Difference Between Margin and Portfolio Margin (Detailed Guide)

by Administrator
12 minutes read

How can a trader obtain risk-based margins similar to a market maker without trading or owning a spot on the exchange floor? Portfolio margin.

Portfolio margin allows you to calculate the margin requirements of derivatives traders by using a composite view. Portfolio margin accounts are used to offset investors’ positive and negative positions to calculate their real-time Margin requirements. Portfolio margining allows investors to have lower margin requirements and allow them to trade more capital.

Margin refers to money borrowed from a broker to purchase an investment. It is the difference between an investment’s total value and the loan amount. This article will explain the difference between margin and portfolio margin(Portfolio margin vs Margin account).

What Is a Margin Account

Margin refers to the broker’s amount from the trader to cover potential losses. A trader can use more capital than what they originally deposited. It is a good-faith deposit, which is represented as a percentage. It is directly linked to the leverage that you trade with.

Margin can also be described as the amount of money you have to maintain a position. If a trader wanted to deposit $20,000 into an account with 1:25 leverage, the broker would set a margin of 4%. To keep his position open, the trader would need $9600 to purchase 2 EURUSD at 1.2000. This is 4% of $240,000 (200,000x 1.2000).

An investor can buy an asset on margin by borrowing the balance from their broker. The initial payment to the broker to purchase the asset is called buying on margin. The investor then uses margin securities from their brokerage account to secure the collateral.

Margin is the difference between the selling price of a product or service and the cost to produce it. It can also be referred to as the ratio of profit to revenue in a business context. Margin can also refer to the adjusted-index rate plus the interest rate on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). This is key in understanding the difference between margin and portfolio margin(Portfolio margin account vs Margin account).

What Does It Mean to Trade on Margin?

Margin trading means borrowing money from a brokerage company to execute trades. Investors first deposit cash to serve as collateral and then continue to pay interest on the money borrowed. Investors can buy more securities because they have greater buying power. The collateral for the margin loan is automatically secured by the securities that have been purchased. This is important to note in knowing the difference between margin and portfolio margin.

What Are The Other Uses of Margin

Margin can also be used in other ways, which are:

1. Accounting Margin

Margin is a term used in business accounting to describe the difference between revenues and expenses. Businesses typically track gross profit margins, operating margins, and net profit margins. Gross profit margin is the ratio between company revenues and the cost of goods sold (COGS). Operating profit margin includes COGS and operating costs and is compared with revenue. Net profit margin accounts for all expenses, taxes, and interest.

2. Margin in Mortgage Lending

Fixed-rate mortgages (ARMs) provide a fixed interest rate for some time. The rate then adjusts. The bank adds a margin on an existing index to determine the new rate. The margin is usually constant throughout the life of a loan. However, the index rate can change. Imagine a mortgage with an adjustable-rate margin of 4% and is indexed according to the Treasury Index. This will help you understand how this works. If the Treasury Index is 66%, then the interest rate for the mortgage would be the 6% rate plus the margin of 4%, or 10%. This is important to understand in knowing the difference between margin and portfolio margin.

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What Is a Margin Call?

Margin calls are when a broker, who has previously extended a margin loan for an investor, sends a notice asking that the investor increase their collateral. Investors are often required to deposit additional funds into their accounts or sell other securities when facing a margin call. The broker can force the investor to sell their positions if they refuse. Many investors fear margin calls because they force investors to sell positions at unfavorable rates.

What Is Portfolio Margin?

Portfolio margin is the modern composite-margin strategy that must be maintained within a derivative account with swaps (including credit default swaps), options, and futures contracts. Portfolio margining is a way to reduce the risk to the lender by consolidating or netting positions to account for the portfolio’s overall risk. This method results in significantly lower margin requirements for a hedged position than traditional policy rules. Portfolio margin accounting requires that the margin position is equal to the remaining after all offset positions have been compared.

If a portfolio position is earning a positive return, it can offset the loss of another portfolio position. This would lower the margin required to hold a losing derivatives position. This is important to understand in knowing the difference between margin and portfolio margin.

A Brief History of Portfolio Margin

In 1988, Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) developed a risk-based model for calculating future and option margin requirements.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved a rule modification to allow brokerage firms to have portfolio margins. Broker-dealers were provided with the only approved model by the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC), the Theoretical Intermarket Margining System (TIMS), which calculates portfolio margin requirements once a day following the close of the equity market.

Understanding Margin and Portfolio Margin

Difference Between Margin and Portfolio Margin

1. Margin

Margin is the equity that an investor holds in their brokerage account. To margin, or “buying on margin,” borrows money from a broker to buy securities. You will need a margin account rather than a regular brokerage account to do this. Margin accounts are brokerage accounts where the broker lends money to the investor to purchase more securities than they would otherwise be able to with their account balance.

Margin is essentially like using current cash or securities in your account to secure a loan. A periodic interest rate is required to be paid on the collateralized loan. Because the investor is borrowing money or using leverage, both losses and gains will be increased. Margin investing is a way to earn a higher rate than the interest they’re paying on a loan.

If you have an initial margin requirement of 60% and want to buy $10,000 worth of securities, your margin would be $6,000, and you could borrow the remainder from the broker. This is important to understand in knowing the difference between margin and portfolio margin.

Buying on Margin

Margin buying is when you borrow money from a broker to buy stock. It can be thought of as a loan from your brokerage. Margin trading allows you to purchase more stock than you would normally be able to. A margin account is required to trade on margin. This account is not the same as a regular cash account in which you trade with the money.

Your broker must obtain your consent before opening a margin account. Your standard account opening agreement may include a margin account or an entirely separate agreement. A margin account requires an initial investment of $2,000, although some brokerages may require more. This is the minimum margin.

After your account is operational and opened, you can borrow up to 50% of the stock purchase price. The initial margin is the amount of the purchase price you deposit. You don’t need to margin up to 50%. You can borrow as little as 10% or 25%. You can borrow less, such as 10% or 25%.

Your loan can be kept as long as you like, as long as you meet your obligations. The proceeds from the sale of stock in a margin account are used to repay the loan.

The maintenance margin is another restriction. This is the minimum balance your account must have before your broker forces you to sell stock or deposit more money to pay off your loan. This is known as a margin request. Margin calls are a request from your brokerage to add money to or close positions to return your account to the minimum level. Your brokerage firm may close any not closed positions if you fail to meet the margin call. This will bring your account up to the minimum amount. The brokerage firm can liquidate any position without your consent.

Your brokerage firm may also charge you a commission for the transaction. This process is risky, and you will be responsible for any loss. Your brokerage firm might liquidate enough shares or contract to meet the initial margin requirement. This is key to note in knowing the difference between margin and portfolio margin(Portfolio margin vs Margin).


Portfolio margin requirements were only recently introduced in the options market. Futures traders, however, have been enjoying this system since 1988. Cboe Global Markets’ (Cboe) has rules regarding margin accounts. It introduced new margining requirements in 2007 to better align portfolio margin amounts and portfolio riskiness. This is key to note in knowing the difference between margin and portfolio margin.

Portfolio risk can be calculated by simulating market volatility. Options investors have more capital available to them thanks to this revised system of derivative margin accounting. They can now use the leverage previously required for margin deposits under the strategy-based margin requirements, which were established in the 1970s. 

How Does Portfolio Margin Work?

Qualified investors who trade derivatives such as options, swaps, and futures must have a composite margin. A portfolio margin is a policy that aims to reduce the risk for the lender.

The lender compares the positions in different derivatives to determine the portfolio margin. This involves calculating the portfolio risk and adjusting the margin requirements to reflect this.

Portfolio margin policy requirements must equal the amount remaining after all investors’ offsetting (long or short) positions have been compared. Portfolio margin policy requirements for hedged positions are usually lower than those for other policies.

If an investor has a net positive position in a derivative, they could offset the loss. This is important to understand in knowing the difference between margin and portfolio margin.

Difference Between Margin and Portfolio Margin.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the other differences between Portfolio margin and Margin(Margin vs Portfolio margin).

Portfolio Margin Margin or Regulation T Margin
Traders can use margin on long options, and long options can be used as collateral to trade other margin options. Long options are not allowed to be traded. Traders cannot use margin for them.
The maintenance and initial margins are the same Maintain margin = 50% of the initial margin
The overall portfolio of a trader is assessed by comparing positions to one another. Margin requirements can be set at fixed percentages
Margin requirements = buying power (maintenance excess) – net liquidity value Margin equity = stock + (+/- balance
Portfolio margin calculations include stock volatility and future scenarios. Margin requirement refers to a fixed percentage in trade amounts
Leverage can be increased by using broad-based indices Margin requirements are more flexible


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