What Is Time in Force? Definition and Examples

What Is Time in Force? Definition and Examples

Time in Force is a stock investing term referring to the length for which a trading order is good. While casual or buy-and-hold investors may not use time-in-force stock limits, they’re an important tool for active traders.

Understanding different time-in-force options can help you close out more successful positions.

What Does Time in Force Mean?

Time-in-Force is a directive, set by a trader, that defines how long a trade will remain open or “in force” before expiring. Options traders and other active traders typically want to set an appropriate end date for trades to avoid unintended trade execution. This is especially true for investors employing day trading strategies and taking advantage of volatile market conditions with rapidly changing prices.

Recommended: Understanding the Risks of Day Trading

Basics of Time In Force

Before you place a Time-in-Force stock order, you’ll want to make sure that you understand exactly how they work. As with options trading terminology, it’s important to understand the language used to describe Time-in-Force orders.

Recommended: A Guide to Trading Options

Types of Time in Force Orders

There is no specific type of stock market order called “Time in Force”. Instead, the phrase refers to the collection of order types that set how long a trade order is valid, or “in force” in order to take advantage of investment opportunities. If you are considering a buy-to-open or buy-to-close order, you can also specify the time in force for either of those types of orders.

Not all brokers or dealers support every different kind of time in force order, but here is a look at several of the most common types of time in force stock market orders.

1. Day Order

This is the most common time-in-force order, and means the trade remains open until the end of the trading day. If your order has not been executed at the close of the day’s markets, it will expire. With many brokers, day orders represent the default option, and as such, this is the time in force order with which most people are likely familiar.

2. On-Open Order

Depending on the types of order that your broker or dealer offers, there can be two different types of time-in-force-on-the-open orders.

A market-on-open (MOO) order is an order filled when the market opens, at the prevailing opening price. With a Limit-on-Open (LOO) order, you can set a limit price for the highest price you’ll pay or the lowest price at which you’ll sell. If the market opens within the constraints of your limit order, it will be executed. Otherwise, your broker will cancel the LOO order.

3. Market on Close Order

A Market-on-Close (MOC) order is one that requests the sale or purchase of a security at the final closing price of the trading day. If your brokerage offers market-on-close orders, they will generally have a cutoff time by which you need to enter in any MOC orders.

Recommended: Buy to Open vs. Buy to Close

4. What Is Good ‘Til Canceled (GTC)?

As its name suggests, a good-til-canceled (GTC) order is a type of time-in-force order that remains in force until you proactively cancel the order or it is filled. Depending on the type of options strategy you’re employing, a good-to-cancel order can make a lot of sense, if you’re waiting for a moment in the underlying stock price. Many brokerages will restrict the number of days a good-to-cancel order will be open, often to 90 days.

Examples of Time in Force

You currently own 100 shares of ABC stock that you purchased at $20 per share. ABC stock announced earnings last night, and you’re considering liquidating your position. You’re not sure how the market will react to the earnings news, so you place a Limit-on-Open (LOO) order for $30 per share. If ABC stock opens at $30 or higher, your trade will execute, otherwise your broker will cancel it.

If ABC stock’s shares have been rising all day, but you expect them to open at a lower price, you might use a market-on-close order in order to try to sell at the high price at the end of the day. If you want to hold onto your ABC stocks until they reach $40 per share, you could set a good-til-canceled order to do so. Your order would automatically execute when shares hit $40, or it would expire after reaching your broker’s time limit for such orders, typically 90 days.

Time in Force Day Order vs On-Close Order

A Day order and an On-Close order are similar, but they have some important differences. A Day order is one that is good for the entire trading day, up to and including close. If you’re placing an order in the middle of the trading day and don’t care when it executes, this is the type of order you’d use.

On the other hand, an On-Close order (either Market on Close or Limit On Close) is only good at the close of the trading day. The intent of an On Close order is to execute at the final trading price of the day. If you place an On Close order in the middle of the trading day, it will not execute until the end of the trading day, regardless of the price throughout the day.

Using Time in Force Orders

How you use the different Time-in-Force orders will depend on your options trading strategy. Most buy-and-hold investors won’t use Time-in-Force orders at all, but if you’re using a more complex strategy, such as buying to cover, you may want to have more control over how and at what price your order is executed.

Start Trading With SoFi

Using time-in-force orders can help day traders execute on specific strategies and minimize potential offers. It determines how long a trade will remain open before being canceled. Most long-term investors do not use time-in-force orders.

If you’re ready to start building your portfolio – with or without time-in-force orders – one way to get started is by opening an investment account on the SoFi Invest® online brokerage. SoFi Invest offers a variety of different order types, including limit orders, stop loss limit orders, fractional orders, and Market on Open orders.

Photo credit: iStock/Tatomm


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
SOIN1121490

Read more
What Is the SWIFT Banking System?

What Is the SWIFT Banking System?

Banks and other financial institutions require a safe and secure way to communicate to facilitate complicated cross-border transactions and payments in the global financial system. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) provides this secure communication network to financial institutions.

The SWIFT system is a critical piece of infrastructure for the international banking system because it allows financial institutions to talk to one another securely. Without access to the SWIFT messaging network, banks are essentially shut out of the global financial system because they cannot speak to banks in other countries to agree to transaction and payment terms.

Because SWIFT plays such a centralized role in global finance, there is potential for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology to act as an alternative to SWIFT in a decentralized finance environment.

What Is SWIFT?

SWIFT doesn’t hold assets or move money around. Instead, it is a messaging system for banks and other financial institutions. When banks need to conduct business across borders with other financial companies, the SWIFT system allows them to communicate to one another in a secure and standardized manner to ensure reliable transaction terms.

The SWIFT messaging system relies on a standardized system of codes to transmit information and payment instructions. These codes are interchangeably called Bank Identifier Codes (BIC), SWIFT codes, SWIFT IDs, or ISO 9362 codes. Each member of the SWIFT network is assigned a BIC/SWIFT code, providing an efficient transfer of information during transactions.

The SWIFT codes are used so banks and financial institutions can communicate reliably. For example, a bank in the United States wants to make sure it is messaging the right bank in France to set up payment instructions before sending money.

Since SWIFT doesn’t send money, it requires banks to take additional steps to send money globally after communicating with their counterparty. This makes the whole process relatively slow and adds costs to the transfers. The rise of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology may alleviate these time lags and additional costs as the technology is adopted more broadly.

Format of BIC/SWIFT Code

These codes are unique and have 8 or 11 characters, identifying the bank, country, city, and branch.

•   Bank code (0-9 or A-Z): 4 characters representing the bank.

•   Country code (A-Z): 2 letters representing the country of the bank.

•   Location code (0-9 or A-Z): 2 characters of letters or numbers for the location of the bank.

•   Branch Code (0-9 or A-Z): 3 digits specifying a particular branch. This branch code is optional.

For example, Wells Fargo, with a branch in Philadelphia, has the 11-character SWIFT code PNBPUS33PHL. The first four characters reflect the institute code (PNBP for Wells Fargo), the next two are the country code (US), the following two characters specify the location/city code (33), and the last three characters indicate the individual branch (PHL). The last three characters are optional; if the bank is the head office, the code ends with XXX.

More SWIFT Code Examples

Bank Name

Barclays Bank Plc Toronto-Dominion Bank MUFG Bank, Ltd.
SWIFT Code

BARCGB22 TDOMCATTTOR BOTKJPJT
Bank Code

BARC TDOM BOTK
Country Code

GB (United Kingdom) CA (Canada) JP (Japan)
Location Code

22 (London) TT (Toronto) JT (Tokyo)
Branch Code

XXX or not assigned (indicates head office) TOR XXX or not assigned (indicates head office)

History of SWIFT

Telex was an early electronic communications system used in the post-World War II period, allowing businesses to send written messages across the globe. Before SWIFT, financial institutions used Telex to communicate with one another to ensure the successful transfer of international payments. However, Telex was slow, lacked security, and was prone to human error because it didn’t run on a standardized system.

To alleviate the problems of Telex, 239 banks from 15 countries joined forces in 1973 to develop a communications network that would provide safe, secure, and standardized messaging for cross-border payments. These banks formed the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication and went live with the SWIFT messaging service in 1977. Soon, SWIFT was widely adopted and became the gold standard for cross-border messaging in the global financial system.

More than 11,000 financial institutions in over 200 countries use the SWIFT system to communicate. According to SWIFT, more than 42 million messages per day were processed on its network during 2021.

Who Controls SWIFT?

Based in Belgium, SWIFT is a member-owned cooperative, meaning that member institutions have stakes in SWIFT and the right to nominate directors to its governing board. This governing board is made up of 25 people from across the globe and overseen by the G-10 country central banks (Bank of Canada, Deutsche Bundesbank, European Central Bank, Banque de France, Banca d’Italia, Bank of Japan, De Nederlandsche Bank, Sveriges Riksbank, Swiss National Bank, Bank of England, USA Federal Reserve System), the European Central Bank, and the National Bank of Belgium.

Traditionally, SWIFT acts as a neutral party, so it doesn’t make any decisions on sanctions. However, because it operates under Belgian law and European Union regulations, SWIFT will adhere to sanctions imposed by the EU if necessary. This resulted in banks from Iran being kicked off the SWIFT system in 2012 because of the country’s nuclear weapon program. Additionally, in early 2022, several Russian institutions were kicked off of SWIFT because it invaded Ukraine.

The Future of SWIFT

Because of SWIFT’s significant role in the global financial system, some believe that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology could circumvent the need to use the SWIFT network. Proponents of decentralized finance believe that these new technologies could increase global payments’ speed, security, and transparency. Just as SWIFT replaced Telex as the standard for messaging in the global financial system, some believe that cryptocurrency and blockchain technology could do the same.

The Takeaway

SWIFT is a critical part of the global financial system. Without the secure messaging services of SWIFT, banks and other financial institutions would struggle to complete transactions and make payments in overseas business.

However, the SWIFT system is relatively slow and costly for financial institutions. Even with the safe and secure messaging of SWIFT, cross-border payments and transfers between financial institutions can still take several days to complete. In a world that desires high-speed money transfers, this lag in transaction time can be burdensome to banks and other financial institutions. As new challengers in the global financial system, like cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, breakthrough and become a more mainstream part of the financial payments system, they could put pressure on the ubiquity of the SWIFT system and the overall global payments system.

Whether blockchain technology will replace the SWIFT system or complement the global payments network, cryptocurrencies are an integral part of the financial markets now and will be in the future. Easily add cryptocurrencies to your savings plan with SoFi Invest® along with traditional investments like stocks and ETFs. It is unnecessary to have previous experience before buying cryptocurrency with SoFi Invest.


Photo credit: iStock/Evgeniy Skripnichenko

SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected] Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing. Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.
SOIN0221064

Read more
chart lines

What’s a SPAC?

Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) are shell companies that go public with the intent of buying a private business. Also known as “blank check companies,” SPACs have increasingly become a popular alternative to the traditional initial public offering (IPO).

Despite their popularity, SPAC IPOs have drawn criticism from those who believe they benefit SPAC insiders over retail investors, and that the businesses that they ultimately take public lack solid business fundamentals.

Here’s a rundown of what investors should know about SPACs before investing in one.

Understanding What SPACs Are

It’s important to know that SPACs go public before they have any actual business operations and before they have a target company to buy. SPACs typically have a two-year horizon to find a private company with which they can merge. If they do not find a deal, the SPAC dissolves and returns any proceeds to investors.

Interest in SPACs shot up in 2020 as many private companies, particularly ones that have reached “unicorn company” status, looked to debut in public markets, and continued in 2021. In 2021, there were more than 600 SPACs hit the market, up from nearly 250 in 2020. In 2019, there were only 59 SPACs, according to data from SPACInsider.

Some SPACs have a checkered track record, having historically underperformed the broader market, a trend that has continued in the recent boom. SPACs may also offer more favorable terms to bigger, institutional investors versus retail ones, making it crucial that the latter do their research.

Nearly half of small companies that went public in 2021 via a SPAC have not met the earnings targets that they presented to investors, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. That, in turn, has potentially dampened the market for future SPACs.

How SPACs Work

Here’s a step-by-step guide to how a SPAC merger typically occurs:

1.    A “sponsor” sets up a SPAC. Sponsors are typically industry experts or executives. They can pay $25,000 for a 20% stake — what’s known as the “promote” or “founder’s shares.”

2.    The SPAC goes public, promising to buy one or more private companies with the proceeds from the IPO listing.

3.    The newly public entity hunts for a private business to merge with.

4.    When the SPAC finds a target, stockholders vote on the proposed merger. They have the option to vote against the deal.

5.    If the SPAC needs more funding for the merger, stockholders who are institutional investors or private equity firms can provide the additional capital in what’s known as a “private investment in public equity” or PIPE.

6.    The target company then merges with the SPAC in a “reverse merger” known as a deSPAC. The target company’s name and ticker symbol on the stock exchange, replacing the SPAC.

7.    When SPACs go public, institutional investors have access to shares called “units.” Each “unit” includes a share priced at $10 and a warrant the holder can exercise when the shares reach $11.50.

So let’s say a SPAC’s shares rise to $15 each after the deal is announced, the institutional investor can exercise their warrants and net a profit from the difference between the $15 shares and $11.50 warrants that can be converted into shares.

History of SPACs

Investment banker David Nussbaum launched the first SPAC in 1993 and went on to cofound the SPAC-focused investment bank EarlyBird Capital. At the time, SPACs represented a new take on the “blank check companies” that had become embroiled in fraud and penny stock schemes in the 1980s. Over the next 25 years, SPACs remained a relatively obscure avenue for private companies to go public.

In 2009, only one company went public via a SPAC, and in the decade that followed, the numbers of SPACs per year ranged from just a handful to a high of 59 in 2019. The market saw an unprecedented boom in SPACs in 2020 and 2021, but with mixed results, some believe that the market has already peaked. By late February 2022, there had only been 44 SPAC deals, putting the year at less than half of 2021’s pace. Many SPACs that went public in 2021 have failed to find merger targets.

SPAC Examples

SPACs were extremely popular in the last few years. The deal structure has drawn a mix of famous figures as sponsors, including former President Donald Trump, billionaire venture capitalist Peter Theil, actor Channing Tatum, basketball player Steph Curry, and race car driver Michael Andretti.

Here’s a list of high-profile companies that went public recently through SPAC deals:

•   Coworking space WeWork (WE)

•   Mobile banking platform Moneylion (ML)

•   Satellite manufacturer Spire Global (SPIR)

•   Sports-betting operator DraftKings Inc. (DKNG)

•   Space-flight company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (SPCE)

IPO investing at your fingertips.

Don’t miss your chance – get in at the IPO price.


SPACs vs IPOs

The flurry of SPAC activity that began in 2020 comes after years of dissatisfaction with the traditional IPO process. Businesses in the United States have held off on going public for longer, even after experiencing tremendous growth.

Some startups may believe that going the SPAC route would put them less at the mercy of the stock market’s mood when it comes to their valuation when listing. The SPAC negotiates the price for the private company behind closed doors, similar to deal making for a traditional merger.

This process allows for more stability in determining the value of the stock, which is especially attractive when the stock market is volatile. In an IPO, the price is set the day before the listing and often relies on the judgment of investment bankers.

SPACs also offer a speedier way for companies to enter public markets. A merger between a SPAC and target company can take a few months, while the conventional IPO model can take 12 to 18 months, and requires extensive investment in the documentation for regulators and the roadshow for investors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reviews merger terms between the SPAC and the target company, similar to how it reviews IPO prospectuses. However, because the SPAC is a merger, it’s more likely the deal can be marketed using forward-looking projections, which can be helpful for fast-growing companies that aren’t yet profitable. For IPOs, regulatory rules require that only historical financial statements can be shared.

SPAC

IPO

Valuation negotiated behind closed doors like a traditional acquisition Valuation determined the day before launch by underwriters
Process takes three to four months Process takes 12 to 18 months
Merger terms reviewed by SEC IPO prospectus reviewed by SEC

SPAC Pros & Cons

There are benefits and drawbacks to investing in SPACs. Here’s a look at some of them.

Pros of SPACs

There are several reasons that SPACs appeal to some investors and founders as a method of taking companies public.

Seasoned Sponsors

Some recent SPACs have had sponsors who are more prominent figures. In essence, betting on a SPAC is trusting an experienced executive to suss out an underappreciated business in private markets and bring them to public markets.

IPO Alternative

Startups have increasingly shunned the traditional IPO model, calling it expensive, time-consuming, and onerous. SPACs have become an alternative for some to go public in an often cheaper, faster way.

Navigating Stock Volatility

SPACs are one way that private companies can manage choppy trading in the stock market, since they can privately negotiate valuations and deal terms.

SPAC 2.0

SPACs were once considered the “backwater of the stock market” and associated with penny-stock schemes. However, some of the more recent ones have featured seasoned executives, investor protections such as time-restricted warrants, and sponsors with more skin in the game.

Retail Participation

Retail investors can potentially get in on a deal at $10 a share. In a traditional IPO, they have to wait until the shares hit the public market after getting priced. Buying a company before it goes public does provide an opportunity for a potentially higher profit if the company eventually succeeds.

Cons of SPACs

While there are some potential advantages of investing in a SPAC, there are also important risks to understand.

No Deal

With SPACs, there’s always the risk that the SPAC can not find a company to acquire. While in such cases investors do get their money back, plus interest, they may have preferred to put their money elsewhere during that time period. And because so many SPACs went public in the last two years, there’s now much greater competition for companies to buy, increasing the risk that they’ll overpay for targets or be unable to find one.

Underperformance

Many of the SPACs that have recently gone public have failed to live up to their projections. Short sellers — investors in the market who bet that a stock’s price will fall — have already started targeting SPACs.

Sponsor Payout

Some observers believe that the 20% stake paid to sponsor has been deemed by some observers as too lucrative.

Risk of Dilution

The warrants given to institutional investors who buy into SPACs can potentially dilute others when the warrants are exercised.

Potential Retail Disadvantage

When institutional investors participate in PIPE deals, they’re typically told the potential acquisition company. While this is legal, it’s potentially one way SPACs can favor bigger investors versus smaller ones, who are often left in the dark.

More Regulation?

New SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has hinted that the agency is interested in increased oversight over SPACs, potentially reviewing them in a manner similar to its IPO reviews.

SPAC Pros and Cons Summary

SPAC pros

SPAC cons

Seasoned sponsors lend legitimacy SPAC could fail to acquire a company
Alternative route to IPO Despac companies have underperformed
Ability to negotiate deal terms in private Terms favor institutional over retail investors
Some investor protections Risk of dilution through warrant execution
Retail investors can participate Potential for more regulation

The Takeaway

SPACs have surged in the past few years, attracting many prominent figures to become sponsors as well as private companies looking for an alternative route to listing shares publicly. Even exchange-traded funds (ETFs) — tradable baskets of stocks — that invest exclusively in SPACs have cropped up.

While often described as a simple reverse merger, SPACs can be more complex than they seem at first glance. Investors can benefit from doing their due diligence, researching the sponsor’s incentives and understanding the terms for the warrants. Interested investors can purchase SPACs for as little as $10 per SPAC unit by opening an account on the SoFi Invest® brokerage platform.

Get started with SoFi Invest® today.

FAQ

Are SPACs good investments?

You’ll need to evaluate each SPAC based on its specific characteristics. While many SPACs have underperformed the market, others have performed in line with expectations.

How do SPACs work?

SPACs are shell companies, typically led by industry experts, that go public with the sole intention of acquiring a private company and listing it on an exchange. If investors in the SPAC approve the merger, the companies combine, taking the name and ticker symbol of the newly private company.

How can I buy SPACs?

You can buy SPACs through an online brokerage account like SoFi Invest®. One unit in a SPAC typically sells for $10.


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Investing in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) involves substantial risk, including the risk of loss. Further, there are a variety of risk factors to consider when investing in an IPO, including but not limited to, unproven management, significant debt, and lack of operating history. For a comprehensive discussion of these risks please refer to SoFi Securities’ IPO Risk Disclosure Statement. IPOs offered through SoFi Securities are not a recommendation and investors should carefully read the offering prospectus to determine whether an offering is consistent with their investment objectives, risk tolerance, and financial situation.

New offerings generally have high demand and there are a limited number of shares available for distribution to participants. Many customers may not be allocated shares and share allocations may be significantly smaller than the shares requested in the customer’s initial offer (Indication of Interest). For SoFi’s allocation procedures please refer to IPO Allocation Procedures.

SOIN0221003

Read more
woman doing taxes in kitchen

Is Automated Tax-Loss Harvesting a Good Idea?

Automated tax-loss harvesting is often considered a valuable tool for tax-efficient investing because it involves using an algorithm — rather than a human advisor — to sell securities at a loss so as to offset capital gains and potentially lower an investor’s tax bill.

Ordinary tax-loss harvesting uses the same principle, but the process is complicated and an advisor might only harvest losses once or twice a year versus automated tax-loss harvesting which can be done more frequently.

Tax-loss harvesting is the strategy of selling certain investments at a loss in order to offset the taxable gains of other investments.

That said, automated tax-loss harvesting — which is typically a feature of robo-advisor accounts — may give investors only limited (or possibly no) tax benefits. Here’s a breakdown of whether an automated tax-loss strategy makes sense.

Tax-Loss Harvesting: The Basics

First, a quick recap of how standard tax-loss harvesting works. Tax-loss harvesting is a way of selling securities at a loss, and then “harvesting” that loss to offset capital gains or other taxable income, thereby reducing federal tax owed.

The reason to consider this strategy is that capital gains are taxed at two different federal tax rates: long-term (when you’ve held an asset for a year or more) and short-term (when you’ve held an asset for under a year).

•   Long-term capital gains are taxed at 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on the investor’s tax bracket.

•   Short-term capital gains are taxed at a typically much higher rate based on the investor’s ordinary income tax rate — the top rate being 37%.

For example, consider an investor in the highest tax bracket who sells security ABC and realizes a long-term capital gain of $10,000. They would owe 20%, or $2,000.

But if the investor sells XYZ security and harvests a loss of $3,000, their net capital gain will be $7,000 ($10,000 – $3,000). This means that they would owe $1,400 in capital gains tax.

The differences can be even greater when investors can harvest short-term losses to offset short-term gains, because these are typically taxed at a higher rate. In this case, using the losses to offset the gains can make a big difference in terms of taxes owed.

What Is Automated Tax-Loss Harvesting?

Until the advent of robo-advisor services 10 or 15 years ago, tax-loss harvesting was typically carried out by qualified financial advisors or tax professionals in taxable accounts. But as robo-advisors and their automated investment portfolios became more widely accepted, many of these services began to offer automated tax-loss harvesting as well, though the strategy was executed by a computer program.

Just as the algorithm that underlies an automated portfolio can perform certain basic functions like asset allocation and portfolio rebalancing, some automated programs can execute a tax-loss harvesting strategy as well (along with a suite of services that robo-advisors offer, such as dividend reinvestment plans (DRIP investing), where dividend payouts get reinvested).

So whereas tax-loss harvesting once made sense only for higher net worth investors, owing to the complexity, automation has enabled retail investors to reap the benefits of tax-loss harvesting as well. The idea has been that automated tax-loss harvesting can be conducted more often and with less room for error, thanks to the precision of the underlying algorithm — which can also take into account the effects of the wash-sale rule.

The Wash-Sale Rule

It’s important that investors understand the “wash-sale rule” as it applies to tax-loss harvesting.

What Is the Wash-Sale Rule?

The wash-sale rule prevents investors from selling a security at a loss and buying back the same security, or one that is “substantially identical”, within 30 days. If you sell a security in order to harvest a loss and then replace it with the same or a substantially similar security, the IRS will disallow the loss and you won’t reap the desired tax benefit.

In the example above, the investor who sells security XYZ in order to apply the loss to the gain from selling security ABC may then want to replace security XYZ because it gives them exposure to a certain market sector. While the investor can’t turn around and buy XYZ again until 30 days have passed, they could buy a similar, but not substantially identical security, to maintain that exposure.

That said, it can be tricky to follow this guidance because the IRS hasn’t established a precise definition or description of what a “substantially identical security” is. This is another reason why automated tax-loss harvesting may be more efficient: It may be simpler for a computer algorithm to make these choices based on preset parameters.

Also, according to IRS rules, short-term or long-term losses must be used first to offset gains of the same type, unless the losses exceed the gains from the same type. In that case, losses of up to $3,000 per year can be used to offset ordinary income or carried over to the following year.

How ETFs Help With the Wash-Sale Rule

This is how the proliferation of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) has benefited the strategy of tax-loss harvesting. Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, are baskets of securities that typically track an index of stocks, bonds, commodities or other assets, similar to a mutual fund. Unlike mutual funds, though, ETFs trade on exchanges like stocks.

In some ways, ETFs may make tax-loss harvesting a little easier. For instance, if an investor harvests a loss from an emerging-market stocks ETF, he or she can soon after buy a “similar” but non-identical emerging-market stocks ETF because the fund may have slightly different constituents.

Because most robo-advisors generate automated portfolios comprised of low-cost ETFs, this can also support the process of automated tax-loss harvesting.

Other Important Tax Rules to Know

Tax losses don’t expire. So an investor can apply a portion of losses to offset profits or income in one year and then “save” the remaining losses to offset in another tax year. Investors tend to practice tax-loss harvesting at the end of a calendar year, but it can really be done all year.

Another potential perk from tax-loss harvesting is that if the losses from an investment exceed any taxable profits from trades, the losses can actually be used to offset up to $3,000 of ordinary income.

How Much Does Automated Tax-Loss Harvesting Save?

It’s hard to say whether automated tax-loss harvesting definitively and consistently delivers a reduced tax bill to investors. A myriad of variables — such as the fluctuating nature of both federal tax rates and market price moves — make it difficult to calculate precise figures.

The Upside of Automated Tax-Loss Harvesting

However, one evaluation of standard (not automated) tax-loss harvesting that was published by the CFA Institute in 2020 found that from 1926 to 2018, a simulated tax-loss harvesting strategy delivered an average annual outperformance of 1.08% versus a passive buy-and-hold portfolio. Taking into account transaction costs and the wash-sale rule (more on that set of restrictions below), the outperformance or “alpha” fell to 0.95%.

The study found the strategy did better when the stock market was volatile, such as between 1926 and 1949, a period which includes the Great Depression. The average outperformance was 2.13% a year during that period, as investors found more opportunities to harvest losses. Meanwhile, between 1949 and 1972 — a quieter period in the market as the U.S. underwent economic expansion after World War II — tax-loss harvesting only delivered an alpha of 0.51%.

The Downside of Automated Tax-Loss Harvesting

While the research cited above identifies some benefits of tax-loss harvesting, like many investment studies it’s based on historical data and simulations of a portfolio, not real-world investments.

Another fact to bear in mind: This study does not factor in the impact of automated tax-loss harvesting, which is typically conducted more frequently.

Indeed, in 2018 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged a robo-advisor for making misleading claims about the benefits of automated tax-loss harvesting in terms of higher portfolio returns. Investors should know that there could be no or little tax savings or even a bigger tax bill, depending on how different securities perform after they’re sold (or bought back).

For instance, if an investor harvests a loss from one ETF (to offset the gains from a sale of another ETF), they might then buy a replacement ETF that’s not substantially identical, per the wash-sale rule. But it’s possible that when the investor finally sells the second ETF, the gains realized from this second sale could be so high that they cancel out or be greater than the tax benefits from selling the first fund to harvest the loss.

In that case, although the investor had harvested a loss to offset gains in the present, they could end up paying more taxes down the road — effectively deferring, not eliminating, the tax burden.

Also, by using automated tax-loss harvesting and continuously buying into similar but non-identical assets, an investor may be unintentionally distorting their asset allocation. Continuously trading assets in automated tax-loss harvesting also means an investor may incur additional costs, such as more transaction fees.

Pros of Automated Tax-Loss Harvesting

1.    Standard tax-loss harvesting is complex and time-consuming, but the benefits are well established. Therefore using automated tax-loss harvesting may be an efficient way to reap the benefits of this strategy because it can be done more consistently.

2.    To realize the benefits of tax-loss harvesting investors must obey the IRS wash-sale rule, which imposes restrictions that can be tricky to follow. In this way, an automated strategy may limit the potential for human error and may increase the tax benefits for investors.

3.    Some robo-advisors claim that using an automated strategy may increase portfolio returns over time.

Cons of Automated Tax-Loss Harvesting

1.    Because an algorithm performs tax-loss harvesting on an automated cadence, it may be difficult to make more nuanced choices about which investments to sell and when.

2.    An automated tax-loss program may not be able to anticipate a security’s future gains that could reduce or eliminate the tax benefit of harvested losses.

3.    Automated tax loss harvesting could increase the amount an investor pays in transaction fees, which can lower portfolio returns.

The Takeaway

Automated tax-loss harvesting is a feature primarily offered by robo-advisors, which use a computer algorithm to automatically sell securities at a loss in order to reduce the tax impact of capital gains realized from the sale of other securities. While this practice can offer real tax benefits in some cases, and academic studies have used portfolio simulations to gauge the potential for outperformance, it’s unclear whether automated tax-loss harvesting offers the same benefits. Because the strategy is carried out by an underlying algorithm, a computer program may not be capable of making more nuanced choices about which assets to sell and when. Investors could potentially end up still owing capital gains taxes or paying more in transaction fees.

If you’re ready to start investing, it’s easy to open an Active Invest account with SoFi Invest® and start trading stocks, bonds, ETFs, fractional shares, or even crypto. SoFi members have access to complimentary advice from a financial professional. Set up your portfolio today!

Open a SoFi Invest® account today.


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected] Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing. Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.
SOIN20269

Read more
woman looking at papers in kitchen

Understanding Market Sentiment

There’s a common misconception about what moves stock prices.

Flip on the cable news and the vibe might have you believe that political statements, economic data points, natural disasters, or global unrest have some sort of predictable or unilateral effect on the stock market.

And they might! But in a slightly more roundabout way. These events well may change how investors feel about owning certain investments, which leads them to buy or sell those investments. And it is the forces of supply and demand that push asset prices higher or lower.

Said another way, investor sentiment, also known as market sentiment, can cause price volatility.

Market Sentiment Defined

The collection of all investor feelings—and actions—amounts to what is called market sentiment. It is a powerful force in the markets and is the subject of much study (and cable news discourse).

Market sentiment is affected by millions of factors daily. That’s because there are at least as many participants in popular marketplaces, like the stock market.

While one investor may be selling stocks because of poor corporate earnings, others might simply sell because they woke up on the wrong side of the bed. It is overly simplified to assume only one cause of changes to asset prices.

Read on for an investigation of market sentiment, including how it is used as a tool for market analysis.

Collective Mood Swings

Market sentiment is the phrase used to describe the overall spirit of investors in a market. (The stock market was used in the example above, but market sentiment exists in all investment markets.) Think of market sentiment as a giant mood ring for a particular market at a particular time.

The collective psychology of the market has the power to move prices. (How much “we” demand something gives it its value.)

When prices go up, the overall tone of the market is said to be positive, or bullish. When prices move downward, it generally means that investor sentiment is negative, or bearish. Investor attitudes about investments are realized in the price of those investments.

And anyone who watches the market knows that investors can be quite emotional at times. It’s human nature. It’s best that investors accept this reality.

In fact, investors should find it freeing that humans aren’t always rational and that sometimes asset prices can have major swings along with global moods. It is not up to the investor to control the swings of the stock market, but instead to weather them calmly.

While company earnings are the engine that drives stock market returns over time, it is the act of buying and selling that, in the shorter term, can cause the stock market to wiggle.

The stock market is of particular interest when looking at market sentiment. It’s a popular, global market, for one. Second, volatility can be dramatic, unlike markets for bonds. Third, it is easy to witness changes happening in real time.

The stock marketplace is like few marketplaces in the world, where prices are updated constantly in direct relation to the buying and selling of items in question. (Imagine how wild that would be if it happened at a grocery store.)

Market sentiment is considered an important tool for market analysis. It is used to make decisions about the very market the sentiment applies to.

Market Sentiment as an Indicator

When analyzing markets in an effort to predict them, indicators are used. An indicator is a sign or trigger that may hold some sort of valuable information. Market sentiment is one such indicator.

Compare market sentiment as an indicator with fundamental analysis, which largely relates to business performance, projected business performance, and the prevailing conditions for business performance.

Imagine a new tax law that’s expected to have a strong impact on the profitability of businesses in a certain industry. This would be considered a fundamental indicator.

Sometimes sentiment indicators and fundamental indicators can be at odds with each other. Fundamental indicators appear to point in one direction, but investor emotion may say otherwise.

For example, a business could have poor business fundamentals, and investors may still feel exuberant about that company and pile into its stock, which pushes the price of that stock higher.

Examples of Market Sentiment as an Indicator

There are many ways in which market sentiment is used as a market indicator. Then there are even more interpretations for what that data could mean.

It’s important to realize that no market indicators should be taken alone as fact. Why? Market indicators are in the business of predicting the future, which, in the stock market and otherwise, is a tough thing to do.

In forecasting the general trajectory of the stock market, investor sentiment is sometimes used as a contrary indicator.

As the old adage goes, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” In a broad sense, when market sentiment is poor, it could indicate that it’s a good time to invest. When market sentiment is hot, it could be a bad time to invest.

When do people feel the worst about investing? At market bottoms, when prices are low. When do investors feel best? After the market has done well, which could indicate that prices are too high.

This is a characteristic of market bubbles, where investor mania causes prices to soar beyond their fundamental value. (Exhibit A was the dot com bubble, which saw investors piling into internet stocks, some of which never had so much as a quarter of positive earnings.)

Another instance in which sentiment might be used to assess an investment is through a strategy called value investing. With this method, investors attempt to uncover underpriced stocks—stocks whose price is lower than the believed value.

This could mean looking for a stock that has a strong fundamental foundation but that has yet to catch fire with investors, or a stock that is being punished (perhaps unnecessarily) by investors. Finding the proverbial diamond in the rough requires both an understanding of a company’s fundamentals and the market sentiment surrounding it.

Day trading, which is the practice of making bets on the price movement of a security during the trading day, relies on what are called technical indicators. And because of the power of investor attitudes to move prices, factors of sentiment can play an important role in short-term market changes.

For example, technical traders may look at a security’s historical price movement, called moving averages, in an attempt to surmise what will happen going forward. It is common to look at both 50-day and 200-day simple moving averages in an attempt to predict what happens next.

Other examples of sentiment indices are the High-Low Index, the CBOE Volatility Index, also known as the “fear” index, and the Bullish Percent Index.

The BPI measures the number of stocks with bullish and bearish patterns according to point and figure charts, ultimately producing a read on the sentiment of the overall market. An output of 50% is neutral, while reads above 80% are bullish and below 20%, bearish.

Some investors might argue that the above technical indicators have a serious limitation: They are using data from the past to project into the future and that the future is more or less an unknown.

Building an Investment Strategy

Whether a person is a long-term investor or a trader, SoFi Invest® offers a way to get into the market.

For those interested in trading their own stocks and exchange-traded funds, SoFi Active Investing offers free accounts and no-fee trades. And SoFi Invest® comes with an easy-to-use app where investors can trade stocks online and have access to real-time news and research on stocks and ETFs.

Investors who prefer a guided approach to building a portfolio may prefer SoFi Automated Investing. Using a prospective investor’s answers to questions about their goals and risk tolerance, a diversified portfolio is built using ETFs. There is no additional management fee for this service.

SoFi Invest® investors also have access to personalized and complimentary financial planning advice from certified financial advisors.

Whether investors decide to try their hand at picking investments or take advantage of intelligent algorithms via automated investing, SoFi® knows that there’s an advantage to having access to a real, live specialist to answer investing questions.

Get started investing today.


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “SoFi Invest” refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.

Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“SoFi Securities”).
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, please visit https://www.sofi.com/legal/.
Advisory services are offered through SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-Registered Investment Adviser. Information about SoFi Wealth’s advisory operations, services, and fees is set forth in SoFi Wealth’s current Form ADV Part 2 (Brochure), a copy of which is available upon request and at adviserinfo.sec.gov .
Third Party Trademarks: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.
Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
SOIN20169

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender