Last Updated on May 2, 2022 by Chin Yi Xuan

Ever since I started to learn about stocks, I’ve always come across Facebook and Youtube ads about courses where ‘gurus’ or ‘experts’ will teach you how to make money in stocks. haha

The problem is, the terms ‘stocks investing’ and ‘stocks trading’ have been so frequently used in these marketing ads, people are starting to mix and generalize them into the same thing*.

(*Skip to point 4 & 5 to read about how these ‘experts’ fail to deliver the proper idea of investing and trading)

In reality, ‘stocks investing’ and ‘stocks trading’ are very different in nature. Hence, it is of crucial for you to understand their difference before you start your investment or trading journey.

Note: Essentially, there are various financial derivatives (eg. ETF, futures, stocks) that you can invest or trade in. To simplify this article, I will use stocks in my explanation.

With that in mind, let’s get started:

(1) Investors invest in a business, traders trade the numbers. What do you want to do?

Imagine, today, you and your friend bought a bag of corn each. 

The next day, your friend sells off the corn at a higher price to another person. He profits from the direct price difference of the corn. 

This reflects how trading works. 

On the other hand, you decided to grow the corn in your backyard. Although you may need to wait to reap the fruit of your hard work, your bag of corn will eventually grow into a land of fresh sweet corns where you can sell in the market over and over again. 

And this, is how investing works.

Investing and trading both involved the goal of profiting from the stock market, but in a distinct manner.

Essentially, you are buying part of a business when you invest in the shares of a company. As such, you care whether the company you invest in can grow and deliver profitability in the long run.

On the other hand, stock traders look to profit from the market with the short-term price difference. As a stock trader, you do not put much emphasis on a company’s long-term growth prospects.

Investor build assets with their capital.Traders, on the other hand, earn income with their capital. 

The question now is, what is your intention when you want to learn about stocks?

(2) Investors are in for the long run, traders operate in the short run

How long do a stock investor and trader hold on to their shares?

An investor will normally eye to hold the shares of a company for a long-term basis, normally for years. Hence, an investor pays a lot of attention to the fundamentals of a company (eg. Cashflow & debt status) in order to make sure the company continues to grow in the long run.

Moreover, an investor does not need to constantly monitor their investments. Short term market movements are not a big concern to investors with a long-term mindset.

Depending on one’s trading style, a trader may hold their shares from a few minutes, hours, days or weeks. This is relatively shorter in timeframe compared to investing.

With such a short timeframe, constant monitoring is needed to ensure one does not miss out on any significant market movement.

In short, investing require more prior effort (eg. Studying annual report) before making a move, while trading requires more constant effort at any point in time (price monitoring).

(3) Investors and traders make money differently

Investors profit from the stock market via capital appreciation (the increase in share price) and dividend (profit sharing by companies).

On the contrary, traders earn their wealth via price movement (price hitting target profit in traders’ desired direction) and/or short-term price difference (a.k.a scalping or arbitrage).

While dealing with the similar derivative (stocks), there is a significant difference between how an investor and a trader makes money.

(4) Investors and traders experience risks differently

Now, this is where many ‘experts’ or ‘gurus’ failed to explain or clarify enough.

Ultimately, you will need to deal with risk regardless if you are investing or trading. However, the risks involved in investing and trading are not the same.

As an investor, your major risks involved the sudden change of fundamentals (eg. Low debt to high debt status) and business nature of the company (eg. People switched from watching TV to Netflix).

As a trader, your major risks involved price not moving in your desired direction (eg. You buy into Facebook shares in hope that its price will go up, but it turns out otherwise) and capital mismanagement (eg. Placing too much of your overall capital in a trade and end up losing them).

Investors invest their confidence towards a business, traders trade probability for profit.

(5) Expectation Setting: Quick & high return! (Or is that the case?)

The biggest problem with ‘experts’ and ‘gurus’ that offer courses these days is this:

They tend to give unrealistic expectations to their target audiences in order to convert them into paying customers.

As an example, investing ‘experts’ use marketing gimmicks to portray how one or two students managed to get X% of return within 3 months after attending their investing course. However, they fail to convey that the true idea of investing is a long-term effort that requires time and patience to bear fruits.

Another example would be trading ‘gurus’ that boast potential high return monthly after attending their course. The other side of the story that they do not cover is the steep learning curve that requires a lot of mental strength and discipline (plus mistakes & failures) before achieving the return they promise.

In short, these ‘experts’ and ‘gurus’ entice potential customers with (1) Potential Fast Returns and (2) Potential High Returns. This is totally in line with the mindset of people nowadays that greed for a fast and high return with little effort.

Investing and trading is simple to learn, but not easy to master. Set realistic expectation that includes time to climb the learning curve before enrolling in this journey.

No Money Lah’s Verdict: Are investing and trading for you?

The short answer for investing is a big YES. The short answer for trading is no.

Investing is an art of asset-building with your existing wealth on a long-term basis. In my opinion, the knowledge of investing is a crucial skill to learn as a part of personal finance management.

In comparison, trading is a discipline that makes a profit from the knowledge of probability and proper risk management in a short-term timeframe. Moreover, it’s the nature of a shorter timeframe and emphasis on price movement means higher commitment and psychological discipline for a trader.

Hence, trading is not for everyone as not everyone can commit and have the mental discipline to trade the market.

The bottom line is this:

Have a clear intention before you embark on your investing or trading journey. Do you want to invest in a business, or do you want to trade a game of probability?

Learn how I build PASSIVE INCOME in the stock market with MINIMAL RISK!

Reserve your Spot in My Upcoming REIT Investing Workshop HERE!

Now that you have a clear picture of investing and trading, it is also essential for you to know how to protect yourself during a market downturn. Check out how you can do exactly so HERE


Chin Yi Xuan

Hi there! I am Yi Xuan. I am a writer, personal finance & REIT enthusiast, and a developing trader with the goal to become a full-time funded trader. Every week, I write about my personal learnings & discovery about life, money, and the market.

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