In finance, investment is buying securities or other monetary or paper (financial) assets in the money markets or capital markets, or in fairly liquid real assets, such as gold, real estate, or collectibles. Valuation is the method for assessing whether a potential investment is worth its price.
Types of financial investments include shares, other equity investment, and bonds (including bonds denominated in foreign currencies). These financial assets are then expected to provide income or positive future cash flows, and may increase or decrease in value giving the investor capital gains or losses.
Trades in contingent claims or derivative securities do not necessarily have future positive expected cash flows, and so are not considered assets, or strictly speaking, securities or investments. Nevertheless, since their cash flows are closely related to (or derived from) those of specific securities, they are often studied as or treated as investments.
Investments are often made indirectly through intermediaries, such as banks, mutual funds, pension funds, insurance companies, collective investment schemes, and investment clubs. Though their legal and procedural details differ, an intermediary generally makes an investment using money from many individuals, each of whom receives a claim on the intermediary.