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

2 Answers 2


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.


  • In other words buying stocks from Interactive Brokers or other platform is as real as it gets? Jan 1, 2019 at 17:06
  • 1
    Interactive Brokers took my money 20+ years ago and I haven't seen it since! OK, J/K. Yes, it's as real as it gets. Brokers in the US are heavily regulated by numerous authorities (FINRA, SEC, etc.) and account holdings are covered by SIPC insurance. Offshore brokers, not so much. That's where the scamming occurs. IBKR is as real as it gets. Note that when investing or trading, you are placing a bet but that's market risk not broker risk. Jan 1, 2019 at 17:43
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    @NikolayDyankov As the article in the second link mentions, you can actually get a broker to issue you the stock certificate in your name, but there are fees for it. In addition, then you have a stock certificate that can be lost or stolen. You may be able to get it replaced in some circumstances, but it would likely be a hassle. You also have to send in the certificate to sell the stock, which would involve more fees and delay. Those fees would reduce your return.
    – T. M.
    Jan 2, 2019 at 0:00

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.

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