Leverage as a Strategy
Leverage is, quite simply, the purchase of shares on credit. A margin account in a brokerage firm is where this would be accomplished. Because firms have a margin desk that performs calculations relating to the investor's availability of credit or deposit requirements, the planner need only have a working knowledge of margin analysis. The exam may contain a question or two on this topic.
Benefits of Margin
Benefits of margin include the ability to purchase more shares with a lower initial cash outlay. Broker/dealers benefit by generating interest income from the margin loans and by receiving larger commissions, as margin clients often trade larger positions with less money down.
Establishing a Margin Account
To establish a margin account, the client needs to sign a margin agreement, which has three parts. The Credit Agreement discloses loan terms from the broker/dealer. The Hypothecation Agreement allows the broker/dealer to pledge the clients' margin securities as collateral to the bank which, in turn, lends money to the broker/dealer based upon the securities' value. Margin accounts are set up in street name with the broker/dealer as the nominal owner and the client as the beneficial owner. Finally, the Loan Consent Form allows the firm to lend clients' margin securities to other clients or broker/dealers, often for short selling. Customers must sign the former two agreements; the Loan Consent form is optional.
Regulation T: The Securities Act of 1934 empowered the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) to regulate the extension of credit in the securities industry. Regulation T requires clients to deposit at least 50% of the market value of a margin transaction within five (5) business days. If the first purchase is less than $2,000, the customer must put up the full purchase price; if it is between $2,000 and $4,000, s/he must put up $2,000; if the amount exceeds $4,000, the initial deposit is 50%. Regulation T also determines which securities are eligible for a margin purchase. They are exchange-listed bonds and equities, NASDAQ stocks and non-Nasdaq OTC shares that the FRB approves. Mutual funds and new issues may not be purchased on margin, but can be used as collateral after thirty (30) days.
Long Margin Accounting- the formula for determining the amount of equity in an margin account reads as follows:
Where LMV = long market value or the current value of the stock position; DR=debit register or the amount of money that the client borrowed; EQ = equity, or that percentage of the securities in the account that the client actually owns.
The debit register is analogous to a home mortgage. It may not change, but the market value may increase or decrease which, in turn, impacts the amount of equity. Payments toward the reduction of the debit balance do not affect the value of the account, but increase the equity. The margin balance sheet reads as follows:
Initial margin is 50% of LMV; maintenance margin is 25% of LMV. The account is marked to market daily to determine if the account is meeting the maintenance requirement of the NASD/NYSE.
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