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What Is Margin Trading?

Views 8792022.02.25

Key takeaways

  • Margin trading refers to the practice of using borrowed money from a broker to invest

  • Margin trading could amplify possible returns and losses on investment 

  • Margin trading increases investors' buying power but also involves higher risk and may trigger a margin call

Understanding Margin Trading 

Margin trading refers to the practice of using borrowed money from a broker to invest. The term margin refers to the amount deposited with a brokerage when borrowing money to buy securities. 

When buying on margin, the investor uses the marginal securities or cash in their brokerage account as collateral to secure the loan. The collateralized loan comes with an interest rate that will be calculated periodically and charged. 

For instance, if the initial margin requirement of your broker for a certain stock is 60%, and you wish to purchase $10,000 worth of the stock, then your margin would be $6,000, and the broker could loan you the rest.

A margin account is needed if an investor wants to trade on margin. This is different from a regular cash account. A margin account is a standard brokerage account in which an investor is allowed to use the current cash or securities in their account as collateral for a loan.

Each brokerage would have different requirements to qualify for margin trading and different terms for its services. A brokerage can also set its own rules on interest rates and how much of your own money you must have in the account compared to borrowed money.

In margin trading, as the investor is using borrowed money or leverage, both the losses and gains would be magnified as a result. 

Pros and Cons

Pros:

1. Increased Buying Power

The most obvious benefit of margin trading is that it increases an investor's buying power. Margin trading allows you to borrow money, and therefore you can purchase more stock than you'd be able to normally with a cash account. 

2. Higher Potential Returns

Increased buying power allows you to buy more securities than you could otherwise afford. The more securities you own, the greater your potential profit if those securities gain value.

Cons:

1. Higher Risk

Borrowing money to invest is risky. There's no guarantee that an investment will succeed. Whether the securities you buy gain or lose value, you will have to pay back the borrowed amount.

In some cases, you could wind up losing more money than was put into your portfolio.

2. Interest Charges

Borrowing money isn't free. When you use margin to invest, you have to pay interest based on the amount of money that you're borrowing.

Before investing on margin, investors should take the cost of it into account. The interest charges reduce gains on successful investments and increase losses from poor-performing investments.

Even if the shares you buy maintain their value, the cost of borrowing money can lead to losses.

3. Maintenance Requirements

Once you trade on margin, enough value should be maintained in your margin account to meet the brokerage's maintenance margin requirement (or the margin call requirement).

If an investor's portfolio fails to meet the maintenance margin requirement, it could trigger a margin call, which may force the investor to either deposit additional funds or sell their investments.

Many investors fear margin calls as investors may be forced to sell positions at unfavorable prices.

The content in this article is intended for general circulation and informational purposes only. It does not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person and should not be relied on as advice or recommendation. Information provided in this article are not specifically intended for or specially targeted at the public in any specific jurisdiction. Neither Moomoo Inc. nor its affiliates are licensed Financial Advisers and do not provide financial advice. You are advised to consult your financial adviser before making any commitment to invest in any capital markets product. The information published is not and does not constitute or form part of any offer, invitation or solicitation to subscribe or to enter into any transaction in capital markets products. Moomoo is a professional trading app offered by Moomoo Inc. In the U.S., investment products and services on Moomoo are offered by Futu Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. In Singapore investment products and services are offered through Futu Singapore Pte. Ltd., regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). This advertisement has not been reviewed by the MAS. Moomoo Inc., Futu Inc. and Futu Singapore Pte. Ltd are affiliated companies. Any illustrations, scenarios, or specific securities referenced herein are strictly for illustrative purposes. Past investment performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk and the potential to lose principal.

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