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What Are Over-the-Counter (OTC) Shares and How Do I Purchase Them?

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Over-the-Counter shares aren’t traded on regular inventory market exchanges. There are a lot of components that weigh on OTC shares’ availabilities and the diploma of funding dangers. Due to this fact, traders ought to completely perceive OTC shares earlier than putting a purchase order.

How Do OTC Shares Work?

To start out, traders ought to analysis how customary inventory buying and selling works. Some well-known corporations — the Googles and Amazons of the world — are listed on inventory exchanges.

Conventional Inventory Change Listings vs. OTC Inventory Listings

Probably the most acquainted exchanges within the U.S. are the New York Inventory Change and the Nationwide Affiliation of Securities Sellers Automated Quotations. Each of those have itemizing necessities, using specialists and high-grade know-how to facilitate buying and selling. These measures assist cut back volatility and create liquidity. 

Moreover, an organization should meet sure parameters for its shares to be listed on the trade. For instance, necessities to checklist on the Nasdaq market embrace an organization’s value per share of no less than $3.00 and belongings of greater than $four million.

That is the place OTC shares differ. OTC shares are usually not listed on inventory exchanges, however they’re sometimes traded “over-the-counter” with a chosen broker-dealer regulated by FINRA, who will subsequently purchase and promote orders. 

OTC shares obtain much less scrutiny relating to itemizing necessities, they usually act in its place for smaller corporations to obtain funding. Nonetheless, because of the lack of transparency of monetary info, firm dimension and the flexibility to commerce securities quickly, OTC shares are thought-about extremely speculative, and plenty of of them are penny shares

What Is Thought-about an OTC Inventory?

There are 4 tiers of OTC shares, every aiming to supply a transparent notion of an OTC firm and its shares:

  • Pink Sheets
  • Gray Market


OTCQX is the premium tier of OTC shares. These listings require up-to-date audited financials and disclosures to qualify for this class. They can’t be a shell firm, a penny inventory or in chapter.


As an organization in its early levels, OTCQB-listed shares additionally can’t be in chapter. They’ve a minimal value of $0.01 and should adjust to U.S. audited monetary account measures beneath the Typically Accepted Account Ideas, often known as GAAP financials. 

Pink Sheets

Also called the “Open Market,” Pink Sheets are an especially dangerous territory for OTC shares. The Pink Market doesn’t require its corporations to reveal monetary info, and there’s no minimal for monetary benchmarks. These shares can embrace a wide range of shell corporations or others that commerce abroad. 

Grey Market

The grey market refers to all different OTC shares with even poorer regulatory compliance. Typically, they don’t have any monetary info, and broker-dealers is not going to quote grey market shares as investor demand is so low.

Is It Secure To Purchase OTC Shares?

The proof means that OTC shares carry excessive danger. Charles Schwab gives a number of causes during which OTC shares generally is a probably harmful endeavor:

  • Limitations on the supply of public info
  • No minimal set of necessities to satisfy
  • The monetary danger connected to small market cap corporations

Can OTC Shares Make Cash?

Sure, there may be potential to earn a living on OTC shares however generally, traders lose cash. Buyers ought to take warning and familiarize themselves with how shares work earlier than making any choices on including OTC shares to their portfolio.

The place Can Buyers Purchase OTC Shares?

OTC inventory buying and selling is completed via citation providers offered by the OTC Markets Group or the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board. Nonetheless, a dealer is required to purchase or promote inventory via these authorities. 

Buyers should buy and promote OTC shares with many conventional brokerages within the U.S., however the accessible picks and related charges will range by platform. Nonetheless, some brokers don’t supply OTC inventory buying and selling in any respect. Nonetheless, listed here are a few of the OTC inventory choices for traders:


Constancy has an OTC portfolio that focuses on a mix of small-cap corporations listed on the Nasdaq and OTC markets. Nonetheless, it additionally requires clients to allow penny inventory buying and selling and acknowledge that they perceive the dangers previous to doing so. 


Webull lists greater than 100 OTC shares on its platform, however the corporations have to be actively traded and have a market cap within the area of $5 billion. To place this in perspective, there have been greater than 10,000 OTC shares accessible to commerce within the U.S. lately. Webull probably has restrictions on sure shares in an effort to defend traders’ pursuits.

What Are Examples of OTC Shares?

As mentioned, there are a number of varieties of OTC shares. Regardless of OTC shares being related to small penny shares, there are lots of multinational firms that commerce American Depositary Receipts on the OTC markets. ADRs, merely put, symbolize a share of a overseas firm’s inventory. 

Corporations use this tactic as a result of it’s cheaper than a inventory trade itemizing whereas nonetheless attracting abroad funding. So whereas most OTC shares could also be unfamiliar to traders, there are additionally large firms buying and selling on the OTC markets. Nestlé, Volkswagen, Adidas and Nintendo are all examples of enormous multi-billion greenback corporations that promote ADRs on the OTC markets.

Last Take

OTC shares are in all probability not the most effective concept for inventory market learners, and new traders ought to familiarize themselves with how shares work earlier than making any funding choices. Whereas some OTC shares carry much less danger than others, the proof factors towards a extremely speculative market atmosphere with a robust chance of traders dropping cash.

Info is correct as of Sept. 1, 2022.

Our in-house analysis workforce and on-site monetary specialists work collectively to create content material that’s correct, neutral, and updated. We fact-check each single statistic, quote and truth utilizing trusted major sources to verify the knowledge we offer is appropriate. You may study extra about GOBankingRates’ processes and requirements in our editorial coverage.

In regards to the Writer

David is a professional monetary advisor within the Republic of Eire. He has a bachelor’s diploma in enterprise and entrepreneurship, in addition to over 5 years of investing expertise.

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