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Financial Instrument

A financial instrument is an agreement between two or more parties that gives rise to a financial asset for one entity and a financial liability or equity instrument for another entity. Investors use it to forecast future value. A financial instrument is a two-party financial contract. It serves as both a liability and an asset.

A financial instrument is a physical or digital document depicting a contract involving any form of monetary value. Cash instruments and derivative instruments are the two main categories of financial instruments. 

Equity-based and debt-based financial instruments can also be categorized based on an asset class.

A third distinct category of financial instruments comprises foreign exchange instruments.


  • Financial instruments act as a means of payment

  • Can be used to transfer future purchasing power.

  • Financial instruments allow for the transfer of risk. 

  • It can be said that effective management of financial instruments can assist firms in reducing expenses and maximizing their revenue model.

Types of Financial Instruments 

Cash Instruments

Cash instruments have a direct market value that can be accessed, and market forces determine that value. Shares, bonds, and cheques are a few examples of cash instruments.

Instruments based on equity

Equity instruments provide a means of operating funding and ownership documentation. Standard equity instruments include dividends, preferred stock, and common stock.

Instrument based on debt

A debt instrument is a legally binding agreement used to raise money. Debt instruments include things like loans, bonds, credit cards, etc.

Foreign Exchange

A unique financial instrument, foreign exchange allows trading one currency for another. Therefore, foreign exchange transactions happen in the foreign exchange market.

Financial Instruments – Benefits

Financial instruments distribute risk among counterparties. For example, businesses can use financial instruments to hedge against currency risks in the future.

Because equity shares give companies a viable choice for borrowing and allow them to take advantage of retained earnings, equity-based instruments are a reliable source of funding for enterprises.

Financial Instruments – Drawbacks

Cash deposits and money market accounts, considered liquid assets, will not permit money withdrawals for the duration of the agreement.

A corporation could receive lower returns if it wants to withdraw before maturity. The level of risk associated with swaps is higher than other financial instruments.

Six Important Financial Instruments

Individual stocks

The stock represents an equity investment in an organization. Stocks have one of the most significant possible returns on your investment but carry the most risk.


One of the market's safest investing options is bonds. Unlike stocks, bonds, particularly government bonds, offer more earnings security at manageable risk.

Exchange Traded funds (ETFs)

Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, are essential for investors to help the financial strategy succeed. ETFs are collections of securities traded on a recognised exchange.

Mutual Funds and Index Mutual Funds

Mutual funds are a terrific market investing strategy that you may consider to increase your financial returns.

Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

A certificate of deposit is a time-limited, federally insured account with a fixed interest rate.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) 

As an alternative to conventional real estate investments, you might want to think about REITs, which let you indirectly participate in a property while generating significant returns.