Definition of financial assets and liquidity rates vs. illiquid (2023)

What is a financial asset?

A financial asset is aliquid fundsthat derives its value from a contractual right or title. Cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and bank deposits are examples of financial assets. Unlike land, property, commodities or other tangible assets, financial assets do not necessarily have an inherent physical value or even a physical form. Rather, their value reflects the supply and demand factors in the market they trade in and the level of risk they take.


financial wealth

Understanding a financial asset

Most assets are categorized as real or financialimmaterial. Real assets are physical assets that derive their value from substances or properties such as precious metals, land, real estate and commodities such as soybeans, wheat, oil and iron.

Intangible assets are valuable assets that are not physical in nature. This includes patents, trademarks and intellectual property.

(Video) Liquidity Versus Illiquidity Explained | Rask Finance | [HD]

Financial assets are in between the other two assets. Financial assets can appear intangible - not physical - if only the stated value is displayed on a piece of paper, such as a dollar bill or a listing on a computer screen. What this document or listing represents, however, is a claim to ownership by a business, such as a corporation, or contractual rights to payment - say, interest income on a bond. Financial assets derive their value from a contractual right to an underlying asset.

This underlying asset can be real or intangible. For example, commodities are actual underlying assets linked to financial assets such as commodity futures, contracts, or some exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Likewise, the real estate sector is the tangible asset associated with shares in Real Estate Investment Funds (REITs). REITs are financial investments and publicly traded companies that own a real estate portfolio.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires companies to report financial and physical assets together asSachanlagenfor tax reasons. The grouping of tangible assets is separate from intangible assets. 

the central theses

  • A financial asset is a liquid asset that represents an ownership interest in a company or contractual rights to future payments from a company and derives value therefrom.
  • The value of a financial asset can be based on an underlying tangible or real asset, but market supply and demand also influence its value.
  • Stocks, bonds, cash, CDs and bank deposits are examples of financial assets.

Common types of financial assets

As per the widely quoted definition of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), financial assets include:

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  • Box
  • A company's equity instruments - for example, a share certificate
  • A contractual right to receive a financial asset from another entity – known as a receivable
  • The contractual right to exchange a financial asset or financial liability with another entity on favorable terms
  • A contract to settle the entity's own equity instruments

In addition to stocks and receivables, the above definition also includes financial derivatives, bonds, money market or other account balances and interests. Many of these financial assets have no specified monetary value until they are converted into cash, particularly in the case of stocks, which fluctuate in value and price.

In addition to cash, the most common types of financial assets that investors encounter are:

  • Actionsare financial assets with no specified end or maturity date. An investor who buys stock becomes a co-owner of a company and shares in its profits and losses. Shares can be held indefinitely or sold to other investors.
  • Bonds are a way for companies or governments to finance short-term projects. The bondholder is the creditor, and the bonds state how much money is owed, the interest rate to be paid, and the bond's rate.due date.
  • ADeposit receipt(CD) allows an investor to deposit a sum of money in a bank at a guaranteed interest rate for a specified period of time. A CD pays monthly interest and can typically be held for three months to five years, depending on the contract.

Pros and cons of highly liquid financial investments

The purest form of financial investments are cash and cash equivalents – checking accounts, savings accounts and money market accounts. Liquid accounts are easily turned into funds to pay bills and cover financial emergencies or urgent demands.

Other types of financial assets may not be as liquid.liquidityis the ability to quickly convert a financial asset into cash. Stocks are an investor's ability to buy or sell stocks in a ready market. Liquid markets are those where there are many buyers and many sellers and no extended lag time when trying to execute a trade.

In the case of stocks like stocks and bonds, the investor needs to sell and wait for the pricesettlement dateto receive the money - usually two business days. Other financial assets have different maturities.

Keeping resources in liquid financial investments can result in greater resultscapital preservation. Funds in cashier's check, savings, and CD accounts are insured against losses of up to $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for credit union accounts. If the bank fails for any reason, your account will be covered dollar for dollar up to $250,000. However, because the FDIC covers each financial institution individually, an investor with brokered CDs totaling more than $250,000 in a bank will lose out if the bank becomes insolvent.

Liquid funds such as checking and savings accounts are limitedReturn on Capital (ROI)Capacity. ROI is the profit you make from an asset divided by the cost of owning that asset. For checking and savings accounts, the ROI is minimal. Although they offer modest interest income, they offer little appreciation unlike stocks. Also, CDs and money market accounts restrict withdrawals for months or years. When interest rates drop, redeemable CDs are often called and investors end up moving their money into potentially lower yielding investments.

(Video) Liquidity Risk - Financial Assets


  • Liquid financial assets are easily converted into cash.

  • Some financial assets have the ability to appreciate in value.

  • The FDIC and NCUA insure accounts up to $250,000.

    (Video) Liquid Assets Definition - What are Liquid Assets?


  • Highly liquid financial investments are hardly valued

  • Illiquid financial assets are difficult to convert to cash.

  • The value of a financial asset is only as strong as the underlying company.

Pros and cons of illiquid assets

The opposite of a liquid asset is aan asset. Real estate and fine antiques are examples of illiquid financial assets. These items have value but cannot be quickly converted into cash.

Another example of an illiquid financial asset is stocks, which do not have a large trading volume in the markets. Often these are investments like penny stocks or high yield speculative investments that may not have a ready buyer when you are ready to sell.

(Video) Liquidity explained! - What is a liquid investment

Keeping a lot of money in illiquid investments has disadvantages even in common situations. This can result in a person using a high-yield credit card to pay bills, increasing debt and negatively impacting retirement and other investment goals.

Real example of financial assets

Both companies and individuals hold financial assets. In the case of an investment or asset management company, financial assets include the money in portfolios that the company manages for clients, known as assets under management (AUM). For example,BlackRock Inc. is the largest investment manager in the United States and globally, based on $6.84 trillion in assets under management as of June 30, 2019. 

For banks, financial assets include the amount of outstanding loans they have made to customers. Capital One, the10th largest bankin the United States, reported total assets of $373,191 million in its financial report for the first quarter of 2019; of which $240,273 million was mortgage-backed commercial and industrial loans.


What is the difference between liquid and illiquid assets your answer? ›

Liquidity refers to the ease with which an asset can be converted into another asset like cash without affecting its market price. “Illiquidity” in essence occurs when an asset cannot be traded or sold with ease and without incurring a loss in value relative to its “fair market” value.

What is the difference between a financial asset and a liquid asset? ›

A financial asset is a liquid asset that gets its value from a contractual right or ownership claim. Cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and bank deposits are all are examples of financial assets.

What is the difference between liquid assets and liquidity? ›

Liquidity is sufficient cash on hand to meet financial responsibilities. Liquid assets may be cash or property that can readily be converted to cash without a substantial loss in value.

What is illiquid financial assets? ›

What Is Illiquid? Illiquid refers to the state of a stock, bond, or other assets that cannot easily and readily be sold or exchanged for cash without a substantial loss in value.

What is an example of liquid and illiquid assets? ›

A liquid asset is one that can be quickly sold without a significant loss in value; an illiquid asset is one that can't be quickly resold without a significant loss in value. For example, holdings in a bank account are liquid assets.

What are liquid vs non liquid assets examples? ›

A cash equivalent is an investment with a short-term maturity that can be quickly converted to cash, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Liquid assets differ from non-liquid assets, such as property, vehicles or jewelry, which can take longer to sell and therefore convert to cash, and may lose value in the sale.

What are the 4 types of financial assets? ›

financial asset

a contractual claim to something of value; modern economies have four main types of financial assets: bank deposits, stocks, bonds, and loans.

What is one example of a liquid asset? ›

Liquid assets include things like cash, money market instruments, and marketable securities.

What are liquid assets examples? ›

Examples of liquid assets.

Cash or currency: The cash you physically have on hand. Bank accounts: The money in your checking account or savings account. Accounts receivable: The money owed to your business by your customers. Mutual funds: A fund that pools money from many different investors into a diverse portfolio.

What is the difference between a financial asset and a liquid asset quizlet? ›

An asset represents a credit or a positive value, while a liquid asset represents a debit or a negative value. Assets are money gained from your job, while liquid assets are money gained from sources such as investments or inheritances.

Why are financial assets liquid? ›

In personal finance, liquid assets are investments an individual may easily convert to cash without incurring fiscal penalties. Most liquid investments — commonly stocks, bonds and mutual funds, among others — can be bought and sold throughout the trading day.

Is a car a liquid assets? ›

In most cases, a car isn't a liquid asset. It may take some time to sell, you may incur costs in converting it to cash, and it probably won't sell for the same amount you put into it. In some cases, it may not sell for even the current market value, especially if you're trying to turn it into cash quickly.

Which asset is most illiquid? ›

Such assets suffer a valuation loss when sold in exchange for cash. In other words, it is an uphill task to sell such assets owing to the utterly low trading activity due to a lack of investor interest. Bonds, stocks, and properties are some examples of illiquid investments.

Why are illiquid assets important? ›

Benefits of Illiquid Assets

Illiquid assets provide portfolio diversification benefits with a relatively low correlation to the stock market. Typically, these assets remain more stable over time, as their pricing is not adjusted on a regular basis like publicly traded stocks and securities.

What is the benefit of illiquid assets? ›

Stability. By far the most popular benefit of an illiquid investment is its stability. One of the reasons illiquid investments don't move rapidly in value is because they are traded so few times. The opposite can be seen in liquid investments.

How do you know if a stock is liquid or illiquid? ›

Key Takeaways

A stock that is very liquid has adequate shares outstanding and adequate demand from buyers and sellers. One that is illiquid does not. The bid-ask spread, or the difference between what a seller is willing to take and what a buyer wants to pay, is a good measure of liquidity.

Which all are liquid assets? ›

What Are Liquid Assets?
  • Cash. Cash is the ultimate liquid asset. ...
  • Treasury bills and treasury bonds. ...
  • Certificates of deposit. ...
  • Bonds. ...
  • Stocks. ...
  • Exchange traded funds (ETFs). ...
  • Mutual funds. ...
  • Money market funds.
Sep 2, 2022

How do you calculate illiquid assets? ›

Its formula is = Marketable Securities + Cash – Current Liabilities.

Is a checking account a liquid asset? ›

For example, cash in your checking account is liquid. If you face unexpected expenses for medical care or car repairs, funds in your checking account are available to pay expenses immediately. A few examples of liquid assets are: Cash in checking, savings, and money market accounts.

Is a retirement account a liquid asset? ›

Are Retirement Accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s Liquid Assets? Retirement accounts, such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)s are not really liquid until you've reached age 59 ½. Withdraw funds from your account before then, and you may face taxes and a 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Is a mortgage a liquid asset? ›

Is A House A Liquid Asset? As we already mentioned, real estate isn't considered liquid, so any investment properties you own aren't classified as liquid assets.

Is a house a financial asset? ›

An asset is anything you own that adds financial value, as opposed to a liability, which is money you owe. Examples of personal assets include: Your home. Other property, such as a rental house or commercial property.

What is the most common type of financial asset? ›

The most common type of financial assets are retirement investments and demand deposit accounts. Simply put, a financial asset consists of ownership rights or contractual rights to an underlying asset like a company, real estate, or commodity.

What are the 5 most liquid assets? ›

The different liquid assets that are more liquid, easily transferable, and available in the well-established market are:
  • Cash in Hand.
  • Cash in Bank.
  • Cash Equivalents.
  • Accrued Income.
  • Promissory Notes.
  • Government Bonds.
  • Stocks.
  • Marketable Securities.

What are liquid assets for dummies? ›

Liquid assets are assets that are easily and simply converted to cash. Examples of liquid assets include cash, bonds, and CDs. Assets that lack liquidity require time or effort to trade or sell, like real estate or collectibles.

Which type of asset is known as a liquid asset? ›

Liquid assets refer to cash on hand, cash on bank deposit, and assets that can be quickly and easily converted to cash. The common liquid assets are stock, bonds, certificates of deposit, or shares.

What is called liquidity? ›

Liquidity definition

Liquidity is a company's ability to convert assets to cash or acquire cash—through a loan or money in the bank—to pay its short-term obligations or liabilities.

What are the different types of liquidity? ›

Cash is the most "liquid" form of liquidity. In addition to notes and coins, it also includes account balances and cheques, as well as cash in foreign currencies. Other forms of liquidity assets that can be converted into cash very quickly due to their low risk and short maturity are treasury bills and treasury notes.

What do you mean by liquidity? ›

Liquidity is the degree to which a security can be quickly purchased or sold in the market at a price reflecting its current value. Liquidity in finance refers to the ease with which a security or an asset can be converted into cashat market price.

Are stocks and 401k considered liquid assets? ›

Generally, a 401k is considered a long-term investment, and funds in a 401k account are not typically considered liquid assets because they are intended for retirement savings and are often subject to restrictions and penalties for early withdrawal.

Does home equity count as liquid asset? ›

Home equity is an asset and is considered a portion of an individual's net worth. However, it is not a liquid asset.

Is a credit card considered an asset? ›

If it holds value and could be used to offset your liabilities, it's an asset. Liabilities are debts. Loans, mortgages and credit card balances all fit into this category.

Are bank assets illiquid? ›

Bank account balances are liquid assets. Most stocks are also considered liquid assets because even they can be turned into cash quickly because there is always a readily available market to sell them. An illiquid asset is the exact opposite.

Is gold a liquid asset? ›

Gold is a highly liquid asset, which is no one's liability, carries no credit risk, and is scarce, historically preserving its value over time. It also benefits from diverse sources of demand: as an investment, a reserve asset, gold jewellery, and a technology component.

What financial asset has the least liquidity? ›

Asset Characteristics

For instance, cash is the most liquid of assets, while tangible items like real estate are considered to be among the least liquid Investopedia.

Why is real estate considered an illiquid asset? ›

Real estate is an asset that is considered illiquid primarily because of how the real estate market operates or is structured. Before a property is bought or sold, there are time-consuming procedures required, such as inspections and appraisals.

Why do illiquid assets have higher returns? ›

Illiquid investments may be beneficial due to their lower day-to-day volatility and correlation to the stock market. Due to the higher risk imposed by low liquidity, these assets often command higher returns.

Are illiquid investments good? ›

Illiquid investments are useful because of their high tendency to increase in value over time and to often be immune to inflation. Their value is also not affected by day-to-day stock market volatility and they fetch higher returns in the long run compared to traditional investments.

What is the difference between liquid and illiquid strategies? ›

Key differences between liquid and illiquid investments

Liquid investments are those that can be easily sold or exchanged for cash. Illiquid investments are the opposite, and cannot be easily sold or exchanged for cash.

What is the difference between assets and liquid assets quizlet? ›

An asset represents a credit or a positive value, while a liquid asset represents a debit or a negative value. Assets are money gained from your job, while liquid assets are money gained from sources such as investments or inheritances.

What is the difference between liquid and illiquid crypto? ›

Bitcoin Average Daily Trading Volume. Liquidity is essential for any tradable asset, and that includes the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Liquid markets are deeper and smoother, while an illiquid market can put traders in positions that are difficult to exit.

What is liquid illiquid? ›

: not being cash or readily convertible into cash. illiquid holdings. : deficient in liquid assets. an illiquid bank. illiquidity.

Is private equity a liquid or illiquid asset? ›

Private equity is an illiquid asset class; investors cannot sell their funds when they want to without potentially facing high losses. However, unlike other illiquid asset classes, private equity is a distributing asset - a cash-flow based asset class that generates liquidity when the underlying investments are sold.

How do you identify illiquid options? ›

How to Determine Illiquidity. There are generally two ways in which to determine liquidity for an option. First is the daily volume, or how many times it was traded that day. The higher the volume, the more liquid it is, while a lower volume will mean a lower level of liquidity.

What are two examples of liquid assets? ›

Common liquid assets include:
  • Cash. Cash is the ultimate liquid asset. ...
  • Treasury bills and treasury bonds. ...
  • Certificates of deposit. ...
  • Bonds. ...
  • Stocks. ...
  • Exchange traded funds (ETFs). ...
  • Mutual funds. ...
  • Money market funds.
Aug 10, 2021

What are assets that are liquid and give examples? ›

A liquid asset is an asset that can easily be converted into cash in a short amount of time. Liquid assets include things like cash, money market instruments, and marketable securities. Both individuals and businesses can be concerned with tracking liquid assets as a portion of their net worth.

What does liquid assets mean and examples? ›

Liquid assets refer to cash on hand, cash on bank deposit, and assets that can be quickly and easily converted to cash. The common liquid assets are stock, bonds, certificates of deposit, or shares.

Is Bitcoin a liquid or illiquid? ›

In general, crypto is less liquid than cash equivalents like US treasuries, but usually more liquid than real estate. The most traded cryptoassets such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are most likely as liquid if not more so than gold. However, NFTs can be as liquid as stocks or as illiquid as property.

What is the opposite of illiquid? ›

Liquidity is the opposite of illiquidity.

Are mutual funds liquid or illiquid? ›

Other great examples of liquid investments include U.S. Treasury bills (T-bills), bonds, mutual funds, and money market funds, which are a type of mutual fund.

Why invest in illiquid assets? ›

By far the most popular benefit of an illiquid investment is its stability. One of the reasons illiquid investments don't move rapidly in value is because they are traded so few times. The opposite can be seen in liquid investments.

Which stocks are illiquid? ›

Illiquid stocks are shares of publicly traded companies that are difficult to buy or sell due to a lack of interested buyers or sellers in the market. Investing in illiquid stocks can be risky because it is difficult to buy or sell these stocks quickly in response to changes in the market.

Are assets illiquid? ›

People (or businesses) purchase assets as investments, hoping they increase in value over time. Assets can be described as liquid or illiquid (some people use the term “solid”). The value of liquid assets increases more quickly, and they can be sold or traded easily.


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