What Is a Margin Call?

What Is a Margin Call?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

A margin call happens when a broker demands that an investor deposits additional money or securities into their accounts to bring the margin account back to the minimum required level. This is often triggered when the investor’s account value falls below the broker’s required amount. When a margin call happens, the investor must either deposit more money into the account or sell some of the assets held in their account.

Related Questions

1. How is a margin call calculated?

Margin call is calculated using the formula: Equity / Margin. If the result is less than the margin maintenance level set by the broker, usually between 25% to 50%, it triggers a margin call.

2. What happens if you cannot meet a margin call?

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If you can’t meet a margin call, the broker has the right to sell the securities in your account to increase the account’s equity until it is back to the minimum requirement. This happen without notifying you, depending on the terms of the margin agreement you signed.

3. Why do margin calls happen?

Margin calls happen when the value of the investor’s margin account drops below the broker’s required level. This drop might be the result of a fall in value of your securities or if you lose a trade.

4. How to avoid a margin call?

There are several ways to avoid margin calls. Keeping a healthy amount of unused margin in your account gives it a buffer against market fluctuations. Regularly monitoring your investments and not over-leveraging are other key strategies.

5. Can margin calls affect the stock market?

Yes, margin calls can affect the stock market. When many margin calls happen at once, it can cause a large sell-off in the market because investors need to sell their assets to meet the margin calls. This can affect the stock market and make it volatile.