What are Marketable Securities?

Geri Terzo

Marketable securities are investments that are highly liquid, meaning that they can be quickly sold in the secondary financial markets in large amounts for cash. A company might invest in these types of securities as a way to preserve cash for unanticipated events. Investors also select these short-term investment vehicles to seize certain opportunities in the financial markets.

Cash is one type of marketable security.
Cash is one type of marketable security.

There are different types of marketable securities, and the underlying theme among all of them is that they are traded, or bought and sold, frequently. This is a sign of liquidity. Those that are types of bonds or certificates of deposit must have a maturity date or time at which a contract expires of no less than 12 months out. Bonds are debt instruments, while certificates of deposit are savings certificates, although both pay investors an interest rate over the life of the contract. These securities trade in the secondary market, a segment of the financial markets where previously issued securities are bought and sold.

Investors select marketable securities to seize certain opportunities in the financial markets.
Investors select marketable securities to seize certain opportunities in the financial markets.

Cash is a type of marketable security, and it can be held in a checking or savings account, because both allow for quick access to capital. Money market instruments are another common type of these securities, although features might vary depending on the region in which they're purchased. In the United States, for example, treasury bills are a commonly purchased money market security.

Want to automatically save time and money month? Take a 2-minute quiz to find out how you can start saving up to $257/month.

U.S. treasury bill investments are sold in increments of $1,000 US Dollars (USD) and are short-term in nature. They do not pay ongoing interest income the way that long-term bonds do, but they are sold at a discount price. When it comes time to redeem a treasury bill at the maturity date, the U.S. government repays investors the full market price.

There are various purposes for marketable securities. For instance, a company with cash on hand might be looking for a place to invest that money. Marketable securities are a viable option if that company might need access to that capital in the short term, that is, in less than one year. Financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies often need quick access to large amounts of capital and therefore might invest a significant portion of earnings into marketable securities.

Companies in other sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing, might invest in these short-term instruments but not as heavily as financial institutions do. Manufacturing companies, for instance, earmark much of their capital for expenses such as machinery and equipment. A reason to invest in marketable securities might be to preserve capital for taxes or to pay investor dividends.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


Mutsy-It is best to invest in general obligation bonds with a state that is more fiscally sound. For example, a good choice would be to invest in general obligation bonds with the state of Texas.

This state is one of the few states in the union with a budget surplus and it would be relatively safe to lend money to this state.

However, the state of California is in a state of disarray and any investments to this state would not be wise because the state is essentially bankrupt.

The great thing about municipal bonds is that the income that you receive from the interest is totally tax free. So if you invested $200,000 in municipal bonds that paid an interest rate of 5%, you would receive two biannual payments of $5,000 for a grand total of $10,000 of tax free income a year.

These bonds have maturity dates from one year to thirty years and you usually need at least $10,000 to start investing in them. You have to buy these bonds from stock brokers or licensed banking sales people which is the only way to enter these investment securities.


Investment in marketable securities is an important aspect of any investment portfolio. The interest rates for marketable securities can vary.

For example, most savings accounts, Certificate of deposit and other cash deposit accounts pay a very low rate of interest.

In fact the highest earning savings account is the online savings account with HSBC that offers a yield of 1%.

Most of these marketable securities interest rates are less than a half of a percent which is pretty dismal.

If you are looking for a higher rate of return and do not want to invest in the stock market you may consider speaking with an investment broker about municipal bonds.

Municipal bonds are either general obligation or revenue bonds that are used for state and local governments to raise capital for a government project. These bonds are rated and invest in almost every municipality and state.

Post your comments
Forgot password?