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Ventura Wealth Clients
3 min Read

The world of margin trading beckons with the allure of amplified returns. However, this magnified potential for profit comes with a significant risk: margin calls. But what happens if you fail to address a margin call? This blog unveils the consequences of a margin shortfall and equips you with strategies to navigate this situation.

What is a margin call?

Margin trading allows you to leverage borrowed funds from your broker to buy securities. This magnifies your buying power but also amplifies potential gains and losses. The broker requires you to maintain a minimum equity value in your account, expressed as a percentage of the total position value. This minimum value is your margin requirement.

A margin call arises when the value of your holdings falls below the required margin level. This signifies a potential risk for the broker, as they loaned you money to invest. The broker then issues a margin call, demanding you to deposit additional funds (cash or securities) into your account to restore your equity balance above the minimum margin requirement.

What if you do not cover your margin shortfall?

Ignoring a margin call is a risky proposition. Here's what might unfold:

  • Forced Liquidation: If you fail to respond to the margin call within a designated timeframe (usually a few days), your broker has the right to forcibly sell off a portion (or all) of your holdings to meet the margin requirement. This forced sale can happen at unfavourable market prices, potentially leading to significant losses.
  • Additional Fees and Penalties: Besides the forced sale, you might incur additional fees and penalties for the margin call violation. These can include administrative fees and interest charges on the borrowed funds.
  • Negative Account Balance: If the proceeds from the forced sale are insufficient to cover the margin shortfall, you might end up with a negative account balance. This outstanding debt needs to be repaid to the broker, potentially impacting your credit score and future investment opportunities.
  • Restricted Trading Activity: Some brokers might restrict your trading activity until you rectify the margin call and restore your account to good standing.

What should you do in case of a margin call?

Facing a margin call can be stressful, but there are ways to manage the situation:

  • Deposit Additional Funds: The quickest and most straightforward solution is to deposit additional cash or eligible securities into your account to meet the margin requirement.
  • Sell Some Holdings: If you have other holdings in your account, consider selling some to generate cash and raise your equity balance above the minimum margin. Ideally, sell assets that have performed well to minimise losses.
  • Reduce Your Position Size: If you're invested in the security that triggered the margin call, consider selling a portion of that specific holding to decrease your exposure and raise your equity level.
  • Negotiate with Your Broker: In exceptional circumstances, you might be able to negotiate with your broker for a short extension to address the margin call. However, don't assume this is always an option.

Avoiding a margin call

While margin trading can be tempting, it's crucial to approach it cautiously. Here are some tips to minimise the risk of margin calls:

  • Maintain a Healthy Margin Ratio: Don't max out your borrowing power. Keep a buffer between your current market value and the margin requirement to absorb some price fluctuations.
  • Use Stop-Loss Orders: Implement stop-loss orders to automatically sell your holdings if the price falls below a certain level. This helps limit potential losses and protect your equity balance.
  • Understand Market Volatility: Be mindful of the inherent volatility of the securities you're trading on margin. Highly volatile assets carry a greater risk of triggering margin calls.
  • Start Small and Gain Experience: If you're new to margin trading, start with a small portion of your capital and gradually increase your exposure as you gain experience and confidence in managing margin risk.


Margin trading can be a powerful tool, but it's not without risks. By understanding the consequences of failing to meet a margin call and employing sound risk management strategies, you can navigate the potential pitfalls and make informed decisions to maximise your chances of success in the world of leveraged options trading. Remember, responsible trading is key to a sustainable and rewarding investment experience.