Percent of a company's shares owned by banks, mutual funds, pension funds, insurance companies and other institutions, all of them characterized by a propensity to buy and sell in bulk. Big institutional trades are having an increasing impact on the securities markets as the institutional share of savings increases. Institutions are also increasingly speaking up to demand more independent directors, better performance and greater shareholder value. Their size and clout gives them more influence than most individual investors could hope to have, and it is usually exercised for the benefit of all stockholders in a given concern. Institutional ownership is a sign of legitimacy for a public company, and liquidity for its shares. It implies that a firm has gained access to vast pools of capital controlled by institutional investors -- capital that might not be otherwise available.