Why does my Account Window display a margin requirement when all positions are long and fully paid?

IBKR will calculate and display a margin requirement on the entire portfolio of positions held in an account even if the account holder has paid for the positions in full and is not borrowing any funds to support them. This is necessary in order to compute the Available Funds (Equity with Loan Value - Initial Margin Requirement) on hand to support any subsequent trade activity.

IBKR Australia Margin Accounts

Interactive Brokers Australia Pty Ltd (“IBKR Australia”), which holds an Australian Financial Services License (“AFSL” No. 453554), has been established. IBKR Australia is headquartered in Sydney and has been set up to provide services to our Australian clients. IBKR Australia clients, products and services have some unique characteristics when compared to the Interactive Brokers (“IBKR”) global account and product suite. The purpose of this document is to outline IBKR Australia margin lending offering.

Margin Accounts

IBKR Australia offers two types of margin accounts that will provide all clients excluding SMSF clients with the ability to create portfolios to the maximum degree of risk taking/leverage allowed by IBKR Australia. The two account types are:

• Leveraged Trading account

o Available for both natural persons and non-natural persons, regardless of their regulatory status. However, there are some important differences between the margin accounts available for retail clients and wholesale clients, as outlined below.

• Professional account

o Available primarily for non-natural persons that are confirmed as a professional investor.

Refer to this link for information regarding Australian regulatory status under IBKR Australia.

Important characteristics of IBKR Australia margin accounts are as follows:

• All eligible margin accounts employ a risk-based model to calculate margin requirements. Please click [here] for more details.

• Interest rates on financing may vary depending on the type of client obtaining margin. Please click [here] for more details.

• For all natural person clients (e.g. individuals), only cash or marketable securities may serve as collateral for the margin lending facility, and the collateral deposited must be unborrowed & otherwise free of any mortgage or lien or other encumbrance.

• For all natural person clients, you may only withdraw funds from the margin facility for the limited purpose of repaying another margin lending facility which was used to acquire financial products.

o However, if you are classified as retail you will be not permitted to withdraw from the margin facility if you are already borrowing funds via that facility, i.e. if you are already negative cash, or otherwise if the withdrawal would place your account into cash deficit.

• All retail natural person clients must meet specific financial thresholds in order to be granted a margin account, specifically income must be greater than AUD $40,000 or Liquid net worth must be greater than AUD $100,000. In addition, IBKR Australia is obliged to verify that the information concerning the client’s financial situation that was collected during the application is accurate and complete. If the verified information concerning the client’s financial situation does not meet the thresholds stated above and/or are not comparable to the financials declared by the client during the application, the client will not be granted margin. However, if the client has a valid and recent Statement of Advice (“SOA”) from their registered financial advisor or financial planner that recommends that the client can be issued a margin lending facility and that SOA is made available to IBKR Australia, this additional verification of the client’s personal financial position will not be required.

• In addition retail natural person clients will not be granted a margin account if their occupation is either retired or unemployed or student.

• For all retail clients (both natural person and non-natural person clients), margin loans will be capped at a specific amount (currently set at AUD $50,000, subject to change in IBKR Australia’s sole discretion). However, how much a client can borrow depends on a number of factors, including: the value of the money or assets contributed by the client as security; which financial products the client chooses to invest in, as we lend different amounts for different products under our risk-based model; and the maintenance margin requirement for the client’s portfolio. Once a client reaches their borrowing limit they will be prevented from opening any new margin increasing position. Closing or margin-reducing trades will be allowed. Please click [here] for more details.

• For the non-natural person clients that are NOT categorized as retail clients, IBKR Australia is permitted to utilize for financing purposes a portion of the loan value of the stock these customers hold with IBKR Australia. In simple terms, IBKR Australia borrows money from a third party (such as a bank or broker-dealer), using the customer's margin stock as collateral, and it lends those funds to the customer to finance the customer's margin purchases.

• Please take particular note of how we determine natural person v non-natural person for IBKR Australia trust accounts, as detailed above. It is imperative that if you hold a trust account with IBKR Australia and there exists individuals (natural persons) that are labelled as trustees in your account, then even if you have a corporate trustee, that trust would be considered a natural person trust. The difference between a natural person and non-natural person margin account can be significant as shown above. As a result, please contact customer service if you need to modify trustees.

FAQs: Securities subject to Special Requirements

We are seeing unprecedented volatility in GME, AMC, BB, EXPR, KOSS and a small number of other U.S. securities that has forced us reduce the leverage previously offered to these securities and, at times, limit trading to risk reducing transactions. Outlined below are a series of FAQs relating to these actions.

 

Q: Are there any current restrictions on my ability to trade GME and the other US securities that have been subject to the recent heightened volatility?

A: IBKR is currently not restricting customers from trading shares of AMC, GME, BB, EXPR, KOSS or the other stocks that have been the subject of extreme market volatility. That includes orders to open new positions or close existing ones.

Like many brokers, IBKR placed limits on opening new positions in certain of these securities for a period of time. Those restrictions have since been lifted.

IBKR has not restricted customers’ ability to close existing positions and does not plan to do so.

 

Q: Can I use margin in trading stocks, options or other derivatives on these products through IBKR?

A: IBKR has increased its margin requirements for securities in GME and the other US securities subject to the recent volatility, including up to 100% margin required for long positions and 300% margin on the short side. You can see these margin requirements in your trading platform prior to submitting an order.

 

Q: Why did IBKR place these restrictions on my ability to open new positions in certain securities?

A: IBKR took these actions for risk management purposes, to protect the firm and its customers from incurring outsized losses due to wild swings in prices in a volatile and unstable marketplace.

IBKR remains concerned about the effect of this unnatural volatility on the clearinghouses, brokers and market participants.

 

Q: Does IBKR or its affiliates have positions in these products that it was protecting by placing these restrictions?

A: No. IBKR itself has no proprietary positions in any of the securities.

 

Q: What allowed IBKR to place those restrictions?

A: Pursuant to its customer agreement, IBKR may decline to accept any customer’s order at IBKR’s discretion.

IBKR also has the right to modify margin requirements for any open or new positions at any time, in its sole discretion. After all, IBKR is the one whose money is being loaned in a margin trade.

 

Q: Did those restrictions apply to all or just some of IBKR’s customers?

A: All restrictions – all limits on opening new positions and margin increases – applied to all IBKR customers. They were placed based on the security, not based on the customer.

 

Q: Is my money at IBKR at risk? Has IBKR suffered material losses?

A: IBKR did not incur substantial losses. Through its prudent risk management, IBKR has navigated this market volatility well. In any event, on a consolidated basis, IBG LLC exceeds $9 billion in equity capital, over $6 billion in excess of regulatory requirements.

 

Q: What will IBKR do going forward? How will I know?

A: IBKR will continue to monitor developments in the market, and will make decisions based on market conditions. For current information, please continue to visit our website.

Risk Based Margin Considerations

  LLC Risk Based (i.e. Portfolio Margin)  Non-LLC Risk Based Margin
$110,000 initial value requirement Yes N/A
Minimum equity to operate on margin USD 100,000 IB-HK: USD 2,000
IB-AU: AUD 2,000
IB-LUX, IB-IE and IB-CE: EUR 2,000
IB-SG: SGD 2,000
 
Full options trading approval Yes N/A
PDT         Yes N/A
Stress testing Yes Yes
Dynamic House Scanning Charges (TOMS) ¹ Yes Yes
Shifts in option Implied Volatility (IV)  Yes Yes
A $0.375 multiplied by the index per contract minimum is computed (Only applied to Portfolio Margin eligble products) Yes Yes
Initial margin will be 110% of Maintenance Margin (US securities only) Yes Yes
Initial margin will be 125% of Maintenance Margin (Non-US securities) Yes Yes
Extreme Price Scans Yes Yes
Large Position Charge (A position which is 1% or more of shares outstanding)  Yes Yes
Days to Liquidate (A large position in relation to the average daily trading volume, which may result in higher initial margin requirements) Yes Yes
Global Concentration Charge (2 riskiest position stressed +/-30% remaining assets +/-5%) Yes Yes
Singleton Margin Method for Small Cap Stocks (Stress Test which simulates a price change reflective of a $500 million USD in market capitalization)² Yes Yes
Singleton Margin Method for stocks domiciled in China (Stress Test which simulates a price change reflective of a $1.5 billion USD in market capitalization)² Yes Yes
Default Singleton Margin Method (Stress Test which simulates a price change +30% and down -25%)² Yes Yes
Singleton Margin Method for HK Real Estate Stocks (Stress test  +/-50%)² Yes Yes

1  Dynamic House Scanning Charges are available only on select exchanges (Asian Exchanges and MEXDER)
2  IBKR will calculate the potential loss for each stock and its derivates by subjecting them to a stress test. The requirement for the stock (and its derivatives) which projects the greatest loss in the above scenario will be compared to what would otherwise be the aggregate portfolio margin requirement, and the greater of the two will be the margin requirement for the portfolio
 

 

U.S. 2020 Election Margin Increase

In light of the potential market volatility associated with the upcoming United States presidential election,  Interactive Brokers will implement an increase in the margin requirement for all U.S. traded equity index futures and derivatives and Dow Jones Futures listed on the OSE.JPN exchange.

Clients holding a position in a U.S. equity index future and their derivatives and/or Down Jones Futures listed on the OSE.JPN exchange should expect the margin requirement to increase by approximately 35% above the normal margin requirement. The increase is scheduled to be implemented gradually over a 20-calendar day period with the maintenance margin increase starting on October 5, 2020 through October 30, 2020.

The table below provides examples of the margin increases projected for some of the more widely held products 

Future Symbol
Description Listing Exchange Trading Class Current Rate (Price scan range)* Projected Rate (Price scan range)
ES E-mini S&P 500 CME ES 7.13 9.63
YM MINI DJIA CBOT YM 6.14 8.29
RTY Russell 2000 CME RTY 6.79 9.17
NQ NASDAQ E-MINI CME NQ 6.57 8.87
DJIA OSE Dow Jones Industrial Average OSE.JPN DJIA 5.14 6.94

 *As of 10/2/20 open.

 

NOTE: IBKR's Risk Navigator can help you determine the impact the new maintenance margin requirements will have on your current portfolio or any other portfolio you would like to construct or test. For more information about the Alternative Margin Calculator feature, please see KB Article 2957: Risk Navigator: Alternative Margin Calculator and from the margin mode setting in Risk Navigator, select " US Election Margin".

 

Overview of ESMA CFD Rules Implementation for Retail Clients at IBIE and IBCE

Overview: 

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

68.7% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with IBKR.

You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) enacted new rules applicable to retail clients trading CFDs, effective 1st August 2018. Professional clients are unaffected.

National regulators have adopted the ESMA rules on a permanent basis.

The rules consist of: 1) leverage limits; 2) a margin close out rule on a per account basis; 3) negative balance protection on a per account basis; 4) a restriction on the incentives offered to trade CFDs; and 5) a standardized risk warning.

Most clients (excepting regulated entities) are initially categorised as Retail Clients. IBKR may in certain circumstances agree to reclassify a Retail Client as a Professional Client, or a Professional Client as a Retail Client. Please see MiFID Categorisation for further detail.

The following sections detail how IBKR has implemented the ESMA Decision.

1 Leverage Limits

 1.1 ESMA Margins
Leverage limits were set by ESMA at different levels depending on the underlying:

  • 3.33% for major currency pairs; Major currency pairs are any combination of USD; CAD; EUR; GBP; CHF; JPY
  • 5% for non-major currency pairs and major indices;
    • Non-major currency pairs are any combination that includes a currency not listed above, e.g. USD.CNH
    • Major indices are IBUS500; IBUS30; IBUST100; IBGB100; IBDE40; IBEU50; IBFR40; IBJP225; IBAU200
  • 10% for non-major equity indices; IBES35; IBCH20; IBNL25; IBHK50
  • 20% for individual equities

 1.2 Applied Margins - Standard Requirement

In addition to the ESMA Margins, IBKR establishes its own margin requirements (IB Margins) based on the historical volatility of the underlying, and other factors. We will apply the IB Margins if they are higher than those prescribed by ESMA.

Details of applicable IB and ESMA margins can be found here.

1.2.1 Applied Margins - Concentration Minimum

A concentration charge is applied if your portfolio consists of a small number of CFD and/or Stock positions, or if the two largest positions have a dominant weight. We stress the portfolio by applying a 30% adverse move on the two largest positions and a 5% adverse move on the remaining positions. The total loss is applied as the maintenance margin requirement if it is greater than the standard requirement for the combined Stock and CFD positions. Note that the concentration charge is the only instance where CFD and Stock positions are margined together.

1.3 Funding of Initial Margin Requirements

You can only use cash to post initial margin to open a CFD position.

Initially all cash used to fund the account is available for CFD trading. Any initial margin requirements for other instruments and cash used to purchase cash stock reduce the available cash. If your cash stock purchases have created a margin loan, no funds are available for CFD trades even if your account has significant equity. We cannot increase a margin loan to fund CFD margin under the ESMA rules.

Realized CFD profits are included in cash and are available immediately; the cash does not have to settle first. Unrealized profits however cannot be used to meet initial margin requirements.

2 Margin Close Out Rule

2.1 Maintenance Margin Calculations & Liquidations

ESMA requires IBKR to liquidate CFD positions latest when qualifying equity falls below 50% of the initial margin posted to open the positions. IBKR may close out positions sooner if our risk view is more conservative. Qualifying equity for this purpose includes CFD cash and unrealized CFD P&L (positive and negative). Note that CFD cash excludes cash supporting margin requirements for other instruments. 

The basis for the calculation is the initial margin posted at the time of opening a CFD position. In other words, and unlike margin calculations applicable to non-CFD positions, the initial margin amount does not change when the value of the open position changes.

2.1.1 Example

You have EUR 2000 cash in your account and no open positions. You want to buy 100 CFDs of XYZ at a limit price of EUR 100. You are first filled 50 CFDs and then the remaining 50. Your available cash reduces as your trades are filled:

 

Cash

Equity*

Position

Price

Value

Unrealized P&L

IM

MM

Available Cash

MM Violation

Pre Trade

2000

2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

2000

 

Post Trade 1

2000

2000

50

100

5000

0

1000

500

1000

No

Post Trade 2

2000

2000

100

100

10000

0

2000

1000

0

No

 *Equity equals Cash plus Unrealized P&L

The price increases to 110. Your equity is now 3000, but you cannot open additional positions because your available cash is still 0, and under the ESMA rules IM and MM remain unchanged:

 

Cash

Equity

Position

Price

Value

Unrealized P&L

IM

MM

Available Cash

MM Violation

Change

2000

3000

100

110

11000

1000

2000

1000

0

No

 The price then drops to 95. Your equity declines to 1500 but there is no margin violation since it is still greater than the 1000 requirement:

 

Cash

Equity

Position

Price

Value

Unrealized P&L

IM

MM

Available Cash

MM Violation

Change

2000

1500

100

95

9500

(500)

2000

1000

0

No

 The price falls further to 85, causing a margin violation and triggering a liquidation:

 

Cash

Equity

Position

Price

Value

Unrealized P&L

IM

MM

Available Cash

MM Violation

Change

2000

500

100

85

8500

(1500)

2000

1000

0

Yes

 3 Negative Equity Protection

The ESMA Decision limits your CFD-related liability to the funds dedicated to CFD-trading. Other financial instruments (e.g. shares or futures) cannot be liquidated to satisfy a CFD margin-deficit.*

Therefore non-CFD assets are not part of your capital at risk for CFD trading. 

Should you lose more than the cash dedicated to CFD trading, IB must write off the loss. 

As Negative Equity Protection represents additional risk to IBKR, we will charge retail investors an additional financing spread of 1% for CFD positions held overnight. You can find detailed CFD financing rates here.

*Although we cannot liquidate non-CFD positions to cover a CFD deficit, we can liquidate CFD positions to cover a non-CFD deficit.

 

Margin Considerations for Intramarket Futures Spreads

Background

Clients who simultaneously hold both long and short positions of a given futures contract having different delivery months are often provided a spread margin rate that is less than the margin requirement for each position if considered separately. However, as the settlement prices of each contract may deviate significantly as the front month contract approaches its close out date, IBKR will reduce the benefit of the spread margin rate to reflect the risk of this price deviation.

 

Spread Margin Adjustment

This reduction is accomplished by effectively decoupling or breaking the spread in phases on each of the 3 business days preceding the close out date of the front contract month, as follows:

  • On the 3rd business day prior to close out, the initial and maintenance margin requirements will be equal to 10% of their respective requirements on each contract month as if there was no spread, plus 90% of the spread requirement;
  • On the 2nd business day prior to close out, the initial and maintenance margin requirements will be equal to 20% of their respective requirements on each contract month as if there was no spread, plus 80% of the spread requirement;
  • On the business day prior to close out, the initial and maintenance margin requirements will be equal to 30% of their respective requirements on each contract month as if there was no spread, plus 70% of the spread requirement.

 

Working Example

Assume a hypothetical futures contract XYZ with the margin requirements as outlined in the table below:

XYZ Front Month - 1 Short Contract (Uncovered) Back Month - 1 Long Contract (Uncovered) Spread - 1 Short Front Month vs. 1 Long Back Month
Initial Margin $1,250 $1,500 $500
Maintenance Margin $1,000 $1,200 $400

Further assume a position consisting of 1 short front month contract and 1 long back month contract with the front month contract close out date = T.  using this hypothetical example, the initial margin requirement over the 3 business day period preceding close out date is outlined in the table below:

Day Initial Margin Requirement Calculation Details
T-4 $500 Unadjusted
T-3 $725 .1($1,250 + $1,500) + .9($500)
T-2 $950 .2($1,250 + $1,500) + .8($500)
T-1 $1,175 .3($1,250 + $1,500) + .7($500)
T $1,175 Positions not in compliance with close out requirements are subject to liquidation.

 

Concentrated Positions in Low Cap Stocks

The margin requirement for accounts holding concentrated positions in low cap stocks is as follows:

  • An alternative stress test will be considered following the margin calculation currently in place. Here, each stock and its derivatives will be subject to a stress test which simulates a price change reflective of a $500 million decrease in capitalization (e.g., 25% in the case of a stock with a market capitalization of $2 billion; 30% for a stock with a market capitalization of $1.5 billion; etc.). Stocks with a market capitalization of $500 million or below will be subject to a stress test as if the price has fallen to $0.
  • For the stock which projects the greatest loss assuming a $500 million decrease in capitalization, that loss will be compared to the initial margin as determined under the preceding calculation for the aggregate portfolio and, if greater, will become the initial margin requirement.
  • If the initial margin requirement is increased, the maintenance margin for that same stock and its derivatives will increase to approximately 90% of the initial requirement for the aggregate portfolio.

Overview of ESMA CFD Rules Implementation at IBKR (UK) - Retail Investors Only

Overview: 


CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

63.7% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with IBKR.

You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

 

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) enacted new rules applicable to retail clients trading CFDs, effective 1st August 2018. Professional clients are unaffected.

The rules consist of: 1) leverage limits; 2) a margin close out rule on a per account basis; 3) negative balance protection on a per account basis; 4) a restriction on the incentives offered to trade CFDs; and 5) a standardized risk warning.

Most clients (excepting regulated entities) are initially categorised as Retail Clients. IBKR may in certain circumstances agree to reclassify a Retail Client as a Professional Client, or a Professional Client as a Retail Client. Please see MiFID Categorisation for further detail.

The following sections detail how IBKR (UK) has implemented the ESMA Decision.

1 Leverage Limits

1.1 ESMA Margins
Leverage limits were set by ESMA at different levels depending on the underlying:

  • 3.33% for major currency pairs; Major currency pairs are any combination of USD; CAD; EUR; GBP; CHF; JPY
  • 5% for non-major currency pairs and major indices;
    • Non-major currency pairs are any combination that includes a currency not listed above, e.g. USD.CNH
    • Major indices are IBUS500; IBUS30; IBUST100; IBGB100; IBDE40; IBEU50; IBFR40; IBJP225; IBAU200
  • 10% for non-major equity indices; IBES35; IBCH20; IBNL25; IBHK50
  • 20% for individual equities

 1.2 Applied Margins - Standard Requirement

In addition to the ESMA Margins, IBKR (UK) establishes its own margin requirements (IB Margins) based on the historical volatility of the underlying, and other factors. We will apply the IB Margins if they are higher than those prescribed by ESMA.

Details of applicable IB and ESMA margins can be found here.

1.2.1 Applied Margins - Concentration Minimum

A concentration charge is applied if your portfolio consists of a small number of CFD positions, or if the two largest positions have a dominant weight. We stress the portfolio by applying a 30% adverse move on the two largest positions and a 5% adverse move on the remaining positions. The total loss is applied as the maintenance margin requirement if it is greater than the standard requirement.

1.3 Funds Available for Initial Margin

You can only use cash to post initial margin to open a CFD position. Realized CFD profits are included in cash and are available immediately; the cash does not have to settle first. Unrealized profits however cannot be used to meet initial margin requirements.

1.4 Automatic Funding of Initial Margin Requirements (F-segments)

IBKR (UK) automatically transfers funds from your main account to the F-segment of your account to fund initial margin requirements for CFDs.

Note however that no transfers are made to satisfy CFD maintenance margin requirements. Therefore if qualifying equity (defined below) becomes insufficient to meet margin requirements, a liquidation will occur even if you have ample funds in your main account. If you wish to avoid a liquidation you must transfer additional funds to the F-segment in Account Management.

2 Margin Close Out Rule

2.1 Maintenance Margin Calculations & Liquidations

ESMA requires IBKR to liquidate CFD positions latest when qualifying equity falls below 50% of the initial margin posted to open the positions. IBKR may close out positions sooner if our risk view is more conservative. Qualifying equity for this purpose includes cash in the F-segment (excluding cash in any other account segment) and unrealized CFD P&L (positive and negative).

The basis for the calculation is the initial margin posted at the time of opening a CFD position. In other words, and unlike margin calculations applicable to non-CFD positions, the initial margin amount does not change when the value of the open position changes.

2.1.1 Example

You have EUR 2000 cash in your CFD account. You want to buy 100 CFDs of XYZ at a limit price of EUR 100. You are first filled 50 CFDs and then the remaining 50. Your available cash reduces as your trades are filled:

  Cash Equity* Position Price Value Unrealized P&L IM MM Available Cash MM Violation
Pre Trade 2000 2000             2000  
Post Trade 1 2000 2000 50 100 5000 0 1000 500 1000 No
Post Trade 2 2000 2000 100 100 10000 0 2000 1000 0 No

*Equity equals Cash plus Unrealized P&L

The price increases to 110. Your equity is now 3000, but you cannot open additional positions because your available cash is still 0, and under the ESMA rules IM and MM remain unchanged:

  Cash Equity Position Price Value Unrealized P&L IM MM Available Cash MM Violation
Change 2000 3000 100 110 11000 1000 2000 1000 0 No

 The price then drops to 95. Your equity declines to 1500 but there is no margin violation since it is still greater than the 1000 requirement:

  Cash Equity Position Price Value Unrealized P&L IM MM Available Cash MM Violation
Change 2000 1500 100 95 9500 (500) 2000 1000 0 No

The price falls further to 85, causing a margin violation and triggering a liquidation:

  Cash Equity Position Price Value Unrealized P&L IM MM Available Cash MM Violation
Change 2000 500 100 85 8500 (1500) 2000 1000 0 Yes

 

3 Negative Equity Protection

The ESMA Decision limits your CFD-related liability to the funds dedicated to CFD-trading. Other financial instruments (e.g. shares or futures) cannot be liquidated to satisfy a CFD margin-deficit.*

Therefore assets in the security and commodity segments of your main account, and non-CFD assets held in the F-segment, are not part of your capital at risk for CFD trading. However, all cash in the F-segment can be used to cover losses arising from CFD trading.

As Negative Equity Protection represents additional risk to IBKR, we will charge retail investors an additional financing spread of 1% for CFD positions held overnight. You can find detailed CFD financing rates here.

*Although we cannot liquidate non-CFD positions to cover a CFD deficit, we can liquidate CFD positions to cover a non-CFD deficit.

4 Incentives Offered to trade CFDs

The ESMA Decision imposes a ban on monetary and certain types of non-monetary benefits related to CFD trading. IBKR does not offer any bonus or other incentives to trade CFDs.