What is Finance Theory? Explanation, Overview, 7 Types

Finance theory is the study of how capital can be used in a way that leads to greater long-term economic growth. Finance theory is important because it can give businesses a strategy for investing their capital. Click on each section below to read more information related to it. 

What is Finance Theory?

Finance theory and mathematics are two complimentary but separate branches of the same science. Financial theory may help with strategies for gaining and expanding capital, as well as approaches for limiting monetary risk.

It might take a lifetime to study all of the finance theory concepts that pertain to the many sectors of finance.

Importance Of Finance Theory

Some aspects of finance theory can be used to determine the monthly payment on a mortgage or a car loan. Using these concepts, the real value of a loan may be computed by calculating the initial investment, total payments, and the effect of interest.

Others in finance believe that this research might be expanded by using algorithms and economic forecasts to account for things such as the risk of inflation.

The long-term impact of any particular activity is an important concern for investors, and this is where assessing the value of money over time comes in.

Special Point

Most financial theories, however, do not rely on absolutes. Financial professionals aren’t ashamed to admit that investment ideas and market movements may include a lot of luck and chance, which even the finest theory can’t explain away.

Strategy, practice, and theory can raise the chances of success, but they cannot guarantee a profit in the same way that gambling can. That is why it is critical for investors to stay up to date on the newest financial happenings.

Management principles are critical in many disciplines of financial theory. The current profit margin of a firm, its debt-to-asset ratio, market forecasting, and the likelihood of incorporation are all relevant factors to examine while establishing a finance theory or strategy.

Consideration of all of these factors may assist a business owner or finance management in developing a feasible strategy for the future by comparing the risks against the possible rewards.

Some financial theories require knowledge of both mathematics and the financial market to be understood. Numerous books and online resources introduce numerous financial theories or give surveys of the most frequently held opinions in a certain field of finance.

Seminars and community college courses on financial theory are frequent and may provide a strong basis for new investors.

Types Of Finance Theory

Public Finance Theory

Through its regulation of resource allocation, income distribution, and economic stability, the federal government plays a role in averting market failure. The majority of the continuing money for these programs is generated via taxes.

The federal government does not just assist and provide to state and local governments. Port, airport, and other facility user fees, monetary penalties for breaking the law, licensing and fee collections (such as car registration fees), and earnings from the sale of government securities and bond issues all contribute to the public finances.

Corporate Finance Theory

Businesses can support their operations through a variety of means, including stock investments and credit arrangements. A corporation can obtain a loan or establish a line of credit with a bank.

Debt acquisition and management are critical components of a company’s development and profitability. Angel investors and venture capitalists give startup cash in exchange for a part in the firm.

If a business is performing well, it may elect to list its stock on a stock exchange. These initial public offerings (IPOs) bring in a big chunk of money.

Established enterprises can raise cash by issuing new bonds or selling new shares to the general public. Companies can boost their profits by purchasing dividend-paying equities, high-yield bonds, or bank CDs, or by acquiring other firms.

Examples of current corporate financing include:

  • Bausch & Lomb Corp.’s initial public offering (IPO) was initially registered on January 13, 2022, and shares were first made available to the public in May of that year. The healthcare company profited $630 million as a result of their efforts.
  • Ford Motor Credit Company LLC is in charge of managing Ford Motor Company’s outstanding notes in order to obtain capital or pay off debt.
  • Raising $115 million necessitated a multifaceted financial plan, which HomeLight pursued by issuing $60 million in new shares and borrowing $55 million. With the additional funds, HomeLight bought the finance startup Accept.inc.

Personal Finance Theory

Personal finance planning comprises assessing one’s current financial situation, forecasting one’s short- and long-term needs, and establishing a strategy to satisfy those needs within one’s means. Income, basic requirements, and goals all have a significant impact on one’s personal finances.

Credit cards, life insurance, mortgages, and retirement plans are all examples of financial goods classified as “personal finance.” Personal banking (including, but not limited to, checking and savings accounts, IRAs, and 401(k) plans) is also considered a subcategory of personal finance.

The following are the most important aspects of one’s financial life:

  • Examining the financial status, including anticipated cash flow, current savings, and so on.
  • Investing in insurance is a sure method to ensure one’s financial security and peace of mind.
  • Accounting for fiscal responsibilities through computation and submission of forms
  • The Importance of Saving Money
  • The Art of Retirement Planning

Personal finance is a relatively young field of study, but variants on it have been taught in universities and schools since the early twentieth century under the banners of “home economics” and “consumer economics.”

Male economists didn’t take it seriously at first since they felt “home economics” was solely for women at home. Economists have increasingly stressed the necessity of a national emphasis on personal financial education to the overall functioning of the economy.

Social Finance Theory

The phrase “social finance” is widely used to denote non-profit and cooperative funding. These investments, which take the form of stock or debt finance rather than a simple contribution, are made by persons who desire to receive both financial and social rewards from their participation.

Microfinance is a type of modern social finance that gives loans to entrepreneurs and small business owners in poor countries to help them grow their businesses.

Moneyed individuals can improve their personal standard of living while simultaneously contributing to the broader benefit of the society and economy by making loans.

Social impact bonds are a type of contract with a government agency or a local government. They are also known as Pay for Success Bonds or social benefit bonds. Only if defined societal goals are attained will investments and earnings be returned.

Behavioral Finance Theory

Traditional financial theories looked to be quite good at predicting and explaining certain types of economic happenings, both theoretically and practically, at one point in time.

However, as time passed, academics in the domains of finance and economics began to uncover anomalies and behaviors that occurred in the real world but could not be explained by any existing theory.

Conventional theories were discovered to be capable of accounting for some “idealized” occurrences, but it quickly became clear that the real world is much messier and less ordered than that, and that market participants frequently exhibit irrational behavior that is difficult to forecast using such models.

As a result, scholars have begun to seek to cognitive psychology to explain irrational and illogical acts that cannot be explained by traditional economics.

As a result of these efforts, behavioral science evolved, with the goal of providing explanations for human behavior, as opposed to the mythical “economic man” whose activities are the focus of current finance (Homo economicus).

Behavioral finance is a branch of behavioral economics that employs psychological explanations for financial abnormalities such as unexpected stock price rises or reductions. The idea is to discover why people make certain financial decisions.

According to behavioral finance, factors such as market structure and participant characteristics are assumed to have a systematic influence on investment decisions and market results.

Many people consider the late 1960s, when Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky began collaborating, to be the genesis of behavioral finance.

Later, Richard Thaler joined them and created notions such as mental accounting, the endowment effect, and other biases that influence people’s actions by mixing economics and finance with psychological components.

Tenets of Behavioral Finance

In the study of behavioral finance, four essential ideas are mental accounting, herd behavior, anchoring, and high self-rating and overconfidence.

People have a habit of mentally “accounting” for their money resources based on a range of subjective variables, such as where the funds came from and how they will be utilized.

People are prone to making unreasonable and even detrimental links between various types of assets and the objectives for which they are employed, according to the idea of mental accounting.

Some people, for example, have a designated “money jar” for future expensive expenditures such as a vacation or a new home, while also carrying significant credit card debt.

In terms of financial decisions, people tend to “herd” after what the majority does, whether the majority’s choices are reasonable or irrational.

The phrase “herd behavior” is widely used to describe a pattern of decisions and actions that no one individual would make on their own but that appear to be justified since “everyone else is doing it.” Financial panics and stock market calamities are frequently blamed in part on herd mentality.

A practice known as “anchoring” might influence spending decisions by connecting large quantities of money to artificial benchmarks regardless of their real relevance to the situation at hand.

The widely held belief that an engagement ring should cost around two months’ salary is an example of anchoring.

Another option is to buy a stock that briefly rose from $65 to $80 and then fell back to $65 because you feel it is now a bargain (using the $80 price as a pivot point in your strategy).

While this is possible, the more likely situation is that the $80 price was an exception and the shares are actually worth $65 per share.

A person with a high self-rating has an inflated view of themselves and feels they are better than the norm or average. When all of an investor’s money is performing well, he may begin to assume he is a financial master and disregard the money that is performing poorly.

Overconfidence, or the tendency to exaggerate one’s ability to perform a certain task successfully, is directly tied to having a high self-rating. Overconfidence may be detrimental in a variety of situations, including stock choosing.

According to Terrance Odean’s study, published in 1998 under the title “Volume, Volatility, Price, and Profit When All Traders Are Above Average,” overconfident investors make more trades than their less confident colleagues, but their returns are substantially lower than the market average.

7 Controversial Investing Theories

When it comes to investing, there is no shortage of theories on what makes the markets tick or what a particular market move means.

The two largest factions on Wall Street are split along theoretical lines between supporters of the efficient market theory and those who believe the market can be beaten.

Although this is a fundamental split, many other theories attempt to explain and influence the market, as well as the actions of investors in the markets.

1. Efficient Markets Hypothesis

Even now, there remains a lot of debate over the efficient markets idea (EMH). According to the EMH, the price of a share of stock already represents all publicly accessible information about that stock.

This means that, barring any unforeseen developments, the stock’s value is correct for the time being.

If you believe in EMH, instead of betting on a particular stock or sector, you should diversify your stock holdings and profit from the market’s general gain.

You may be a believer and use passive, broad market investing approaches, or you can be a contrarian and buy stocks based on growth potential, undervalued assets, and so on.

Those who disagree with EMH point to investors like as Warren Buffett, who have had consistent success by taking advantage of the market’s irrational pricing.

2. Fifty-Percent Principle

According to the fifty-percent principle, a price correction of fifty to sixty percent of the price change will occur before an observed trend persists.

For instance, if a stock has been growing and has gained 20%, it is likely to fall 10% before rising again. Although this rule is frequently utilized by technical analysts and traders, it is frequently applied exclusively to short-term trends.

Most of the time, this correction is caused by jittery traders cashing in their wins before the trend completely reverses, which is why it is typically seen as a natural component of the trend.

A price correction of more than 50% of the previous price movement indicates the failure of the trend and a premature reversal.

3. Greater Fool Theory

According to the larger fool theory, you can benefit as long as someone even more of a fool than you is ready to pay a higher price for an investment. Even though the stock is overvalued, you may make a profit if you can find a buyer willing to pay a premium for it.

If the market for your investment choice becomes overly hot, there will be no more fools to take your money. If you believe in the bigger fool idea of investing, you should overlook price, earnings, and other performance measures.

People who believe in the larger fool theory may lose money if they opt to disregard facts rather than pay attention to it during a market collapse.

4. Odd Lot Theory

The sale of odd lots, or relatively small blocks of stock held by individual investors, may serve as a reliable indication of when to enter the market, according to the odd lot theory.

When individual investors leave the market, others who believe in the odd lot hypothesis fill the hole. The key premise is that individual investors are virtually always wrong.

Tracking the quantity of odd-numbered goods sold is a fundamental tool of technical analysis. This odd-number hypothesis is a risky investing strategy. The success of a theory-following investor or trader is critically dependent on his ability to verify the fundamentals of the businesses to which it leads.

Because small investors are more likely to be wrong than right, it is critical to distinguish between odd lot sales caused by a lack of risk tolerance and those caused by deeper systemic difficulties.

Because small investors are more quick than huge funds, they are typically the first to react to negative news, which means that their odd-lot sales may be a precursor to a broader sell-off in a failing stock rather than a simple error.

5. Prospect Theory

The prospect idea is also known as the loss-aversion hypothesis. According to prospect theory, people tend to overestimate their odds of success while underestimating their possibilities of failure. As a result, the drive given by a gain surpasses the fear of loss.

When given the choice between two options, people will pick the one that they perceive would result in the least amount of loss, even if the latter offers a bigger potential return.

In the preceding example, the individual would prefer the investment that has returned 5% yearly over the one that has returned 12%, 2%, and 6% over the same time period because he would place an irrational weight on the loss while dismissing the higher returns.

Both alternatives in the previous graphic yield the same net total return after three years. A solid knowledge of prospect theory benefits both investors and financial specialists.

Although the risk/reward trade-off presents a clear picture of the degree of risk an investor must accept in order to get the desired profits, prospect theory demonstrates that few people emotionally comprehend what they understand intellectually.

When it comes to matching a client’s portfolio to their risk tolerance, professional financial advisers have a larger challenge than when it comes to meeting their customers’ return expectations.

Investors must overcome the disillusioning projections of prospect theory in order to get the required returns.

6. Rational Expectations Theory

Economic actors will act in accordance with rational expectations theory based on what may be rationally predicted. A person’s financial decisions, such as savings and spending, are based on their realistic expectations for the future.

When someone believes something will happen in the future, they help to bring it about by making it more likely. A solid knowledge of prospect theory benefits both investors and financial specialists.

Although the risk/reward trade-off presents a clear picture of the degree of risk an investor must accept in order to get the desired profits, prospect theory demonstrates that few people emotionally comprehend what they understand intellectually.

When one investor notices that a firm is underpriced, he or she purchases shares and then watches as other investors do the same, causing the price to rise to its fair market value.

This exemplifies rational expectations theory’s core flaw: it may be altered to explain anything, but it never yields valuable insight.

7. Short Interest Theory

On the surface, the notion that a large number of individuals are shorting a stock indicates that its price is poised to rise is based on nothing more than a hunch. A company with a lot of short interest (many of them are shorting it) is overdue for a correction, according to investors.

It is considered that the hundreds of professionals and regular people who study each piece of market data cannot all be erroneous. While they may be partially true, massive shorting of a stock might lead it to skyrocket in price.

Stocks that have been shorted must be acquired by the seller in order to “cover” the short. As a result of the purchase pressure produced by short sellers covering their bets, the share price will rise.


“Finance theory” is a term used in economics and finance to describe a body of concepts and theories. They are theories developed to help explain economic behavior and how markets work.

There is an entire field within economics that studies these concepts. In fact, some economists specialize in one particular area of finance theory while others are experts in multiple areas.

These theories are built upon two major pillars: (a) the cost-minimization principle and (b) the market structure of the capital markets.

The first pillar is concerned with what investments are the best. The second pillar is concerned with how much money can be raised from investors.

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