What Is a Market Maker?

What Is a Market Maker?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

A market maker is a company or individual who actively quotes both a buy and a sell price for a financial instrument or commodity, hoping to make a profit on the bid-offer spread. In doing so, a market maker offers a certain depth to the market by making it easier for buyers and sellers to transact at any time. They ensure there is enough volume of trade so that traders can get their order executed when they need to, thereby bringing liquidity to the market.

Related Questions

1. What role does a market maker play in the stock market?

A market maker plays a crucial role in the stock market to ensure smooth functioning. They help maintain a continuous flow of buy and sell orders, providing both liquidity and stability to the market. Without market makers, there could be a scarcity of buyers or sellers, resulting in trade delays and volatile price swings.

2. How does a market maker make profit?

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A market maker profits from the spread between the buying and selling prices. They buy at the bid price and sell at the ask/offer price. This difference, no matter how small, can sum up to a substantial amount due to a high number of trades executed daily.

3. What is the bid-ask spread in market making?

The bid-ask spread is the difference between the highest price that a buyer is willing to pay (bid) for a security and the lowest price at which a seller is willing to sell the same (ask/offer). A narrower spread signifies a more liquid market, while a wider spread indicates lesser liquidity.

4. Are market makers only relevant to the stock market?

No, market makers aren’t limited to just the stock market. They are found in various financial markets, including foreign exchange (forex), commodities, and cryptocurrencies. They ensure continuous trade, maintain liquidity, and stabilise the market prices across these platforms.

5. Why is market-making crucial for financial markets?

Market making is crucial for ensuring that financial markets function efficiently. By maintaining an ongoing flow of buy and sell orders, market makers help avoid price discrepancies, stabilize prices, ensure that trades can be executed when desired, and foster overall market liquidity. Without them, financial markets could become disorderly and unpredictable.