What is over-the-counter trading? An investor’s guide to OTC markets

Over-the-counter (OTC) stocks are also known as unlisted stocks. Typically offered by small companies, they are traded through market makers, rather than through stock exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq. As a result, OTC stocks generally have a lower volume of trade than exchange-listed stocks and come with a higher degree of risk. Penny stocks are very cheap OTC stocks, which are typically priced at less than $5 per share. Most full-service brokerages can help you place orders for OTC stocks.

  1. The filing requirements between listing platforms vary and business financials may be hard to locate.
  2. Mortgage-backed securities and other derivatives such as CDOs and CMOs, which were traded solely in the OTC markets, could not be priced reliably as liquidity totally dried up in the absence of buyers.
  3. The Charles Schwab Corporation provides a full range of brokerage, banking and financial advisory services through its operating subsidiaries.

The tiers give no indication of the investment merits of the company and should not be construed as a recommendation. As we’ve seen, some types of stocks trade on the OTC markets for very good reasons, and they could make excellent investment opportunities. On the other hand, many OTC stocks are of highly speculative businesses or even outright fraudulent companies involved in pump-and-dump scams.


Each year we collect thousands of data points and publish tens of thousands of words of research. Our editorial content is independent and unbiased; here’s how we make money. Alternative investments, including OTCs, are risky and may not be suitable for all investors. Alternative investments often employ leveraging and other speculative practices that increase an investor’s risk of loss to include complete loss of investment and can be highly illiquid and volatile. Alternative investments may lack diversification, involve complex tax structures and have delays in reporting important tax information. On Monday, the news of Evergrande’s eventual demise — having been a zombie stock for several years — may have already been priced into the markets, as the response from investors was muted.

As just noted, over-the-counter (OTC) stocks are traded directly through a network of market makers or broker-dealers. OTC stocks are not listed on national securities exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or Nasdaq, which is why they are called unlisted. Sometimes the securities being traded over-the-counter lack buyers and sellers. As a result, the value of a security may vary widely depending on which market markers trade the stock. Additionally, it makes it potentially dangerous if a buyer acquires a significant position in a stock that trades over-the-counter should they decide to sell it at some point in the future. The lack of liquidity could make it difficult to sell in the future.

OTC Markets Group

Bullish and bearish sentiment is always vying for control, and investors like you can very quickly become overwhelmed. The markets where people buy and sell stock come in several different flavors. Known as the “venture market,” this market entails a moderate amount of oversight, and it shares some information with the SEC.

Investing Tips

In practice, buying and selling OTC securities may not feel much different than buying and selling securities that trade on a major exchange due to electronic trading. Also, you can trade many OTC securities using most mainstream brokerage accounts. But OTC networks lack the rigorous financial reporting and transparency standards of major stock exchanges, so extra caution and due diligence is required from investors.

But some securities trade on decentralized marketplaces known as over-the-counter (OTC) markets. There are a number of reasons a stock may trade on OTC markets, but often it’s because the company can’t meet the stringent requirements of a major exchange. Learn how OTC trading works and what you should know before investing in OTC securities. Investing services in treasury accounts offering 6 month US Treasury Bills on the Public platform are through Jiko Securities, Inc. (“JSI”), a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA & SIPC.

However, there’s a lesser-known corner of the stock market that offers a unique set of opportunities and risks. OTC investing carries a higher amount of risk than exchange-traded stocks due to lower liquidity and higher volatility in the market. OTC markets are less regulated than exchanges and have more lax reporting requirements. That’s why it’s always important to research OTC stocks as you would any other investment in order to understand the risks involved with investing. You might also notice in your research that many of the foreign companies are listed on the Pink Sheets, rather than the OTCQX.

While it isn’t exactly the same as holding these cryptocurrencies in a digital wallet, it provides exposure to investors who do not want to through the hassle of buying cryptos from a centralized fxchoice review exchange. Trading OTC stocks is the same process as trading listed stocks on most brokerages, with some caveats. Trading OTC stocks will usually require that you place limit orders.

Companies listed on the NYSE and Nasdaq have to file audited financial reports with the SEC. OTC filing requirements vary by platform, but some companies on OTC markets may not have to file financial reports. OTC securities also have been the focus of pump and dump schemes. Con artists use social media and email to heavily promote a thinly-traded stock in which they have an interest. The con artists grab their profits and everyone else loses money.

OTC markets are sometimes cast as the seedy underbelly of the stock market. If the major exchanges are a mall, the OTC markets are a foreign bazaar. SmartAsset Advisors, LLC (“SmartAsset”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Financial Insight https://traderoom.info/ Technology, is registered with the U.S. SmartAsset does not review the ongoing performance of any RIA/IAR, participate in the management of any user’s account by an RIA/IAR or provide advice regarding specific investments.

Can you make money with penny stocks?

If you go with a real-world full-service brokerage, you can buy and sell OTC stocks. The broker will place the order with the market maker for the stock you want to buy or sell. The first step an investor must make before trading OTC securities is to open an account with a brokerage firm. There are benefits of OTC securities, but consider the risks involved, and decide whether they align with your financial goals. OTC markets provide opportunities for bigger moves, but because of reduced regulation, the reverse could also happen, Soscia says.

For any trading strategy, it’s important to have good risk management. I want to give you a couple of examples of OTC stocks from 2020. Keep in mind that these are only examples of these stocks and how they operate. If you place a market order with an OTC, you can wind up paying any price for the stock — and it likely won’t be in your favor. Remember that OTCs are the underbelly of the stock market, where many companies go to die. If you wind up holding the bag on some of these OTCs, you could be holding the bag for life.

There are plenty of different places to get an OTC stocks list in the age of the internet. One of the best places to visit is the homepage of the OTC Market itself. Other sites include Google Finance, Yahoo Finance, and Bloomberg Finance.

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