Overview of ESMA CFD Rules Implementation for Retail Clients at IBKR (Luxembourg)

Overview: 

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) enacted new rules applicable to retail clients trading CFDs, effective 1st August 2018. Professional clients are unaffected.

The rules consist of: 1) leverage limits; 2) a margin close out rule on a per account basis; 3) negative balance protection on a per account basis; 4) a restriction on the incentives offered to trade CFDs; and 5) a standardized risk warning.

Most clients (excepting regulated entities) are initially categorised as Retail Clients. IBKR may in certain circumstances agree to reclassify a Retail Client as a Professional Client, or a Professional Client as a Retail Client. Please see MiFID Categorisation for further detail.

The following sections detail how IBKR (Luxembourg) has implemented the ESMA Decision.

1 Leverage Limits

 1.1 ESMA Margins
Leverage limits were set by ESMA at different levels depending on the underlying:

  • 3.33% for major currency pairs; Major currency pairs are any combination of USD; CAD; EUR; GBP; CHF; JPY
  • 5% for non-major currency pairs and major indices;
    • Non-major currency pairs are any combination that includes a currency not listed above, e.g. USD.CNH
    • Major indices are IBUS500; IBUS30; IBUST100; IBGB100; IBDE30; IBEU50; IBFR40; IBJP225; IBAU200
  • 10% for non-major equity indices; IBES35; IBCH20; IBNL25; IBHK50
  • 20% for individual equities

 1.2 Applied Margins - Standard Requirement

In addition to the ESMA Margins, IBKR (Luxembourg) establishes its own margin requirements (IB Margins) based on the historical volatility of the underlying, and other factors. We will apply the IB Margins if they are higher than those prescribed by ESMA.

Details of applicable IB and ESMA margins can be found here.

1.2.1 Applied Margins - Concentration Minimum

A concentration charge is applied if your portfolio consists of a small number of CFD positions, or if the two largest positions have a dominant weight. We stress the portfolio by applying a 30% adverse move on the two largest positions and a 5% adverse move on the remaining positions. The total loss is applied as the maintenance margin requirement if it is greater than the standard requirement.

1.3 Funding of Initial Margin Requirements

You can only use cash to post initial margin to open a CFD position.

Initially all cash used to fund the account is available for CFD trading. Any initial margin requirements for other instruments and cash used to purchase cash stock reduce the available cash. If your cash stock purchases have created a margin loan, no funds are available for CFD trades even if your account has significant equity. We cannot increase a margin loan to fund CFD margin under the ESMA rules.

Realized CFD profits are included in cash and are available immediately; the cash does not have to settle first. Unrealized profits however cannot be used to meet initial margin requirements.

2 Margin Close Out Rule

2.1 Maintenance Margin Calculations & Liquidations

ESMA requires IBKR to liquidate CFD positions latest when qualifying equity falls below 50% of the initial margin posted to open the positions. IBKR may close out positions sooner if our risk view is more conservative. Qualifying equity for this purpose includes CFD cash and unrealized CFD P&L (positive and negative). Note that CFD cash excludes cash supporting margin requirements for other instruments. 

The basis for the calculation is the initial margin posted at the time of opening a CFD position. In other words, and unlike margin calculations applicable to non-CFD positions, the initial margin amount does not change when the value of the open position changes.

2.1.1 Example

You have EUR 2000 cash in your account and no open positions. You want to buy 100 CFDs of XYZ at a limit price of EUR 100. You are first filled 50 CFDs and then the remaining 50. Your available cash reduces as your trades are filled:

 

Cash

Equity*

Position

Price

Value

Unrealized P&L

IM

MM

Available Cash

MM Violation

Pre Trade

2000

2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

2000

 

Post Trade 1

2000

2000

50

100

5000

0

1000

500

1000

No

Post Trade 2

2000

2000

100

100

10000

0

2000

1000

0

No

 *Equity equals Cash plus Unrealized P&L

The price increases to 110. Your equity is now 3000, but you cannot open additional positions because your available cash is still 0, and under the ESMA rules IM and MM remain unchanged:

 

Cash

Equity

Position

Price

Value

Unrealized P&L

IM

MM

Available Cash

MM Violation

Change

2000

3000

100

110

11000

1000

2000

1000

0

No

 The price then drops to 95. Your equity declines to 1500 but there is no margin violation since it is still greater than the 1000 requirement:

 

Cash

Equity

Position

Price

Value

Unrealized P&L

IM

MM

Available Cash

MM Violation

Change

2000

1500

100

95

9500

(500)

2000

1000

0

No

 The price falls further to 85, causing a margin violation and triggering a liquidation:

 

Cash

Equity

Position

Price

Value

Unrealized P&L

IM

MM

Available Cash

MM Violation

Change

2000

500

100

85

8500

(1500)

2000

1000

0

Yes

 3 Negative Equity Protection

The ESMA Decision limits your CFD-related liability to the funds dedicated to CFD-trading. Other financial instruments (e.g. shares or futures) cannot be liquidated to satisfy a CFD margin-deficit.*

Therefore non-CFD assets are not part of your capital at risk for CFD trading. 

Should you lose more than the cash dedicated to CFD trading, IB must write off the loss. 

As Negative Equity Protection represents additional risk to IBKR, we will charge retail investors an additional financing spread of 1% for CFD positions held overnight. You can find detailed CFD financing rates here.

*Although we cannot liquidate non-CFD positions to cover a CFD deficit, we can liquidate CFD positions to cover a non-CFD deficit.