. 


In terms of investment knowledge and research, institutional investors typically hold a major advantage over individual investors. Institutional investors have access to more resources, which enables them to undertake in-depth research and, as a result, make better investment selections. Institutional investors often have more knowledge than individual investors, notwithstanding the fact that the information gap has partially closed recently.


In terms of fees, institutional investors have also benefited. For instance, institutional funds typically have high minimum investments but lower costs. Fortunately, this difference has also closed in recent years due to a decline in index-fund fees for individual investors. 


The best individuals have an obvious advantage over institutional investors because of a superior temperament, whereas many individual investors are impetuous or only care about the short term. When the market declines, for instance, a lot of institutional investors, like mutual funds, must sell to cover redemptions in their funds as their investors flee. Individual investors who are composed don’t have to adhere to this rule, which allows them to more carefully assess the market, identify appealing opportunities amidst the chaos, and keep a long-term perspective. 

Institutional investors might also use investment committees or multi-person decision-making processes, which might sluggish decision-making and promote a herd mentality. People only have to account to themselves, which may be advantageous during volatile times when the financial environment is rapidly changing. 

Pros and Cons of Being a Retail Investor

There are several advantages to being a retail investor, but there are also certain disadvantages you should be aware of. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of being a retail investor vs an institutional investor.

Pros: Being a Retail Investor

he following are some possible benefits of becoming a retail investor: 

• Control: As a retail investor, you have the freedom to select the securities you want to invest in and to make your own investing decisions. For individuals who want to manage their investment portfolio and actively take part in the investing process, this might be a considerable advantage. 

• Diversification: By investing in a variety of securities, including stocks, bonds, and alternative investments, retail investors can diversify their portfolios. By distributing investments among a variety of assets as opposed to having them significantly concentrated in just one or a small number of investments, diversification can help to lower risk. 

• Accessibility: Compared to the institutional investment market, which is normally exclusively open to big organisations, enterprises, and high-net-worth people, the retail investment market is typically more open to individual investors

Cons: Being a Retail Investor

However, there may be certain disadvantages to being a retail investor, such as: 

Limited resources: Compared to larger institutional investors, retail investors may have fewer resources and less access to information. In some instances, this can make it harder for ordinary investors to compete with institutional investors. 

Higher costs: Compared to institutional investors, retail investors may incur charges such as higher trading fees and other expenses. These increased expenses may reduce investment returns and make it more challenging for regular investors to meet their financial objectives. 

Lack of understanding: Retail investors may possess a lesser level of information or competence than professional investors or financial counsellors in regard to investing. They may find it more difficult to make wise investing selections as a result.

Final thoughts

You are a retail investor if you are a person who uses investing to save for the future. Being a retail investor has numerous advantages over being an institutional investor, however, there are some drawbacks as well. Over time, it’s a good approach to increase financial stability. 

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