Difference Between Primary Market and Secondary Market

In a primary market, new shares and bonds are offered to the public for the first time via an initial public offering (IPO). The secondary market, on the contrary, refers to exchanges such as BSE or New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ where stocks are traded.

A company may have different types of capital requirements depending on its present stage of growth. A well-established company may not require long-term capital. In that case, they may opt for equity financing i.e. raising capital via the sale of shares. But another company, which has a proven track record and now wishes to expand operations may go for an IPO. While equity financing is a secondary market operation, launching an IPO happens in the primary market.

Let’s understand the features of the primary and secondary markets.

Features of Primary Market

  • A company turns to the primary market for its long term capital needs. Fulfilling the need for long term capital is, therefore, a feature of a primary market.
  • A fresh issue of securities takes place in the primary market. The buyers are usually institutional investors and retail investors.

Features of Secondary Market

  • The secondary market helps companies fulfil short-term liquidity requirements. It facilitates the marketability of existing securities.
  • It also ensures true and fair dealing for the protection of the investor’s interest.

Primary Market vs Secondary Market

  • Securities that are issued in a market are referred to as the primary market. When the company gets listed on an exchange and its stocks are then traded among investors, it is called the secondary market.
  • The primary market is also known as a ‘new issue market’ and the secondary market is known as an ‘after issue market.’ Depending upon the demand and supply of the securities traded the prices in the secondary market vary. But, the prices in the primary market are fixed.
  • In the primary market, investors have an option to purchase the shares directly from the company, whereas in the secondary market, the investors buy and sell the securities among themselves.
  • Investment bankers do the selling in a primary market. In the secondary market, the broker acts as an intermediary while the trading is done.
  • In the primary market, the company stands to gain from the sale of a security. While in the secondary market, investors stand to gain any sort of capital appreciation from the securities.
  • The securities in the primary market can only be sold once, while in the secondary market sale and purchase is a continuous process.
  • The amount that is received from the securities becomes capital for a company whereas; in the case of the secondary market, the same reflects the income for investors.

The two financial markets -- primary market and secondary market, play a major role in the mobilization of money and help develop the economy. Countries with robust financial markets make it easier for companies to access funds and grow faster.

The process to buy equity in the secondary market is fairly simple. The following procedure is followed while buying or selling shares in the secondary market:

  • Open Demat Account with a depository participant (DP) like IIFL.
  • Open a trading account with a broker.
  • Link your bank account with Demat account and Trading Account.
  • The broker buys or sells the shares by executing orders on the electronic terminal
  • A contract note is issued by the broker detailing the value of shares purchased plus his brokerage cost.
  • The broker collects shares via the settlement process (T+1) and makes payment on the behalf of the investor.
  • Order gets executed on the final settlement date (T+2).


The basic difference between the primary and secondary market lies in the type of companies and investors. Companies looking for long term investments for an IPO which is a function of the primary markets, while companies that look for short-term capital use the secondary market.

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