A security is a tradable financial asset. The term commonly refers to any form of financial instrument, but its legal definition varies by jurisdiction. In some countries and languages people commonly use the term “security” to refer to any form of financial instrument, even though the underlying legal and regulatory regime may not have such a broad definition. 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.
Securities may be represented by a certificate or, more typically, they may be “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.
In the United Kingdom, the Financial Conduct Authority functions as the national competent authority for the regulation of financial markets; 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.
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