CFD Accounting Methods: Open Trade Equity vs. Variation Margin

INTRODUCTION

Open Trade Equity (OTE) and Variation Margin (VM) are two methods by which brokers report CFDs to clients. While account equity and position P/L are identical under the two methods, they are represented differently for statement reporting purposes. An overview of each method is provided below for a sample position.

SAMPLE POSITION

Assume a position in which the client has a starting cash balance of $2,500 and purchases 100 CFD contracts of hypothetical contract "ABC" at a price of $100. Further assume that the closing price of ABC is $100 on Day 1, $110 on Day 2, $95 on Day 3 and $105 on Day 4.

VM MODEL

In the VM model we calculate variation margin as the difference between the closing price of the day and the closing price on the previous day with the difference applied to cash.

The realized profit is the difference between the price at which you opened the position and the price when closed, however, as both the Trade and Position Variation are booked to cash, the Cash Balance equals Account Equity.
 

In this example:

  Day 1 Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Price $100 $110 $95 $105
Traded Size 100 0 0 (100)
Position VM
$0 $1,000 ($1,500) $0
Trade VM $0 $0 $0 $1,000
Realized P&(L) $0 $0 $0 $500
Starting Cash $2,500 $2,500 $3,500 $2,000
Ending Cash $2,500 $3,500 $2,000 $3,000
Account Equity $2,500 $3,500 $2,000 $3,000


 

OTE MODEL

In the OTE model, the accumulated P&L is carried as OTE, which is the difference between the closing price of the day and the price at which you opened the position. OTE is a component of equity, but not cash. Equity therefore is Cash + OTE, and consistent with the VM model above.

The realized profit is again the difference between the price at which you opened the position and the price when closed it, however, since the running P/(L) is booked as OTE it is only the applied to the Cash Balance once realized.

  Day 1 Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Price $100 $110 $95 $105
Traded Size 100 0 0 (100)
OTE
$0 $1,000 ($500) $0
Realized P&(L) $0 $0 $0 $500
Starting Cash $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Ending Cash $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $3,000
Account Equity $2,500 $3,500 $2,000 $3,000