Investment Securities: Definition, Types, and Practical Examples


Investment securities are a vital part of the financial world, offering a wide array of options for both banks and investors. In this in-depth guide, we will explore what investment securities are, delve into their various types, discuss the advantages they offer, and provide crucial considerations when dealing with these financial assets. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or a newcomer to the world of finance, this comprehensive article will equip you with valuable insights into the realm of investment securities.

What are investment securities?

Investment securities are a category of tradable financial assets, such as equities or fixed income instruments, that individuals or institutions purchase with the intention of holding for investment purposes. Unlike other securities that are acquired for quick resale, investment securities are bought with a long-term perspective in mind. These financial assets are governed by Article 8 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC).

Understanding investment securities

Banks and their role

Banks often purchase marketable securities to include in their investment portfolios, which serve as one of their primary revenue sources, alongside loans. These investment securities are recorded on the balance sheet as assets and carried at amortized book value, calculated as the original cost less amortization up to the present date.

The primary difference between loans and investment securities lies in the process of acquisition. Loans are typically acquired through direct negotiations between the borrower and lender, while investment securities are usually procured through third-party brokers or dealers.

Types of investment securities

Equity stakes

Investment securities held by banks often take the form of equity stakes in corporations or debt securities. Equity stakes can be in the form of preferred or common shares, with safety being a top priority. High-risk, high-reward securities, such as initial public offering (IPO) allocations or small-cap growth companies, may not be suitable for investment securities. Some companies offer dual-class stock, which provides distinct voting rights and dividend payments.

Debt securities

Debt securities can be secured or unsecured corporate debentures. Secured corporate debentures may have backing from company assets, such as mortgages or company equipment, making them preferred investment choices. Treasury bonds, Treasury bills, and municipal bonds are also options for a bank’s investment securities portfolio, but they should be of investment-grade quality. While securities encompass derivative securities, such as mortgage-backed securities, which derive their value from underlying assets, they are riskier and not typically recommended for inclusion in a bank’s investment securities portfolio.

Money market securities

Other types of investment securities include money market securities, which offer quick conversion to cash. These typically take the form of commercial paper (unsecured, short-term corporate debt maturing in 270 days or less), repurchase agreements, negotiable certificates of deposit (CDs), bankers’ acceptances, and federal funds.


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

  • Diversification of investment portfolio
  • Potential for capital appreciation
  • Liquidity for banks and investors
  • Income generation through dividends or interest
  • Collateral for government deposits
  • Risk of market volatility
  • Credit risk associated with some securities
  • Interest rate risk for fixed-income securities
  • Regulatory constraints and capital requirements
  • Need for expertise in risk assessment

Frequently asked questions

What is the primary purpose of investment securities?

The primary purpose of investment securities is to acquire financial assets for long-term investment, in contrast to other securities that are bought for quick resale.

How can banks benefit from investment securities?

Banks benefit from investment securities by diversifying their investment portfolios, generating potential profits through capital appreciation, ensuring liquidity, and using them as collateral for government deposits.

What risks are associated with investment securities for individual investors?

Individual investors should be aware of risks such as market volatility, credit risk, and interest rate risk when dealing with investment securities.

Can investment securities help individual investors with retirement planning?

Yes, investment securities can play a crucial role in retirement planning by offering the potential for long-term capital growth and income generation. They can provide a source of income during retirement years.

Key takeaways

  • Investment securities are financial assets purchased for long-term investment.
  • Banks and individual investors both benefit from diversification, capital appreciation, and liquidity.
  • Investment securities come in various forms, including equity stakes, debt securities, and money market securities.
  • It’s crucial to consider risk factors, regulatory constraints, and expert advice when dealing with investment securities.
  • Pros of investment securities include diversification, potential for capital appreciation, and income generation.
  • Cons include market volatility, credit risk, and interest rate risk, as well as regulatory constraints and the need for expertise.
View article sources
  1. Definition: investment securities from 12 USC § 24 – Legal Information Institute
  2. Investment Securities – William & Mary Law School
  3. Investment Securities – Office of The Comptroller of The Currency
  4. Investment Securities and End-User Activities Section 3000.1 – Federal Reserve System
  5. Banker Resource Center: Investments – Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  6. Investment Guide for Beginners – SuperMoney
  7. Financial Securities 101: Understanding the Types, Risks, and Benefits of Investing – SuperMoney