Securities are traded on an exchange—a market where buyers and sellers are brought together to buy and sell stocks. The main function of an exchange is to ensure fair and methodical trading between these parties. In the past, exchanges were exclusively physical locations, where traders gathered to do business. Today trading also frequently happens via electronic exchanges, as it has become increasingly possible for the exchanges to ensure fair trading without requiring all members to be on the same trading floor.

Among the best known stock exchanges are the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the Nasdaq, and the American Stock Exchange (AMEX). There are other exchanges around the world—including the FTSE in London, the DAX in Frankfurt, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong—and each sets its own specific requirements for any company seeking to offer its securities for trading. Among the basic requirements an exchange will look for are regular financial reports and audited earnings reports.