You receive a margin call—now what?
Points to know
- Federal regulators set the rules for buying on margin.
- Vanguard Brokerage also has "house maintenance" requirements to maintain a margin account with us.
- There are 3 types of margin calls, each with different equity requirements.
Federal Reserve Board (FRB)
The governing board of the Federal Reserve System that is responsible for setting bank reserve requirements, the discount rate, credit availability, and monetary policies.
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
The largest nongovernmental regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA was created in 2007 through the consolidation of the National Association of Securities Dealers and the New York Stock Exchange's member regulation unit.
A brokerage account that allows you to borrow a percentage of a security's value from the broker to purchase that security. If the value of the stock drops substantially, you're required to deposit more cash in the account or sell a portion of the stock.
In a margin account, the value of your securities minus the amount you've borrowed from your brokerage firm.
The actual date on which shares are purchased or sold.
A security that meets the Federal Reserve requirements for being bought and sold in a margin account.
A type of investment that pools shareholder money and invests it in a variety of securities. Each investor owns shares of the fund and can buy or sell these shares at any time. Mutual funds are typically more diversified, low-cost, and convenient than investing in individual securities, and they're professionally managed.
This holds the money you use to buy securities, as well as the proceeds whenever you sell.
Rules for margin investing
These rules cover the minimum deposit you'll need to open a margin account, the initial amount required for a margin investment, and the minimum equity you must maintain to continue to have borrowing privileges.
In addition, Vanguard Brokerage has initial and house maintenance requirements.
If you don't meet the requirements, you'll receive a "margin call"—a demand to increase the equity in your account to cover the call.
MINIMUM MARGIN REQUIREMENT
Every margin transaction must result in your Vanguard Brokerage Account having equity of at least $2,000.
The 3 types of margin calls
Federal (initial) margin call
You'll get this call when you don't have enough equity to meet the FRB's initial requirement as determined by Regulation T.
The initial requirement is 50% of the total cost of the trade, including commissions, unless the stock is priced under $5. In that case, it's 100%. A federal call is only issued as a result of a trade.
What you should do: You must meet the call by the trade date plus 4 business days.
Maintenance (house) call
You'll get this call when your equity falls below Vanguard Brokerage's house maintenance requirement, which is 35% for most marginable securities.
Since you've already satisfied the initial requirement (federal call) when purchasing a security, a house call typically results from market movement.
Maintenance requirements are based on a stock's current market value, not its purchase price. So you can get a house call if the price declines; on the other hand, a price increase can reduce or eliminate the house call.
For a short position, it's the opposite. You can get a house call if the price increases, while a price decrease can reduce or eliminate the house call.
We issue the house call—usually via an automated message sent to your email address on file—the morning after (known as Day 1) the equity in your account falls below the house minimum.
What you should do: You must meet the call by Day 4.
Exchange (NYSE) call
You'll get this call when your equity falls below the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) requirement, currently at 25%.
If you get an exchange call, your account probably was already in a house call.
What you should do: It's critical that you cover an exchange call within 2 days.
How to satisfy a margin call
You can satisfy a margin call in 1 of 4 ways:
Sell securities in your margin account. Or buy securities to cover short positions.
Send money to your account by electronic bank transfer, wire, or check by overnight mail.
Deposit fully paid marginable securities into your margin account, sending endorsed security certificates to Vanguard Brokerage or moving securities from another brokerage account.
While you can choose how you want to meet a margin call, you must meet it by the due date. If you don't, we reserve the right to sell the securities and other property in your account to cover the call—and you won't be able to choose what's sold or liquidated.
Explore professional advice
We offer expert help at the low cost you'd expect from Vanguard.
Open or transfer accounts
Open or transfer accounts
For additional information about margin investing, including the risks involved, read the Vanguard Brokerage Initial Margin Risk Disclosure Statement or visit the FINRA and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission websites.
All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.
Vanguard’s advice services are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc., (“VAI”) a registered investment advisor, or by Vanguard National Trust Company (“VNTC”), a federally chartered, limited-purpose trust company.
The services provided to clients will vary based upon the service selected, including management, fees, eligibility, and access to an advisor. Find VAI’s Form CRS and each program’s advisory brochure here for an overview.
VAI and VNTC are subsidiaries of The Vanguard Group, Inc., and affiliates of Vanguard Marketing Corporation. Neither VAI, VNTC nor its affiliates guarantee profits or protection from losses.