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Elias Perez
Elias Perez

What Is Buying On Margin [TOP]

Trading on margin involves specific risks, including the possible loss of more money than you have deposited. A decline in the value of securities that are purchased on margin may require you to provide additional funds to your trading account. In addition, E*TRADE Securities can force the sale of any securities in your account without prior notice if your equity falls below required levels, and you are not entitled to an extension of time in the event of a margin call. When trading on margin, an investor borrows a portion of the funds he/she uses to buy stocks to try to take advantage of opportunities in the market. He/she pays interest on the funds borrowed until the loan is repaid. For each trade made in a margin account, we use all available cash and sweep funds first and then charge the customer the current margin interest rate on the balance of the funds required to fill the order. The minimum equity requirement for a margin account is $2,000. Please read more information regarding the risks of trading on margin.

what is buying on margin

"Margin" is borrowing money from your broker to buy a stock and using your investment as collateral. Investors generally use margin to increase their purchasing power so that they can own more stock without fully paying for it. But margin exposes investors to the potential for higher losses. Here's what you need to know about margin.

The downside to using margin is that if the stock price decreases, substantial losses can mount quickly. For example, let's say the stock you bought for $50 falls to $25. If you fully paid for the stock, you'll lose 50 percent of your money. But if you bought on margin, you'll lose 100 percent, and you still must come up with the interest you owe on the loan.

You can protect yourself by knowing how a margin account works and what happens if the price of the stock purchased on margin declines. Know that your firm charges you interest for borrowing money and how that will affect the total return on your investments. Be sure to ask your broker whether it makes sense for you to trade on margin in light of your financial resources, investment objectives, and tolerance for risk.

To open a margin account, your broker is required to obtain your signature. The agreement may be part of your account opening agreement or may be a separate agreement. The margin agreement states that you must abide by the rules of the Federal Reserve Board, the New York Stock Exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc., and the firm where you have set up your margin account. Be sure to carefully review the agreement before you sign it.

As with most loans, the margin agreement explains the terms and conditions of the margin account. The agreement describes how the interest on the loan is calculated, how you are responsible for repaying the loan, and how the securities you purchase serve as collateral for the loan. Carefully review the agreement to determine what notice, if any, your firm must give you before selling your securities to collect the money you have borrowed.

The Federal Reserve Board and many self-regulatory organizations (SROs), such as the NYSE and FINRA, have rules that govern margin trading. Brokerage firms can establish their own requirements as long as they are at least as restrictive as the Federal Reserve Board and SRO rules. Here are some of the key rules you should know:

Before trading on margin, FINRA, for example, requires you to deposit with your brokerage firm a minimum of $2,000 or 100 percent of the purchase price, whichever is less. This is known as the "minimum margin." Some firms may require you to deposit more than $2,000.

According to Regulation T of the Federal Reserve Board, you may borrow up to 50 percent of the purchase price of securities that can be purchased on margin. This is known as the "initial margin." Some firms require you to deposit more than 50 percent of the purchase price. Also be aware that not all securities can be purchased on margin.

After you buy stock on margin, FINRA requires you to keep a minimum amount of equity in your margin account. The equity in your account is the value of your securities less how much you owe to your brokerage firm. The rules require you to have at least 25 percent of the total market value of the securities in your margin account at all times. The 25 percent is called the "maintenance requirement." In fact, many brokerage firms have higher maintenance requirements, typically between 30 to 40 percent, and sometimes higher depending on the type of stock purchased.

But if your firm has a maintenance requirement of 40 percent, you would not have enough equity. The firm would require you to have $4,800 in equity (40 percent of $12,000 = $4,800). Your $4,000 in equity is less than the firm's $4,800 maintenance requirement. As a result, the firm may issue you a "margin call," since the equity in your account has fallen $800 below the firm's maintenance requirement.

If your account falls below the firm's maintenance requirement, your firm generally will make a margin call to ask you to deposit more cash or securities into your account. If you are unable to meet the margin call, your firm will sell your securities to increase the equity in your account up to or above the firm's maintenance requirement.

Always remember that your broker may not be required to make a margin call or otherwise tell you that your account has fallen below the firm's maintenance requirement. Your broker may be able to sell your securities at any time without consulting you first. Under most margin agreements, even if your firm offers to give you time to increase the equity in your account, it can sell your securities without waiting for you to meet the margin call.

Do you know that margin accounts involve a great deal more risk than cash accounts where you fully pay for the securities you purchase? Are you aware you may lose more than the amount of money you initially invested when buying on margin? Can you afford to lose more money than the amount you have invested?

Did you take the time to read the margin agreement? Did you ask your broker questions about how a margin account works and whether it's appropriate for you to trade on margin? Did your broker explain the terms and conditions of the margin agreement?

When money is borrowed in a margin account, interest will be calculated on a daily basis and charged based on the total debit (borrowed) balance. The monthly interest period begins two business days before the beginning of each month and ends three business days before the following month's end.

For additional information about margin investing, including the risks associated with it, read the Vanguard Brokerage Initial Margin Risk Disclosure Statement or visit the FINRA and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission External site websites.

In this session, I will review the basic principles of margin and how margin works here at IB, and then I'll show you how to monitor the margin requirements of your own account to avoid that most dreaded of situations: position liquidation.

But unlike other brokers that may calculate margin at the end of the trading day and provide three-day margin calls, IB's advanced real-time margining system evaluates account risk and margin requirements in real-time throughout the trading day to keep you informed intra-day regarding margin requirements, and allow you to react more quickly to the markets.

Be aware that if your account is under-margined, IB has the right to, and generally will, liquidate your positions until your account complies with margin requirements. Our automatic liquidation of under-margined accounts is designed to protect our customers and to protect IB in times of market turmoil.

Regardless of whether the methodology is rule-based or risk-based, IB may set special house requirements on certain securities. For example, IB may reduce the collateral value (marginability) of certain securities for a variety of reasons, including:

In the US, the Federal Reserve Board is responsible for maintaining the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets. It does this, in part, by governing the amount of credit that broker-dealers may extend to customers who borrow money to buy securities on margin.

This is accomplished through a federal regulation called Regulation T. Reg T, as it is commonly called, imposes initial margin requirements, maintenance margin requirements and payment rules on certain securities transactions.

Reg T currently lets you borrow up to 50 percent of the price of the securities to be purchased. So on stock purchases, Reg. T requires an initial margin deposit of 50% of the purchase value, which in turn allows the broker to extend credit or finance the remaining 50%.

Portfolio Margin is a risk-based methodology that uses a model called TIMS, which stands for Theoretical Intermarket Margin System. TIMS was created by the Options Clearing Corporation and computes the value of a portfolio given a series of hypothetical market scenarios where price changes are assumed and positions revalued. IB also considers a number of house scenarios to capture additional risks such as extreme market moves, concentrated positions and shifts in option implied volatilities. Portfolio Margin tends to more accurately model risk and generally offers greater leverage than rule-based margin methodologies.

Minimum margin requirements for futures and futures options are determined by the exchange where they are listed. The exchanges use a risk-based margin methodology called Standard Portfolio Analysis of Risk or SPAN . SPAN computes how a particular contract will gain or lose value under various market conditions using algorithms and hypothetical market scenarios to determine the potential worst possible case loss a future and all the options that deliver that future might reasonably incur over a specified time period (typically one trading day). You can view SPAN requirements on our website or in the contract description window available in TWS. 041b061a72


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