An investor is any person who commits capital with the expectation of financial returns. Investors utilize investments in order to grow their money and/or provide an income during retirement, such as with an annuity. A wide variety of investment vehicles exist including (but not limited to) stocks, bonds, commodities, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), options, futures, foreign exchange, gold, silver, retirement plans and real estate. Investors typically perform technical and/or fundamental analysis to determine favorable investment opportunities, and generally prefer to minimize risk while maximizing returns.
Investors have varying risk tolerances, capital, styles, preferences and timeframes. For instance, some investors prefer very low-risk investments that will lead to conservative gains, such as certificates of deposits and certain bond products.
Other investors, however, are more inclined to take on additional risk in an attempt to make a larger profit. These investors might invest in currencies, emerging markets or stocks. A distinction can be made between the terms "investor" and "trader" in that investors typically hold positions for years to decades (also called a "position trader" or "buy and hold investor") while traders generally hold positions for shorter periods. Scalp traders, for example, hold positions for as little as a few seconds. Swing traders, on the other hand, seek positions that are held from several days to several weeks.