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Margin Account Requirements

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Overview of Margin Requirements

The terms on which firms can extend credit for securities transactions are governed by federal regulation and by the rules of FINRA and the securities exchanges.

Some securities cannot be purchased on margin, which means they must be purchased in a cash account, and the customer must deposit 100 percent of the purchase price.

In general, under Federal Reserve Board Regulation T, firms can lend a customer up to 50 percent of the total purchase price of a margin security for new, or initial, purchases. 

The rules of FINRA and the exchanges supplement the requirements of Regulation T by placing "maintenance" margin requirements on customer accounts.

Under these rules, as a general matter, the customer's equity in the account must not fall below 25 percent of the current market value of the securities in the account. Otherwise, the customer may be required to deposit more funds or securities to maintain equity at the 25 percent level (referred to as a margin call). Failure to do so may cause the firm to liquidate the securities in the customer's account in order to bring the account's equity back up to the required level.

The FINRA rules governing margin accounts are as follows:


Interpretations of FINRA's Margin Requirements Rule

FINRA Rule 4210 (Margin Requirements) describes the margin requirements that determine the amount of collateral customers are expected to maintain in their margin accounts, including both strategy-based margin accounts and portfolio margin accounts. The rule explains the margin requirements for equity and fixed income securities, along with options, warrants and security futures.

The interpretations immediately follow the section of the rule to which they relate. The interpretations use a numbering convention of /##. For example: /01 of Rule 4210(a)(3).


FINRA Rule 4521 requires that member firms that carry customer margin accounts must submit — via the Customer Margin Balance Form — the following numbers:

  • the total of all debit balances in securities margin accounts
  • all free credit balances in all cash accounts
  • all securities margin accounts on a settlement date basis as of the last business day of the month

After collecting this data via the Customer Margin Balance Forms, FINRA displays it in aggregate form on our Margin Statistics page.

2019 Filing Due Dates

PERIOD ENDING DUE DATE
January 31, 2019 February 8, 2019
February 28, 2019 March 8, 2019
March 29, 2019 April 8, 2019
April 30, 2019 May 8, 2019
May 31, 2019 June 10, 2019
June 28, 2019 July 9, 2019
July 31, 2019 August 8, 2019
August 30, 2019 September 10, 2019
September 30, 2019 October 8, 2019
October 31, 2019 November 8, 2019
November 29, 2019 December 9, 2019
December 31, 2019 January 9, 2020

See Regulatory Notice 10-08 (Customer Margin Accounts) for more information.

Request Access to the Customer Margin Balance Reporting Form


Margin Disclosure Statements

Pursuant to FINRA Rule 2264 (Margin Disclosure Statement), no member shall open a margin account, as specified in Regulation T, for or on behalf of a non-institutional customer, unless, prior to or at the time of opening the account, the member has furnished to the customer, individually, in paper or electronic form, and in a separate document (or contained by itself on a separate page as part of another document), the specified margin disclosure statement. In addition, any member that permits non-institutional customers either to open accounts online or to engage in transactions in securities online must post such margin disclosure statement on the member's Web site in a clear and conspicuous manner.

Pursuant to FINRA Rule 4210(g), on or before the date of the initial transaction in a portfolio margin account, a member must provide customers with a special written disclosure statement describing the nature and risks of portfolio margining.

The disclosure statement must include an acknowledgement for all portfolio margin account owners to sign, attesting that they have read and understand the disclosure statement. Customers must also attest that they agree to the terms under which their portfolio margin account is provided.

Members must retain this signed acknowledgement and record the date of receipt.


CONTACT OGC

FINRA's Office of General Counsel (OGC) staff provides broker-dealers, attorneys, registered representatives, investors and other interested parties with interpretative guidance relating to FINRA’s rules. Please see Interpreting the Rules for more information.

OGC staff contacts:
Kathryn Moore
FINRA, OGC
1735 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 728-8000
 

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