is a tradable financial asset
. The term commonly refers to any form of financial instrument
, but its legal definition varies by jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions the term specifically excludes financial instruments other than equities and fixed income instruments. In some jurisdictions it includes some instruments that are close to equities and fixed income, e.g. equity warrants. In some countries and/or languages the term "security" is commonly used in day-to-day parlance to mean any form of financial instrument, even though the underlying legal and regulatory regime may not have such a broad definition.
In the United Kingdom, the national competent authority
for financial markets regulation is the Financial Conduct Authority; the definition in its Handbook of the term "security" applies only to equities, debentures, alternative debentures, government and public securities, warrants, certificates representing certain securities, units, stakeholder pension schemes, personal pension schemes, rights to or interests in investments, and anything that may be admitted to the Official List.
In the United States, a security
is a tradable financial asset of any kind. Securities are broadly categorized into:
- debt securities (e.g., banknotes, bonds and debentures)
- equity securities (e.g., common stocks)
- derivatives (e.g., forwards, futures, options and swaps).
The company or other entity issuing the security is called the issuer. A country's regulatory structure determines what qualifies as a security. For example, private investment pools may have some features of securities, but they may not be registered or regulated as such if they meet various restrictions.
Securities may be represented by a certificate or, more typically, "non-certificated", that is in electronic (dematerialized) or "book entry" only form. Certificates may be bearer
, meaning they entitle the holder to rights under the security merely by holding the security, or registered
, meaning they entitle the holder to rights only if he or she appears on a security register maintained by the issuer or an intermediary. They include shares of corporate stock or mutual funds, bonds issued by corporations or governmental agencies, stock options or other options, limited partnership
units, and various other formal investment instruments that are negotiable and fungible.