I'm looking at Interactive Brokers - when I buy a stock from their trading platform, will I be the actual owner of this stock, or am I simply placing a bet (sort of)? Is there even a difference?
EDIT: Same question for mutual funds, indexes, etc
In almost every instance when you buy or sell securities with a broker, your name is not actually on the stock or bond certificate. The name that appears on the certificate is that of your broker or other nominee, and this is referred to as being held "in street name."
Although the name on a stock certificate is not that of the individual, they are still listed as the real and beneficial owner and have the rights associated with the security.
One wrinkle in the United States: certain retirement accounts are owned by the brokerage as trustee for the benefit of you. This is operationally how these assets are protected in bankruptcy.