What Are Futures? A Guide to Futures Trading

Exploring Futures in Financial Markets: A Comprehensive Guide

Some investors may trade futures contracts in order to hedge against risk, or to speculate on the price movements of a given asset or security — or because their business will benefit if they lock in a commodity at a certain price. Trading futures can provide opportunities for a range of investors.

A futures contract requires both parties to honor the terms, no matter what the price is in the market when the contract expires. If you want to trade futures, there are various ways they can fit into your portfolio or plan.

What are Futures?

Futures are derivatives that take the form of a contract in which two traders agree to buy or sell an asset for a specified price at a future date. Popular underlying assets for futures may include physical commodities like gold, corn, or oil, as well as currencies, or financial instruments like stocks.

The most commonly traded futures contracts use standardized terms, and are traded on a futures exchange. For example, if you want to buy or sell corn futures, one contract would equal 5,000 bushels and be traded via the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). Oil is traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), and one oil futures contract equals 1,000 barrels of oil.

Traders buy and sell in increments specified by the contract. To buy 50,000 bushels of corn or 10,000 barrels of oil, you’d buy 10 contracts of each. Given the quantities and dollar amounts of these trades, investors often use leverage, thereby paying only a fraction of the total cost of the position.


💡 Quick Tip: Options can be a cost-efficient way to place certain trades, because you typically purchase options contracts, not the underlying security. That said, options trading can be risky, and best done by those who are not entirely new to investing.

Understanding How Futures Work

Futures work by obligating a buyer or seller to purchase or offload an asset — it’s a contract.

Mechanism of Futures Trading

A futures contract obliges the buyer to buy a certain asset, or the seller to sell an asset, at an agreed-upon price, by a certain date. Each party must fulfill the terms of the contract, no matter what the market price or spot price is when the contract expires (or trade the contract before the expiration).

Futures contracts are standardized, as noted above, and each contract also spells out the contract terms, which includes among other things:

•   The unit of the trade (e.g., tons, gallons, bushels, etc.).

•   The grade or quality of the commodity, where relevant. For example, there are different types of corn, oil, soy, etc.

•   Terms of settlement (e.g., physical delivery or a cash settlement).

•   Quantity of goods covered by the contract.

•   Currency in which the contract is priced.

Recommended: How Does a Margin Account Work?

The Role of Futures in Markets

A futures contract allows investors to speculate on the direction of the underlying asset, either long or short, using leverage. (Leverage means the trader doesn’t have to put up the full amount of the contract. Instead, futures traders use a margin account.) As such, they’re a tool that allows investors to use leverage and speculation.

Types of Futures Contracts

There are numerous types of futures contracts, including those tied to underlying assets such as equities and commodities. They can even be tied to other futures.

Equity, Commodity, and Other Futures

Futures contracts allow investors to make bets on the prices of a wide array of assets:

•   Commodity futures, which allow investors to buy or sell physical goods like crude oil, pork bellies, natural gas, orange juice, corn, wheat, and more.

•   Financial futures, including index contracts and interest rate or debt contracts.

•   Precious metal futures allow investors to bet on the future prices of gold, platinum, and silver.

•   Currency futures for fiat currencies like the euro, yen, the British pound, and more.

•   U.S. Treasury futures allow investors to make bets on the future value of government bonds.

What are stock futures? Like futures contracts where the underlying is a physical commodity, some futures are tied to shares of a single stock or ETF. Stock index futures, however, are tied to the price movements of an index like the S&P 500 index.

Trading and Speculating with Futures

There are two key aspects to futures trading, which are hedging and speculating. Both play an important role in the markets, and determining whether futures are actually traded or not. There are also trading strategies to keep in mind, too.

Strategies for Futures Trading

There are many strategies for trading futures contracts, just as there are many strategies for trading almost any other type of security or derivative. To name a few of the basic strategies, investors can look at strategizing around price pullbacks, breakout trading, or even spread trading — each requires its own gameplan, and some background research to get started.

Futures as Speculation and Hedging Tools

Hedging is a big reason why investors buy futures contracts: It’s a way to protect against losses resulting from price changes in commodities.

Among the businesses that hedge using futures, the goal is to reduce the risk they face from unexpected price movements, and to guarantee the price they pay or receive for a particular asset.

If a large food manufacturer wants to lock in the price of corn, for example, they might enter into a contract for $10 a bushel. Since corn contracts are typically standardized at 5,000 bushels per contract, the total amount of the futures contract would be $50,000 ($10 x 5,000), to be delivered in six months. Entering into this futures contract would offer the buyer some protection against the possibility of rising corn prices in the future.

Let’s say the price of corn does rise to $12/bushel by the time the contract expires. In that case, the buyer still only pays the agreed-upon price of $10/bushel, even though the spot price is now $12/bushel.

For the corn producer in this scenario, even though it turned out that the futures contract terms weren’t quite as favorable as the actual market price — the contract guaranteed they would get at least $10/bushel, which provided a hedge against a potentially bigger loss.

Although it’s possible to settle a futures contract for the physical asset specified in the contract, most futures contracts are cash-settled. That’s because speculation on price movements is one of the main reasons that investors purchase futures contracts. A futures contract gives traders the opportunity to speculate whether a commodity will go up or down and potentially profit from the price change.

If the underlying asset of the futures contract — such as gold, oil, or corn — is above the price specified in the futures contract, then the investor can sell that contract for a profit before it expires. In that case, the contract would sell for the difference between the market price of the underlying commodity and the purchase price as specified in the contract.

In such a transaction, the underlying commodities don’t change hands between the counterparties of the contract. Instead, the trade would be cash-settled in the brokerage account of the investor.

Alternatively, an investor using futures for speculation could lose money if the price of the commodity is lower than the purchase price specified in the futures contract.

Risks and Benefits of Trading Futures

Futures trading has some significant risks and potential rewards — investors would be wise to know what they’re getting into, accordingly.

Understanding the Risks

Owing to the nature of futures trading, i.e., the binding nature of the contracts and the use of leverage, there are some obvious risks to bear in mind.

In a speculative trade, a futures contract allows you to bet on a commodity’s price movement. If you bought a futures contract, and at expiration the price of the commodity was trading above the original contract price, you’d see a profit. However, you could also lose if the commodity’s price was lower than the purchase price specified in the futures contract.

The potential risks here can be greater than they seem, because trading on margin permits a much larger position than the actual amount held by the brokerage. As a result, margin investing can amplify gains, but it can also magnify losses.

Imagine a trader who has $5,000 in their brokerage account and is in a trade for a $50,000 position in crude oil. If the price of oil moves against the trade, the losses could far exceed the account’s $5,000 initial margin amount. In this case, the broker would make a margin call requiring additional funds to be deposited to cover the market losses.

Speculators can also take a short position if they believe the price of the underlying asset will decline. An investor would realize a gain if the underlying asset’s price was below the contract price, and a loss if the current price was above the contract price. Again, using leverage to place these bets, long or short, can potentially expose investors to more risk than they intended.

Potential Benefits and Rewards

Some of the potential benefits of trading futures include the fact that investors can use leverage to try and generate outsized returns, the markets are liquid (meaning there’s plenty of trading action) and it offers up a chance to make some relatively quick (and potentially large) returns. That should, of course, be weighed against the aforementioned risks.

Futures vs Other Derivative Instruments

There are other financial derivatives with similar characteristics to futures contracts, such as options and forwards.

Comparing Futures with Options and Forwards

American-style options grant the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell the contract’s underlying asset at any time until the contract expires.

Unlike a futures contract, however, option contracts don’t require the investor to purchase or sell the underlying asset. The investor can simply let the option expire. A futures contract, on the other hand, obligates the buyer to purchase the underlying asset, or to pay the seller of the futures contract the cash equivalent of that asset at the time of the contract’s expiration.

Similarly, a forward contract looks and functions a lot like a futures contract, with the primary difference being that forward contracts are only settled once — on their expiration date. Forwards are also often settled in the underlying asset (as opposed to cash), and the forwards market tends to be less liquid.


💡 Quick Tip: In order to profit from purchasing a stock, the price has to rise. But an options account offers more flexibility, and an options trader might gain if the price rises or falls. This is a high-risk strategy, and investors can lose money if the trade moves in the wrong direction.

Opening and Managing Futures Positions

Opening and managing futures positions can be relatively simple, granted you’re using a platform that allows for futures trading, and can follow a few steps.

Steps to Start Trading Futures

It’s common for some brokerages to have their own futures-trading capabilities, as well as their own rules about what an investor needs in terms of assets in order to trade futures contracts. Be sure to verify what those requirements are before selecting a broker.

Once you’re eligible to open a margin account and trade futures, those contracts trade on different exchanges, such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), ICE Futures U.S. (Intercontinental Exchange), and the CBOE Futures Exchange (CFE).

From there, depending on the brokerage or platform being used, investors should be able to open and swap futures positions.

Managing Futures Contracts Effectively

Most investors in futures contracts have no interest in either receiving or having to deliver the physical commodities that underlie these contracts. Rather, they’re interested in the cash profit. The means of doing so is to trade the futures contract before its expiration date.

The standardized nature of most futures makes it so that a great many (but not all) futures contracts will expire on the third Friday of each month. Some commodities are seasonal, and only trade during specific months. High-grade corn trades on the CBOT in March, May, July, September, and December, for example.

As with any type of trading or investing, making sure you know what you’re dealing with when it comes to futures — and paying attention to the market — is going to be paramount to finding success as a trader. There are risks at play, and there’s no guarantee that the chips will fall your way. But for some, futures trading has proven fruitful.

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For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.


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SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit 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.

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.

Options involve risks, including substantial risk of loss and the possibility an investor may lose the entire amount invested in a short period of time. Before an investor begins trading options they should familiarize themselves with the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options . Tax considerations with options transactions are unique, investors should consult with their tax advisor to understand the impact to their taxes.
Claw Promotion: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $25 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

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Does Cryptocurrency Have Trading Hours?

Does Cryptocurrency Have Trading Hours?

Crypto trading hours are 24/7, 365 days per year — the market never closes. That’s good news for those who simply can’t peel themselves away from studying cryptocurrency charts or watching the crypto markets.

Though cryptocurrency trading hours are much more expansive than those of the traditional stock market, there are some caveats depending on your individual cryptocurrency exchange of choice. Read on to learn more about crypto trading, when it happens, and how to get in on it.

How Crypto Trading Works

If you’ve had any experience with other market types, or even the stock exchange, you likely already have a good grasp of how crypto trading works. Most people access the market through a crypto exchange, where buyers and sellers transact assets.

For those buyers and sellers, the exchanges simplify the trading process by showing real-time values for various cryptocurrencies (the actual cryptos on a given exchange will vary), and pairing traders and investors so that they can buy, sell, and trade. Of course, investors can still spend hours reading crypto charts, but an exchange streamlines the trading process. As such, for most end users, it’s pretty much the same process as buying or selling stocks.

What Time Will Crypto Coin Start Trading?

Since the crypto markets are always open, so to speak, crypto trading never starts or stops. Investors and traders can use an exchange or brokerage to trade crypto any time they’d like.

That’s not to say that all markets will have lots of liquidity or trading partners at any given time, but it’s a 24-hour market nonetheless.

Are There Time Limitations on Crypto Trading Networks?

Though crypto exchanges are similar to services that allow users to actively invest in stocks and other assets, there are some differences. One of the most important differences is time limitations — or, the hours of the day during which transactions are executed.

If you’re trading assets like stocks, bonds, and ETFs, transactions are executed during the market’s open hours, and to a lesser extent, the after-hours market. That’s generally 9:30 am ET to 4 pm ET, Monday through Friday, and 4 pm ET to 8 pm ET for after-hours trading.

But some assets can be traded 24 hours per day. The foreign exchange (forex) market is an example — traders can swap currencies all day between Monday and Friday. The crypto markets are likewise much looser with trading hours, in that the crypto markets never actually close.

Does The Time You Trade Affect Your Crypto Fees?

Though the crypto markets never close, when you choose to trade can have an impact on applicable trading fees. That’s because the markets can get busy, and it requires network resources to facilitate trades — network participants need to validate trades on blockchain networks, for instance, and if many traders are trying to execute transactions at once, it can create a logjam.

For that reason, you may end up paying higher or lower transaction fees (commonly called “Ethereum gas fees”) if you try to trade during busy hours. Conversely, the fees may be lower during slower times of the day, like the middle of the night.

Note, too, that there are ways to minimize crypto trading fees.

On the other hand, there is more liquidity in the market during stretches of higher trading volume. That means there are more participants, and generally speaking, more “action” in the market. That can likewise be a good or bad thing, but something crypto investors should know before they decide on a time of the day to trade.

Cryptocurrency Trading Hours vs Stock Market Trading Hours

The stock market has set operating hours: 9:30 am ET until 4 pm ET, Monday through Friday. The stock markets are closed during weekends and holidays.

Conversely, the crypto markets operate non-stop. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t certain days or times that are better to trade, as mentioned, since the numbers of traders and overall level of liquidity in the markets can vary. But access to the crypto markets is always open.

So, you can get real-time updates on crypto prices, add some coins to your portfolio, or fine-tune your crypto day-trading strategies at odd hours, on weekends, and even on holidays.

Get up to $1,000 in stock when you fund a new Active Invest account.*

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*Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $25 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

Does The Global Market Affect Crypto Trading?

The global market does have an effect on crypto trading, but we’re still learning the degree to which that relationship exists. While crypto is, in some ways, siloed off from other trading markets, the two can and do affect one another, as you may have noticed by the fluctuating values in your investment portfolio.

During 2022, we saw this first-hand, as an overall market downturn likewise spilled over into the crypto markets — hence, 2022’s “crypto winter.” Similarly, the collapse of large crypto companies like FTX in late 2022 had an effect on global markets as well, causing some investors to lose money, likely altering their other investment decisions and creating a ripple effect in the markets.

Pros and Cons of Crypto Always Being Tradeable

There are some pros and cons given that the crypto markets have no set hours.

For instance, during times when fewer traders are on the market, it can affect crypto exchange liquidity — or more specifically, Bitcoin liquidity — and make values more volatile. Conversely, the open-ended hours of the market can make it easier to research and execute trades at your convenience.

Pros of 24-7 Crypto Trading

There are some advantages to the crypto markets always being open. These are the top benefits:

•   Convenience for traders

•   Higher potential returns due to bigger market and liquidity

•   Access to markets anytime, anywhere

Cons of 24-7 Crypto Trading

Of course, there are also potential downsides to crypto’s non-stop market:

•   Some exchanges and platforms may limit market access to certain times

•   Higher risks and higher Bitcoin volatility (or other crypto volatility) on certain days and times

•   Lack of regulated market hours means traders could miss big market movements

How Non-Stop Crypto Trading Hours Impact Institutions

There are some ways in which the non-stop crypto market affects institutions — banks and exchanges, in particular.

The stock market takes a break every day, and every weekend. That gives all the players in the market — individual investors and institutions — a chance to assess and reposition their assets for their next moves. But since crypto trades all the time, there are stretches during the 24-hour day when banks and exchanges are effectively closed, and money isn’t being moved around as quickly or efficiently as it would during business hours.

This can cause lags — if a crypto trader is trying to deposit money into their crypto exchange account to execute a trade at, say, 2 am ET on a Sunday night, that money won’t actually move until the next day. That has the potential to cause some friction in the markets.

In short, there’s a mismatch between the standard business hours of many institutions and the 24-hour nature of the crypto markets, which may have an effect on the markets.

How Does Crypto Trade on Weekends?

Crypto trades the same on weekends as it does during weekdays. Remember: The market never closes! But there is one thing to keep in mind: The crypto markets are volatile, and even more so on the weekends. In fact, crypto values often crash during the weekends for a few key reasons:

•   Less trading volume: Many people take the weekends off, and that includes crypto traders. As such, the volume of trades takes a dip. With lower volume, the trades that are executed (especially big ones) can have an outsized effect on the markets — more so than during times with higher trading volume.

•   Margin trading: Many traders trade crypto “on margin,” meaning that they borrow money to execute trades. And when prices drop, it may trigger a “margin call,” which means those margin traders must repay their loans. That forces traders to try and move some money around, but with banks closed on the weekends, it can make things more difficult, and in effect, potentially cause crypto values to fall further.

•   Hourly mismatches and liquidity: With banks closed on weekends but the crypto markets firing away at all hours, traders may have trouble getting more money into their crypto exchange accounts. This can limit market liquidity, potentially adding yet another systemic and chaotic element to weekend crypto trading.

When Are the Best Times to Buy and Trade Crypto?

As discussed, there are times and days that are generally more favorable to crypto traders to execute trades. The best times and days to trade crypto is generally “whenever it works for you,” but research shows that professional traders tend to be more active during weekdays.

Monday tends to be the day when traders historically see the biggest returns when trading, followed by Friday and Saturday. And as for which hours of the day are the most fruitful? Data shows that the markets are busiest around 12 pm ET.

But as with any investing, past performance and trends are no guarantee of future outcomes. There’s no promise that trading during these days or times will translate to bigger returns (or any returns) for an individual trader or investor. It’s also worth keeping in mind that these trends are likely to change with time.

The Takeaway

The crypto markets are a wild, non-stop ride, and they operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The markets never close, which means you can buy, sell, or trade crypto any time you want — that’s not to say that there aren’t times that may be more advantageous, however.

FAQ

What hours does cryptocurrency trade?

Cryptocurrency trades non-stop, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The crypto markets never close, which means traders and investors can always execute crypto transactions.

When are the best times to buy crypto?

The best times to buy crypto depend on an individual investor’s preferences, but the markets are generally more liquid during business hours on weekdays. Transaction fees, however, may be higher during those times, too.

Can I trade crypto on weekends?

Yes, you can trade crypto on weekends. The markets never close, so you can trade crypto on weekends, holidays, or any other day, too.


Photo credit: iStock/Stefan Tomic

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit 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.

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.

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.

2Terms and conditions apply. Earn a bonus (as described below) when you open a new SoFi Digital Assets LLC account and buy at least $50 worth of any cryptocurrency within 7 days. The offer only applies to new crypto accounts, is limited to one per person, and expires on December 31, 2023. Once conditions are met and the account is opened, you will receive your bonus within 7 days. SoFi reserves the right to change or terminate the offer at any time without notice.

First Trade Amount Bonus Payout
Low High
$50 $99.99 $10
$100 $499.99 $15
$500 $4,999.99 $50
$5,000+ $100

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How to Calculate Your Net Worth and Wealth: The Ultimate Guide

How to Calculate Your Net Worth and Wealth: The Ultimate Guide

In some ways, net worth and wealth can be tricky terms to define. To some people, the phrases are synonymous. As others acknowledge, the perception of wealth is influenced by a variety of factors, including where you live, career, and age.

Here’s a deep dive into how to calculate individual net worth, and some of the factors that may influence our perception of wealth.

How to Calculate Individual Net Worth

An individual’s net worth is the value of all of their combined assets minus any liabilities (that is, outstanding debts). If your assets are worth more than your liabilities, you have a positive net worth. If you owe more than you own, your net worth is negative.

Assets you may use as part of your net worth calculation can include:

•  Real estate. Your home, second home, rental property, commercial real estate, or other holdings.

•  Cars and other vehicles. Note that automobiles are typically subject to depreciation in value over time.

•  Investments. Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and retirement accounts.

•  Cash

•  Life insurance. Use the cash value.

•  Household items. Furniture, silverware, etc.

•  Jewelry. Plus precious gems and metals.

Liabilities are debts such as:

•  Balance remaining on your mortgage

•  Student loans

•  Auto loans

•  Credit card debt

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity?

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Recommended: Can You Roll Student Loans into Your Mortgage?

What Is the Difference Between Net Worth and Income?

Net worth and income don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Income is the money that is reported on a tax return, while a high net worth results from owning valuable assets. High net worth could be a result of careful saving, inheriting money, or hanging onto highly appreciated assets.

For example, let’s say someone bought a house in a once-undesirable neighborhood decades ago. Today, that neighborhood is super popular and the house is worth much more. Even if they don’t sell, the homeowner has increased their net worth without a boost in income.

On the other hand, a professional with a high salary who carries a lot of debt could have a relatively low net worth, especially if they also maintain a costly lifestyle. That said, income certainly has a big impact on how much wealth a person is able to accumulate.

Income is also one way that researchers sort individuals into economic classes, though the income ranges that delineate class can vary from year to year and by research methodology.

Recommended: What Percentage of Income Should Go to Rent and Utilities?

What Salary Is Considered a Middle Class Income?

Pew Research defines middle-income Americans as those whose annual size-adjusted income is two-thirds to double the median size-adjusted household income. (Size-adjusted household income refers to the number of people within the household.)

A single middle-income individual can earn $30,003 to $90,010, while a family of three earns $51,967 to $155,902. Low-income individuals earn less than two-thirds of the median size-adjusted household income.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait?

What Salary Is Considered an Upper Class Income?

Upper-income individuals earn more than double the median size-adjusted household income. An individual can earn more than $90,010, while a family of three may earn more than $155,902.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of size-adjusted household income for upper income and middle income Americans.

Individual

Couple

Three-person family

Four-person family

Five-person family

Middle Income >$30,003 >$42,431 >$51,967 >$60,007 >$67,089
Upper Income >$90,010 >$127,293 >$155,902 >$180,020 >$201,268

Why Wealth Is Relative Person to Person

The definition of “wealthy” differs depending on a person’s background, geography, and age. Consider a law student who earns very little money each year and carries hundreds of thousands in student debt. While their current wealth may be low, their potential future earnings may be quite high, and could catapult them into the wealthiest classes.

Consider, too, that where you live has a big impact on how far your wealth will stretch. A middle-income earner in an expensive city like San Francisco or New York may find it more difficult to make ends meet than someone in a small town in Oklahoma with a lower cost of living.

Ways to Measure Wealth

While wealth and net worth can be considered synonymous in some cases, there are other factors that play into the perception of wealth and a person’s ability to accumulate it, from demographic differences to potential return on investment, which may not have an immediate impact but can increase future wealth.

Income

As mentioned above, high income does not necessarily lead to high net worth — but it can. High earners may use their income to acquire assets that maintain equity, such as a home. These people may also use their earnings to invest within retirement and brokerage accounts.

Personal Savings

Your personal savings may refer to the cash you have on hand in checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts. It may also refer to the savings you have invested in brokerage and retirement accounts.

Ideally, these investments will appreciate over time, increasing net worth and providing a future source of income to maintain your standard of living after you stop working.

Investment Rate of Return

An important factor in accumulating wealth is the rate of return (ROR) on your investments. Investment returns are not guaranteed. Stock prices rise and fall according to various trends in the market. Even bonds, which are relatively safe, are subject to default from time to time.

In the past, the stock market tended to rise over the long term. In fact, since 1926, the average annual rate of return for the stock market has been about 10%, surpassing potential returns for other major types of investments, including bonds.

Investors who save more, and hold more of their investment portfolio in stocks, may be better positioned to take advantage of these potential future returns.

Real Estate Assets

One way to think about wealth is as the maintaining of assets. Real estate can be a good place to build equity, and it can appreciate in value. Returns can vary widely depending on what type of real estate you buy — whether a home or commercial property — and where the property is located. Historically, the rate of return on real estate has been close to stock market returns. One study found that the average return lies between 8.6% and 10%.

Age and Family Status

Demographic factors can have an impact on how much money you earn and the wealth you can accumulate. For example, median weekly earnings vary by age and gender.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, men and women ages 16 to 24 have the lowest median weekly earnings, with men earning $694 per week and women earning $628 in the first quarter of 2022, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Men age 35 and over enjoyed the highest median weekly earnings:

•  35 to 44: $1,257

•  45 to 54: $1,274

•  55 to 64: $1,246

Women earned less overall than men:

•  35 to 44: $1,037

•  45 to 54: $1,063

•  55 to 64: $997

The number of people in a household has a different impact. More people under one roof may require a larger home and more money spent on things like groceries, clothing, and transportation. As a result, a single individual usually requires less wealth to maintain a certain lifestyle than a family of five.

Good Credit Score

While not exactly a measure of wealth, a good credit score is a measure of financial health. It suggests that you have not taken on more debt than you can handle, and that you are able to make your payments on time.

A good credit score can also help you leverage your wealth to achieve financial goals. For example, lenders will look at your credit score when you apply for a loan to determine your credit worthiness. A good score can help you qualify for loans with lower interest rates. Individuals with bad credit, on the other hand, may be seen as a risk, and lenders may charge higher interest rates to compensate.

As a result, a good credit score can help you qualify for loans, such as a mortgage, at affordable rates that can help you build wealth.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax?

Difference Between Material Wealth vs Spiritual Wealth

Material wealth is dependent on the physical and financial assets that you own and the debts you carry. Spiritual wealth, on the other hand, is not based on tangible items. Rather it’s based on things like a sense of well-being and happiness.

Are material wealth and spiritual wealth linked? A little over a decade ago, a study by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deacon found that a sense of well-being plateaued for individuals earning $75,000 or more a year. More recent research by Matthew A. Killingworth has called these findings into question, suggesting that there is no plateau, and higher incomes may be associated with being more satisfied with life overall and feeling better day to day.

Regardless, Killingsworth notes that the relationship between wealth and well-being is likely overestimated, especially when an individual earns enough to cover their basic needs.

Appreciating What You Have

One of the reasons that higher income doesn’t always translate into greater wealth is a phenomenon known as “lifestyle creep.” This occurs when increasing income leads to an increase in discretionary spending. A certain amount of lifestyle creep can result from trying to “keep up with the Joneses” — a tendency to accumulate material goods to compete with others in one’s perceived social class.

For example, as a person earns more, they might buy a bigger house, a more expensive car, pricey clothes, and start sending their kids to private school. These costly habits can mean that the individual may not be able to save more than when their salary was lower.

Try to avoid lifestyle creep by putting off grand lifestyle changes, like buying a large home, and putting off big purchases until absolutely necessary. Build and stick to a budget that includes wealth-building line items, such as saving in retirement funds. Track your progress with a budgeting app.

Practice appreciating what you already have, and you may find that some of the upgrades you desire are just wants — not necessities.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car?

The Takeaway

Net worth and wealth are inextricably linked. Measuring net worth helps people assess how many assets they currently have at their disposal. Accumulating wealth is about acquiring and maintaining assets that hold their value or increase in value. Doing so often requires careful saving and investing, as well as constant monitoring to ensure you stay on track.

SoFi helps you track your money all in one place, and provides tools such as credit score monitoring and spending breakdowns.

Check out SoFi’s money tracker app today!

FAQ

What Salary Is Considered Middle Class Income?

Middle-income Americans have annual incomes that are two-thirds to double the median income, according to Pew Research. For example, a single middle-income individual will earn $30,003 to $90,010, while a family of three will earn $51,967 to $155,902.

What Salary Is Considered Upper-Middle Class Income?

An upper-middle class income is at the high range of middle class income. For a single middle-income individual, that’s an annual income of $90,010.

What Salary Is Considered Lower Class income?

Low-income Americans are anyone earning less than two-thirds of the median household income. That means individuals would earn less than $30,003, while a family of three would have a household income of less than $51,967.


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*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Disclaimer: The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results.
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Understanding Stock Market Corrections

A stock market correction occurs when the market hits a new high, and then falls by at least 10%. A correction is similar to a dip or crash, but not as severe as a “bear market,” which is when the market sees a decline of 20%.

Stock market corrections are normal and it’s important to be aware of why they happen and what you might consider doing the next time the market sees a correction.

What Is a Market Correction?

A stock market correction happens when the market reaches a new interim high and then falls by 10%. Some other stock market terms for market downturns include dips or crashes, which may be temporary or quick drops in the market that don’t see the market fall past 10%.

Corrections vs Bear Markets

A bear market is a longer decline in the stock market, and refers to the market after it declines 20% from a previous high. These terms can also apply to individual stocks (“Stock X is in correction territory,” for example), but individual stocks can see much more volatility than the overall market.

The most severe stock market correction in history, in terms of points, happened in 2018, when the Dow declined 1,175 points in a single day. Previously the record had been a 777-point decline. However, the 2018 4.6% drop wasn’t the biggest decline in terms of percentage. In 1987, on a day called Black Monday, the Dow dropped by 22%. That would be equivalent to 5,300 points in today’s market.


💡 Quick Tip: Are self-directed brokerage accounts cost efficient? They can be, because they offer the convenience of being able to buy stocks online without using a traditional full-service broker (and the typical broker fees).

The Nature and Frequency of Market Corrections

Stock market corrections happen every once in a while. They are, in fact, a normal part of the market cycle — that’s important for investors to keep in mind, as it’s not unusual at all for the market to experience a correction.

How Common Are Market Corrections?

Dating back to the mid-1900s, stock market corrections have typically happened three to four times every year. Although it’s nerve-wracking every time, these corrections are a normal part of the market cycle, as mentioned.

Duration and Impact of Corrections

When a correction occurs, you will likely see the media speculate whether it’s a crash or a correction, how long the correction will last, and perhaps, if the economy is going into a recession. This speculation is just that — here is no way of knowing exactly how big a correction will be or how long it will last.

A stock market correction is not typically the cause of a recession, nor is it a predictor of a coming recession. Stock market corrections can be stressful for investors and companies, but they are not necessarily signs of a poor economy.

Although there is no way of predicting how long a market correction will last, you can look to past data as some indicator of possible trends. For example, since the 2008–09 financial crisis, the past four corrections have had an average decline of 15.3% over a time period of three and a half months.

Navigating Through Market Corrections

Given that market corrections are common, investors would do well to know how to handle them. That may or may not involve making any changes to your portfolio.

Preparing Your Investments for a Correction

Unless you exclusively own stocks in an S&P 500 index fund, your portfolio will perform differently from the overall market. When a stock market correction occurs, the percentage drop is generally referring to the performance of the S&P 500 index. This is an index of the largest U.S. companies in the stock market.

The stocks in your portfolio may fall in value more or less than the overall market. Some of your stocks may even go up in value. It’s important to remember that if your portfolio drops by a certain percentage, it will need to go up more than that percentage to recoup your losses.

Strategies for Investing During Corrections

Generally, a good rule of thumb is to stay invested through a market correction — or, stick to a buy-and-hold strategy. If, for example, someone sells off their stocks during a panic, they could see them go back up in value again in a few days or weeks. If anything, depending on your strategy and goals, you may want to consider buying stocks during a market correction, because prices will have lowered.

You could consider whether you have available funds you’d like to invest during a downturn, and decide if you want to purchase more shares of stocks you already own or if you want to find new stocks to buy. Diversifying the stocks in your portfolio may help you weather the storm of a market correction.

If you do choose to purchase stocks during a market correction, be aware that their value may continue to decline before it recovers again. There’s also no guarantee that it will.

Also remember that the market has bounced back from some severe corrections and crashes over the years. Corrections happen every year and can be healthy for the market.


💡 Quick Tip: How to manage potential risk factors in a self-directed investment account? Doing your research and employing strategies like dollar-cost averaging and diversification may help mitigate financial risk when trading stocks.

Identifying Causes and Signs of Market Corrections

There can be numerous reasons that the market experiences a correction. And they typically can’t be predicted with any real sense of accuracy.

Key Factors Leading to Corrections

Since so many things could potentially lead to a market correction, it’s hard to say with any certainty what, exactly, is or was the catalyst. But generally, things like rising prices (inflation), slow economic growth, bad or disappointing corporate earnings reports, or even surprising news — say, a war breaks out, or some sort of political upheaval takes place — can cause the market to see a steep decline into correction territory.

Can Market Corrections Be Predicted?

As mentioned, market corrections can’t really be predicted. While it’s almost certain that there will be corrections in the future, discerning when, exactly, they’ll happen is nearly impossible — nobody has a crystal ball.

Coping With Market Corrections as an Investor

Market corrections are going to happen — it’s a near certainty. But that doesn’t mean investors need to panic every time the market has a hiccup.

What to Do During a Market Correction

The first step in knowing what to do during a stock market correction is to find out why it’s happening — if possible. Next, look into your individual portfolio and see how it’s being affected by the correction. This will help you decide whether to buy, sell, or hold on to the stocks in your portfolio.

Remember that stock market corrections are normal. If you have a long-term investing strategy, you will likely see market corrections, bear markets, and recessions during your years of investing. Try to stay calm and reconsider decisions that might be made based on fear or panic. It may not help to obsess over the value of your portfolio on any particular day.

Long-term Strategies for Handling Market Volatility

In terms of handling market volatility over the long term, here are some things and overarching principles investors can try to incorporate into their investment strategy.

•   Have a plan: Blindly buying stocks and then getting upset when they fall in value isn’t ideal. Know what your goals are and plan for them. Even when the market corrects, you can still reach your goals for the year if you plan properly. If you’re investing money to use in just a few months versus for your retirement, your strategy may look very different.

•   Diversify: One way to protect yourself from significant market crashes is to spread out investments over different types of assets. This is called diversifying your portfolio, and this tactic may help lower your risk of losses while still exposing yourself to potential gains. You can diversify into many different types of investments, including bonds, real estate, commodities, and simply by holding cash.

•   Consider cashing out: Investors can be afraid to cash out of a particular stock because it may continue to rise in value. If you own a stock which has gone up significantly, you may want to cash out some of the investment and diversify it into other investments.

•   Keep risk tolerance in mind: If you are growing your portfolio for long-term use, you can likely handle a few ups and downs in the market cycle. However, if it causes you too much stress to see your portfolio go down in value a lot in one day, perhaps it’s better not having so much invested in stocks.

•   Don’t try to time the market: On the same note, selling off your investments because you think the market is going south may not be a great strategy. The stocks you’re holding may continue to go up in value, and even if they do crash, trying to time your reentry can be just as challenging as timing your exit.

•   Think long term: Day trading and short-term investing are risky. If you build a diversified portfolio which you plan to keep invested for a long time before using it, it may be able to withstand cycles in the market and still continue to grow.

Real-World Examples of Market Corrections

As noted, corrections are common. In fact, the S&P 500 entered correction territory three times during 2022. It also happened more than once in 2023, and as of writing, the most recent market correction occurred during October 2023, as the market slid for a few months after topping out at a previous high in July 2023.

In December 2023, the market rebounded, and was near all-time highs.

The Takeaway

Stock market corrections are when the market falls 10% from a previous high, and they’re common parts of the market cycle. As you build your portfolio and mentally prepare for the next stock market correction, remember that you are not alone. Market crashes, dips, and corrections are stressful for everyone, and there are tools and specialists to help you navigate them.

Working with an investment advisor may help you stay calm throughout economic cycles. Planning your portfolio for diversification and long-term growth may also help you ride the waves of the market.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.

FAQ

What happens in a stock market correction?

During a stock market correction, the market slides at least 10% from a previous high due to any number of factors.

Are corrections good for the stock market?

Corrections can be good for the stock market in a similar way that a wildfire can be good for a forest — they can serve as a reset to valuations that may have gotten too high, and lower security prices for investors looking to deploy capital.

How long do stock market corrections last?

There’s no telling how long a correction could last, but it’s important to keep in mind that historically, the market has always bounced back given enough time.

What is the biggest stock market correction of all time?

The biggest drop in the S&P 500 in a single day was in October 1987, when the index fell more than 20% into a bear market.

How often should you expect a stock market correction?

Since the 1950s, the S&P 500 has experienced dozens of market corrections, and that means that one occurs less than every two years, on average.

How many corrections have there been throughout history?

In the modern era, since World War II, the stock market has experienced 24 market corrections, with an average market drop of more than 14%.


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INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
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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.

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.

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What Is the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE)?

What Is the CBOE?

The CBOE is CBOE Global Markets, the world’s largest options trading exchange. While you may already be familiar with the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, those are only two of the exchanges investors use to trade securities.

In addition to the option trading exchange, CBOE has also created one of the most popular volatility indices in the world.

Learn more about CBOE and what it does.

What Is the CBOE Options Exchange?

CBOE, or CBOE Global Markets, Inc., is a global exchange operator founded in 1973 and headquartered in Chicago. Investors often turn to CBOE to buy and sell both derivatives and equities. In addition, the holding company facilitates trading over a diverse array of products in various asset classes, many of which it introduced to the market.

The organization also includes several subsidiaries, such as The Options Institute (an educational resource), Hanweck Associates LLC (a real-time analytics company), and The Options Clearing Corporation or OCC (a central clearinghouse for listed options).

The group has global branches in Canada, England, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Japan, and the Philippines.

CBOE is also a public company with a stock traded on the cboe exchange.

What Does CBOE Stand For?

Originally known as the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the company changed its name to CBOE in 2017.


💡 Quick Tip: All investments come with some degree of risk — and some are riskier than others. Before investing online, decide on your investment goals and how much risk you want to take.

History of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange

Founded in 1973, CBOE represented the first U.S. market for traders who want to buy and sell exchange-listed options. This was a significant step for the options market, helping it become what it is today.

In 1975, the CBOE introduced automated price reporting and trading along with The Options Clearing Corporation (OCC).

Other developments followed in the market as well. For example, CBOE added “put” options in 1977. And by 1983, the market began creating options on broad-based indices using the S&P 100 (OEX) and the S&P 500 (SPX).

In 1993, the CBOE created its own market volatility index called the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX). In 2015, it formed The Options Institute. With this, CBOE had an educational branch that could bring investors information about options.

CBOE continues its educational initiatives. The Options Institute even schedules monthly classes and events to help with outreach, and it offers online tools such as an options calculator and a trade maximizer.

From 1990 on, Cboe began creating unique trading products. Notable introductions include LEAPS (Long-Term Equity Anticipation Securities) launched in 1990; Flexible Exchange (FLEX) options in 1993; short-term options known as Weeklys in 2005; and an electronic S&P options contract called SPXpm in 2011.

Understanding What the CBOE Options Exchange Does

The CBOE Options Exchange serves as a trading platform, similar to the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq. It has a history of creating its own tradable products, including options contracts, futures, and more. Cboe also has acquired market models or created new markets in the past, such as the first pan-European multilateral trading facility (MTF) and the institutional foreign exchange (FX) market.

The CBOE’s specialization in options is essential, but it’s also complicated. Options contracts don’t work the same as stocks or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). They’re financial derivatives tied to an underlying asset, like a stock or future, but they have a set expiration date dictating when investors must settle or exercise the contract.That’s where the OCC comes in.

The OCC settles these financial trades by taking the place of a guarantor. Essentially, as a clearinghouse, the OCC acts as an intermediary for buyers and sellers. It functions based on foundational risk management and clears transactions. Under the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), it provides clearing and settlement services for various trading options. It also acts in a central counterparty capacity for securities lending transactions.

Recommended: How to Trade Options

CBOE Products

Cboe offers a variety of tradable products across multiple markets, including many that it created.

For example, CBOE offers a range of put and call options on thousands of publicly traded stocks, (ETFs), and exchange-traded notes (ETNs). Investors use these tradable products for specific strategies, like hedging.

Or, they use them to gain income by selling cash-secured puts or covered calls. These options strategies give investors flexibility in terms of how much added yield they want and gives them the ability to adjust their stock exposures.

Investors have the CBOE options marketplace and other alternative venues, including the electronic communication network (ECN), the FX market, and the MTF.


💡 Quick Tip: Options can be a cost-efficient way to place certain trades, because you typically purchase options contracts, not the underlying security. That said, options trading can be risky, and best done by those who are not entirely new to investing.

CBOE and Volatility

The CBOE’s Volatility Index (VIX) gauges market volatility of U.S. equities. It also tracks the metric on a global scale and for the S&P 500. That opens up an opportunity for many traders. Traders, both international and global, use the VIX Index to get a foothold in the large U.S. market or global equities, whether it’s trading or simply exposing themselves to it.

In late 2021, CBOE Global Markets extended global trading hours (GTH) on CBOE Options Exchange for its VIX options and S&P 500 Index options (SPX) to almost 24 hours per business day, five days a week. They did this with the intention to give further access to global participants to trade U.S. index options products exclusive to CBOE. These products are based on both the SPX and VIX indices.

This move allowed CBOE to meet growth in investor demand. These investors want to manage their risk more efficiently, and the extended GTH could help them to do so. With it, they can react in real-time to global macroeconomics events and adjust their positions accordingly.

Essentially, they can track popular market sentiment and choose the best stocks according to the VIX’s movements.

Recommended: How to Use the Fear and Greed Index to Your Advantage

The Takeaway

While CBOE makes efforts to educate and open the market to a broader range of investors, options trading is a risky strategy.

Investors should recognize that while there’s potentially upside in options investing there’s usually also a risk when it comes to the options’ liquidity, and premium costs can devour an investor’s profits. That means it’s not the best choice for those looking for a safer investment.

While some investors may want further guidance and less risk, for other investors, options trading may be appealing. Investors should fully understand options trading before implementing it.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.


Photo credit: iStock/USGirl

Options involve risks, including substantial risk of loss and the possibility an investor may lose the entire amount invested in a short period of time. Before an investor begins trading options they should familiarize themselves with the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options . Tax considerations with options transactions are unique, investors should consult with their tax advisor to understand the impact to their taxes.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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.

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit 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.

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