Accent CPAs

What are the reporting standards for over-the-counter (OTC) markets?

In the world of over-the-counter (OTC) markets, understanding the landscape requires familiarity not just with the markets themselves but also with the reporting standards that govern how companies disclose information to investors. These standards play a crucial role in ensuring transparency, fostering trust, and aiding investors in making informed decisions. With a focus on the intricacies of OTC markets, the following offers insights into the various reporting standards that define this sector.

OTCQX and OTCQB Reporting Standards

The OTC Markets Group, which operates some of the most well-known OTC trading platforms, classifies companies into different tiers based on their reporting standards, among other criteria.

OTCQX: This is the top tier, designed for the companies that adhere to the highest reporting standards and undergo a rigorous review process. To qualify for OTCQX, U.S. companies must meet one of the following reporting standards:

  • SEC Reporting: Companies that are required to file reports with the SEC under Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
  • Alternative Reporting Standard: This applies to companies that provide adequate current information to the public, but may not be SEC Reporting Companies. They must make their disclosures available through the OTC Disclosure & News Service.

OTCQB: This tier is for entrepreneurial and development-stage U.S. and international companies. To be eligible, companies must:

  • Be SEC Reporting, or
  • Follow the Alternative Reporting Standard, or
  • Be a bank reporting to U.S. banking regulators.

Pink Market Reporting Standards

The Pink Open Market caters to a broad spectrum of companies, including those that may not meet the stricter criteria of the OTCQX and OTCQB markets. The Pink market is segmented into three distinct reporting standards, reflecting the level of information available to the public:

  1. Current Information: Companies that provide timely information to the public, equivalent to the SEC’s reporting standards or the International Reporting Standard for foreign issuers. This includes annual financial reports, interim financial reports, and timely news releases.
  2. Limited Information: This designation is for companies with financial reporting problems, economic distress, or in bankruptcy to make the limited information they have available to public investors. It includes companies that may not be able to meet the Current Information requirements but still provide some level of disclosure.
  3. No Information: Companies that provide no information or very minimal information to the public fall into this category. This represents the highest risk to investors, as there is little to no transparency regarding the company’s operations, financial condition, or risk factors.

Grey Market

Securities traded on the Grey Market do not have any reporting requirements because they are not actively traded on the OTCQX, OTCQB, or Pink markets. The Grey Market includes securities of companies that are unwilling or unable to provide adequate information to investors or regulators. As such, it represents a significant risk due to the lack of transparency.


The reporting standards across the different OTC markets segments serve as a framework for investor protection and corporate transparency. While the OTCQX and OTCQB markets require companies to adhere to stringent reporting guidelines, the Pink Open Market offers varying degrees of disclosure, catering to a wider range of companies. The Grey Market, however, operates with minimal regulatory oversight, emphasizing the importance of investor diligence. Understanding these reporting standards is crucial for anyone looking to navigate the complexities of the OTC markets, as they directly impact the risk and potential rewards associated with OTC securities. Investors should always consider these standards when evaluating OTC securities, keeping in mind that higher transparency often equates to lower risk.