Securities at a Glance

  • The U.S. securities industry consists of securities brokers and dealers, investment banks and advisers, and stock exchanges. Together, these entities facilitate the flow of funds from investors to companies and institutions seeking to finance expansions or other projects.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission, established by Congress in 1934, regulates the U.S. securities markets.
  • Securities firms in the U.S. are members of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a nongovernmental regulator of the securities industry.
  • There were 4,527 FINRA reporting firms in 2011, down from 4,610 in 2010.
  • Securities industry employment totaled 807,000 in 2011, down from 800,500 in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The financial crisis led to the collapse of the securities giant Lehman Brothers in 2008 as well as the takeover of Bear Stearns by JP Morgan Chase and the conversions of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to bank holding companies subject to banking industry regulation.
  • The largest 2011 securities mergers and acquisitions deal, Charles Schwab’s purchase of optionsXpress Holdings, Inc., totaled $1.0 billion, according to SNL Financial data.
  • Bank purchases of securities firms accounted for 20 percent of securities industry mergers and acquisitions from 2007 to 2011.
  • The securities industry return on equity (ROE) was 4.9 percent in 2011, down from 16.2 percent in 2010 and 45.4 percent in 2009. ROE was -38.5 percent in 2008.
  • The securities industries raised $1.5 trillion in capital for U.S. businesses in 2011 through debt and equity issuance activity in 2011, down from $1.7 trillion in 2010.
  • Equity issuance totaled $198.4 billion in 2011, down 24.2 percent from $261.7 billion in 2010.
  • Public issuance of debt (including corporate debt, asset backed securities and non-agency mortgage-backed securities) totaled $1.18 trillion in 2011, down 3.1 percent from 2010.
  • Of the $1.5 trillion in capital raised in 2011, $1.38 trillion was public debt and equity underwriting. Private placement securities accounted for the balance.
  • Asset-backed securities issuance volume totaled $124.8 billion in 2011, up from $ 107.5 billion in 2010.