How liquidity impacts investing
Liquidity is a term used in finance to describe how easy or difficult it is to buy or sell an asset in a market without affecting its price – in other words, how simply an asset can be exchanged for cash.
Many private companies struggle to create cash events and liquidity for their shareholders or growth plans and, in what is possibly the largest market of all, this is starting to change with the advent of crowdfunding and secondary trading platforms, known as ATSs (alternative trading systems). The private securities market, currently worth $7 trillion and forecast to be $30 trillion by 2030, is expected to transform when it starts to demonstrate the same kind of liquidity that the public markets offer today.
Stocks in publicly traded companies, mutual funds and bonds can all be categorized as liquid assets; generally, an asset is liquid if there is a constant high demand for it, thereby making it much easier to find potential buyers.
Stocks as liquid assets
Generally, any stock listed on a stock exchange is considered a liquid asset because there are people constantly buying and selling stocks at the market price, making it easier to liquidate stocks into cash.
Conversely, stocks traded on smaller marketplaces and lower value stocks like so-called ‘penny stocks’ (shares of small public companies that trade for less than $5s per share) would not be considered fully liquid assets, as concessions on the price or quantity of these stocks may be needed to liquidate them in a timely manner.
The liquidity of a stock is also never completely fixed; factors that influence a certain company or the stock market, such as economic downturn or complete market crashes can significantly impact the liquidity of any given stock. Most of the time this effect is only temporary, as the market tends to bounce back, but the liquidity of even the most reputable and better-performing companies usually suffers some decline.
What does liquidity mean for your investments?
Investing in early-stage companies was typically a long-term investment more open to the wealthy, through venture capital and private equity funds, but early-stage companies are going public through an IPO (initial public offering) much further into their life cycle. So, where this used to average three years, an IPO was stretching to at least 12, but having an ATS to monetize an investment now explodes the number of investors willing to invest. Although the liquidity will not be as robust as on the NYSE or Nasdaq it is available as an option should an investor have a life event or another priority that requires monetization of their shares.
Investors should recognise and accept the risks associated with investing.
Certain investments may require you to keep your holding for periods of many years with limited or no ability to resell unless there is a strongly regulated secondary market.
You may also have limited access to periodic reporting, see your holdings decrease and increase in value, or even lose your entire investment.
Investors should decide for themselves whether to make any investment, basing this on their own independent evaluation after consulting with financial, tax and investment advisors.
The Knowledge Hub does not constitute financial advice whatsoever, but rather provides basic general industry information.