IB classifies Forex transactions as either conversions or leveraged, with the ability to engage in leveraged transactions subject to receipt of the Leveraged Forex trading permission requested through the account application process or afterwards via Account Management. As is the case with other products, the granting of Leveraged Forex trading permissions is subject to client qualifications and regulatory eligibility. The following article provides an overview of leveraged forex transactions including a definition and working examples.
A forex conversion consists of exchanging a long position in one particular currency for a long position in another or exchanging a long position in order to close out a short position in another. An example would be a client holding a long EUR balance, seeking to exchange it, in whole or part, for USD. This particular transaction is not leveraged as it requires no financing on the part of IB and can be performed in either a cash or margin type account.
A leveraged forex transaction , in contrast, is one which is entered into on a margin basis or financed by IB. Here, IB employs an algorithm which assesses account balances at the time a forex order is placed to determine whether it requires leverage. A leveraged condition requires that all of the following 3 tests be met:
1. If a short balance in any non-base currency exists; and,
2. If the sum of all short non-base currency cash balances (absolute value in when translated in the Base currency) exceeds the sum of positive non-cash asset values; and,
3. If the deficiency, if any, computed in test #2 exceeds the total NLV of the account.
Examples of Leveraged Forex transactions (all balances in USD equivalent):
Test 1: Leveraged (Due to short CAD cash balance of 15,000)
Test 2: Leveraged (As short CAD cash balance of 15,000 exceeds long non-cash asset balances of 0)
Test 3: Leveraged (As Test 2 deficiency of 15,000 exceeds NLV of 5,000 by 10,000)
Test 1: Leveraged (Due to short CAD balance of 55,000)
Test 2: Leveraged (As short CAD cash balance of 55,000 exceeds long CAD non-cash asset balance of 40,000 by 15,000)
Test 3: Leveraged (As Test 2 deficiency of 15,000 exceeds NLV of 5,000 by 10,000)
Test 1: Leveraged (Due to short CAD balance of 10,000)
Test 2: Leveraged (As short CAD cash balance of 10,000 exceeds long non-cash asset balances of 5,000 by 10,000)
Test 3: Leveraged (As Test 2 deficiency of 10,000 exceeds NLV of 5,000 by 5,000)
Examples of Forex transactions that are not leveraged (all balances in USD equivalent):
Test 1: Non-Leveraged (As there are no short cash balances)
Test 2: N/A
Test 3: N/A
Test 1: Non-Leveraged (As there are no short cash balances)
Test 2: N/A
Test 3: N/A
Test 1: Leveraged (Due to short CAD balance of 15,000)
Test 2: Non-Leveraged (As long USD non-cash asset balance of 20,000 exceeds short CAD cash balance of 15,000)
Test 3: N/A
Test 1: Leveraged (Due to short CAD balance of 5,000)
Test 2: Leveraged (As short CAD cash balance of 5,000 exceeds long non-cash asset balances of 0 by 5,000)
Test 3: Non-Leveraged (As Test 2 deficiency of 5,000 fully offset by NLV of 5,000)
Now that your account is funded and approved you can start trading. The information below will help you getting
started as a new customer of Interactive Brokers.
1. Your Money
Deposits & Withdrawals General Info. All transactions are administered through your secure Account Management
First, you create a deposit notification through your Account Management > Funding > Fund Transfers > Transaction Type: “Deposit” How to create a deposit notification. The second step is to instruct your Bank to do the wire transfer with the bank details provided in your Deposit Notification.
Create a withdrawal instruction via your secure Account Management > Funding > Fund Transfers > Transaction Type: "Withdrawals" How to create a withdrawal instruction
If you instruct a withdrawal over the Withdrawal limits, it will be considered an exceptional withdrawal and we will therefore need to match bank account holder and IB account. If destination bank account has been used for a deposit, withdrawal will be processed; otherwise, you must contact customer service and provide the documents needed.
Deposits: My bank sent the money but I do not see it credited into my IB account. Possible reasons:
a) A fund transfer takes 1-4 business days
b) A Deposit Notification is missing. You have to create it via your Account Management and send a ticket to Customer Service
c) Amending details are missing. Your name or IB account number is missing in the transfer details. You have to contact your bank and ask for the full amending details.
d) ACH initiated by IB is limited to 100k USD in a 7 business period. If you opened a Portfolio Margin account where the initial requirement is 110k, a wire deposit might be the better deposit option to reduce wait time for your first trade. If selecting ACH a wait time of almost 2 weeks or a temporary downgrade to RegT can be possible solutions.
Withdrawals: I have requested a withdrawal but I do not see the money credited to my bank account. Possible reasons:
a) A fund transfer takes 1-4 business days
b) Rejected. Over the max it can be withdrawn. Please check your account cash balance. Note that for regulatory requirements, when the funds are deposited, there is a 3 day holding period before they can be withdrawn.
c) Your bank returned the funds. Probably because receiving bank account and remitting bank account names do not match.
2. Configure your account to trade
Difference between Cash and Margin accounts: If you have chosen the FastTrack application, by default your account type is a cash account with US stock permission. If you would like to get leverage and trade on margin, here how to upgrade to a RegT Margin account
In order to be able to trade a particular asset class in a particular country, you need to get the trading permission for it via your Account Management. Please note that trading permissions are free. You might however be asked to sign risk
disclosures required by local regulatory authorities. How to Request Trading Permissions
If you want to have market data in real-time for a particular product/exchange, you need to subscribe to a market data package charged by the exchange. How to subscribe to Market data
The Market data assistant will help you choose the right package. Please watch this Video explaining how it works.
Customers have the option to receive delayed market data for free by clicking the Free Delayed Data button from a non-subscribed ticker row.
Have a look at the user guide getting started as advisors. Here you see how to create additional users to your advisor account and grant them access and much more.
3. How to trade
The Trader's University is the place to go when you want to learn how to use our Platforms. Here you will find our webinars, live and recorded in 10 languages and tours and documentation about our various Trading Platforms.
Trader Workstation (TWS)
Traders who require more sophisticated trading tools can use our market maker-designed Trader Workstation (TWS), which optimizes your trading speed and efficiency with an easy-to-use spreadsheet interface, support for more than 60 order types, task-specific trading tools for all trading styles, and real-time account balance and activity monitoring. Try the two models
TWS Mosaic: for intuitive usability, easy trading access, order management, watchlist, charts all in one window or
TWS Classic: the Advanced Order Management for traders who need more advanced tools and algos.
General Description and Information / Quick start guide / Usersguide
Interactive Tours: TWS Basics / TWS configuration / TWS Mosaic
How to place a trade: Video Classic TWS / Video Mosaic
Trading tools: General Description and Information / Users guide
Requirements: How to install Java for Windows / How to install Java for MAC / Port 4000 and 4001 needs to be open
Login TWS / Download TWS
Traders who prefer a clean and simple interface can use our HTML-based WebTrader, which makes it easy to view market data, submit orders, and monitor your account and executions. Use the latest WebTrader from every browser
Quick Start Guide / WebTrader User's Guide
Introduction: Video WebTrader
How to place a Trade: Video WebTrader
Our mobile solutions allow you to trade your IB account on the go. The mobileTWS for iOS and the mobileTWS for BlackBerry are custom-designed for these popular models, while the generic MobileTrader supports most other Smart phones.
General Description and Information
Order Types Order Types available and Description / Videos / Tour / Users guide
Paper Trading General Description and Information / How to get a Paper Trading Account
Once your paper account is created, you can share the market data of your real account with your paper trading account: Account Management > Manage Account > Settings > Paper trading
4. Trade all over the World
IB accounts are multi-currency accounts. Your account can hold different currencies at the same time, this allows you to trade multiple products around the world from a single account.
Your base currency determines the currency of translation for your statements and the currency used for determining margin requirements. Base currency is determined when you open an account. Customers may change their base currency at any time through Account Management.
We do not automatically convert currencies into your Base currency
Currency conversions must be done manually by the customer. In this video you can learn how to do a currency conversion.
In order to open a position denominated in a currency that you do not have in your account, you have two possibilities:
A) Currency conversion.
B) IB Margin Loan. (Not available for Cash Accounts)
Please see this course explaining the mechanics of a foreign transaction.
5. Five points to enrich your IB experience
1. Contract Search
Here you will find all our products, symbols and specifications.
2. IB Knowledge Base
The Knowledge Base is a repository of glossary terms, how-to articles, troubleshooting tips and guidelines designed to assist IB customers with the management of their IB accounts. Just enter in the search button what you are looking for and you will get the answer.
3. Account Management
As our trading platforms give you access to the markets, the Account Management grants you access to your IB account. Use Account Management to manage account-related tasks such as depositing or withdrawing funds, viewing your statements, modifying market data and news subscriptions, changing your trading permissions, and verifying or changing your personal information.
Log In Account Management / AM Quick Start Guide / AM Users Guide
4. Secure Login System
To provide you with the highest level of online security, Interactive Brokers has implemented a Secure Login System (SLS) through which access to your account is subject to two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication serves to confirm your identity at the point of login using two security factors: 1) Something you know (your username and password combination); and 2) Something you have (an IB issued security device which generates a random, single-use security code). As both knowledge of your username/password and physical possession of the security device are required to login to your account, participation in the Secure Login System virtually eliminates the possibility of anyone other than you accessing your account.
How to Activate your Security Device / How to Obtain a Security Code Card / How to return Security device
In case you forgot your password or lost your security code card, please call us for immediate assistance.
5. Statements and Reports
Easy to view and customize, our statements and reports cover all aspects of your Interactive Brokers account. How to view an Activity Statement
Clients wishing to see forex (IDEALPRO) market data in a more detailed way can now control the order book display mode via the Global Configuration. In order to access this feature you must use TWS release 944.2b or higher. The display mode selection allows the order book to be viewed either as:
It is important to understand that either display mode accesses the same IDEALPRO order book. Order submission will still be in 0.5 pip increments and orders submitted in either display mode will execute in exactly the same way. As in the past (and currently), in cases where the order book has prices at better than your order’s limit price, you will receive the full price improvement.
Instructions on how to display high precision forex quotes
In Global Configuration go to Display, choose Ticker Row and then at the bottom of the window in the Market Data section tick Show high precision quotes for Forex. Then press apply or ok to enable the new setting.
Financial instruments are subject to minimum price changes or increments which are commonly referred to as ticks. Tick values vary by instrument and are determined by the listing exchange. IB provides this information directly from the Contract Search tool on the website or via the Trader Workstation (TWS). To access from TWS, enter a symbol on the quote line, right click and from the drop-down window select the Contract Info and then Details menu options. The contract specifications window for the instrument will then be displayed (Exhibit 1).
To determine the notional value of a tick, multiple the tick increment by the contract trade unit or multiplier. As illustrated in the example below, the LIFFE Mini Silver futures contact has a tick value or minimum increment of .001 which, when multiplied by the contract multiplier of 1,000 ounces, results in a minimum tick value of $1.00 per contract. Accordingly, every tick change up or down results in a profit or loss of $1.00 per LIFFE Mini Silver futures contract.
Account holders may find themselves holding balances in currencies other than their designated Base Currency as a result of trades in products denominated in a different currency or from profits/losses directly associated with Forex trading. In these cases, IB does not act to automatically convert balances back to the Base Currency as this action would require assumptions as to the account holder's desired currency exposure as well as the trade price at which they would be willing to close the position.1 IB does, however, provide those account holders who are not active Forex traders an expedited 3 step process for converting such positions at an individual or aggregate currency level. These steps are outlined below.
Please note the feature below is specific to Trader Workstation. If you are using WebTrader, you must place an order to convert currency. Please see the following link for more information on WebTrader Order Entry: WebTrader Order Entry
Step 1 – View Currency Balances
Select the Account icon from the TWS header.
Step 2 - Select the Position(s) to Close
From the Account window, scroll down to the section titled "Market Value - Real FX Balance", place your cursor on a currency you wish to convert and right-click on the mouse to display the Close Currency menu option. You will be provided with two options, Close Currency Balance which will close the single currency you've selected and Close All Non-base Currency Balances which will close all.
Depending upon the currency quantity you are converting and the market rate, a residual balance may remain as conversions can only be performed in whole currency amounts (e.g. no cents). The following message will appear advising of this situation and the automated conversion which will take place thereafter.
Step 3 - Review & Transmit Order
Next, an order line for the conversion trade will be populated on the TWS. The order will be set up with default conditions of a market order, good for that day and for the current position quantity2. Select "T" to generate the Order Confirmation window using the default conditions or set the price and time conditions as desired.
Preview the order from the Order Confirmation window. Note that if your order size is below the IdealPro USD 25,000 equivalent minimum, it will be routed to the odd lot order book. Select the Transmit button when your desired order has been set up.
Once your order has been executed, it may be reviewed through the Trade Log icon from the TWS header.
In the event a residual balance remains, it will be displayed within the Account window (e.g. MXN 7 equals approximately USD 0.56) until the following business day at which point it will be automatically converted to the Base Currency.
For additional information on IB Forex, please see: An Introduction to Forex (FX)
1 IB will act to automatically convert non-Base Currency balances only where the balance is nominal (i.e., below USD 5 equivalent and assuming no subsequent trade activity through settlement) and when the customer requests to close the account (where the balances are below USD 1,000 equivalent)
2 Note that the position quantity created by this default will not include balances which are in an accrual state (e.g. interest, dividends).
IB provides to its account holders a variety of proprietary trading platforms at no cost and therefore does not actively promote or offer the platforms of other vendors. Nonetheless, as IB's principal trading platform, the TraderWorkstation (TWS), operates with an open API, there are numerous third-party vendors who create order entry, charting and various other analytical programs which operate in conjunction with the TWS for purposes of executing orders through IB. As these API specifications are made public, we are not necessarily aware of all vendors who create applications to integrate with the TWS but do operate a program referred to as The Marketplace@IB which operates as a self-service community bringing together third party vendors who have products and services to offer with IB customers seeking to fill a specific need.
While MetaTrader is not a participant in The Marketplace@IB, and does not support integration with the TWS, different vendors such as Trade-Commander (trade-commander.com), and jTWSdata (home.cidadevirtual.pt/jTWSdata) do offer software which they represent acts as a bridge between MetaTrader and the TWS. As is the case with other third-party software applications, IB is not in a position to provide information or recommendations as to the compatibility or operation of such software.
Account holders are encouraged to routinely monitor their order submissions with the objective of optimizing efficiency and minimizing 'wasted' or non-executed orders. As inefficient orders have the potential to consume a disproportionate amount of system resources. IB measures the effectiveness of client orders through the Order Efficiency Ratio (OER). This ratio compares aggregate daily order activity relative to that portion of activity which results in an execution and is determined as follows:
OER = (Order Submissions + Order Revisions + Order Cancellations) / (Executed Orders + 1)
Outlined below is a list of considerations which can assist with optimizing (reducing) one's OER:
1. Cancellation of Day Orders - strategies which use 'Day' as the Time in Force setting and are restricted to Regular Trading Hours should not initiate order cancellations after 16:00 ET, but rather rely upon IB processes which automatically act to cancel such orders. While the client initiated cancellation request which serve to increase the OER, IB's cancellation will not.
2. Modification vs. Cancellation - logic which acts to cancel and subsequently replace orders should be substituted with logic which simply modifies the existing orders. This will serve to reduce the process from two order actions to a single order action, thereby improving the OER.
3. Conditional Orders - when utilizing strategies which involve the pricing of one product relative to another, consideration should be given to minimizing unnecessary price and quantity order modifications. As an example, an order modification based upon a price change should only be triggered if the prior price is no longer competitive and the new suggested price is competitive.
4. Meaningful Revisions – logic which serves to modify existing orders without substantially increasing the likelihood of the modified order interacting with the NBBO should be avoided. An example of this would be the modification of a buy order from $30.50 to $30.55 on a stock having a bid-ask of $31.25 - $31.26.
5. RTH Orders – logic which modifies orders set to execute solely during Regular Trading Hours based upon price changes taking place outside those hours should be optimized to only make such modifications during or just prior to the time at which the orders are activated.
6. Order Stacking - Any strategy that incorporates and transmits the stacking of orders on the same side of a particular underlying should minimize transmitting those that are not immediately marketable until the orders which have a greater likelihood of interacting with the NBBO have executed.
7. Use of IB Order Types - as the revision logic embedded within IB-supported order types is not considered an order action for the purposes of the OER, consideration should be given to using IB order types, whenever practical, as opposed to replicating such logic within the client order management logic. Logic which is commonly initiated by clients and whose behavior can be readily replicated by IB order types include: the dynamic management of orders expressed in terms of an options implied volatility (Volatility Orders), orders to set a stop price at a fixed amount relative to the market price (Trailing Stop Orders), and orders designed to automatically maintain a limit price relative to the NBBO (Pegged-to-Market Orders).
The above is not intended to be an exhaustive list of steps for optimizing one's orders but rather those which address the most frequently observed inefficiencies in client order management logic, are relatively simple to implement and which provide the opportunity for substantive and enduring improvements. For further information or questions, please contact the Customer Service Technical Assistance Center.
The IdealPro Forex market center provides a Large-Size Order facility specifically intended for accounts which regularly submit orders in quantities greater than standard order maximums and are willing to trade outside the NBBO associated with the standard order minimum/maximum bands in an attempt to obtain faster fills.
Standard orders submitted through IdealPro are subject to minimum and maximum size restrictions which, when expressed in USD equivalents, generally range from $25,000 to $5,000,000 but vary by currency (see IdealPro Min/Max Order Chart link below). These size restrictions serve to provide for the most optimal combination of liquidity and spreads, minimize the impact of erroneous or “fat finger” entries, and are intended to minimize any distortion which the submission of a large-size order may have upon supply or demand.
Orders submitted at a quantity below the standard order minimums are considered odd lot orders and are subject to special handling and price quoting considerations (see Odd Lot FX Transactions). Account holders who wish to submit orders at quantities above the standard order maximum must first request to be qualified for the Large-Size Order facility. Unlike standard orders for which the quote covers any quantity within the stated minimum and maximum size restrictions, the quote associated with a Large-Sized Order is specific to the order quantity entered. In an effort to obtain the best execution possible and also to limit any market impact, Large-Sized Order quotes are generated based upon an aggregation of quotes provided by interbank dealers along with and internalized orders of other IB clients.
Outlined below are a series of FAQs addressing the features and considerations of the Large-Size Order facility.
How do I become eligible to submit Large-Size Orders?
In order to become eligible to submit large-size orders through the Large-Size Order facility, you would need to first submit a request to Customer Service. Requests will be reviewed and considered based upon a number of factors including the applicant's prior trade history and account equity. Please allow up to 7 business days for completion of this review to take place.
What spreads are expected for Large-Size Orders?
In general, spreads for Large-Size Orders on IdealPro are expected to be greater than those for standard orders, however, other factors such as liquidity of the currency pair, time of the day and release of economic numbers or other data can also influence bid ask spreads and should also be taken into consideration.
What is the maximum available order size?
In general sizes up to 50 million of the base currency are available. As with bid-ask spreads, this may vary depending on a number of factors. The Large-Size Order facility will return the lower of the size requested and size available at the time of the request.
What order types are supported?
Account holders are strongly encouraged to use limit order types with the Large Size Order facility as market orders are susceptible to being filled at prices far lower/higher than the current displayed bid/ask particularly under volatile market conditions or where the order involves illiquid products. In addition, to protect from losses associated with significant and rapidly changing prices, IB will simulate client market orders as market with protection orders, establishing an execution cap seven basis points (0.07%) beyond the quoted bid/ask. While this cap is set at a level that is intended to balance the objectives of execution certainty and minimizing price risk, there exists a remote possibility that the execution of a market order will be delayed or may not take place.
How will prices be displayed?
The TWS quote line will display dealable prices for a predefined amount once access to the Large-Size Order facility has been provided. To display prices, right-click on a given currency pair and then select the Choose RFQ and Submit RFQ menu options (Exhibit 1). You will then be prompted to provide the currency amount and then hit enter (Exhibit 2). The prices displayed (Exhibit 3) will time out after a certain time and you would have to repeat the request process to get another price again. We do not publish prices through other channels at the moment. The handling of the orders remains the same, regardless whether sent using the Large-Size Order facility, the quote screen, FX Trader or sent using an API.