Margin Calls: How They Work and How You Can Avoid Them

Increased volatility in the market can sometimes bring about uncomfortable and surprising situations for investors, especially when it comes to margin calls. When you buy stock on a margin, you’re essentially borrowing money from your broker to finance the purchase. While this is a strategy that can amplify your gains if the stock price goes up, it can also lead to painful losses if the stock price falls and you’re forced to sell other assets or put more money into your account to meet the margin call. In this article you will learn everything there is to know about margin calls, including: what is a margin call; what triggers a margin call; what happens when you get a margin call; how long do you have to pay a margin call; what happens if you cannot pay the margin call; how you can avoid a margin call; and how to handle margin call liquidation. IMPORTANT: If you have suffered significant investment losses as a result of being forced to liquidate a margin account, you should speak to an experienced securities fraud attorney about your legal options. What is a margin call? A margin call is a demand from your broker that you must deposit more money or securities into your margin account to cover potential losses. This typically occurs when a margin account runs low on funds, usually due to heavy losses in investments. Need Legal Help? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. In most, but not all cases, your broker will notify you of a margin call and give you a set amount of time to deposit more funds or securities into your account. You typically will have two to five days to respond to a margin call. Timeframes for responding to a call may vary depending on your broker and the circumstances. Regardless of the time frame, it is important that you take action as soon as possible. IMPORTANT: If you aren’t able to meet the margin call fast enough or don’t have any extra funds to deposit, your broker may also force you to sell some of your securities at a loss in order to free up cash. This is known as forced liquidation. In fact, many margin account agreements allow brokerage firms to liquidate your portfolio at their discretion without notice. What triggers a margin call? There are several things that can trigger a margin call, but the most common is when the value of securities in your account falls below a certain level set by your broker (house maintenance margin requirement) or securities exchange where securities are traded (exchange margin requirement). Need Legal Help? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. When this occurs, your broker will issue a margin call in order to protect themselves from losses and to ensure that your account has enough funds to cover potential losses. You’re then required to deposit additional funds or securities into your account to meet the call to bring your account back to the maintenance margin level. If you don’t make a deposit, your broker may sell some of your securities at a loss to cover the shortfall. Margin calls can occur at any time, but tend to occur during periods when there is high volatility in the markets. What happens when you get a margin call? A margin call is most often issued these days electronically, through your broker’s online platform. You can also receive an email or other notification from your broker informing you of the margin call and how much money you need to deposit by a certain time. What happens next depends on your broker and the situation. If your broker is not worried about the situation, they may give you some time to raise the extra funds to deposit into your account. If they are worried, they may demand that you meet the call immediately or they may even sell some of your securities to cover the shortfall if you don’t have the extra cash on hand without notice. Yes, a broker can sell your securities without your permission if you don’t have enough money in your account to meet a margin call. All of this depends upon the contract you signed when you opened your account which outlines the broker’s rights in these situations. It’s important to remember that your broker will most likely be interested in protecting their own financial interests rather than yours, so you should make sure that you understand your rights and obligations before entering into a margin agreement. Because they are not always required to give you time to meet a margin call, unless they are under contractual agreement to do so, they may not notify you before liquidating assets in your account to pay off any margin debt. If this happens, your investment portfolio may suffer significant losses. Unfortunately, even if you are in a position to meet the call, you may not be able to get your securities back if they have already been sold by your broker. When you opened up your margin account, you likely signed an agreement that gave your broker the right to sell your securities without notifying you first. This is why it’s important to understand the terms of your margin agreement before signing it. You should also be aware of the risks involved in trading on margin. MPORTANT: If your broker decides to sell your highly appreciated securities, you can be left with large deferred-tax liabilities as well as major capital gain tax expenses that must be paid in the relevant tax year. In addition, brokers can sell your securities within the margin account at an undervalued price, leaving you with even more investment losses. How long do you have to pay a margin call? The time frame for responding to a margin call can vary depending on your broker and the circumstances. Typically, brokers will allow from two to five days to meet the call. You will need to review your...

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Options Trading vs. Margin Trading: The Risks & Benefits of Both

When it comes to trading stocks and other securities, there are a few different approaches that investors can take. Two of the most popular methods are options trading and margin trading. Both of these strategies can be profitable, but they each come with their own set of risks and rewards. In this article, we’ll break down the key differences between options trading and margin trading. As an investor it is important to understand the risks and benefits of each before deciding if either of these investment strategies is right for you. What is the difference between options trading and margin trading? Margin trading offers investors a way to control a larger number of shares than they could with just their own money with the added risk that losses could be amplified. Options trading, on the other hand, provides investors to buy or sell securities at a later date for a set price and is considered to be low risk and low returns. Need Legal Help? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. Note: Trading on a margin is considered a risky investment strategy. If you have lost money due to an advisor or broker who has unsuitably recommended margin trading, you should speak to an experienced investment fraud lawyer to discuss your legal options. What is Options Trading? Options trading is a type of investing where you trade contracts that give you the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an asset at a set price on or before a certain date. Options are typically used as a way to hedge against other investments, or to speculate on the future price of an asset. When you buy an option, you have the right to buy or sell the underlying asset at a set price. If the price of the asset goes up, you can make a profit by selling it at the higher price. If the price goes down, you simply don’t exercise your option and don’t incur any loss. There are two types of options: call options and put options. What is a call option in stocks? A call option is a contract that gives you the right to buy an security at a set price within a certain time frame. The price you will pay for the security is called the strike price. The time frame in which you can buy the security is called the expiration date. If the stock price is above the strike price when the expiration date arrives, you will exercise your option and buy the stock at the strike price. If the stock price is below the strike price, you will let the option expire and not incur any loss. What is a put option in stocks? A put option is a contract that gives you the right to sell an security at a set price within a certain time frame. If the stock price is below the strike price when the expiration date arrives, you will exercise your option and sell the stock at the strike price. If the stock price is above the strike price, you will let the option expire and not incur any loss. What are the benefits of options trading? Options trading is a relatively low-risk way to invest in stocks and other securities. Because you are not obligated to buy or sell the underlying asset, you can simply let the option expire if it is not profitable. Options trading can also be used to generate income through premiums. When you sell an option, you collect a premium from the buyer. If the option expires without being exercised, you keep the premium as profit. What are the risks of options trading? The biggest risk of options trading is that you may not correctly predict the future price of an asset. If you buy a call option and the price of the underlying asset goes down, you will lose money. If you buy a put option and the price of the underlying asset goes up, you will also lose money. In order to make money from options trading, you must correctly predict which direction the price of an asset will move. Can you sue your broker for options trading losses? Yes, you can sue your broker for options trading losses. However, it is important to understand that your broker is not obligated to make money for you. They are only required to provide you with the resources and information necessary to make informed investment decisions. If you lose money due to bad investment decisions, you cannot sue your broker. What is Margin Trading? Margin trading is when you buy or sell stocks (or other types of securities) with borrowed money. This is also sometimes called “trading on margin.” The money you borrow is called a margin loan. This means you will be going into debt in order to make an investment. Typically the loan comes from your broker, and you will repay it with interest at a later date. Buying on a margin may have a lot of appeal compared to using your own money, but it is very important to understand the risks before you do it. Margin trading is a form of leverage. Leverage is when you use something (in this case, money) to control a much larger amount of something else. Note: If the investment doesn’t make money, you will have to pay back the loan with interest regardless. This means that the investment losses can be much greater than if you had just used your own money. What are the risks of margin trading? The biggest risk of margin trading is that you may lose more money than you originally invested. When investors trading on a margin and they experience losses, they may be required to pay back more money than they originally borrowed (Margin Call). A margin call is when your broker asks you to add more money to your account because the value of your securities has fallen. If you cannot afford to pay the...

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What is Forced Liquidation?

If you find yourself reading this article, it’s likely because you’re going through a forced liquidation. Forced liquidation, sometimes referred to as forced selling, is the process by which an investor is forced to sell their assets, typically by a broker or financial advisor, in order to meet margin calls or repay debts. In this guide we will go over what forced liquidation is, how it works, and what you can do if you find yourself in this situation. What is Forced Liquidation? Forced liquidation, also known as forced selling, occurs when an investor is forced to sell their assets or securities, typically by a broker or financial advisor, in order to repay debts or meet margin calls. Need Legal Help? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. The term “forced liquidation” usually refers to the involuntary sale of assets, but it can also refer to the situation where an investor is given a choice between selling their assets or having them sold by the broker. Forced liquidation often happens when an investor has been unable to meet a margin call or has failed to repay debts. When this occurs, the broker or exchange will take possession of the assets and sell them in order to recoup the money that is owed. How Forced Liquidation Works If you find yourself in a forced liquidation situation, it’s likely because you have failed to meet a margin call or have been unable to repay debts. When this occurs, the broker or exchange will take possession of the assets and sell them in order to recoup the money that is owed. In most cases, the assets are sold at a loss, which can be significant. Forced Selling within a Margin Account If you have a margin account, your broker may force you to sell your securities if the value of your account falls below the minimum required amount. Within a margin trading account, this is known as a margin call. Your broker or advisor will typically give you a set period of time to bring your account up to the minimum value, and if you are unable to do so, they will sell your securities to repay the debt. It’s important to note that you may not be able to control which securities are sold, and you may not be able to get the same price for them that you paid when you purchased them. Forced Selling within a Securities-Backed Lines of Credit If you have a securities-backed line of credit (“SBL”), your broker or financial advisor may force you to sell your securities if the value of your account falls below the minimum required amount. Your broker or advisor will typically give you a set period of time to bring your account up to the minimum value, and if you are unable to do so, they will sell your securities to repay the debt. It’s important to note that you may not be able to control which securities are sold, and you may not be able to get the same price for them that you paid when you purchased them. What is margin call? A margin call is a demand from a broker or exchange for an investor to deposit more money or securities into their account. Margin calls are typically made when the value of the securities in an account falls below a certain level, known as the margin requirements. If an investor fails to meet a margin call within the grace period, the broker or exchange has the right to sell the securities in the account in order to cover the shortfall. Can a Broker Liquidate an Investor’s Account without Notice? Some investors learned the hard way the true meaning of “forced liquidation” when their brokers sold their securities without much warning in order to meet margin calls. In most cases, brokers will give investors a grace period to meet margin calls, and they are not required to sell the securities in an account without notice. There can be cases where a broker may sell securities without notice (a “Blow-Out), with the investor suffering substantial investment loss, this is typically only done in the most extreme cases where there is a fear of an imminent market crash and the broker wants to protect their own interests. We have heard from many investors that when they complained to their respective brokerage firms, they were told that they signed contracts that allowed the broker-dealers to do exactly what they did to them and that they had no recourse. Without doubt, contracts with those onerous contract conditions were signed, but that does not mean that the terms of the contract are enforceable. Can You Take Legal Action After a Forced Liquidation? If you have been the victim of a forced liquidation, there may be legal action that can be taken against a broker-dealer for breach of fiduciary duty and other causes of action. You may not have recourse for the issuance of margin calls and/or forced liquidations of all or some of your securities on short notice or no notice at all, but that doesn’t mean that the broker-dealer did nothing wrong. IMPORTANT: The most important question to ask is: what happened when the securities-backed line of credit and/or margin accounts were recommended by your broker or financial advisor to be opened in the first place. Depending on the situation that led to you opening up your securities-backed line of credit and/or margin accounts, you may have legal action you can take to help recover your investment losses. In some cases, the recommendation to open the account may have been unsuitable for you. In other words, if your broker or financial advisor recommended that you open an account that was too risky for you given your investment profile, then they may be held responsible for the losses that you incurred as a result of the forced liquidation. We’ve Helped Investors Who’ve Suffered Losses Due to Forced Liquidation The securities fraud attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert...

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Securities-Backed Lines of Credit Can Ce More Dangerous Than Margin Accounts

Many investors have heard of margin accounts and the horror stories of others who invested on margin and suffered substantial losses. But few investors understand that securities-backed lines of credit (SBL) accounts, which have been aggressively promoted by brokerage firms in the last decade, are just as dangerous as margin accounts. This is largely due to the fact that the equity and bond markets have been on an upward trend since 2009 and few investors (unless you are a Puerto Rico investor) have experienced market slides resulting in margin calls due to the insufficient amount of collateral in the SBL accounts. Securities-Backed Lines of Credit Overview It is only over the last several months of market volatility that investors have begun to feel the wrath of margin calls and understand the high risks associated with investing in SBL accounts. For investors considering your stockbroker’s offer of a line of credit (a loan at a variable or fixed rate of interest) to finance a residence, a boat, or to pay taxes or for your child’s college education, you may want to read a little more about the nature, mechanics, and risks of SBL accounts before you sign the collateral account agreement and pledge away your life savings to the brokerage firm in exchange for the same loan you could have obtained from another bank without all the risk associated with SBL accounts. First, it may be helpful to understand just why SBL accounts have become so popular over the last decade. It should be no surprise that the primary reason for your stockbroker’s offering of an SBL is that both the brokerage firm and he/she make money. Over many years, the source of revenues for brokerage firms has shifted from transaction-based commissions to fee-based investments, limited partnerships, real estate investment trusts (REITs), structured products, managed accounts, and income earned from lending money to clients in SBL and margin accounts. Many more investors seem to be aware of the danger of borrowing in margin accounts for the purposes of buying and selling securities, so the brokerage firms expanded their banking activities with their banking affiliates to expand the market and their profitability in the lending arena through SBL accounts. The typical sales pitch is that SBL accounts are an easy and inexpensive way to access cash by borrowing against the assets in your investment portfolio without having to liquidate any securities you own so that you can continue to profit from your stockbroker’s supposedly successful and infallible investment strategy. Today the SBL lending business is perhaps one of the more profitable divisions at any brokerage firm and banking affiliate offering that product because the brokerage firm retains assets under management and the fees related thereto and the banking affiliate earns interest income from another market it did not otherwise have direct access to. For the benefit of the novice investor, let me explain the basics of just how an SBL account works. An SBL account allows you to borrow money using securities held in your investment accounts as collateral for the loan. The Danger of Investing in SBL Accounts Once the account is established and you received the loan proceeds, you can continue to buy and sell securities in that account, so long as the value of the securities in the account exceeds the minimum collateral requirements of the banking affiliate, which can change just like the margin requirements at a brokerage firm. Assuming you meet those collateral requirements, you only make monthly interest-only payments and the loan remains outstanding until it is repaid. You can pay down the loan balance at any time, and borrow again and pay it down, and borrow again, so long as the SBL account has sufficient collateral and you make the monthly interest-only payments in your SBL account. In fact, the monthly interest-only payments can be paid by borrowing additional money from the bank to satisfy them until you reach a credit limit or the collateral in your account becomes insufficient at your brokerage firm and its banking affiliate’s discretion. We have heard some stockbrokers describe SBLs as equivalent to home equity lines, but they are not really the same. Yes, they are similar in the sense that the amount of equity in your SBL account, like your equity in your house, is collateral for a loan, but you will not lose your house without notice or a lengthy foreclosure process. On the other hand, you can lose all of your securities in your SBL account if the market goes south and the brokerage firm along with its banking affiliate sell, without prior notice, all of the securities serving as collateral in the SBL account. You might ask how can that happen; that is, sell the securities in your SBL account, without notice? Well, when you open up an SBL account, the brokerage firm and its banking affiliate and you will execute a contract, a loan agreement that specifies the maximum amount the bank will agree to lend you in exchange for your agreement to pledge your investment account assets as collateral for the loan. You also agree in that contract that if the value of your securities declines to an amount that is no longer sufficient to secure your line of credit, you must agree to post additional collateral or repay the loan upon demand. Lines of credit are typically demand loans, meaning the banking affiliate can demand repayment in full at any time. Generally, you will receive a “maintenance call” from the brokerage firm and/or its banking affiliate notifying you that you must post additional collateral or repay the loan in 3 to 5 days or, if you are unable to do so, the brokerage firm will liquidate your securities and keep the cash necessary to satisfy the “maintenance call” or, in some cases, use the proceeds to pay off the entire loan. But I want to emphasize, the brokerage firm and its banking affiliate, under the terms of almost all SBL account agreements,...

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Investors With “Blown-Out” Securities-Backed Credit Line and Margin Accounts: How do You Recover Your Investment Losses?

If you are reading this article, we are guessing you had a bad experience recently in either a securities-backed line of credit (“SBL”) or margin account that suffered margin calls and was liquidated without notice, causing you to realize losses. Ordinarily, investors with margin calls receive 3 to 5 days to meet them; and if that happened, the value of the securities in your account might have increased within that period and the firm might have erased the margin call and might not have liquidated your account. If you are an investor who has experienced margin calls in the past, and that is your only complaint then, read no further because when you signed the account agreement with the brokerage firm you chose to do business with, you probably gave it the right to liquidate all of the securities in your account at any time without notice. On the other hand, if you are an investor with little experience or one with a modest financial condition who was talked into opening a securities-backed line of credit account without being advised of the true nature, mechanics, and/or risks of opening such an account, then you should call us now! Alternatively, if you are an investor who needed to withdraw money for a house or to pay for your taxes or child’s education but was talked into holding a risky or concentrated portfolio of stocks and/or junk bonds in a pledged collateral account for a credit-line or a margin account, then we can probably help you recover your investment losses as well. The key to a successful recovery of your investment loss is not to focus on the brokerage firm’s liquidation of the securities in your account without notice. Instead, the focus on your case should be on what you were told and whether the recommendation was suitable for you before you opened the account and suffered the liquidation.

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UBS Financial Services, Inc. Sued for Florida and Ohio Advisor’s Alleged Misconduct Involving a Credit-Line Investment Strategy

UBS Financial Services, Inc, (“UBS”) employed a financial advisor (the “FA”) who has offices in Bonita Springs, Florida and Sylvania, Ohio. UBS held out the FA and other UBS employees on his team as investment advisers, investment managers, financial advisers, and financial planners with special skills and expertise in the management of securities portfolios and financial, estate, retirement, and tax planning matters.

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Oil and Gas Investors: How Do You Recover Your Oil and Gas Investment Losses?

Oil and Gas Investors: How Do You Recover Your Oil and Gas Investment Losses? If you are reading this article, we are guessing you invested in one or more of those misrepresented and unsuitable oil and gas stocks, bonds, limited partnerships, commodities, commodity pools and/or structured products as alternative investments linked to the oil and gas sector of the stock and commodities markets. We would not be surprised if you were told that the large oil and gas conglomerates had a proven track record of great dividends much higher than the yields on the fixed income investments you were accustomed but said nothing about the volatility of those types of investments. Maybe you are reading this webpage because your financial advisor recommended you invest your retirement savings in some those more complex and leveraged oil and gas structured products packaged as Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), Exchange Traded Notes (ETNs) or other Exchange Traded Products (ETPs), that were leveraged two to three times and crashed in March this year. These were not suitable investments for retirees with conservative or moderate investor risk profiles. Did your financial advisor recommend you invest without explaining the nature, mechanics or risks of any of those oil and gas investments? Were your investments over-concentrated (more than 10% of your portfolio) by your stockbroker or investment advisor in the oil and gas sector to replace the bonds you owned for the higher dividend paying stocks? Did you lose fifty percent (50%) or more on those oil and gas investments? We’re not shocked because that is just what many other investors have told us about what happened to them recently. Now we are going to tell you what to do about those oil and gas investment losses. Your stockbroker had a duty to not only understand but explain the nature, mechanics and all of the risks associated with those investments before he/she sold you those investments, particularly some of the provisions within the ETNs where the broker-dealer who issued the ETNs or ETPs could redeem or retire them and force you to realize huge losses. Your stockbroker also had a duty to make sure they were suitable investments before they were recommended in light of your risk tolerance and financial condition and not over-concentrate investments in the volatile oil and gas sector in your portfolio. Unfortunately, many financial advisors who did not understand the nature, mechanics or risks sold these investments to clients with conservative and moderate risk who were seeking to enhance their income for their retirement. These were not suitable investments for investors with that kind of profile. If your financial advisor misrepresented the nature, mechanics or risks of those oil and gas investments or the risks were not fully explained, or you were over-concentrated (more than 10%) in the oil and gas sector, or if it was not in your best interest (or unsuitable), and/or your investments were liquidated without notice due to margin calls, you may have the right to bring an arbitration claim against your financial advisor and/or the brokerage firm who employed him. There is no way you will recover your losses on these oil and gas investments without some legal action. At The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., we represent investors in investment disputes for misrepresented and unsuitable investments in oil and gas stocks, bonds, limited partnerships, commodities, commodity pools and/or structured products as alternative investments linked to the oil and gas sector of the stock and commodities markets in FINRA arbitration and mediation proceedings. The claims we file are for fraud and misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, failure to supervise, and unsuitable recommendations in violation of SEC and FINRA rules and industry standards. Attorney Pearce and his staff represent investors across the United States on a CONTINGENCY FEE basis which means you pay nothing – NO FEES-NO COSTS – unless we put money in your pocket after receiving a settlement or FINRA arbitration award. Se habla español CONTACT US FOR A FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION WITH EXPERIENCED STRUCTURED PRODUCT INVESTMENT ATTORNEYS IN FINRA ARBITRATIONS The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. have highly experienced lawyers who have successfully handled many oil and gas investment cases and other securities law matters and investment disputes in FINRA arbitration proceedings, and who work tirelessly to secure the best possible result for you and your case. For dedicated representation by an attorney with over 40 years of experience and success in structured product cases and all kinds of securities law and investment disputes, contact the firm by phone at 561-338-0037, toll free at 800-732-2889 or via e-mail.

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FINRA Arbitration: What To Expect And Why You Should Choose Our Law Firm

If you are reading this article, you are probably an investor who has lost a substantial amount of money, Googled “FINRA Arbitration Lawyer,” clicked on a number of attorney websites, and maybe even spoken with a so-called “Securities Arbitration Lawyer” who told you after a five minute telephone call that “you have a great case;” “you need to sign a retainer agreement on a ‘contingency fee’ basis;” and “you need to act now because the statute of limitations is going to run.”

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Merrill Lynch Puerto Rico Stockbroker Wipes Novice Investor Out With Bond Transactions on Margin

The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. filed a claim against Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) for an investor residing in Puerto Rico (the “Claimant”) arising out of Merrill Lynch’s Puerto Rico office. A summary of Claimant’s allegations against Merrill Lynch are set forth below. If you or any family member received similar misrepresentations and/or misleading statements from Merrill Lynch and its Puerto Rico stockbrokers or found yourself with an account overconcentrated in Puerto Rico municipal bonds and/or closed-end bond funds, or if you borrowed monies from Merrill Lynch and used your investments as collateral for those loans, we may be able to help you recover your losses. Contact our office for a free consultation about your case.

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