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Maintenance Margin

Definition

In finance, margin is collateral that the holder of a financial instrument has to deposit with a counterparty to cover some or all of the credit risk the holder poses for the counterparty. This risk can arise if the holder has done any of the following...

What is a 'Maintenance Margin'

A maintenance margin is the minimum amount of equity that must be maintained in a margin account. In the context of the NYSE and FINRA, after an investor has bought securities on margin, the minimum required level of margin is 25% of the total market value of the securities in the margin account. Keep in mind that this level is a minimum, and many brokerages have higher maintenance requirements of 30-40%.

Explaining 'Maintenance Margin'

As governed by the Federal Reserve's Regulation T, when a trader buys on margin, key levels must be maintained throughout the life of the trade. First off, a broker cannot extend any credit to accounts with less than $2,000 in cash or securities. Second, the initial margin of 50% is required for a trade to be entered. Finally, the maintenance margin says that an equity level of at least 25% must be maintained. The investor will be hit with a margin call if the value of securities falls below the maintenance margin.

Maintenance Margin Basics

A margin account is an account with a brokerage firm that allows an investor to buy securities, be they stocks, bonds or options, with cash loaned by the broker. Trading on margin is used to increase the purchasing power of investors so that they can buy more stock without paying for it entirely out of pocket. Buying more stocks that then increase in value results in a greater gain for the investor; however, buying more stocks that lose value exposes the investor to much more substantial losses.

Maintenance Margins: A Walk-Through & Context

To fully understand maintenance margins one has to understand margin accounts. Before an investor opens up a margin account, the brokerage firm must obtain that investor’s signature on a margin agreement. This margin agreement must meet the minimum requirements of the regulations set forth by the Federal Reserve Board, NYSE and FINRA, but the exact terms and conditions, such as the interest rate on the account and repayment terms, vary depending on the individual broker firm’s policy. Generally, the securities purchased on the account serve as collateral. It is important to note that not all securities can be bought on margin, which requires extensive trading knowledge.


Further Reading


Setting margin levels in futures markets: An extreme value method
www.sciencedirect.com [PDF]
… that the proposed approach is very useful to setting the initial and maintenance margin levels … For guarding against default, this paper focuses on setting prudent margins designed to … The academic literature has implemented two approaches to setting appropriate margin levels …

Adequacy and Consistancy of Margin Requirements in the Markets for Stocks and Derivative Products, TheAdequacy and Consistancy of Margin Requirements in the Markets for Stocks and Derivative Products, The
heinonline.org [PDF]
… that the proposed approach is very useful to setting the initial and maintenance margin levels … For guarding against default, this paper focuses on setting prudent margins designed to … The academic literature has implemented two approaches to setting appropriate margin levels …

Implications of nonlinear dynamics for financial risk managementImplications of nonlinear dynamics for financial risk management
www.jstor.org [PDF]
… that the proposed approach is very useful to setting the initial and maintenance margin levels … For guarding against default, this paper focuses on setting prudent margins designed to … The academic literature has implemented two approaches to setting appropriate margin levels …

Stock market margin requirementsStock market margin requirements
www.journals.uchicago.edu [PDF]
… that the proposed approach is very useful to setting the initial and maintenance margin levels … For guarding against default, this paper focuses on setting prudent margins designed to … The academic literature has implemented two approaches to setting appropriate margin levels …

Ethics, fairness and efficiency in financial marketsEthics, fairness and efficiency in financial markets
www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
… that the proposed approach is very useful to setting the initial and maintenance margin levels … For guarding against default, this paper focuses on setting prudent margins designed to … The academic literature has implemented two approaches to setting appropriate margin levels …

Option strategies: Good deals and margin callsOption strategies: Good deals and margin calls
www.sciencedirect.com [PDF]
… that the proposed approach is very useful to setting the initial and maintenance margin levels … For guarding against default, this paper focuses on setting prudent margins designed to … The academic literature has implemented two approaches to setting appropriate margin levels …

Distinguished lecture on economics in government: central banking and systemic risks in capital marketsDistinguished lecture on economics in government: central banking and systemic risks in capital markets
www.aeaweb.org [PDF]
… that the proposed approach is very useful to setting the initial and maintenance margin levels … For guarding against default, this paper focuses on setting prudent margins designed to … The academic literature has implemented two approaches to setting appropriate margin levels …



Q&A About Maintenance Margin


How much cash or securities do you need to have in your account before you can enter into a trade on margin?

You need at least $2,000.00 worth of cash or securities in your account before you can enter into a trade on margin.

What happens if your equity level falls below the required maintenance margin?

You will receive a call from your broker asking for additional funds to bring back up to the required maintenance level. If you fail to meet this requirement within 24 hours, then your position will be liquidated by your broker and any remaining deficit will become due immediately.

Who sets these requirements for trading on margin?

The Federal Reserve Board, NYSE and FINRA set these requirements for trading on margin .

What does the Federal Reserve's Regulation T govern?

The Federal Reserve's Regulation T governs key levels that must be maintained throughout the life of a trade.

What is a maintenance margin?

A maintenance margin is the minimum amount of equity that must be maintained in a margin account.

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