Lesson 2 of 4
In Progress

Leverage: A Trader’s Friend? (7)

Phillip Konchar

Margin trading creates leverage, lets look at that in a lot more detail.


The Benefits of Leverage

Leverage can increase a trader’s return on their capital. Because the trader only needs to deposit part of the position, any increase in the equity element of the position will enhance the returns of the trade. In our example, the trader puts up only £50 of the notional value of a position. A £50 increase in the value of that position gives the trader a £50 profit. The return has increased from 10% to 100% by leveraging up the trade 10:1.

Leverage can increase the size of a trader’s positions. Traders can leverage small amounts of capital and hold much larger positions. A trader with £500 capital, leveraging at 10:1, can assume positions with a notional value of £5000.

How much leverage can traders get?

It depends where their broker is licensed/regulated. Historically, minimum margin levels, and therefore maximum leverage ratios, were a commercial decision for each broker. Now, maximum leverage levels for retail traders are specified by regulators.

The Downsides of Leverage

As well as enhancing profits it also enhances losses in equal measure – leverage is linear.

BP examples Initial trade Price up 10% Price down 10%
Notional position £500 £550 (+10%) £450 (-10%)
Margin/deposit £50 £100 (+100%) £0 (-100%)
Broker funded £450 £450 £450

A margin call happens on an account wide basis. When position(s) move against a trader and they no longer hold enough of a deposit, or margin, with a broker then they will be asked to deposit more to keep the position open. If they don’t provide more money, the positions are closed by the broker to protect its exposure to bad debts.

The take away from this lesson is, new traders learning how to trade should not use too much leverage. These traders should place small trade sizes relative to their capital to avoid amplifying errors, which are inevitable. As they become more experienced traders and have more confidence in their trading returns leverage can be increased to increase them.

Key Learning Points
  • When trading a CFD or spread bet leverage is created through the design of the financial instrument.
  • Leverage enhances a traders return on investment, if the price goes in their favor.
  • Leverage allows the trader to increase the size of the positions taken.
  • The amount of leverage a retail derivative traders can get is now largely determined by where the broker they use is regulated.
  • Leverage is linear. That means it magnifies a trader’s profits and losses in equal measure. If misunderstood this can lead to traders taking on significant risks.
  • If managed correctly, leverage is a trader’s friend. New traders should avoid highly leveraged positions, any errors will be amplified – start conservatively.

Request a Free Broker Consultation

Simply answer a few questions about your trading preferences and one of Forest Park FX’s expert brokerage advisers will get in touch to discuss your options.

[formidable id=5]

Information you provide via this form will be shared with Forest Park FX only as per our Privacy Policy.