What Is a Decentralized Exchange (DEX)?

What Is a Decentralized Exchange (DEX)?

A decentralized exchange (DEX) is a digital currency exchange that allows users to buy crypto through direct, peer-to-peer cryptocurrency transactions, all over a online platform without an intermediary. It differs from a traditional centralized exchange, where a typical transaction involves a third-party entity (e.g. bank, trading platform, government institution, etc.) that takes custody of user funds, and oversees the security and transfer of assets between two parties.

Decentralization is a fundamental philosophy of blockchain technology and the crypto space. It redistributes authority from a central power, and places it in the hands of users. And the concept of decentralization is reengineering how many conventional financial services operate.

Decentralized exchanges have also grown in popularity over the past couple of years, with spot trading volume slowly shifting away from centralized exchanges, up until early 2022, when “crypto winter” set in.

Spot Trading Volume Percentage, DEX vs. CEX
Timeframe

CEX

DEX

January 2020 98.93% 1.07%
June 2020 97.01% 2.99%
January 2021 93.22% 6.78%
June 2021 93.2% 6.8%
January 2022 77.08% 22.92%
June 2022 82.93% 17.07%

How a Decentralized Exchange (DEX) Works

Decentralized exchanges provide a decentralized platform that allows users to exchange assets without having to trust their funds with another entity.

With a decentralized exchange, a blockchain, or distributed ledger, takes the place of the third party. By moving critical operations onto a blockchain, the underlying technology may help to eliminate single points of failure, allowing users to have greater control of their assets, and support safer and more transparent trading.

DEXs use smart contracts to execute market transactions by allocating transactions’ operations to autonomous code, but there are multiple variations of order fulfillment with differing degrees of decentralization.

Like digital currencies, decentralized exchanges were created in response to flawed and archaic financial systems that passed along risks of a centralized system to its users. Those risks often include insufficient security, technical issues, and a lack of transparency.

💡 Recommended: Crypto Guide for Beginners

Different Types of Decentralized Exchanges

Full decentralization is more of a philosophy than a rule of thumb, as it’s not very practical based on first-layer blockchain scalability limits. As a result, most decentralized exchanges are actually semi-decentralized, using their own servers and off-chain order books to store data and external programs or entities for the exchange of user assets.

Due to this reliance on centralized components, semi-decentralized exchanges’ operations may be subject to government oversight. However, and perhaps most importantly, users still maintain control of the private keys to their funds.

Although DEXs continue to evolve and operate cross-chain with other DApps, DEXs typically operate a single blockchain. One thing all decentralized exchanges have in common is that they execute orders on chains with smart contracts, and at no point do they take custody of users’ funds.

The Different Types of DEXs
Type

Features

On-Chain Order Books Processes transactions on a blockchain network, without the inclusion of a third-party
Off-Chain Order Books Utilizes an off-chain, centralized entity to process transactions and govern the order book
Automated Market Makers Uses algorithms to automatically price asset pairs in real-time
DEX Aggregators Compile data from numerous DEXs to increase options and liquidity for traders

On-Chain Order Books

For some decentralized exchanges, transactions are processed on-chain, including modifying and canceling orders. Philosophically, this is the most decentralized and transparent process, because it circumvents the need to trust a third party to handle any orders at any time. However, this approach is not very practical in execution.

By placing all stages of an order onto the blockchain, DEXs go through a time-consuming process of asking every node on the network to permanently store the order via miners, as well as pay a fee.

Some criticize the decentralized crypto exchange model because its slow transaction times allow for front-running, which is when an investor watches the price of an asset closely, waiting at the last minute to buy or sell right before they anticipate the price rising or falling. (Note that this type of “front-running” is different from stock front-running, where an investor purchases a security based on insider information, such as a future event that will impact stock price.)

Others counter that since all orders are published on a public ledger, there is no exclusive opportunity for any select individual to front-run from a traditional perspective. However, it has been questioned whether a miner can front-run by noticing an order before it’s confirmed and force their own order to get added to the blockchain first.

Off-Chain Order Books

DEXs with off-chain order books are still decentralized to some degree, but are somewhat more centralized than their on-chain counterparts. As opposed to orders being stored on the blockchain, off-chain orders are posted elsewhere, such as a centralized entity that governs the order book. Such an entity could exploit access to the order books to front-run or misrepresent orders, however, users’ funds would still be protected from the DEXs non-custodial model.

Some ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain provide a DEX that operates similarly. Though some degree of decentralization is sacrificed, a DEX can provide a framework for parties to manage off-chain order books through smart contracts. Hosts can then access a larger liquidity pool and relay orders between traders. Once the parties are matched, the trade can be executed on-chain.

These models can be more advantageous for users than relying on slower on-chain order books. With less congestion and quicker confirmation times caused by primitive blockchain iterations, off-chain order books can provide faster speeds.

Automated Market Makers (AMM)

An automated market maker (AMM) reinvents order books with pricing algorithms that automatically price any asset pairing in real-time (e.g. Bitcoin-U.S. dollar).

Unlike traditional market-making, whereby firms provide an accurate price and a tight spread on an order book, AMMs decentralize this process and allow users to create a market on a blockchain. No counterparty is needed to make a trade, as the AMM simply interacts with a blockchain to “create” a market. Instead of transacting directly with another person, exchange, or market-maker, users trade with smart contracts and provide liquidity. Unfortunately, there are no order types on an AMM because prices are algorithmically determined, resulting in a sort of market order.

As with other DEX models, an on-chain transaction must occur to settle any trade. As opposed to some DEXs, AMMs tend to be relatively user-friendly and integrate with popular cryptocurrency wallets.

DEX Aggregators

DEX aggregators are precisely what they sound like: aggregators that compile various trading pools. Their main advantage is that they can increase liquidity for traders, particularly for those who are looking to expand their options or trade smaller tokens.

How these aggregators work is similar to a search engine, in that they compile and accumulate information and data from different exchanges to give users more options.

Tips for Using Decentralized Exchanges

Using a DEX has its advantages and risks. While you’re likely using a DEX for its advantages, it’s important to keep those risks in mind. Perhaps most importantly, remember that decentralized exchanges are, for all intents and purposes, operating off the radar and outside of regulatory authorities.

Also remember that as the popularity of DeFi as a whole grows, so too will the use of DEXs, and their features and functions. These are changing platforms and technologies, so do some research to make sure you know what you’re doing, and that you’re keeping your keys, phrases, and assets safe.

Pros of Decentralized Exchanges

There are many reasons fans and followers of crypto have embraced decentralized exchanges. These are some of the pros of decentralized exchanges:

No KYC/AML or ID Verification

DEXs are trustless, meaning users’ funds, privacy, and limited personal data are well preserved. Decentralized exchange users can easily and securely access a DEX without needing to create an on-exchange account, undergo identity verification, or provide personal information.

No Counterparty Risk

Because users don’t have to transfer their assets to an exchange (or third party), decentralized exchanges can reduce risks of theft and loss of funds due to hacks. DEXs can also prevent price manipulation or fake trading volume, and allow users to maintain a degree of anonymity due to a lack of Know Your Customer (KYC) cryptocurrency rules and regulations.

All Tokens Can be Traded

With a DEX, users can trade new and obscure cryptocurrencies that may be difficult to exchange elsewhere. Typically, centralized exchanges only support a dozen or so projects, and most only support the most popular cryptocurrencies, making smaller and less popular tokens more difficult to trade, especially as those exchanges restrict users from other countries.

Reduced Security Risks

As mentioned, decentralized exchanges may be more secure than their centralized counterparts. That’s because no single entity is in charge of assets, and instead, smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps) automate transactions. It’s all handled by users, in other words, making it very difficult for a hacker or bad actor to infiltrate a centralized pile of assets and steal them.

That said, a bad or poorly developed smart contract could cause issues, which is something to be aware of.

Utility in the Developing World

Many parts of the world lack basic financial services, nevermind access to the crypto markets. That’s another pro for DEXs, which can be used by individuals anywhere in the world regardless of financial infrastructure.

In fact, DEXs may be the most beneficial to users in the developing world, giving businesses a way to transact assets without the need for a third party, where those parties may not be available or willing to operate.

Cons of a Decentralized Exchange

While decentralized exchanges offer some groundbreaking benefits, they also come with a few drawbacks.

Specific Knowledge Is Required

There’s no getting around it: You’ll need to know what you’re doing, at least to a degree, to use a decentralized exchange. Centralized exchanges exist for a reason: They’re relatively easy to use, and handle most of the complicated stuff for users. But when using a DEX, it’s all on the user. There’s no hand-holding, and as such, you’ll want to be confident that you know the ropes before using a DEX.

Smart Contract Vulnerabilities

Another thing we previously mentioned is the fact that smart contracts may be poorly constructed, leading to problems on a DEX. A smart contract is only as smart as the person or entity that created it, and there’s no guarantee that it will work as hoped all of the time.

Smart contracts themselves are similar to bits of code or commands that automate a process, and if there’s an error in the smart contract, it could produce unanticipated results.

No Recovery Ability

Unlike centralized exchanges run by private companies with employees, DEXs fundamentally have no recovery ability for lost, stolen, or misplaced funds. Due to a lack of a KYC process or ability to cancel a transaction in the event of a compromised account or loss of private key, users are unable to recover data or be returned their assets.

As discussed, there is no support team or help hotline to notify of missing funds or a lost private key, as users themselves are in control of the process. Because all transactions are processed and stored in smart contracts on the blockchain without any owners or overseers, refunds are incompatible with the network’s model and users are generally unable to regain access to their assets.

Unvetted Token Listings

The crypto space is rife with scams and junk tokens, and given that there’s no central authority in a DEX, it’s relatively easy for some of those junk tokens or coins to find themselves in the listings. Put another way: There is little or no vetting process for what’s listed on a DEX (though it may differ from exchange to exchange). Making sure you’re not falling for a scam coin, then, is on the user.

Low Liquidity

Many traders prefer centralized services with a greater liquidity pool, choice of instruments, currency pairs, and order types. Decentralized exchanges usually have lower liquidity than centralized platforms because they are newer and smaller, with a smaller potential client base (since DEXs are more difficult to use than CEXs). Yet, paradoxically, they must also attract new users to generate more liquidity.

Limited Speed

Transactions take time to be checked and validated on a blockchain network, and the processing speed depends on the network’s miners or validators, not the exchange itself.

Limited Trading Functionality

Decentralized exchanges tend to focus on executing simple buy and sell orders. As such, users may find advanced trading functions such as stop losses, margin trading, and lending are unavailable on most DEXs.

Scalability Issues

DEXs have suffered from the same network congestion issues relating to scalability issues as their underlying blockchain networks like Ethereum. Ethereum’s first network iteration, like other blockchains, was built to function securely at a smaller scale before scaling solutions were later implemented. Though a transformative network upgrade designed with massive scalability solutions has been in development since 2018, DEXs remain subject to first-layer network transaction ceilings.

Challenges to DEX Adoption

With sophisticated technology, potentially fewer blockchain security risks, and the ability to self-custody funds, further adoption of decentralized exchanges seems likely. But DEXs, for the most part, remain out of the mainstream. Despite the launch and rise in popularity of numerous DEXs within the past few years, some factors may slow down adoption.

Many investors may lack awareness surrounding:

•   The security risks of centralized exchanges

•   Self-custody as a security option

•   How to securely self-custody funds (managing private keys)

•   The existence of decentralized exchanges

•   The advantages of decentralized exchanges

DEXs also present a few technical barriers to entry:

•   Not user-friendly enough

•   Network congestion during periods of high volume

•   Transactions on current network iterations take time to be validated on blockchains

•   High transactions fees during periods of high volume

•   Users will only join a DEX with high liquidity

•   Cross-chain interoperability must exist for DeFi platforms to interact with each other

•   The need for fiat on-ramps and less volatile token prices

The Takeaway

Decentralized exchanges are a trustless solution that allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrency without roping in a third party. Though full decentralization is not yet a reality, different types of DEXs provide varying levels of security, privacy, and efficiency from which crypto traders can choose.

As DEXs continue to develop, evolve, and become more practical for users, user adoption may become a focal point as DEXs look to offer greater liquidity. The good news is that DEXs present only one of numerous ways to get involved in the crypto space.

FAQ

How do DEX fees work?

A DEX facilitates peer-to-peer trading, and levies network fees in order to facilitate those transactions. While fees from DEX to DEX may vary, they differ from centralized exchanges, which may charge trading fees or commissions for executing transactions.

What’s the difference between a decentralized exchange (DEX) and a centralized exchange (CEX)?

A decentralized exchange allows individual users to connect and transact assets without a third party. A centralized exchange, conversely, acts as a third party and takes custody of funds or assets during the transaction. The key difference is that a CEX acts as a central authority.

Are decentralized exchanges legal?

Yes, DEXs are legal, though they do operate in something of a gray area (like most of the crypto space) in that they’re unregulated by a central government authority. Some exchanges may be illegal in certain jurisdictions, too. That may change in the future, though, as regulators outline plans and potential rules for the crypto space.

How can I create a decentralized exchange?

If you want to create your own DEX, you’ll need a lot of background knowledge involving blockchain architecture and more. You would need to know how to code, identify key features that your DEX would have, and much, much more. You’re likely better off using an existing DEX, rather than creating one from scratch.


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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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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.

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.

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.

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
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$500 $4,999.99 $50
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How to Buy and Invest in Ethereum

Cryptocurrency may be the new kid on the block in terms of investing, but some cryptos are rapidly gaining value. And while Bitcoin may get the lion’s share of attention among cryptocurrencies, other alternative assets, like Ethereum (ETH), are hot on its heels. For aspiring crypto investors, one of the first questions that comes to mind is how to buy Ethereum.

But before learning how to invest in Ethereum, it’s important to get to know the history, attributes, and other details of this popular cryptocurrency. In this article, we’ll address:

•   What Is Ethereum?

•   How to Buy Ethereum.

•   Buying Ethereum: Important for Investors.

Ethereum 101 Overview

Ethereum is a blockchain-based platform used to make peer-to-peer transactions and build applications. It may be easier to think of Ethereum as an application marketplace, rather than a currency. Ether (ETH) is the platform’s native coin, and it can be bought and sold by investors, like Bitcoin (BTC) and other types of cryptocurrencies on the market; but their underlying technologies and utility are quite different.

What is Ethereum, exactly? A goal of Ethereum is to provide programmers and developers with a platform to build decentralized programs; a way to create computer apps without getting involved with the middlemen who generally want to control access to the apps — like how Google or Apple have control over their respective app stores.

Ethereum’s value stems from key attributes: One, it has intrinsic value — people are willing to pay for it with cash (fiat currency, like the U.S. dollar), for example. And two, it comprises an actual platform with a degree of utility — a claim which many other cryptos cannot make. Today, hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses and industries use ETH as their foundation.

Four Steps to Buying Ethereum

If you want to purchase or invest in Ethereum, it’s not difficult to get started. While Ethereum itself is something of a complicated asset, buying it or investing in it is straightforward — particularly for investors who already have cryptocurrency among their assets. Here is a simplified, step-by-step guide to investing in Ethereum.

1. Get a Crypto Wallet

Anyone serious about investing in Ethereum would need to get a crypto wallet, which lets you store cryptocurrencies safely. Digital assets can be vulnerable to theft, so it’s important to keep your assets safe. Some wallets are made by the coin developers themselves, others are made by a third-party developer.

2. Create an Account on a Crypto Exchange

Investors would also need to create an account on a crypto exchange of their choosing, on which they may buy and sell cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum. Think of a crypto exchange as similar to a stock exchange. Crypto exchanges are either centralized, decentralized, or hybrid. Some investors find centralized exchanges useful because of the third-party oversight that helps transactions go through properly, and allows for exchanging fiat for crypto.

3. Fund Your Account

With a wallet and an exchange account, the next step is to have a medium to exchange for Ethereum. For most people, this simply means funding their account with good old dollars and cents (fiat). The process is similar to funding a brokerage account, so you can buy stocks or bonds. Once you fund an account, the resources will be at hand when you’re ready to trade.

4. Start Buying Ethereum!

With a verified and funded account, investors should be ready to start buying Ethereum with as little as $10. While the specific steps for buying or selling cryptocurrency will depend on the specific exchange, it’s generally similar to buying stocks through a brokerage.

Whatever the exchange, you’re now positioned to start trading or buying Ethereum. And once the trades have settled, remember to withdraw the assets into the aforementioned digital wallet for safekeeping.

Where to Buy Ethereum

You can buy Ethereum on almost every crypto platform; you may even see crypto ATMs, some of which might offer ETH.

The most common place to buy or sell ETH is on a cryptocurrency exchange. Crypto exchanges usually offer convenient ways to deposit and exchange fiat; along with reasonable fees, and a large selection of crypto assets. Some traditional finance (TradFi) brokerages also offer a limited selection of cryptos, along with the more conventional assets, like stocks and bonds. Most brokers and exchanges also have mobile apps to make it easy to trade on the go.

Selling Ethereum

Say you’ve been investing in Ethereum for a time, and the asset has performed well; such that you’re thinking about withdrawing some of your ETH to convert to fiat (USD) to pay for some badly needed home repairs (not all U.S. retailers accept cryptocurrencies as payment for goods and services). Can you do that, and is it difficult? Yes, and no. Selling Ethereum is pretty straightforward, too.

The most common way to cash out your ETH is by using a peer-to-peer crypto exchange, though it’s also possible to sell it to an individual user directly — either someone you know, or via advertising. If you opt to sell directly, it’s wise to keep safety at the forefront: Make sure that the person you’re trading with has the funds available and is ready to commit to the transaction. Double-check your data for any errors: Check the public exchange address, the amount you are selling, what you’re getting in return, the exchange rates, and fees.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying Ethereum

In 2022, the only crypto that could potentially exceed Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization and popularity is the second-largest crypto, Ethereum. However, it’s a mistake to think that BTC and ETH are rivals; they are not. Technically, Ethereum is not even a cryptocurrency. Rather, Ethereum is a powerful computer that runs on blockchain technology, on which developers can build all kinds of apps. It’s more accurate and appropriate to think of these two assets as complimentary — each with a critical role to fulfill.

Benefits of Buying Ethereum

•   Coming upgrades could resolve old issues: Ethereum has been working toward switching from a proof-of-work (PoW) to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, which is slated to finish in fall 2022. Industry watchers believe that this initiative — called the Ethereum merge, or Ethereum 2.0 — could reduce ETH’s energy consumption by more than 99% of its current levels. In addition, the new upgrades could potentially make Ethereum more affordable for users to mint and develop products, as right now the service fees (gas) to use ETH are notoriously high.

•   ETH is highly liquid: One of the main reasons people are attracted to Ethereum is that it’s among the more liquid cryptocurrencies. You may exchange it quickly and easily.

•   A volatility play: Although the concept of volatility mostly presents a challenge for investors, a savvy and nimble trader could in fact turn a volatile Ethereum marketplace into a net positive event. How? By identifying patterns in the volatility, then customizing strategies to profit from them.

Risks of Buying Ethereum

•   Too-high expectations: The risks of buying ETH are similar to those of buying any other crypto. That said, each crypto can carry unique risks, endemic to that coin only. Moreover, some benefits can also be interpreted as risks, as is the case with the Ethereum merge cited above. Investors and the entire crypto/blockchain sector alike have high hopes for Ethereum 2.0 and eagerly anticipate the merge. As with any new tech, there’s a risk that it could go awry; might not achieve its hoped-for results, could prove more expensive than projected, or might not happen at all.

•   An evolving industry: The crypto and blockchain sectors are still new, and they’re changing all the time. In the midst of this, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other governing agencies are trying to catch up by drafting regulations for these sectors on the fly. We don’t know what will happen to the crypto sector in the future; nor how many of today’s crypto platforms and exchanges would even be around in the next decade.

•   More volatility: By now, you’re probably used to hearing the term volatility used synonymously with the crypto market. It’s a perfect example of how, as cited above, in different hands an asset can just as easily become a liability.

Ethereum: Investing Reminders

Remember that cryptocurrencies, and blockchain assets like Ethereum, are inherently risky investments. The rule of thumb here is the time-worn mantra not to invest more money than you’re prepared to lose. And, especially when the asset class, itself, presents a market risk. If you don’t have much of a stomach for wild fluctuations in value, then that’s something to consider before buying Ethereum.

Other Key Considerations

•   Largely unregulated: Ethereum exists in the same gray area as other cryptos when it comes to cryptocurrency regulations. Some exchanges are as regulated as they can be, considering that defining rules for cryptocurrency is a work in progress; while other exchanges are still primarily unregulated.

•   Possibility of theft: Other risks to consider include the possibility of theft and other prevalent crypto scams.

•   What about crypto forks?: Forks are complicated. In brief, there are hard and soft forks. If a blockchain experiences a fork, it means that there’s been a change in its protocol. Effectively, the network creates a new “chain,” and all users must upgrade to the latest software and new protocols. Essentially a change in rules, forks can happen at any time, and could cause some problems for Ethereum users who are caught unaware.

Ethereum and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Finally, as discussed above, it’s crucial to remember that you could owe taxes on your Ethereum holdings. As with writing government regulations for cryptocurrencies, creating tax laws for our newest asset class, is an ongoing enterprise that will continue to grow and change along with the blockchain and crypto sector.

💡 Recommended: Crypto Tax Guide 2022

FAQ

Has Ethereum typically been a profitable investment?

Historically, yes. Priced at $0.311 per share at its inception in 2015, ether (ETH) rose to its highest price of around $4,800 in late 2021. Ether’s return on investment (ROI) is almost 300% annualized, which means that early investors in ETH have nearly quadrupled their investment every year since the summer of 2014.

Ethereum has been profitable over time, but of course past performance is no guarantee of future results. And because of crypto’s extreme volatility, and ETH’s imminent transition to a PoS network, some experts are hesitant to speculate about ETH’s forward results.

Other experts think that Ethereum’s impending upgrade to a proof-of-stake network could make ETH even more appealing to investors, and sustainable for widespread use. On the heels of the merge (discussed earlier), some contend that Ethereum could grow in value by as much as 400% in 2022.

Can you buy just 1 ETH or even $1 of ETH, or do you need to buy more?

Yes, it’s possible to buy just one ETH. Buy as much or as little as you want. You can even buy a portion of an ETH in what are called fractional shares.

Is Ethereum likely to surpass Bitcoin?

The short answer is that nobody can know this answer precisely. Some experts, not dissuaded, have weighed in with 2022 ETH price forecasts that range from $4,000, $8,000, to more than $12,000 per share if the transition to Ethereum 2.0 is successful.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Ethereum and Bitcoin are not, as far as we know, rivals. They are completely different systems, whose needs are symbiotic. Bitcoin is the cryptocurrency, and Ethereum is the blockchain that cryptocurrencies, among other products, are built on.

As often happens in the capital markets, everyone — i.e., industry professionals, investors, crypto enthusiasts, and corporations — is waiting to see how everyone else will respond to the changes afoot at Ethereum.


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.

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

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If you invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) through SoFi Invest (either by buying them yourself or via investing in SoFi Invest’s automated investments, formerly SoFi Wealth), these funds will have their own management fees. These fees are not paid directly by you, but rather by the fund itself. these fees do reduce the fund’s returns. Check out each fund’s prospectus for details. SoFi Invest does not receive sales commissions, 12b-1 fees, or other fees from ETFs for investing such funds on behalf of advisory clients, though if SoFi Invest creates its own funds, it could earn management fees there.
SoFi Invest may waive all, or part of any of these fees, permanently or for a period of time, at its sole discretion for any reason. Fees are subject to change at any time. The current fee schedule will always be available in your Account Documents section of SoFi Invest.


This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.

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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What Is a Guaranteed Minimum Income Benefit (GMIB)?

What Is a Guaranteed Minimum Income Benefit (GMIB)?

A guaranteed minimum income benefit (GMIB) is an optional rider that can be included in an annuity contract to provide a minimum income amount to the annuity holder.

What are annuities? An annuity is an insurance product in which you pay a premium to the insurance company, then receive payments back at a later date. There are a number of different types of annuities, with different annuity rates.

A GMIB annuity can ensure that you receive a consistent stream of guaranteed income. If you’re considering buying an annuity for your retirement, it’s helpful to understand what guaranteed minimum income means, and how it works.

GMIBs, Defined

Annuities are one option you might consider when starting a retirement fund. But what are annuities and how do they work? It’s important to answer this question first when discussing guaranteed minimum income benefits.

An annuity is a type of insurance contract. You purchase the contract, typically with a lump sum, on the condition that the annuity company pays money back to you now or starting at a later date, e.g. in retirement.

Depending on how the annuity is structured, your money may be invested in underlying securities or not. Depending on the terms and the annuity rates involved, you may receive a lump sum or regular monthly payments. The amount of the payment is determined by the amount of your initial deposit or premium, and the terms of the annuity contract.

Now for the GMIB definition: A guaranteed minimum income benefit is a rider that the annuity holder can purchase, at an additional cost, and add it onto their annuity. The goal of a GMIB is to ensure that the annuitant will continue to receive payments from the contract — that’s the “guaranteed minimum income” part — without those payments being affected by market volatility.

A GMIB annuity is most often a variable annuity or indexed annuity product (though annuities for retirement can come in many different flavors). More on that below.

How GMIBs Work

Let’s look at two different types of annuities for retirement: variable and indexed.

•   Variable annuities can offer a range of investment types, often in the form of mutual funds that hold a combination of stocks, bonds, and money market instruments.

•   Indexed annuities offer returns that are indexed to an underlying benchmark, such as the S&P 500 index, Nasdaq, or Russell 2000. This is similar to other types of indexed investments.

With either one, the value of the annuity contract is determined by the performance of the underlying investments you choose.

When the market is strong, variable annuities or indexed annuities can deliver higher returns. When market volatility increases, however, that can reduce the value of your annuity. A GMIB annuity builds in some protection against market risk by specifying a guaranteed minimum income payment you’ll receive from the annuity, independent of the annuity’s underlying market-based performance.

Of course, what you can draw from an annuity to begin with will depend on how much you invest in the contract, stated annuity rates, and to some degree your investment performance. But having a GMIB rider on this type of retirement plan can help you to lock in a predetermined amount of future income.

Pros & Cons of GMIBs

Guaranteed minimum income benefit annuities can be appealing for investors who want to have a guaranteed income stream in retirement. Whether it makes sense to purchase one can depend on how much you have to invest, how much income you’re hoping to generate, your overall goals and risk tolerance. Weighing the pros and cons can help you to decide if a GMIB annuity is a good fit for your retirement planning strategy.

Pros of GMIBs

The main pro or benefit of a GMIB annuity is the ability to receive a guaranteed amount of income in retirement. This can make planning for retirement easier as you can estimate how much money you’re guaranteed to receive from the annuity, regardless of what happens in the market between now and the time you choose to retire.

If you’re concerned about your spouse or partner being on track for their own retirement, that income can also carry over to your spouse and help fund their retirement needs, if you should pass away first. You can structure the annuity to make payments to you beginning at a certain date, then continue those payments to your spouse for the remainder of their life. This can provide reassurance that your spouse won’t be left struggling financially after you’re gone.

Cons of GMIBs

The disadvantage of guaranteed minimum income benefit annuities is the cost. The more riders you add on to an annuity contract, the more this can increase the cost. So that’s something to factor in if you have a limited amount of money to invest in a variable or indexed annuity with a GMIB rider. Annuities may also come with other types of investment fees, so you may want to consult with a professional who can help you decipher the fine print.

It’s also important to consider the quality of the annuity company. An annuity is only as good as the company that issues the contract. If the company were to go out of business, your guaranteed income stream could dry up. For that reason, it’s important to review annuity ratings to get a sense of how financially stable a particular company is.

Examples of GMIB Annuities

Variable or indexed annuities that include a guaranteed minimum income benefit can be structured in different ways. For example, you may be offered the opportunity to purchase a variable annuity for $250,000. The annuity contract includes a GMIB order that guarantees you the greater of:

•   The annuity’s actual value

•   6% interest compounded annually

•   The highest value reached in the account historically

The annuity has a 10-year accumulation period in which your investments can earn interest and grow in value. This is followed by the draw period, in which you can begin taking money from the annuity.

Now, assume that at the beginning of the draw period the annuity’s actual value is $300,000. But if you were to calculate the annuitized value based on the 6% interest compounded annually, the annuity would be worth closer to $450,000. Since you have this built into the contract, you can opt to receive the higher amount thanks to the guaranteed minimum income benefit.

This example also illustrates why it’s important to be selective when choosing annuity contracts with a guaranteed minimum income benefit. The higher the guaranteed compounding benefit the better, as this can return more interest to you even if the annuity loses value because of shifting market conditions.

It’s also important to consider how long the interest will compound. Again, the more years interest can compound the better, in terms of how that might translate to the size of your guaranteed income payout later.

Investing for Retirement With SoFi

Making sure you’re on track to retire starts with considering your income needs and the different solutions that can help you to meet them. Annuities can help round out your financial strategy if you’re looking for ways to create guaranteed income in retirement.

Purchasing an annuity can be expensive, and adding on a guaranteed minimum income rider can add to the cost, but the security it provides may be worth it. The advantage of a GMIB annuity is that it offers some protection against market risk. No matter how the market performs, you’ll still be guaranteed a minimum amount of steady income.

With careful planning, a GMIB annuity can be combined with other savings vehicles. You can also save in a 401(k) at work or through an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), or potentially all three. Because annuities can be complex, and combining retirement accounts requires some care, you may want to consult with a professional.

If you’re ready to explore all your savings options, you can start investing for retirement with SoFi Invest® by opening an IRA today. Or you can set up an Active Invest account if you want to trade stocks or exchange-traded funds. And remember: SoFi members have access to complimentary financial guidance from professionals. Get started today!

FAQ

What are guaranteed benefits?

When discussing annuities for retirement, guaranteed benefits are amounts that you are guaranteed to receive. Depending on how the annuity contract is structured, you may receive guaranteed benefits as a lump sum payment or annuitized payments.

What is the guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit?

The guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit is the amount you’re guaranteed to be able to withdraw from an annuity once the accumulation period ends. This can be the annuity’s actual value, an amount that reflects interest compounded annually or the annuity contract’s highest historical value.

What are the two types of guaranteed living benefits?

There are actually more than two types of guaranteed living benefits. For example, your annuity contract might include a guaranteed minimum income benefit, guaranteed minimum accumulation benefit or guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit.


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.

Photo credit: iStock/Luke Chan
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What is 401k Plan Benchmarking?

What Is 401(k) Plan Benchmarking?

Benchmarking a 401(k) retirement plan refers to how a company assesses their plan’s design, fees, and services to ensure they meet industry and ERISA standards.

Benchmarking 401k plans is important for a few reasons. First, the company offering the plan needs to be confident that they are acting in the best interests of employees who participate in the 401k plan. And because acting in the best interests of plan participants is part of an employer’s fiduciary duty, benchmarking can help reduce an employer’s liability if fiduciary standards aren’t met.

If your company’s plan isn’t meeting industry benchmarks, it may be wise to change plan providers. You can start by learning how benchmarking works and why it’s important.

How 401(k) Benchmarking Works

While a 401k is a convenient and popular way for participants to invest for retirement, the company offering the plan has many responsibilities to make sure that its plan is competitive. That is where 401k benchmarking comes into play.

An annual checkup is typically performed whereby a company assesses its plan’s design, evaluates fees, and reviews all the services offered by the plan provider. The 401k plan benchmarking process helps ensure that the retirement plan reduces the risk of violating ERISA rules. For the firm, a yearly review can help reduce an employer’s liability and it can save the firm money.

ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, requires that the plan sponsor verifies that the 401k plan has reasonable fees. ERISA is a federal law that mandates minimum standards that retirement plans must meet. It helps protect plan participants and beneficiaries.

The Importance of 401(k) Plan Benchmarking

It is important that an employer keep its 401k plan up to today’s standards. Making sure the plan is optimal compared to industry averages is a key piece of retirement benchmarking. It’s also imperative that your employees have a quality plan to help them save and invest for retirement. Most retirement plan sponsors conduct some form of benchmarking planning, and making that a regular event — annually or even quarterly — is important so that the employer continuously complies with ERISA guidelines.

Employers have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that fees are reasonable for services provided. ERISA also states that the primary responsibility of the plan fiduciaries is to act in the best interest of their plan participants. 401k benchmarking facilitates the due diligence process and reduces a firm’s liability.

How to Benchmark Your 401(k) Plan: 3 Steps

So how exactly do you go about benchmarking 401k plans? There are three key steps that plan sponsors should take so that their liability is reduced, and the employees get the best service for their money. Moreover, 401k benchmarking can help improve your service provider to make your plan better.

1. Assess Your 401(k) Plan Design

It’s hard to know if your retirement plan’s design is optimal. Two gauges used to figure its quality are plan asset growth and the average account balance. If workers are continuously contributing and investments are performing adequately compared to market indexes, then those are signs that the plan is well designed.

Benchmarking can also help assess if a Roth feature should be added. Another plan feature might be to adjust the company matching contribution or vesting schedule. Optimizing these pieces of the plan can help retain workers while meeting ERISA requirements.

2. Evaluate Your 401(k) Plan Fees

A 401k plan has investment, administrative, and transaction fees. Benchmarking 401k plan fees helps ensure total costs are reasonable. It can be useful to take an “all-in” approach when assessing plan fees. That method can better compare service providers since different providers might have different terms for various fees. But simply selecting the cheapest plan does not account for the quality and depth of services a plan renders. Additional benchmarking is needed to gauge a retirement plan’s quality. Here are the three primary types of 401k plan fees to assess:

•   Administrative: Fees related to customer service, recordkeeping, and any legal services.

•   Investment: Amounts charged to plan participants and expenses related to investment funds.

•   Transaction: Fees involved with money movements such as loans, withdrawals, and advisory costs.

3. Evaluate Your 401(k) Provider’s Services

There are many variables to analyze when it comes to 401k benchmarking of services. A lot can depend on what your employees prefer. Reviewing the sponsor’s service model, technology, and execution of duties is important.

Also, think about it from the point of view of the plan participants: Is there good customer service available? What about the quality of investment guidance? Evaluating services is a key piece of 401k plan benchmarking. A solid service offering helps employees make the most out of investing in a 401k account.

Investing for Retirement With SoFi

Investing for retirement is more important than ever as individuals live longer and pension plans (a.k.a. defined benefit plans that offer a steady payout) are becoming a relic of the past. With today’s technology, and clear rules outlined by ERISA, workers can take advantage of inexpensive, high-quality 401k plans to help them save and invest for the long term.

For the company offering the plan, establishing a retirement benchmarking process is crucial to keeping pace with the best 401k plans. Reviewing a plan’s design, costs, and services helps workers have confidence that their employer is working in their best interests. Benchmarking can also protect employers.

If your company already has a 401k plan that you contribute to as an employee, you might consider other ways to invest for retirement. You can learn more about various options — for example, investing in an IRA with SoFi. You can help grow your retirement savings with a SoFi IRA by opening a Roth or traditional IRA.

FAQ

What does it mean to benchmark a 401k?

401k benchmarking is the process of reviewing and evaluating a firm’s retirement plan to insure that it meets industry and ERISA standards. It is a due diligence process to ensure that the plan provider is living up to their duty as fiduciaries.

In addition, with a changing investing and retirement planning landscape, it’s important to keep a 401k plan up to date. Benchmarking a 401k plan includes looking at the plan’s design, various service providers, the investment lineup, and fees.

How should you structure your 401k?

A 401k should be structured so that it addresses several key points.

•   Determining who is eligible for the plan is one place to start, by setting a minimum age or length of employment.

•   Automatic enrollment with auto-escalation features can be good features to include.

•   Offering a Roth option is another consideration for your 401k plan.

•   Another important piece of your plan that employees must know about is how the company matching contribution works, if there is one.

•   Last, structuring a vesting schedule can vary by plan — and the vesting process you choose may help attract or retain workers.

How do I check my 401k performance?

You can use online tools that measure investment performance. A vendor can help conduct 401k benchmarking processes, such as identifying and selecting plan funds, but some might not come cheap. Employers should make sure that their investment lineup has quality funds with reasonable expense ratios so that participants can achieve a decent rate of return. 401k fee benchmarking can help ensure that is the case.

The average rate of return for 401k plans from 2015 to 2020 was 9.5%, according to data from retirement and financial service provider, Mid Atlantic Capital Group. Employers have a fiduciary responsibility to pay only reasonable fees within its 401k plan.


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.

Photo credit: iStock/Imagesrouges
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Guide to IRA Margin Accounts

Guide to IRA Margin Accounts

An IRA margin account is a retirement account that allows investors to trade securities with unsettled cash. It’s a more lenient structure versus a cash account, where you must wait for trades to settle before using the money for further trading. But an IRA margin account isn’t a true margin account in that you can’t use leverage.

Nonetheless, an IRA margin account offers a few advantages, including the ability to defer or avoid short-term capital gains tax, and you’re protected against good faith violations. That said, there are still restrictions, so before setting up an IRA margin account, you may want to learn more about how these accounts work.

What Is an IRA Margin Account?

An IRA margin account is a more flexible means to invest for retirement. First, you can trade with unsettled funds, meaning that if you close a position you don’t have to wait the standard two days after you trade, you can use those funds right away.

There are also tax benefits. In a traditional IRA margin account capital gains taxes are deferred until funds are withdrawn. This is similar to a regular IRA, where you don’t pay taxes on contributions or gains until you withdraw your money.

But can you use margin in a Roth IRA? Yes, and there may be even more tax benefits when using limited margin in a Roth IRA. You don’t pay any capital gains because Roth accounts are tax-free, since Roth contributions are made with after-tax money).

As noted above, an IRA margin account, also called a limited margin account, lets investors trade with unsettled cash. However, a limited margin IRA is just that — limited. It is not a true margin account and does not allow you to short stocks or use leverage by borrowing money to trade with margin debits. In that sense, it is different from margin trading in a taxable brokerage account.

You can use limited margin in several IRA types. In addition to having margin IRAs with traditional and Roth accounts, rollover IRAs, SEP IRAs, and even small business SIMPLE IRAs are eligible for the margin feature. While mutual funds are often owned inside an IRA, you cannot buy mutual funds on margin.

How Does Limited Margin Work?

Limited margin works by allowing investors to trade securities without having to wait for funds to settle. You can think of it like an advance payment from positions recently sold.

The first step is to open an IRA account and request that the IRA margin feature be added. Once approved, you might have to request that your broker move positions from cash to margin within the IRA. This operational task will also set future trades to the margin type.

IRA margin accounts will state your intraday buying power — you should use this balance when day trading stocks and options in the IRA.

An advantage to trading in limited margin IRAs is that you can avoid or defer capital gains tax. Assuming you earn profits from trading, that can be a major annual savings versus day trading in a taxable brokerage account. If you trade within a pre-tax account, such as a traditional or rollover IRA, then you simply pay income tax upon the withdrawal of funds. When using Roth IRA margin, your account can grow tax-free forever in some cases.

The drawback with an IRA margin account versus day trading in a taxable account is you are unable to borrow money from your broker to create margin debits. You are also unable to sell securities short with an IRA margin account. So while it is a margin account, you do not have all the bells and whistles of a full margin account that is not an IRA.

Increase your buying power with a margin loan from SoFi.

Borrow against your current investments at just 10%* and start margin trading.


*For full margin details, see terms.

Who Is Eligible for a Margin IRA?

Some brokerage firms have strict eligibility requirements such as a minimum equity threshold (similar to the minimum balances required in full margin accounts). When signing up, you might also be required to indicate that your investment objective is the “most aggressive.” That gives the broker a clue that you will use the account for active trading purposes.

Another restriction is that you might not be able to choose an FDIC-insured cash position. That’s not a major issue for most investors since you can elect a safe money market fund instead.

IRA Margin Calls

An advantage to having margin in an IRA is that you can more easily avoid margin calls by not having to wait for cash from the proceeds of a sale to settle, but margin calls can still happen. If the IRA margin equity amount drops below a certain amount (often $25,000 but it can vary by broker), then a day trade minimum equity call is issued. Until you meet the call, you are limited to closing positions only.

To meet the IRA margin call, you just have to deposit more cash or marginable securities. Since it is an IRA, there are annual contribution limits that you cannot exceed, so adding funds might be tricky.

Avoiding Good Faith Violations

A good faith violation happens when you purchase a security in a cash account then sell before paying for the purchase with settled cash. You must wait for the funds to settle — the standard is trade date plus two days (T+2 settlement) for equity securities. Only cash and funds from sale proceeds are considered “settled funds.” Cash accounts and margin accounts have different rules to know about.

A good faith violation can happen in an IRA account without margin. For example, if you buy a stock in the morning, sell it in the afternoon, then use those proceeds to do another round-trip trade before the funds settle, that second sale can trigger a good faith violation. Having margin in an IRA prevents good faith violations in that instance since an IRA margin account allows you to trade with unsettled funds.

Pros and Cons of Limited Margin Trading in an IRA

Can IRA accounts have margin? Yes. Can you use margin in a Roth IRA? Yes. Should your IRA have the limited margin feature added? It depends on your preferences. Below are the pros and cons to consider with IRA margin accounts.

Pros

Cons

You can defer or avoid capital gains taxes. You cannot trade using actual margin (i.e. leverage).
You are permitted to trade with unsettled cash. You cannot engage in short selling or have naked options positions.
You can avoid good faith violations. You take on more risk with your retirement money.

The Takeaway

An IRA margin account allows people investing in individual retirement accounts to trade securities a bit more freely versus a cash account. The main benefit to having an IRA with limited margin is that you can buy and sell stocks and options without waiting for lengthy settlement periods associated with a non-margin account. But remember: Unlike a normal margin account, this type doesn’t allow you to use leverage. That means a margin IRA doesn’t permit margin trading that creates margin debit balances. You are also not allowed to have naked options positions or engage in selling shares short.

That said, if you want to try out trading on margin and have the experience and risk tolerance to do so, SoFi can help. With a SoFi margin account, you can increase your buying power, take advantage of more investment opportunities, and potentially increase your returns.

Get one of the most competitive margin loan rates with SoFi, 10%*

FAQ

Is an IRA a cash or a margin account?

An IRA can either be a cash account or a limited margin account. While a cash account only lets you buy and sell securities with a traditional settlement period, a limited margin IRA might offer same-day settlement of trades. You are not allowed to borrow funds or short sell, however.

Is day trading possible in an IRA?

Yes. You can day trade in your IRA, and it can actually be a tax-savvy practice. Short-term capital gains can add up when you day trade in a taxable brokerage account. That tax liability can eat into your profits. With a limited margin IRA that offers same-day settlement, however, you can buy and sell stocks and options without the many tax consequences of a non-IRA. The downside is that, in the case of losses, you cannot take advantage of the $3,000 capital loss tax deduction because an IRA is a tax-sheltered account. Another feature that is limited when day trading an IRA is that you cannot borrow funds to control more capital. A final drawback is that you are limited to going long shares, not short.

Can a 401k be a margin account?

Most 401k plans do not allow participants to have the margin feature. An emerging type of small business 401k plan — the solo brokerage 401k — allows participants to have a margin feature. Not all providers allow it, though. Also, just because the account has the margin feature, it does not mean you can borrow money from the broker to buy securities.


Photo credit: iStock/Drazen_

*Borrow at 10%. Utilizing a margin loan is generally considered more appropriate for experienced investors as there are additional costs and risks associated. It is possible to lose more than your initial investment when using margin. Please see SoFi.com/wealth/assets/documents/brokerage-margin-disclosure-statement.pdf for detailed disclosure information.
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.

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.

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.
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