When it comes to investing, going with the crowd will rarely if ever make you rich. If your objective is to buy low and sell high, then, in the words of Warren Buffett, you must be "greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy." This is the foundation of contrarian investing.

But there's a twist. To be a contrarian investor, you must first know what to be contrary to. And this is where the SEC's invaluable EDGAR database comes in. Every quarter companies and large institutional investors are required to disclose their equity holdings. By patching these together, we can get a fuller picture of a particular stock's popularity.

What follows, in turn, is a look at the principal owners of Bank of America's (NYSE:BAC) outstanding common stock.

Bags of money and rolls of cash in front of a nondescript green cityscape background

Image source: Getty Images.

A broad overview
As you can see in the following chart, the majority of Bank of America's 10.5 billion shares are held by institutional investors. Company insiders, including board members and corporate executives, own a further 0.06% of the outstanding common stock. And the public at large owns the remaining 39%.

Institutional investors
Digging in a bit further, the largest institutional stakeholders in Bank of America are asset managers. Bond giant BlackRock tops the list at 5.2% ownership, followed by The Vanguard Group at 4.9%, and the asset management arms of State Street, Fidelity, and T. Rowe Price at 4.3%, 2.5%, and 1.4%, respectively.

The largest buyers have been BNP Paribas and JPMorgan Asset Management, which have recently acquired 19.1 million and 18.9 million shares of common stock, respectively. Meanwhile, the two largest sellers of late have been Robeco Group and Fidelity, which have disposed of 39.6 million and 39.4 million shares, respectively.

Biggest insiders
Turning to inside investors, far and away the largest inside owner is Thomas Montag, B of A's chief operating officer, who received the equivalent of more than 1.5 million shares as a part of B of A's Merrill Lynch acquisition. The second largest holder is chief financial officer Bruce Thompson with 688,383 shares. And in third place is chief executive officer and recently elected board chairman Brian Moynihan with just under 600,000 shares.

The bottom line on inside and institutional ownership
While insider and institutional ownership together represent only one metric, it's nevertheless an important one. Beyond hinting at the overall market's sentiment toward a stock, it also gives investors insight into the confidence of the people best positioned to predict a company's current state and future success.

John Maxfield owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool recommends BlackRock. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Citigroup, and JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.