Accent CPAs

What is an OTC market and what are its different types?

Over-the-counter (OTC) markets play an important part in the global financial ecosystem, offering a platform for trading securities not listed on formal exchanges like the NYSE or NASDAQ. These markets enable the buying and selling of stocks, bonds, currencies, and other financial instruments directly between two parties without the supervision of an exchange. There are a number of reasons a security may trade on OTC markets, and usually it’s due to the stringent requirements of a major exchange and resources needed by a company to go through it.

Understanding the different types of OTC markets is essential for investors looking to navigate this complex segment of the financial world.


The OTCQX Best Market is the premier tier of the three main markets for the OTC trading of stocks. It offers the strictest listing criteria, providing investors with a selection of the highest quality companies that are not listed on traditional exchanges. Companies trading on the OTCQX must meet significant financial standards, adhere to best practice corporate governance, and demonstrate compliance with U.S. securities laws. This market is ideal for established, investor-focused companies looking to provide their shareholders with a transparent trading experience.


The OTCQB Venture Market, on the other hand, is designed for early-stage and developing U.S. and international companies. To be eligible for trading on the OTCQB, companies must be current in their reporting and undergo an annual verification and management certification process. This market offers investors the opportunity to engage with growing companies that are not yet ready for OTCQX but have demonstrated a commitment to providing a quality trading experience for their investors.

3. Pink Open Market

The Pink Open Market is the most speculative tier of the OTC markets, offering trading in a wide variety of securities without requiring companies to meet any minimum financial standards or undergo a formal listing process. This market includes a broad spectrum of companies, from those in the early stages of development to those experiencing financial difficulties or operating in bankruptcy. Due to the diverse nature of the companies trading on the Pink Open Market, it tends to attract investors with a higher tolerance for risk.

4. Grey Market

The Grey Market is an unofficial market where securities not listed on any stock exchange or the established OTC markets are traded. Trading on the Grey Market occurs through broker-dealer networks rather than a centralized market maker or exchange. The Grey Market can include stocks that are not current in their reporting, making them ineligible for trading on the more regulated OTC markets. Securities traded on the Grey Market can be more volatile and less liquid, posing additional risks for investors.


In general, OTC markets offer investors a world of opportunities beyond traditional stock exchanges, from the highly regulated OTCQX market to the speculative nature of the Pink Open Market and the Grey Market. Each market serves a specific segment of the investment community, catering to different levels of risk tolerance and investment strategy. For companies and investors interested in exploring these avenues, it’s crucial to conduct a detailed research and possibly consult a financial advisor to understand the intricacies and risks associated with trading in OTC markets. As with all investments, knowledge and caution are key to navigating the complexities of the OTC landscape effectively.

Accent CPAs specializes in OTC market reporting and compliance by offering the expertise and support necessary to overcome these challenges. By partnering with Accent CPAs, companies can ensure their reporting package, including financial statements and MD&A, are prepared timely and in compliance with the regulatory reporting standards, allowing management to focus on growing their business with peace of mind knowing their OTC reporting obligations are in expert hands.