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As an investor or trader, a solid grasp of the differences between bonds and equities is essential. Each asset has specific advantages that may benefit your trading style and are vital for building a balanced portfolio. 

Learn key distinctions between bonds and equity and how to decide which is better suited to your investment goals and risk tolerance.


Bonds as a fixed-income investment

A bond is a loan from an investor to a borrower, such as a government or corporation. When buying a bond, the investor lends the issuer money for a defined period and, in return, expects to receive regular interest payments, also known as the coupon. Upon maturity, the bond issuer must repay the principal. This structure provides investors with fixed, predictable income at regular intervals. Here are some features of bonds:

  • Coupon payments are usually made semiannually and represent a percentage of the bond’s face value. This provides a steady stream of interest income for investors holding the bond.
  • If held to maturity, most bonds can be expected to return the initial principal investment. The price stability helps manage risk.
  • There are different types of bonds, including government bonds issued by Treasury departments, municipal bonds backed by local governments, and corporate bonds issued by companies. Each class has different risks and returns.
  • Bonds are considered less risky than equities, though investors still face risks, including interest rate fluctuations, inflation, and default risk. High-quality government bonds are among the safest.

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Equity as an ownership right

Unlike lending money to an issuer, as with bonds, equity represents literal ownership in a corporation. Equity securities like stocks and private equity grant the investor an ownership stake and proportionate claim on corporate assets and profits. However, equities come with their own set of characteristics and risks.

  • Rather than fixed payments like bonds, equity returns are variable and dependent on the company’s growth and profitability. There are no guarantees.
  • Upside potential is much higher with equities, but prices also tend to be more volatile in stock markets. Investing for the long term helps smooth out temporary price fluctuations.
  • Public stocks allow investors to buy and sell shares easily on exchanges. Private equity involves taking direct ownership stakes in private companies to realise large returns later through an initial public offering (IPO) or acquisition.
  • Equities are riskier than bonds but also offer higher growth opportunities. Even broad market indexes like the S&P 500 have historically returned around 10% annually, though individual years can vary widely.


Bonds vs equity

When deciding between bonds and equity, investors must understand the distinctions that make each asset class unique:

  1. Bonds offer fixed periodic income from coupon payments. Equity offers variable returns tied to a company’s performance.
  2. A bond principal must be repaid at maturity, providing price stability. Equity prices fluctuate daily, and investors could lose principal.
  3. Government and high-grade bonds are lower risk than stock investments. Equities involve more risk but also greater growth potential.
  4. Bonds serve mainly as income and diversification. Equities are held primarily for long-run capital appreciation.
  5. Bonds perform better when interest rates are falling. Equities tend to deliver higher returns during periods of economic growth.

The better asset class depends heavily on an investor’s goals. Conservative investors living off investment income may favour high-quality bonds. Those saving for retirement may hold more stocks to achieve growth. Balancing bonds and equities helps manage risk versus return.

Expand your knowledge with this write-up: Trading Stocks – The Ultimate Guide

Risk profile explained




One of the most important distinctions between bonds vs equity is their relative risk profiles. When assessing the safety of an investment, bonds are generally considered less risky and more conservative than equities.

The stability in bonds comes from regular coupon payments and the repayment of principal, which together provide a steady stream of income. On the other hand, equity prices are subject to much greater fluctuations, which can lead to a significant loss of principal, especially during bear market cycles and recessions when stock values can plummet unexpectedly. Consequently, conservative investors prioritising capital preservation and reliable income streams are more likely to allocate a significant portion of their portfolio to bonds. 

Equities, while riskier, offer the potential for long-term growth that can outpace inflation, making them a more attractive option for aggressive investors who are comfortable with a higher risk tolerance in exchange for the possibility of greater rewards over time.

Consider giving this a look: Bear Markets: A Complete Beginner’s Guide


Factors influencing returns

While equities are higher risk, they also hold the possibility of greater reward. But what drives returns for bonds vs equities?

For bonds, the initial coupon rate and changes in benchmark interest rates impact returns. When benchmark interest rates rise, they can hurt the prices of existing bonds, as they become less attractive to investors. However, for new bonds issued during this time, the higher interest rates can boost their yields and make them more appealing to investors, resulting in higher returns. 

Equity returns are driven by the overall profit growth of the company, and stock performance is tied to earnings and dividends. Higher-quality companies tend to see greater stock appreciation.

Macroeconomic conditions affect both asset classes but in different ways. Bonds fare better in low-inflation environments, while equities gain during economic booms.

Geopolitical events can also influence bond and equity returns, especially uncertainty and disruption to global trade flows. It can have a profound effect on these assets, with the potential to cause significant fluctuations in prices and returns. 

Understanding the key factors that cause bond and stock prices to fluctuate helps investors decide which asset class offers better returns under different market conditions.

Here’s an interesting read for you: What Is A Bull Market? A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Trading disparities in the marketplace

The trading logistics and costs differ considerably between bonds and equities:

  • Most corporate and government bonds trade over the counter through broker-dealers rather than on a centralised exchange. This leads to wider bid-ask spreads and lower liquidity.
  • Institutional investors like pension funds and insurance firms dominate the bond markets. Minimum investments for individual investors are generally $5,000 to $10,000 per bond. Building a diversified bond portfolio requires significant capital.
  • Equities can be purchased in any quantity without minimums, making them more accessible for retail investors. Even fractional shares can be traded. This allows small investors to gain broad stock market exposure.
  • Trading costs like commissions are lower for equities, especially with online brokerages charging $5 or less per trade. Bonds usually have higher percentage spreads and markup costs.
  • Stocks trade on public exchanges like the NYSE and NASDAQ, where prices are transparent, and trading is continuous during market hours. The high trading volume makes equities highly liquid.

Overall, the ease and flexibility of trading individual stocks gives them an advantage over bonds for individual investors. Equities are far more liquid and cheaper to trade in small quantities.


Tax treatment variations




Equities offer a tax advantage in that the taxes on capital gains are typically deferred until the shares are sold, which can be strategically planned for by the investor. In contrast, bonds incur taxes on the interest earned annually, which applies even if that interest is reinvested rather than taken as cash. 

This taxation structure means that equity returns, more heavily skewed towards price appreciation rather than dividends, often result in a smaller immediate tax liability than the consistent interest income generated by bonds. 



Bonds and equities provide very different risk-return profiles and cash flow characteristics for investors. Bonds offer stable interest income and principal repayment with lower volatility. Equities come with higher potential growth but also more significant uncertainty. 

The ideal ratio between bonds and equities depends on an investor’s specific return needs, timeframe, risk appetite and tax situation. However, maintaining reasonable exposure to bonds and equities helps smooth volatility across market cycles. 

With strategic allocation between these assets, investors and traders can build portfolios aligned with their financial goals and comfortable levels of risk.


You can trade bonds and equities on

Are you looking for a platform that is user-friendly and tailored for both beginners and experienced traders alike? You can trade bonds, equities or other popular assets on Our platform offers a contract for difference (CFD) trading option. In this type of trading, you will be speculating the price of your chosen financial instruments without having an actual asset. 

When deciding to trade bonds, a CFD trading calculator will make calculating your hypothetical P/L (aggregated cost and charges) easier. Using our calculator, you can quickly evaluate any position you hold or are about to open by calculating its spread, margin requirement, overnight swap and more. 

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When considering “CFD bonds and equity” for trading and price predictions, remember that trading CFDs involves a significant degree of risk and could result in capital loss. Past performance is not indicative of any future results. This information is provided for informative purposes only and should not be construed to be investment advice.”

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