What are Securities in Financial Market?

As a new investor in India, the securities market can appear confusing. The myriad of options, potential risks, and high investment stakes can create a sense of anxiety.

This guide aims to clarify the intricate world of securities in the Indian market, offering a lucid understanding of the various types of securities, the key regulatory bodies, the critical role ofDemat and trading accounts, and effective investment strategies. By the end, you will be better equipped to navigate the securities market and make informed investment decisions confidently.

What are Securities in Investment?

Securities in investment refer to a diverse range of tradable financial instruments that represent ownership, debt relationships, or rights within the financial markets. It is a financial instrument representing an ownership position in a publicly traded corporation (via stock), a creditor relationship with a governmental body or a corporation (via bonds), or rights to ownership as represented by an option.

They include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, derivatives, and more, offering opportunities for investors to grow wealth, manage risks, and achieve financial goals.

In the Indian contextIndia, the securities market are is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the watchdog that ensures transparency and fairness in the market and investmentin the Indian financial market.

History of Securities in the Indian Financial Market

Ancient Roots

The genesis of securities in India can be traced back to ancient times when indigenous banking systems existed. Manuscripts and historical texts suggest rudimentary forms of lending and borrowing, which laid the groundwork for modern securities.

Colonial Era

The British colonial period marked a significant transformation. The establishment of trading houses and banks during the 18th and 19th centuries led to the formation of joint-stock companies. In 1875, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) was founded, heralding a new era in the securities market.


Post-1947, with India gaining independence, the need for a robust financial system became paramount. The 1950s and 1960s witnessed the nationalisation of banks and the establishment of regulatory bodies, laying the foundation for a structured securities market.

Economic Reforms of 1991

The liberalisation policies of 1991 were a crucial turning point. The Indian market opened up to foreign investments, leading to the proliferation of various securities. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) was established in 1992 to ensure the market’s integrity and protection of investor interests.

21st Century

Technological advancements in the new millennium ushered in electronic trading, making the market more accessible. The introduction of innovative securities and instruments and stronger regulations have shaped the modern, dynamic Indian securities market.


Broadly, securities in the Indian market can be categorised into two: equity securities and debt securities.

  1. Equity Securities

    These are what most people refer to as ‘shares’ or ‘stocks’. When an individual buys equity securities, they essentially purchase shares of the company, becoming a shareholder. This ownership stake allows them to benefit from the company’s profitability in the form of dividends.

  2. Debt Securities

    These are instruments like bonds and debentures. Unlike equity securities, purchasing debt security does not offer ownership in the company. Instead, the investor lends money to the issuer (which could be the government or a corporation) in return for a promise of periodic interest payments plus the return on the bond’s face value when it matures.

Significance in the Indian Market

Securities is the lifeblood of the capital market in India. They offer a structured way for companies to raise capital by issuing shares to the public through Initial Public Offerings (IPOs).

For the government, issuing debt securities like government bonds helps fund various public projects. For investors, securities provide a platform to grow their wealth, hedge risks, and achieve financial goals.

Types of Securities in the Indian Market

The Indian securities market boasts various instruments catering to investment needs and risk appetites. A deep understanding of these instruments is paramount for making informed investment decisions.

Here’s an exhaustive dive into the different types of securities available in the Indian market:

  1. Equity Shares

    Equity shares, often referred to simply as ‘shares’ or ‘stocks’, symbolise an ownership stake in a company. When an individual purchases these shares, they buy a piece of the company, becoming a shareholder.


    • Equity shares are susceptible to market fluctuations, which can lead to variations in share prices.

    • If the company underperforms, shareholders might incur losses.


    • Shareholders are eligible for dividends, which are periodic profit distributions.

    • There’s potential for capital appreciation, meaning an increase in share value over time.

  2. Preference Shares

    A hybrid of equity and debt, preference shares provide dividends at a predetermined rate. In scenarios like company liquidation, preference shareholders are prioritised over equity shareholders.


    • Preference shareholders are entitled to dividends before their equity counterparts.

    • Typically, preference shares exhibit lower volatility compared to equity shares.


    • The potential for returns is usually less than that of equity shares.

    • Preference shareholders typically do not possess voting rights in company affairs.

  3. Bonds and Debentures

    These represent debt wherein the investor lends funds to the issuer, which could be a corporate entity or the government. In return, investors receive interest at stipulated intervals and the principal amount upon maturity.


    • Bonds assure a steady income via interest payments.

    • Generally, they carry a lower risk in comparison to shares.


    • There’s a default risk if the issuer falters on repayment.

    • Bond values decline when interest rates surge, presenting an interest rate risk.

  4. Government Securities (G-Secs)

    Government securities are debt instruments floated by the Indian government. Owing to government backing, these are perceived as safer options for investors.


    • Maturity periods can vary from a few days to a maximum of 30 years.

    • While the returns are comparatively modest vis-à-vis corporate bonds, they are deemed more secure.

    • Banks often resort to government securities for stable, long-term investment.

  5. Corporate Fixed Deposits

    These are analogous to bank fixed deposits but are facilitated by companies. Typically, they promise higher returns than conventional bank FDs.


    • Companies might default on payment.

    • They lack the security blanket of bank FDs, often with insurance.


    • They generally offer superior interest rates compared to bank FDs.

    • Various companies present diverse risk-reward dynamics.

  6. Mutual Funds

    A mutual fund aggregates money from multiple investors. A professional fund manager then oversees this pooled corpus, deploying it across assets to generate investor returns.


    • They allow for diversification, mitigating risks.

    • Expert fund managers take charge, ensuring informed decision-making.


    • Market factors can influence returns.

    • Investors might incur management fees and other associated charges.

  7. Derivatives

    Derivatives are sophisticated financial contracts deriving their value from an underlying asset’s price. In India, futures and options are the predominant derivative types.


    • They enable investors to hedge against potential price swings.

    • Traders often employ derivatives for speculative purposes, capitalising on price variations.


    • Given their high leverage, derivatives can lead to significant losses.

    • Trading derivatives mandates comprehensive knowledge, given their intricate nature.

    The Indian securities market offers diverse instruments tailored for varied investor profiles.

    Whether you’re risk-averse or risk-tolerant, understanding these securities can pave the way for astute financial decisions in the vibrant Indian investment landscape.

Tax-free Government Securities in the Indian Financial Market

In the vast expanse of the Indian financial landscape, tax-free government securities are a prominent investment avenue, especially for those looking to reap benefits without taxation. Tax-free government securities are debt instruments issued by India’s Central or State governments. The primary allure of these securities lies in their tax-exempt status. This means that the interest income earned from these securities is not subject to taxation, making them especially attractive to investors in higher tax brackets.

The Indian government typically issues these securities to fund infrastructure development, social welfare projects, and other public initiatives. Given their sovereign backing, they are often perceived as low-risk investments, offering a safer option for investors. Another distinctive feature of tax-free government securities is their long-term nature. They often come with extended maturity periods, ranging from 10 to 20 years or even more.

This long tenure, combined with the tax benefits, makes them a preferred choice for investors seeking stable, long-term returns without the pinch of taxation. Tax-free government securities offer a dual advantage: the safety net of a government guarantee and the perk of tax-free returns, making them a noteworthy component of the Indian financial market.

Security Markets and Their Types in the Indian Financial Market

The Indian financial ecosystem is underpinned by the security markets, platforms where financial instruments like shares, bonds, and other securities are bought and sold. These markets play a pivotal role in channelling savings into productive investments, fuelling economic growth and providing investors with avenues for wealth generation.

There is division into two primary segments: the Primary Market and the Secondary Market.

    1. Primary Market

      The primary market, often called the ‘new issues market’, is where companies issue new securities to raise capital.

      This issuance can take various forms:

      • Initial Public Offering (IPO)

        A company’s first sale of stocks to the public. It transforms a private enterprise into a publicly traded entity.

      • Follow-on Public Offering (FPO)

        When an already listed company issues new shares to the investors or the existing shareholders.

      • Rights Issue

        Existing shareholders are offered additional shares in proportion to their current holdings.

      The primary market facilitates capital formation as funds flow directly from investors to the issuer.

    2. Secondary Market

      Once securities are issued in the primary market, they are traded in the secondary market. This is the arena most people associate with stock markets, where existing or previously issued securities are bought and sold among investors.

      Key components include:

      • Stock Exchanges Institutions like the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE), where stockbrokers and traders buy and sell shares.

      • Over-the-Counter (OTC) Market A decentralised platform where trading of financial instruments, including those not listed on formal exchanges, occurs directly between two parties.

      It’s worth noting that while the primary market facilitates the issuance of new securities, the secondary market provides liquidity, ensuring that investors can easily convert their assets into cash.

Investing in Securities

Investing in the securities market is more than just picking stocks at random. It is about having a detailed strategy that aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance. A sound investment strategy considers various aspects, including analysis of securities, diversification, and risk management.

Fundamental Analysis

Fundamental Analysis evaluates a company’s financial health, its position within the industry, and broader economic factors that affect its performance. This comprehensive analysis forms the basis for making informed investment decisions.

      • Investors consider and evaluate a company’s balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements to understand its financial strength.

      • Factors such as the company’s market share, competitive landscape, management quality, and growth prospects are also evaluated.

Technical Analysis

Technical Analysis, on the other hand, involves studying past market data, primarily price and volume, to forecast future price movements of securities. This analysis is less concerned with a company’s fundamentals and more with identifying patterns or trends.

      • Charts, such as candlestick charts and various indicators like Moving Averages and Relative Strength Index (RSI), are key tools technical analysts use.

      • The analysis aims to identify entry and exit points for trades based on historical price movements and trends.

Portfolio Diversification

Portfolio Diversification is a risk management strategy that involves spreading investments across various asset classes to reduce the impact of a poor-performing investment on the overall portfolio.

      • Diversification could involve mixing various types of securities like equity shares, bonds, mutual funds, and government securities in different proportions in your investment portfolio.

      • For instance, a young investor might have a higher proportion of equity in their portfolio. At the same time, a retiree might prefer more bonds and fixed deposits for a steady income and returns.

Risk Assessment and Management

Investing always involves a certain level of risk, and effective risk assessment and management are crucial aspects of any investment strategy.

  • It begins with evaluating your risk tolerance– understanding how much risk you are comfortable with. This is often influenced by factors such as age, financial situation, investment goals, and past investment experience.

  • Investors can use various tools to manage this risk. For example, using stop-loss orders can help limit potential losses on a trade. A stop-loss order is a directive to sell a security when it reaches a certain price, thereby capping the potential loss on that security.

Regulation of Securities

Understanding the regulatory environment is essential for anyone engaged in the Indian securities market. The regulators ensure that the market operates fairly and transparently and plays a critical role in protecting the interests of investors.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI): Roles and Responsibilities

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) acts as the supervisor for the securities markets in India. Established to promote orderly and healthy growth in the market, SEBI’s primary role is investor protection.

It ensures that investors have accurate, timely information and that their rights are safeguarded. Beyond protecting investors, SEBI is also tasked with promoting the development of the securities market. It accomplishes this through regulations that facilitate innovation while simultaneously enforcing stringent standards to maintain market integrity.

Furthermore, SEBI is responsible for registering and regulating the workings of stock brokers, sub-brokers, share transfer agents, trustees, mutual funds, and investment advisors, among others.

Regular inspections conducted by SEBI keep these intermediaries in check and ensure their compliance with the established rules and regulations.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI): How it Iinteracts with the Securities Market

As the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) plays an instrumental role in India’s economic development. Its interactions with the securities market are complex and multi-faceted.

The RBI is the authority that controls the issuance and supply of the Indian Rupee (INR). As the formulator of India’s monetary policy, the RBI uses various tools, such as interest rate adjustments, to control the money supply, aiming for balanced and sustainable economic growth.

It is also the chief regulator of the Indian banking system, tasked with maintaining public confidence in the system, protecting depositors’ interests, and providing cost-effective banking services to the public.

Stock Exchanges: BSE, NSE, and their Importance

India’s two major stock exchanges are the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE). As vital platforms for securities transactions in the country, these exchanges facilitate the buying and selling of securities, including stocks, bonds, and derivatives.

Their existence is integral to price discovery, which happens transparently based on demand and supply dynamics. Companies seeking to list their shares on these exchanges must meet stringent criteria, including financial health, governance, and disclosure norms.

Listing on these prestigious exchanges increases a company’s visibility and credibility. It provides them with the necessary capital to fuel growth and expansion.

How do Securities Differ from Stocks and Debt Equity in the Indian Financial Market?

Navigating the Indian financial landscape demands a clear understanding of various terms and instruments, among which securities, stocks, and debt-equity are central. Though often used interchangeably, these terms have distinct meanings and implications for investors.


At its essence, ‘securities’ is an umbrella term in the financial market. It broadly encompasses a wide array of tradable financial instruments or contractual agreements. This category includes stocks, bonds, debentures, mutual fund units, derivatives, etc.

Essentially, if an instrument represents an ownership position, a creditor relationship, or rights to ownership as indicated by an option, it qualifies as a security. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) oversees and regulates these instruments to ensure market integrity and protect investor interests.


Falling under the broader category of securities, stocks, often referred to as shares or equity, specifically denote ownership in a company. When investors purchase stocks, they effectively buy a stake in the company, making them a shareholder.

Debt Equity

Debt equity is not a standalone instrument like stocks. Instead, it refers to the ratio comparing a company’s total debt to its shareholders’ equity. This metric provides insights into a company’s financial leverage. It indicates how much of its operations are financed by debt versus shareholder equity.

Pros and Cons of Considering Securities in the Indian Financial Market

The allure of securities as an investment avenue in the Indian financial market is undeniable. However, like any financial instrument, they come with their set of advantages and drawbacks.

Pros of Investing in Securities

  1. Diversification

    Securities offer a broad range of instruments, from stocks and bonds to mutual funds, allowing investors to diversify their portfolios, which can help spread and mitigate risks.

  2. Liquidity

    Many securities, especially those traded on major exchanges, offer high liquidity. This means that investors can easily convert them into cash, providing flexibility.

  3. Potential Returns

    Historically, certain securities, especially equities, have offered substantial returns over the long term, outpacing traditional saving instruments.

  4. Income Stream

    Instruments like bonds provide a regular interest income, creating a consistent cash flow for investors.

Cons of Investing in Securities

  1. Market Risk

    Securities are susceptible to market fluctuations. Economic downturns, geopolitical events, or company-specific issues can lead to declines in value.

  2. Complexity

    The vast array of securities can be overwhelming. Without proper knowledge or guidance, investors might make ill-informed choices.

  3. Costs

    Investing in securities often involves fees, such as brokerage charges, management fees for mutual funds, and other transaction costs.

No Guaranteed Returns

Unlike traditional investment options, securities don’t assure returns. The potential for high gains comes with a risk of losses.

Frequently Asked Questions

While all stocks are securities, not all securities are stocks. Securities encompass a broader range of financial instruments, including stocks, bonds, and derivatives.

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