The public and private capital markets work differently, but both sectors play essential roles in supporting economic growth. Companies raise funds for long-term growth and acquisitions in the public capital market, usually through debt instruments like bonds or stock, while private companies raise capital through private investments. This article provides an overview of the differences between the two types of capital markets, including how they function and their role in economic development.
Public Capital Markets
Public capital markets consist of equity and debt markets where buyers and sellers trade with each other daily. Many companies use this type of market to raise new capital or sell their existing stocks. It is typically easier for publicly traded companies to use these markets than private ones because traditionally, a wider pool of investors is available, and shares provide a significant amount of liquidity. Most investors use public markets to invest in companies, which buys them a partial interest in a company. It is also where many companies go when they want to raise new capital to fund their business operations.
Private Capital Markets
Private capital markets are where privately-held companies can sell equity to investors like private equity, venture capital firms, and even individuals. This sale of securities is typically exempt from registration with the SEC and may come in the form of a Reg A, Reg CF, or Reg D offering. Before the JOBS Act, these types of investments were limited to high net-worth individuals and institutional investors. Post JOBS Act, even everyday investors can get a piece of a private company, which may offer a significant return if that company ever goes public through an IPO. Additionally, offerings in the private sector typically cost less to the issuer than an IPO, which makes JOBS Acts exemptions a very attractive form of fundraising.
Because of the history of the private capital markets, there are misconceptions that it is expensive to invest. However, Reg A and Reg CF offerings can be affordable for investors, with investments for hundreds of dollars or less. However, non-accredited investors are limited to the amount they can invest each year by their annual income or net worth. The same restrictions don’t apply to private companies. Additionally, investors in the private capital markets have the potential for liquidity through alternative trading systems.
Publicly traded companies are listed on an exchange so that anyone can buy their stocks. This means they have to follow specific guidelines set by the SEC to maintain listing requirements. Private company stock is not publicly available for trading, but there are still ways you may be able to get your hands on some shares. It’s important to note that different securities trade differently depending on where they’re bought from, and choosing the public or private capital market is the first step in any investment.