US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Brokers 2024

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Written By
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Written By
Tobias Robinson
Tobias is a partner at DayTrading.com, director of a UK limited company and active trader. He has over 25 years of experience in the financial industry and contributed via CySec to the regulatory response to digital options and CFD trading in Europe. Toby’s expertise and dedication to financial education make him a trusted voice in the industry, including a BBC investigation into digital options.
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Fact Checked By
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Fact Checked By
William Berg
William contributes to several investment websites, leveraging his experience as a consultant for IPOs in the Nordic market and background providing localization for forex trading software. William has worked as a writer and fact-checker for a long row of financial publications.
Updated

SEC regulations

This guide ranks the top brokers regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a federal government agency responsible for protecting investors within the securities markets. We investigate the agency’s powers and regulations, track record and how brokers are supervised. Our team also explain how to carry out a company search and a regulations check.

Best SEC Brokers

The SEC enforces regulations and oversees firms to protect US retail traders. These are the top brokers authorized by the SEC:

Click a broker for details
  1. 1
    eToro USA
    Invest $100 and get $10
    https://www.daytrading.com/ is not an affiliate and may be compensated if you access certain products or services offered by the MSB and/or the BD.

    Ratings
    4.3 / 5
    3 / 5
    3.9 / 5
    3.4 / 5
    4 / 5
    3 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4 / 5

    $10
    $10
    SEC, FINRA
    Stocks, Options, ETFs, Crypto
    eToro Trading Platform & CopyTrader
    ACH Transfer, Debit Card, PayPal, Wire Transfer
    USD
  2. 2
    Interactive Brokers

    Ratings
    4.5 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    3.3 / 5
    3 / 5
    4.4 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.5 / 5

    $0
    $100
    1:50
    FCA, SEC, FINRA, CFTC, CBI, CIRO, SFC, MAS, MNB, FINMA
    Stocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Funds, Bonds, ETFs, Mutual Funds, CFDs, Cryptocurrencies
    Trader Workstation (TWS), IBKR Desktop, GlobalTrader, Mobile, Client Portal, AlgoTrader, OmniTrader, eSignal, TradingCentral
    Cheque, ACH Transfer, Wire Transfer, Automated Customer Account Transfer Service, TransferWise, Debit Card
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, INR, JPY, SEK, NOK, DKK, CHF, AED, HUF
  3. 3
    Moomoo
    Get up to 15 free stocks worth up to $2000

    Ratings
    4.8 / 5
    3.3 / 5
    3 / 5
    3.8 / 5
    3 / 5
    2 / 5
    3.8 / 5
    4.4 / 5
    4.6 / 5
    3.3 / 5

    $0
    $0
    1:2
    SEC, FINRA, MAS, ASIC, SFC
    Stocks, Options, ETFs, ADRs, OTCs
    Desktop Platform, Mobile App
    Wire Transfer, ACH Transfer
    USD, HKD, SGD
  4. 4
    Personal Capital

    $1 (Cash), $100,000 (Robo Advisor)
    Variable
    SEC
    Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Fixed Income
    Own
    Wire Transfer
    USD
  5. 5
    Empower

    $1 (Cash), $100,000 (Robo Advisor)
    Variable
    SEC, FINRA
    Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Fixed Income
    Own
    Wire Transfer
    USD
  6. 6
    Firstrade
    Deposit Bonus Up To $4000

    $0
    $1
    SEC, FINRA
    Stocks, ETFs, Options, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Cryptos, Fixed
    Own
    ACH Transfer, Wire Transfer, Cheque, Automated Customer Account Transfer Service
    USD
  7. 7
    Revolut
    Revolut is a financial technology company. Banking services provided by Metropolitan Commercial Bank, Member FDIC. Securities products and services provided by Revolut Securities Inc, member FINRA/SIPC. Securities products are not insured by the FDIC or any federal government agency, are not bank deposits, are not obligations of or guaranteed by Metropolitan Commercial Bank and are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of the principal amount invested.

    $0
    $1
    FINRA, SEC
    Stocks, Cryptos
    Own
    Wire Transfer, Debit Card, Credit Card, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Visa, Mastercard
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, ZAR, SEK, NOK, DKK, CHF, HKD, PLN, CZK, HUF

This is why we think these brokers are the best in this category:

  1. eToro USA - eToro is a social investing platform that offers short-term and long-term trading on stocks, ETFs, options and crypto. The broker is well-known for its user-friendly community-centred platform and competitive fees. With FINRA and SIPC oversight and millions of users across the world, eToro is still one of the most respected brands in the industry. eToro securities trading is offered by eToro USA Securities, Inc.
  2. Interactive Brokers - Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a premier brokerage, providing access to 150 markets in 33 countries, along with a suite of comprehensive investment services. With over 40 years of experience, this Nasdaq-listed firm adheres to stringent regulations by the SEC, FCA, CIRO, and SFC, amongst others, and is one of the most trusted brokers for trading around the globe.
  3. Moomoo - Moomoo is an SEC-regulated app-based investment platform that offers a straightforward and affordable way to invest in Chinese, Hong Kong, Singaporean, Australian and US stocks, ETFs and other assets. Margin trading is available and the brand offers a zero-deposit account as well as several bonuses.
  4. Personal Capital - Empower (formerly Personal Capital) is a popular, SEC-regulated US financial advisory and investment platform that offers pensions, ready-made investment plans and do-it-yourself, commission-free investing through a large range of mutual funds, ETFs, individual equities and fixed-income securities. The broker has an impressive 3.4 million clients.
  5. Empower - Empower, previously Personal Capital, is a US-based and SEC-regulated trading platform and advisory firm. Clients can access pensions, robo-advisors and do-it-yourself investing in stocks, mutual funds, fixed-income products and ETFs. Millions of clients trust Empower with their long-term investments, attracted by the suite of free financial planning tools and excellent reputation.
  6. Firstrade - Firstrade is a US-headquartered discount broker-dealer with authorization from the SEC. The company is also a member of FINRA/SIPC. With welcome bonuses, powerful tools and apps, plus commission-free trading, Firstrade Securities is a popular online brokerage. It is also quick and easy to open a new account.
  7. Revolut - Revolut is a popular financial app that also offers trading on stocks, metals and digital currencies. The brand has over 25 million users worldwide with a choice of accounts, tools and services to suit different needs and budgets, including online investing and currency exchange.

eToro USA

"eToro remains a top pick for traders looking for leading social investing and copy trading services. With a low deposit, zero commissions and an intuitive platform, the broker will meet the needs of newer day traders."

Jemma Grist, Reviewer

eToro USA Quick Facts

Bonus OfferInvest $100 and get $10
Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsStocks, Options, ETFs, Crypto
RegulatorSEC, FINRA
PlatformseToro Trading Platform & CopyTrader
Minimum Deposit$10
Minimum Trade$10
Account CurrenciesUSD

Pros

  • The $10 minimum deposit and straightforward account opening process means beginners can get started quickly
  • The broker's Academy offers comprehensive learning materials for beginners to advanced-level investors
  • The online broker offers an intuitive social investment network with straightforward copy trading on cryptos

Cons

  • Average fees may cut into the profit margins of day traders
  • There's no MetaTrader 4 platform integration for traders who are accustomed to using third-party charting tools
  • There's a narrower range of day trading instruments available compared to competitors, with only stocks, ETFs and cryptos

Interactive Brokers

"Interactive Brokers is one of the best brokers for advanced day traders, providing powerful charting platforms, real-time data, and customizable layouts, notably through the new IBKR Desktop application. Its superb pricing and advanced order options also make it highly attractive for day traders, while its diverse range of equities is still among the best in the industry."

Christian Harris, Reviewer

Interactive Brokers Quick Facts

Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsStocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Funds, Bonds, ETFs, Mutual Funds, CFDs, Cryptocurrencies
RegulatorFCA, SEC, FINRA, CFTC, CBI, CIRO, SFC, MAS, MNB, FINMA
PlatformsTrader Workstation (TWS), IBKR Desktop, GlobalTrader, Mobile, Client Portal, AlgoTrader, OmniTrader, eSignal, TradingCentral
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade$100
Leverage1:50
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, INR, JPY, SEK, NOK, DKK, CHF, AED, HUF

Pros

  • IBKR is one of the most respected and trusted brokerages and is regulated by top-tier authorities, so you can have confidence in the integrity and security of your trading account.
  • While primarily geared towards experienced traders, IBKR has made moves to broaden its appeal in recent years, reducing its minimum deposit from $10,000 to $0.
  • With low commissions, tight spreads and a transparent fee structure, IBKR delivers a cost-effective environment for short-term traders.

Cons

  • Support can be slow and frustrating based on tests, so you might find it challenging to reach customer service representatives promptly or encounter delays in resolving issues.
  • You can only have one active session per account, so you can’t have your desktop program and mobile app running simultaneously, making for a sometimes frustrating trading experience.
  • IBKR provides a wide range of research tools, but their distribution across trading platforms and the web-based 'Account Management' page lacks consistency, leading to a confusing user experience.

Moomoo

"Moomoo remains an excellent choice for new and intermediate stock traders who want to build a diverse investment portfolio. What really stands out is the broker's user-friendly app and the low trading fees."

Jemma Grist, Reviewer

Moomoo Quick Facts

Bonus OfferGet up to 15 free stocks worth up to $2000
Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsStocks, Options, ETFs, ADRs, OTCs
RegulatorSEC, FINRA, MAS, ASIC, SFC
PlatformsDesktop Platform, Mobile App
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade$0
Leverage1:2
Account CurrenciesUSD, HKD, SGD

Pros

  • There is no minimum deposit requirement making the broker accessible for beginners
  • It is reassuring that Moomoo holds licenses with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), among others
  • There are reduced options contract fees from $0.65 to $0

Cons

  • It's a shame that there is no 2 factor authentication (2FA), despite the other security features on offer
  • There is no phone or live chat support - common options at most other brokers
  • There is no negative balance protection, which is a common safety feature at top-tier-regulated brokers

Personal Capital

"Personal Capital (now Empower) is a great option for investors seeking a flexible way to build an investment portfolio or pension plan. It is a particularly good fit for US traders owing to the SEC oversight."

William Berg, Reviewer

Personal Capital Quick Facts

Demo AccountNo
InstrumentsStocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Fixed Income
RegulatorSEC
PlatformsOwn
Minimum Deposit$1 (Cash), $100,000 (Robo Advisor)
Minimum TradeVariable
Account CurrenciesUSD

Pros

  • FDIC-insured cash account with no minimum balance requirement
  • Strong regulatory oversight from SEC
  • Well-known and popular investing platform

Cons

  • US residents only
  • An annual advisory fee of 0.89%
  • No demo account

Empower

"Empower is best for hands-off investors looking for a US-regulated platform and robo-advisor with free financial planning services. However, investors need to be willing to make a large minimum investment and pay higher than average fees for premium services."

William Berg, Reviewer

Empower Quick Facts

Demo AccountNo
InstrumentsStocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Fixed Income
RegulatorSEC, FINRA
PlatformsOwn
Minimum Deposit$1 (Cash), $100,000 (Robo Advisor)
Minimum TradeVariable
Account CurrenciesUSD

Pros

  • Robo-advisor service with pre-built portfolios and investment strategies
  • Millions of active users and good industry reputation
  • Empower's advisory services are regulated by the SEC

Cons

  • $100,000 is needed for the robo-advisor service
  • No demo account for prospective users
  • Limited choice of payment methods with only wire transfer

Firstrade

"We recommend Firstrade for beginner investors looking to trade US stocks with no commissions. There is a wealth of free education plus premium-quality research and trading ideas from Morningstar, Briefing.com, Zacks and Benzinga."

William Berg, Reviewer

Firstrade Quick Facts

Bonus OfferDeposit Bonus Up To $4000
Demo AccountNo
InstrumentsStocks, ETFs, Options, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Cryptos, Fixed
RegulatorSEC, FINRA
PlatformsOwn
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade$1
Account CurrenciesUSD

Pros

  • No minimum deposit
  • Mobile app with advanced features and analysis
  • Premarket trading

Cons

  • No 24/7 customer support
  • Some withdrawal fees
  • No copy trading

Revolut

"Revolut is suitable for casual stock traders looking for an easy-to-use app with transparent fees and a low minimum investment."

William Berg, Reviewer

Revolut Quick Facts

Demo AccountNo
InstrumentsStocks, Cryptos
RegulatorFINRA, SEC
PlatformsOwn
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade$1
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, ZAR, SEK, NOK, DKK, CHF, HKD, PLN, CZK, HUF

Pros

  • Beginner-friendly mobile investing application
  • No commissions or custody fees on stocks
  • Good range of account types with different perks and fees

Cons

  • No margin trading
  • Relatively narrow product range
  • No advanced trading platform

What is the SEC?

The independent federal government agency aims to protect investors while ensuring the functionality of securities markets. The SEC also helps achieve transparency in the markets while preventing frauds, scams and malpractice.

To do the above, the regulatory body utilises a range of reporting and enforcement techniques. In addition, prospective members, such as forex brokers, must complete registration for a SEC licence before they can conduct business.

SEC Brokers

Click a broker for details
  1. 1
    eToro USA
    Invest $100 and get $10
    https://www.daytrading.com/ is not an affiliate and may be compensated if you access certain products or services offered by the MSB and/or the BD.

    Ratings
    4.3 / 5
    3 / 5
    3.9 / 5
    3.4 / 5
    4 / 5
    3 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4 / 5

    $10
    $10
    SEC, FINRA
    Stocks, Options, ETFs, Crypto
    eToro Trading Platform & CopyTrader
    ACH Transfer, Debit Card, PayPal, Wire Transfer
    USD
  2. 2
    Interactive Brokers

    Ratings
    4.5 / 5
    3.5 / 5
    4.5 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    3.3 / 5
    3 / 5
    4.4 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.5 / 5

    $0
    $100
    1:50
    FCA, SEC, FINRA, CFTC, CBI, CIRO, SFC, MAS, MNB, FINMA
    Stocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Funds, Bonds, ETFs, Mutual Funds, CFDs, Cryptocurrencies
    Trader Workstation (TWS), IBKR Desktop, GlobalTrader, Mobile, Client Portal, AlgoTrader, OmniTrader, eSignal, TradingCentral
    Cheque, ACH Transfer, Wire Transfer, Automated Customer Account Transfer Service, TransferWise, Debit Card
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, INR, JPY, SEK, NOK, DKK, CHF, AED, HUF
  3. 3
    Moomoo
    Get up to 15 free stocks worth up to $2000

    Ratings
    4.8 / 5
    3.3 / 5
    3 / 5
    3.8 / 5
    3 / 5
    2 / 5
    3.8 / 5
    4.4 / 5
    4.6 / 5
    3.3 / 5

    $0
    $0
    1:2
    SEC, FINRA, MAS, ASIC, SFC
    Stocks, Options, ETFs, ADRs, OTCs
    Desktop Platform, Mobile App
    Wire Transfer, ACH Transfer
    USD, HKD, SGD
  4. 4
    Empower

    $1 (Cash), $100,000 (Robo Advisor)
    Variable
    SEC, FINRA
    Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Fixed Income
    Own
    Wire Transfer
    USD
  5. 5
    Personal Capital

    $1 (Cash), $100,000 (Robo Advisor)
    Variable
    SEC
    Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Fixed Income
    Own
    Wire Transfer
    USD
  6. 6
    Firstrade
    Deposit Bonus Up To $4000

    $0
    $1
    SEC, FINRA
    Stocks, ETFs, Options, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Cryptos, Fixed
    Own
    ACH Transfer, Wire Transfer, Cheque, Automated Customer Account Transfer Service
    USD
  7. 7
    Revolut
    Revolut is a financial technology company. Banking services provided by Metropolitan Commercial Bank, Member FDIC. Securities products and services provided by Revolut Securities Inc, member FINRA/SIPC. Securities products are not insured by the FDIC or any federal government agency, are not bank deposits, are not obligations of or guaranteed by Metropolitan Commercial Bank and are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of the principal amount invested.

    $0
    $1
    FINRA, SEC
    Stocks, Cryptos
    Own
    Wire Transfer, Debit Card, Credit Card, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Visa, Mastercard
    USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, ZAR, SEK, NOK, DKK, CHF, HKD, PLN, CZK, HUF

This is why we think these brokers are the best in this category:

  1. eToro USA - eToro is a social investing platform that offers short-term and long-term trading on stocks, ETFs, options and crypto. The broker is well-known for its user-friendly community-centred platform and competitive fees. With FINRA and SIPC oversight and millions of users across the world, eToro is still one of the most respected brands in the industry. eToro securities trading is offered by eToro USA Securities, Inc.
  2. Interactive Brokers - Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a premier brokerage, providing access to 150 markets in 33 countries, along with a suite of comprehensive investment services. With over 40 years of experience, this Nasdaq-listed firm adheres to stringent regulations by the SEC, FCA, CIRO, and SFC, amongst others, and is one of the most trusted brokers for trading around the globe.
  3. Moomoo - Moomoo is an SEC-regulated app-based investment platform that offers a straightforward and affordable way to invest in Chinese, Hong Kong, Singaporean, Australian and US stocks, ETFs and other assets. Margin trading is available and the brand offers a zero-deposit account as well as several bonuses.
  4. Empower - Empower, previously Personal Capital, is a US-based and SEC-regulated trading platform and advisory firm. Clients can access pensions, robo-advisors and do-it-yourself investing in stocks, mutual funds, fixed-income products and ETFs. Millions of clients trust Empower with their long-term investments, attracted by the suite of free financial planning tools and excellent reputation.
  5. Personal Capital - Empower (formerly Personal Capital) is a popular, SEC-regulated US financial advisory and investment platform that offers pensions, ready-made investment plans and do-it-yourself, commission-free investing through a large range of mutual funds, ETFs, individual equities and fixed-income securities. The broker has an impressive 3.4 million clients.
  6. Firstrade - Firstrade is a US-headquartered discount broker-dealer with authorization from the SEC. The company is also a member of FINRA/SIPC. With welcome bonuses, powerful tools and apps, plus commission-free trading, Firstrade Securities is a popular online brokerage. It is also quick and easy to open a new account.
  7. Revolut - Revolut is a popular financial app that also offers trading on stocks, metals and digital currencies. The brand has over 25 million users worldwide with a choice of accounts, tools and services to suit different needs and budgets, including online investing and currency exchange.

eToro USA

"eToro remains a top pick for traders looking for leading social investing and copy trading services. With a low deposit, zero commissions and an intuitive platform, the broker will meet the needs of newer day traders."

Jemma Grist, Reviewer

eToro USA Quick Facts

Bonus OfferInvest $100 and get $10
Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsStocks, Options, ETFs, Crypto
RegulatorSEC, FINRA
PlatformseToro Trading Platform & CopyTrader
Minimum Deposit$10
Minimum Trade$10
Account CurrenciesUSD

Pros

  • Investors can access Smart Portfolios for a more hands-off approach, covering a range of sectors and markets such as renewable energy and artificial intelligence
  • The broker's Academy offers comprehensive learning materials for beginners to advanced-level investors
  • The online broker offers an intuitive social investment network with straightforward copy trading on cryptos

Cons

  • There's a narrower range of day trading instruments available compared to competitors, with only stocks, ETFs and cryptos
  • The proprietary terminal doesn't support trading bots and there are no additional stock market analysis tools
  • There's no MetaTrader 4 platform integration for traders who are accustomed to using third-party charting tools

Interactive Brokers

"Interactive Brokers is one of the best brokers for advanced day traders, providing powerful charting platforms, real-time data, and customizable layouts, notably through the new IBKR Desktop application. Its superb pricing and advanced order options also make it highly attractive for day traders, while its diverse range of equities is still among the best in the industry."

Christian Harris, Reviewer

Interactive Brokers Quick Facts

Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsStocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Funds, Bonds, ETFs, Mutual Funds, CFDs, Cryptocurrencies
RegulatorFCA, SEC, FINRA, CFTC, CBI, CIRO, SFC, MAS, MNB, FINMA
PlatformsTrader Workstation (TWS), IBKR Desktop, GlobalTrader, Mobile, Client Portal, AlgoTrader, OmniTrader, eSignal, TradingCentral
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade$100
Leverage1:50
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, INR, JPY, SEK, NOK, DKK, CHF, AED, HUF

Pros

  • There's a vast library of free or paid third-party research subscriptions catering to all types of traders, plus you can enjoy commission reimbursements from IBKR if you subscribe to Toggle AI.
  • While primarily geared towards experienced traders, IBKR has made moves to broaden its appeal in recent years, reducing its minimum deposit from $10,000 to $0.
  • With low commissions, tight spreads and a transparent fee structure, IBKR delivers a cost-effective environment for short-term traders.

Cons

  • You can only have one active session per account, so you can’t have your desktop program and mobile app running simultaneously, making for a sometimes frustrating trading experience.
  • Support can be slow and frustrating based on tests, so you might find it challenging to reach customer service representatives promptly or encounter delays in resolving issues.
  • TWS’s learning curve is steep, and beginners may find it challenging to navigate the platform and understand all the features. Plus500's web platform is much better suited to new traders.

Moomoo

"Moomoo remains an excellent choice for new and intermediate stock traders who want to build a diverse investment portfolio. What really stands out is the broker's user-friendly app and the low trading fees."

Jemma Grist, Reviewer

Moomoo Quick Facts

Bonus OfferGet up to 15 free stocks worth up to $2000
Demo AccountYes
InstrumentsStocks, Options, ETFs, ADRs, OTCs
RegulatorSEC, FINRA, MAS, ASIC, SFC
PlatformsDesktop Platform, Mobile App
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade$0
Leverage1:2
Account CurrenciesUSD, HKD, SGD

Pros

  • There is no minimum deposit requirement making the broker accessible for beginners
  • The broker offers access to extended pre-market trading hours
  • It is reassuring that Moomoo holds licenses with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), among others

Cons

  • There is no negative balance protection, which is a common safety feature at top-tier-regulated brokers
  • There is no phone or live chat support - common options at most other brokers
  • It's a shame that there is no 2 factor authentication (2FA), despite the other security features on offer

Empower

"Empower is best for hands-off investors looking for a US-regulated platform and robo-advisor with free financial planning services. However, investors need to be willing to make a large minimum investment and pay higher than average fees for premium services."

William Berg, Reviewer

Empower Quick Facts

Demo AccountNo
InstrumentsStocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Fixed Income
RegulatorSEC, FINRA
PlatformsOwn
Minimum Deposit$1 (Cash), $100,000 (Robo Advisor)
Minimum TradeVariable
Account CurrenciesUSD

Pros

  • Beginner-friendly financial dashboard with customizable widgets
  • Empower's advisory services are regulated by the SEC
  • Award-winning customer support team

Cons

  • 0.49% - 0.89% management fees are high vs alternatives
  • No forex, commodity or crypto trading
  • $100,000 is needed for the robo-advisor service

Personal Capital

"Personal Capital (now Empower) is a great option for investors seeking a flexible way to build an investment portfolio or pension plan. It is a particularly good fit for US traders owing to the SEC oversight."

William Berg, Reviewer

Personal Capital Quick Facts

Demo AccountNo
InstrumentsStocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Fixed Income
RegulatorSEC
PlatformsOwn
Minimum Deposit$1 (Cash), $100,000 (Robo Advisor)
Minimum TradeVariable
Account CurrenciesUSD

Pros

  • Well-known and popular investing platform
  • A wealth of free financial analysis and planning tools
  • Strong regulatory oversight from SEC

Cons

  • Wealth management services only for customers with $100,000+ in invested assets
  • No forex, futures or cryptocurrencies
  • An annual advisory fee of 0.89%

Firstrade

"We recommend Firstrade for beginner investors looking to trade US stocks with no commissions. There is a wealth of free education plus premium-quality research and trading ideas from Morningstar, Briefing.com, Zacks and Benzinga."

William Berg, Reviewer

Firstrade Quick Facts

Bonus OfferDeposit Bonus Up To $4000
Demo AccountNo
InstrumentsStocks, ETFs, Options, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Cryptos, Fixed
RegulatorSEC, FINRA
PlatformsOwn
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade$1
Account CurrenciesUSD

Pros

  • Mobile app with advanced features and analysis
  • SIPC member
  • Accepts US traders

Cons

  • Visa Credit/debit card deposits and withdrawals not accepted
  • No demo/paper trading account
  • No copy trading

Revolut

"Revolut is suitable for casual stock traders looking for an easy-to-use app with transparent fees and a low minimum investment."

William Berg, Reviewer

Revolut Quick Facts

Demo AccountNo
InstrumentsStocks, Cryptos
RegulatorFINRA, SEC
PlatformsOwn
Minimum Deposit$0
Minimum Trade$1
Account CurrenciesUSD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, ZAR, SEK, NOK, DKK, CHF, HKD, PLN, CZK, HUF

Pros

  • Send money to 200+ countries
  • No inactivity charge
  • Secure trading environment & login protocols

Cons

  • Relatively narrow product range
  • No advanced trading platform
  • No margin trading

Purpose

The SEC’s mission is split up into three distinct parts:

  1. Protect investors
  2. Facilitate capital formation
  3. Maintain and encourage market functionality

It’s worth noting the primary purpose is to supervise both organisations and individuals in the markets. Specifically, this means the agency turns its attention to brokers, exchanges, dealers, and registered investment advisors. Their scope extends from insider trading investigations to forex day trading rules and regulations.

Fortunately, you don’t need to wait for the news to find out about new regulations and filings. This is because the SEC facilitates investor access to registration statements, financial reports and other documentation via its EDGAR database.

The regulatory agency receives its mandate from several pieces of legislation:

The SEC is financed by the taxpayer, as well as through registration and nominal fees. The SEC charges a tiny transaction fee on the value of all equities sold. This cost is separate to any broker commissions. These fees are given to the US Treasury, who then pay for the SEC’s regulation of brokers and markets.

History

In 1929 the US stock market crashed. As a result of false or misleading information, securities from a number of companies ended up worthless. Unsurprisingly, public confidence in the markets plummeted.

To repair the damage, following conferences and debate, Congress passed the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Section 4 of the latter gave life to the SEC. The initial schedule directed them to ensure companies made truthful statements and that institutions, such as brokers, acted fairly and honestly.

Following expansion over the years, the meaning and purpose of the SEC have also extended to giving lending guidance and maintaining institution standings.

Structure

Divisions

The SEC headquarters can be found in Washington DC. The structure is relatively straightforward. The body has five divisions:

  1. Enforcement – The enforcement department works alongside the other divisions. They conduct investigations into securities violations and regulations. They have a range of powers, which will be broken down further below.
  2. Trading and Markets – This division manages self-regulatory bodies, including the FINRA and MSRB. It also includes broker-dealers and investment houses. The department plays a key role in amending regulations and monitoring industry operations. Note the SEC outsources the majority of enforcement to the FINRA. As such, all trading companies without regulatory oversight from other SROs must hold a licence with FINRA. Finally, individual traders must pass FINRA exams in order to be a registered representative.
  3. Corporation Finance – This department supervises disclosures made by public companies. It is also concerned with the registration of transactions and mergers.
  4. Investment Management – As the name suggests, this department manages registered investment companies, including investment advisors. Duties include responding to no-action letters and interpreting legislation and regulations.
  5. Economic and Risk Analysis – This division offers insight and analysis to aide SEC regulations and policy development. This includes potential risks and data analytics.

Offices

The SEC also has 11 regional offices. Some of the most relevant include the offices of:

Powers & Regulations

There are a number of actions the SEC takes to ensure compliance with regulations. One of the standard actions requires regulated companies to submit quarterly and annual financial reports. Company executives may also have to offer a narrative account, known as management discussion and analysis (MD&A). As mentioned above, consumers can head to the online EDGAR database to view important information.

Access to the above information is perhaps more important now than ever before. This is because you may get access to cryptocurrency and blockchain data to help you make informed investment decisions.

In the case of civil suits, the SEC primarily uses two sanctions:

  1. Injunctions – These aim to prevent future violations. The consequences of ignoring injunctions can range from fines to prison time. Before an injunction is given out, the body can demand documentation and testimony from suspects and witnesses.
  2. Penalties and disgorgements – The body can also take action that sees culprits pay hefty fines or give up profits. In addition, the commission may prevent individuals from acting as company directors.

Regulatory action can also include suspending registration, as well as cease and desist orders.

Note the regulatory agency does not have criminal authority. Instead, it can refer issues to the necessary prosecutors. Alternatively, it can seek civil action in a US District Court or an independent administrative proceeding.

It’s also worth bearing in minds the words used in liquidity rules and financial reporting manuals, for example, are often difficult to misinterpret. As a result, the regulatory agency is often successful when it comes to pursuing enforcement actions.

Track Record

The SEC has brought a number of enforcement actions against regulated and approved brokers. In fact, the regulatory body plays a significant role in almost every large case of financial malpractice.

Often, offences include fraud, misleading or false information and insider trading. In particular, the SEC was integral in bringing to justice a number of institutions in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The agency helped return billions of dollars to investors.

In fact, by the end, 204 bodies and individuals were charged and $4 billion in penalties were given out. Goldman Sachs faced the largest Wall Street penalty for monetary relief, coming in at a staggering $550 million.

The SEC has also come down on brokers over the years. More recently, however, it has ICOs in the crosshairs. In particular, enforcement action has been taken over marketing practices. For example, in 2017, the SEC brought an abrupt halt to the Munchee ICO.

Criticisms of the SEC

The majority of SEC criticism in recent years has been in regard to:

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt SEC regulations play a key role in protecting consumers from fraudulent and misleading day trading brokers, among other financial institutions. Their enforcement activity is aggressive, despite some criticism. Public perception of the SEC is improving and they remain reputable in comparison to other bodies elsewhere in the world.

So before you pursue registration with a brokerage, check on the official SEC website that they are licensed on a regulated brokers list.