Have you always wondered what it means to trade on margin? In this video, you’ll learn what margin trading is and if it is a strategy that could help you achieve your investment goals.
To get started with margin trading, visit: https://www.fidelity.com/trading/advanced-trading-tools/margin-trading
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What is margin trading? How does it work, and what are some of the benefits and risks? Over the next few minutes, we’ll take away some of the mystery of margin trading and help you decide whether it is a strategy that can help you achieve your investment goals.
Margin trading is a form of borrowing that lets you leverage securities you already own to purchase additional securities, protect your account from overdraft or access a convenient line of credit. Margin trading is not designed for any specific type of customer – it may be right for any investor looking for additional leverage in their investment. Here’s an example of how it works: assume you want to buy 1,000 shares of QRS stock at $10 per share, but only have $5,000 in investable cash available.
With a margin account, you can use your $5,000 in cash and borrow the other $5,000 on margin to make your purchase.
Without margin – with what’s called a cash account – you would need the full $10,000 in cash to make this stock purchase. Now let’s see how a margin loan could impact your investment return. Assume the QRS stock rises in value from $10,000 to $11,000 and you sell it. You would pay back the $5,000 margin loan and realize a profit of $1,000. That’s a 20% return on your $5,000 investment. Without a margin loan, you would have invested $10,000 in cash and realized only a 10% return. While leverage is a powerful tool when the price of the security moves in your favor, it is also important to recognize the downside if the stock price falls.
Let’s look at the flip side of the same example. Assume the market value of the QRS stock you purchased with margin for $10,000 falls to $9,000. Your equity – which is the value of your position minus the loan balance of $5,000 – would fall to $4,000. That’s a 20% loss from a 10% decrease in market value. Just like any loan, you will also incur interest charges that begin accruing on the date your trade settles, which is typically two days for a stock. The rate you pay depends on your outstanding margin balance – known as the margin debit balance. The rate is typically calculated using a tiered schedule, meaning the higher your debit balance, the lower the rate you are charged.
You should also know that margin loans have no set repayment schedule, as long as you maintain the required level of equity in your account. Let’s shift focus to this equity requirement, along with some other important requirements for margin accounts. In order to buy securities on margin, you must also deposit enough cash or eligible securities to meet the initial margin requirement for your purchase. Typically, this is 50%, which is a requirement set by the Federal Reserve Board.
Once you have started buying stock on margin, you are required to maintain a certain level of equity in your margin account. This requirement varies based on the type of security. For example, a stock generally has a maintenance requirement of 25% and is set by the New York Stock Exchange and FINRA. A brokerage firm may impose a higher requirement due to factors including, but not limited to, holding a significant portion of your account in a single security, which is known as a concentrated position. The security you are investing in must be eligible for margin in the first place, and not all securities are eligible. For example, while most stocks and fixed income securities, such as treasuries, are eligible, CDs and money markets are not. You can find out whether a security is eligible, as well as the specific margin requirements for each type of security, at https://www.fidelity.com/margin.
Now we’ll put this information together and see how it all works.
Margin trading entails greater risk, including but not limited to risk of loss and incurrence of margin interest debt, and is not suitable for all investors. Please assess your financial circumstances and risk tolerance prior to trading on margin. If the market value of the securities in your margin account declines, you may be required to deposit more money or securities in order to maintain your line of credit. If you are unable to do so, Fidelity may be required to sell all or a portion of our pledged assets. Margin credit is extended by National Financial Services, Member NYSE, SIPC.
Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917