Guidelines On Market Data Subscriber Classifications


This article intends to clarify the definition of a Professional Market Data User (Commercial) versus a Non-Professional Market Data User (Private).


There has been heightened confusion regarding professional and non-professional market data subscriber classifications. Being marked as non-professional is not a personal label regarding one’s character. The classification is solely related to the user’s account type and/or job title/responsibilities. The focus is on how the data is being used. In order to avoid misunderstanding, we will reference “Professional” as “Commercial” use and “Non-professional” as “Private” use. In broad terms, Commercial usage relates to commerce or general business activity where market data is used in trading or adding other value on or behalf of businesses or entities. On the other hand, Private usage refers to market data for personal use only.

Therefore, any individual who utilizes market data to make investment decisions on behalf of an employer, or engages in the trading between businesses or entities, will be marked as a Commercial user.

According to many exchanges’ audit enforcement, the classification of Commercial vs Private usage may be determined by the user’s industry of employment rather than how the data is used. However, this approach is inaccurate. A user could work for a bank but not use market data in their day-to-day responsibilities (e.g. accountant, CEO, and/or bank clerk/teller).

For this reason, we consider the user’s employment responsibilities and account type rather than the employer or industry when determining a user’s market data classification. We understand that the fees charged by vendors and exchanges for Commercial use can be substantially more expensive than fees for Private use. Therefore, it is of the upmost importance to classify market data users fairly and accurately.

However, any user registered with a financial regulatory body (e.g. FINRA, NFA, CSA, et al.) will be marked as Commercial regardless of their employment status or position.

For detailed information on IBKR’s different account types, please see

We use the following guidelines to determine user and/or account-specific classifications. Please note that exchange policies require all new subscribers to be classified as Commercial until properly reviewed and proven to be eligible for Private use.

If any of the following criteria are met, the user/usage is classified as Commercial:

  • Is registered/qualified with any national or state exchange, regulatory authority, professional association or recognized professional body (e.g. FINRA, NFA, CSA, IAPD, et al.).

  • Has a job that entails the buying or selling of securities or commodities on behalf of their employer.

  • Has a job analyzing market data to make investment/trading decisions on behalf of their employer.

  • Is employed as a broker/dealer, Financial Advisor/Investment Advisor/Money Manager or Wealth Manager.

  • Account is not in the name of a Natural Person (i.e. in the name of an entity, commercial business, or public organization etc.).

  • Is acting on behalf of an institution that engages in brokerage, banking, investment, or financial activities.

  • Is a subcontractor or independent contractor for a company, where they use market data to make investment/trading decisions.

  • Is an ORG accounts (all will be marked as Commercial (i.e. Family Office Account/Small Business Account/Fully or Proprietary Trading Group Account/Hedge & Mutual Fund Accounts or other ORG accounts)).

  • Account is an investment club that receives or does not receive compensation.

Individual/Joint Accounts:

  • If the subscriber is a non-familial third-party user. Non-Familial is described as not immediate family, parent/child, grandparent/grandchild or sibling.

Trust Accounts:

  • If the account is a Trust and the Trustee is not a Natural Person. The Trustee must be a Natural Person and cannot be an ORG.

  • If the account is a Trust that has beneficiaries that are not immediate family members or if the beneficiaries are not Natural Persons.

  • If the account is a Trust that is not a familial or family Trust. Any trust that is not familial will be marked as commercial.

  • If the Trust has more than one trustee.

Advisor Accounts:

  • Refers to Friends and Family Accounts/Money Manager Accounts/Professional or Non-professional Advisor Accounts

  • An advisor who is registered/qualified with any national or state exchange, regulatory authority, professional association or recognized professional body (e.g. FINRA, NFA, CSA, IAPD, et al.)

  • An advisor account will be marked as commercial if the advisor is managing any ORG accounts and/or is charging fees to clients, regardless of registration status.