I'm new to the world of finance and I'm wondering if someone could give an explanation of what institutional investors are.

Also, I am applying for a job at a company that provides services/software to such investors: investment management, trading services, and investment research.

Could someone please give a real-world example of those?

2 Answers 2


Professional investors managing large investment portfolios for "institutions" -- a college, a museum, a charitable organization, et cetera. I'm not sure whether those managing investments for a business are considered institutional investors or not.

The common factor tends to be large to immense portfolios (let's call it $100M and up, just for discussion) and concern with preserving that wealth.

Having that much money to work with allows some investment strategies that don't make sense for smaller investors, and makes some others impractical to impossible.

These folks can make mistakes too; Madoff burned a lot of charities when his scam collapsed.

  • 1
    Where an individual has maybe a 30 year time horizon to plan for (retirement), an institution has a perpetual time horizon. But this also means they can make an investment with the payoff over centuries, like timberland (Yale and Oxford, famously. In Oxford's case, there was 400 year old oak on college lands in preparation to fix a roof: atlasobscura.com/places/oak-beams-new-college-oxford).
    – user662852
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 14:34

FINRA defines institutional investors as:

Institutional investors include banks, savings and loan associations, insurance companies, registered investment companies, registered investment advisors, a person or entity with assets of at least $50 million, government entities, employee benefit plans and qualified plans with at least 100 participants, FINRA member firms and registered persons, and a person acting solely on behalf of an institutional investor.


Based on Rules 2210(a)(4) and 4512(c).

Institutional investors are expected to understand market risks and as a result, disclosure requirements are much lower (perhaps no SEC filings and no prospectus).

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