Primary vs Secondary Markets

In the primary market, there are four key players: corporations, institutions, investment banks, and public accounting firms. Institutions invest capital in corporations that seek to expand and grow their businesses, while corporations issue debt or equity to institutions in return for their capital investment. Investment banks are hired to match institutions and corporations based on their risk profile and investment style. Finally, public accounting firms are responsible for the preparation, review, and auditing of financial statements, tax work, consulting on accounting systems, M&A, and capital raising. Hence, public accounting firms in the primary market not only assist corporations to raise capital but also help prepare, review, and audit financial statements to ensure a fair representation of their financial performance.

While issuance of new bonds and new shares in exchange for capital occurs in the primary market, the secondary market is for the sale and trade of previously issued bonds and shares. Buyers and sellers engage in transactions on an exchange, while investment banks facilitate this process by providing equity research coverage. This ability to freely sell and trade securities significantly increases the market’s liquidity.

Key Players in the Capital Markets

1. Corporations

In the capital markets, corporations behave as operating businesses that require capital to grow and run their operations. These corporations can vary in industry, size, and geographical location. Careers at corporations that relate to the markets include corporate development, investor relations, and financial planning and analysis (FP&A).

Examples of publicly traded corporations:

  • Alphabet

  • Amazon

  • Apple

  • Exxon

  • Toyota

2. Institutions (“Buy Side” Fund Managers)

Institutions consist of fund managers, institutional investors, and retail investors. These investment managers provide capital to corporations that need the money to grow and operate their businesses. In return for their capital, corporations issue debt or equity to the institutions in the forms of bond and shares, respectively. The exchange of capital and debt or equity completes the cycle of the two key players in the capital markets.

Examples of top “Buy Side” Firms:

  • Bridgewater Associates

  • Blackstone

  • KKR

  • The Carlyle Group

  • Apollo Global Management

3. Investment Banks (“Sell Side”)

Acting as an intermediary, investment banks are hired to facilitate deals between corporations and institutions. The job of investment banks is to connect institutional investors with corporionss, based on risk and return expectations, and investment styles. Careers in investment banking involve extensive financial modeling and valuation analysis.

Examples of top investment banks:

  • Goldman Sachs

  • JP Morgan

  • Credit Suisse

  • HSBC

  • Morgan Stanley

  • See a full list of investment banks

4. Public Accounting Firms

Depending on their divisions, public accounting firms can engage in multiple roles in the primary market. These roles include financial reporting, auditing financial statements, taxes, consulting on accounting systems, M&A advisory, and capital raising. Therefore, public accounting firms are usually hired by corporations for their accounting and advisory services.

Examples of top public accounting firms:

  • Deloitte

  • PwC

  • Ernst & Young

  • KPMG

  • Grant Thornton

Key Players in the Secondary Market

Unlike the primary market, where there is an initial issuance of debt or equity in exchange for capital, the secondary market allows for the sale and trade of issued bonds and shares. The secondary market allows players to enter and exit securities easily, making the market liquid.

Key Players in the Capital Markets

1. Buyers and Sellers

In the secondary market, fund managers or any investors who wish to purchase securities or debts will have to locate a seller. Transactions are facilitated through a central marketplace, including a stock exchange or Over The Counter (OTC).

2. Investment Banks

While investment banks facilitate the issuance of bonds and shares in the primary market, they expedite the sales and trading of issued debts and equities between buyers and sellers in the secondary market. Investment banks provide equity research coverage on each stock’s upside potential, downside risk, and rationale to help buyers and sellers make a judgment. Moreover, investment banks sell and trade securities on behalf of the clients to maximize their profits.

Last updated