Overview of IB issued Share CFDs

The following article is intended to provide a general introduction to share-based Contracts for Differences (CFDs) issued by IB.

For Information on IB Index CFDs please see IB Index CFDs - Facts and Q&A.

Topics covered are as follows:

I.    CFD Definition
II.   Comparison Between CFDs and Underlying Shares
III.  Cost and Margin Considerations
IV.  Worked Example
V.   CFD Resources
VI.  Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

I.  Share  CFD Definition

IB CFDs are OTC contracts which deliver the return of the underlying stock, including dividends and corporate actions (read more about CFD corporate actions).

Said differently, it is an agreement between the buyer (you) and IB to exchange the difference in the current value of a share, and its value at a future time. If you hold a long position and the difference is positive, IB pays you. If it is negative, you pay IB. The CFD contract is marked to market daily with gains/losses settled into your account in cash in the form of variation margin.

IB Share CFDs are traded through your margin account, and you can therefore enter long as well as short leveraged positions. The price of the CFD is the exchange-quoted price of the underlying share. In fact, IB CFD quotes are identical to the Smart-routed quotes for shares that you can observe in the Trader Work Station and IB offers Direct Market Access (DMA). Similar to shares, your non-marketable (i.e., limit) orders have the underlying hedge directly represented on the deep book of those exchanges at which it trades.  This also means that you can place orders to buy the CFD at the underlying bid and sell at the offer.

To compare IB’s transparent CFD model to others available in the market please see our Overview of CFD Market Models.

IB currently offers approximately 3800 Share CFDs covering the principal markets in the US, Europe and Asia.  The constituents of the major indexes listed below are currently available as IB Share CFDs. In many countries IB also offers trading in liquid small cap shares. These are shares with free float adjusted market capitalization of at least USD 250 million and median daily trading value of at least USD 300 thousand.  Please see CFD Product Listings for more detail. More countries will be added in the near future.

United States S&P 500, DJA, Nasdaq 100, S&P 400 (Mid Cap), Non-Index Mid Cap
United Kingdom FTSE 350 + Liquid Small Cap (incl. IOB)
Germany Dax, MDax, TecDax + Liquid Small Cap
Switzerland Swiss portion of STOXX Europe 600 (48 shares)
France CAC Large Cap, CAC Mid Cap + Liquid Small Cap
Netherlands AEX, AMS Mid Cap + Liquid Small Cap
Belgium BEL 20, BEL Mid Cap + Liquid Small Cap
Spain IBEX 35
Portugal PSI 20
Sweden OMX Stockholm 30
Finland OMX Helsinki 25
Denmark OMX Copenhagen 30
Norway OBX
Czech PX
Japan Nikkei 225
Hong Kong HSI
Australia ASX 200
Singapore* STI

 *not available to Singapore residents

II.   Comparison Between CFDs and Underlying Shares

Depending on your trading objectives and trading style, CFDs offer a number of advantages compared to stocks, but also some disadvantages:
 
BENEFITS of IB CFDs
DRAWBACKS of IB CFDs
No stamp duty or financial transaction tax (UK, France, Belgium)
No ownership rights
Generally lower commission and margin rates than shares
Complex corporate actions may not always be exactly replicable
Tax treaty rates for dividends without need for reclaim
Taxation of gains may differ from shares (please consult your tax advisor)
Exemption from day trading rules
 

III.  Cost and Margin Considerations

IB CFDs can be an even more efficient way to trade the European stock markets than IB’s highly competitive stock offering.

Firstly, IB CFDs have low commissions compared to stocks, and the same low financing spreads:

 EUROPE
 
CFD
STOCK
Commission
GBP
0.05%
GBP 6.00 + 0.05%*
EUR
0.05%
0.10%
Financing**
Benchmark +/-
1.50%
1.50%

*per order + 0.05% of excess over GBP 50,000
**CFD financing on total position value, stock financing on borrowed amount

When you trade more, CFD commissions become even lower, as low as 0.02%. Financing rates are reduced for larger positions, to as low as 0.5%.  Please see CFD Commissions and CFD Financing Rates for more details.

Secondly, CFDs have lower margin requirements than stocks. This is because for CFDs we can apply a risk based margin rather than the regulatory formulas we must apply to stocks:

 
CFD
STOCK
 
All
Standard
Portfolio Margin
Margin Requirement*
10%
25% - 50%
15%

*Typical margin for blue-chips. Standard 25% intraday maintenance margin, 50% overnight.  Portfolio Margin shown is maintenance margin (incl. overnight). More volatile issues are subject to higher requirements

Please refer to CFD Margin Requirements for more detail.


IV.  Worked Example

Let’s look at an example. Unilever’s Amsterdam listing has returned 3.2% in the past month (20 trading days to May 14th, 2012) and you believe it will continue to perform well. You want to build a EUR 200,000 exposure and hold it for 5 days. You do 10 trades to build up and 10 trades to unwind. Your direct costs would be as follows:

 
CFD
STOCK
EUR 200,000 Position
 
Standard
Portfolio Margin
Margin Requirement
20,000
100,000
30,000
Commission (round trip)
200.00
400.00
400.00
Interest Expense
41.96
23.35
36.44
Total Direct Cost
241.96
423.55
436.44
Difference
 
75%
80%

Note: Interest expense for CFDs is calculated on the entire contract position, for shares interest is calculated on the borrowed amount. The applicable rates are the same for both shares and CFDs.

 

But let’s assume you only have EUR 20,000 available to fund the margin. If Royal Dutch Shell continues to perform as it has in the past month, your potential profit would compare as follows:  

OPPORTUNITY COST
CFD
STOCK
Available Margin
20,000
20,000
20,000
Total Invested
200,000
40,000
133,333
Return*
1,576.27
312.25
1,050.84
Difference
 
 -80%
 -33%

*past month's (to May 14th, 2012) average daily return over 5 days

 

Please keep in mind that leverage works both ways, and you can potentially lose more with CFDs than with higher margin stocks, including more than your initial investment.

 


V.   CFD Resources

Below are some useful links with more detailed information on IB’s CFD offering:

CFD Product Listings

CFD Commissions

CFD Financing Rates

CFD Margin Requirements

CFD Corporate Actions

CFD Trading Access

The following video tutorials are also available:

How to Place a CFD Trade on the Trader Workstation

How to Request Trading Permissions for IB CFDs


VI.  Frequently Asked Questions

What Stocks are available as CFDs?

Large and Mid-Cap stocks in the US, Western Europe, Nordic and Japan.  Liquid Small Cap stocks are also available in many markets. Please see CFD Product Listings for more detail. More countries will be added in the near future.

 

Do you have CFDs on Stock Indices?

Yes. Please see IB Index CFDs - Facts and Q&A.

 

How do you determine your Share CFD quotes?

IB CFD quotes are identical to the Smart routed quotes for the underlying share. IB does not widen the spread or hold positions against you. To learn more please go to Overview of CFD Market Models.

 

Can I see my limit orders reflected on the exchange?

Yes. IB offers Direct market Access (DMA) whereby your non-marketable (i.e., limit) orders have the underlying hedge directly represented on the deep book of those exchanges at which it trades. This also means that you can place orders to buy the CFD at the underlying bid and sell at the offer.

 

How do you determine margins for Share CFDs?

IB establishes risk-based margin requirements based on the historical volatility of each underlying share. The minimum margin is 10%. Most IB CFDs are margined at this rate, making CFDs more margin-efficient than trading the underlying share in most cases.  There are however no portfolio off-sets between individual CFD positions or between CFDs and exposures to the underlying share. Very large positions may be subject to additional margin. Please refer to CFD Margin Requirements for more detail.

 

Are short Share CFDs subject to forced buy-in?

Yes. In the event the underlying stock becomes difficult or impossible to borrow, the holder of the short CFD position will become subject to buy-in.

 

How do you handle dividends and corporate actions?

IB will generally reflect the economic effect of the corporate action for CFD holders as if they had been holding the underlying security*. Dividends are reflected as cash adjustments, while other actions may be reflected through either cash or position adjustments, or both. For example, where the corporate action results in a change of the number of shares (e.g. stock-split, reverse stock split), the number of CFDs will be adjusted accordingly. Where the action results in a new entity with listed shares, and IB decides to offer these as CFDs, then new long or short positions will be created in the appropriate amount. For an overview please CFD Corporate Actions.

*Please note that in some cases it may not be possible to accurately adjust the CFD for a complex corporate action such as some mergers. In these cases IB may terminate the CFD prior to the ex-date.

 

Can anyone trade IB CFDs?

All clients can trade IB CFDs, except residents of the USA, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia. Singapore residents can trade IB CFDs except those based on shares listed in Singapore. There are no exemptions based on investor type to the residency based exclusions. More details are available in CFD Trading Access.

 

What do I need to do to start trading CFDs with IB?

You need to set up trading permission for CFDs in Account Management, and agree to the relevant trading disclosures. IB will then set up a new account segment (identified with your existing account number plus the suffix “F”). Once the set-up is confirmed you can begin to trade. You do not need to fund the F-account separately, funds will be automatically transferred to meet CFD margin requirements from your main account. For detailed instructions please see CFD Trading Access and How to Request Trading Permissions for IB CFDs (video).

 

Are there any market data requirements?

The market data for IB Share CFDs is the market data for the underlying shares. It is therefore necessary to have market data permissions for the relevant exchanges. If you already have set up market data permissions for an exchange for trading the shares, you do not need to do anything. If you want to trade CFDs on an exchange for which you do not currently have market data permissions, you can set up the permissions in the same way as you would if you planned to trade the underlying shares.

 

How are my CFD trades and positions reflected in my statements?

Your CFD positions are held in a separate account segment identified by your primary account number with the suffix “F”. You can choose to view Activity Statements for the F-segment either separately or consolidated with your main account. You can make the choice in the statement window in Account Management.

 

Can I transfer in CFD positions from another broker?

IB will be glad to facilitate the transfer of CFD positions, subject to the agreement of the other broker. As the transfer of CFD positions is more complex than is the case for share positions, we generally require the position to be at least the equivalent of USD 100,000.

 

Are charts available for Share CFDs?

Yes.

 What account protections apply when trading CFDs with IB?

CFDs are contracts with IB UK as your counterparty, and are not traded on a regulated exchange and are not cleared on a central clearinghouse. Since IB UK is the counterparty to your CFD trades, you are exposed to the financial and business risks, including credit risk, associated with dealing with IB UK. Please note however that all client funds are always fully  segregated, including for institutional clients. IB UK is a participant in the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme ("FSCS"). IB UK is not a member of the U.S. Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”).Please refer to the IB UK CFD Risk Disclosure for further detail on risks associated with trading CFDs.

 

In what type of IB accounts can I trade CFDs e.g., Individual, Friends and Family, Institutional, etc.? 

All margin accounts are eligible for CFD trading. Cash or SIPP accounts are not.

 

What are the maximum a positions I can have in a specific CFD?

There is no pre-set limit. Bear in mind however that very large positions may be subject to increased margin requirements. Please refer to CFD Margin Requirements for more detail.

 

Can I trade CFDs over the phone?

No. In exceptional cases we may agree to process closing orders over the phone, but never opening orders.