Availability of proceeds in a 'Cash' type account

Accounts which have been set up as a 'Cash' type do not have access to the proceeds from the sale of securities until such time the transaction has settled at the clearinghouse and proceeds have been issued to IBKR. Securities settlement generally takes place on the third business day following the sale transaction. Providing access to the funds prior to settlement would constitute a loan, a transaction which is precluded from taking place within this account type. 

The one exception is under the Free-Riding rule. Clients with a cash account can use the proceeds from the sale of a security to purchase a different security under the condition that the second security is held until settlement of the initial sale. If the client sells the second security prior to settlement of the initial trade, they will be in violation of the Free-Riding rule and will be locked for 90 days from utilizing this exception.

Account holders who wish to have access to settled funds prior to the settlement day may do so by electing an account type of 'Margin'.  Under this account type unsettled funds may be used for trading purposes but may not be withdrawn until settlement. Account holders maintaining a 'Cash' account may request an upgrade to a 'Margin' type account by logging in to Client Portal and selecting the Settings > Account Settings menu item and Account Type from the Configuration panel. Upgrade requests are subject to a compliance review to ensure that the account holder maintains the appropriate qualifications.

 

Does IB accept physical stock certificates?

Background: 

IB does not accept or hold any physical stock certificates. As a matter of operational efficiency and costs, we hold all securities in street name meaning that they are registered electronically in the name of IB on the books of the issuer. IB, in turn, holds securities for clients in what is known in the industry as 'book entry' form which simply means that we maintain a record on our books that you are the beneficial owner of the securities.

Why use smart routing?

Interactive Brokers offers its clients a software product referred to as "Smart" order routing. Smart Routing software continually scans competing markets and automatically routes orders directly to the best ECN or market center -- based on price but also taking into account factors such as the availability of automatic order execution.

Each ECN and market center administers its own set of trading rules. Accordingly, clients that do not select Smart Routing should be sure to familiarize themselves with the various trading and order handling rules of those market venues to which they intend to direct route their orders. A complete listing of market venues along with website links is made available on the website under the Products and then Exchange Listings menu options.

In order to Smart Route your order, select SMART in the Destination field when placing the order.

For additional information regarding Smart Routing, select the Technology and then Smart Routing menu options from the website.

Why do I receive a notice of a potential buy-in of my short position when your Short Stock Availability List is showing shares available to borrow?

As background, the short stock availability list represents the inventory of shares which IBKR has available to lend and which other brokers have indicated that they have available to lend. While it is updated on a near real-time basis throughout the day for changes to IBKR's inventory and periodically throughout the day to reflect updates to the availability lists of other brokers, many brokers provide updates only once per day.


It should be noted that the purpose of the short stock availability list is to meet the broker's regulatory obligation that they have made a reasonable determination that a security can be borrowed in time for settlement three business days later. There is no regulatory requirement, in most instances, that the broker pre-borrow shares to effect delivery on a short sale prior to settlement and the requirement which this list serves to address is completely separate from the SEC rules which require that the broker force-close any short position having a delivery obligation subject to fail with the clearinghouse on any given day.


It is these rules which we are adhering to when we review your short positions relative to our settlement obligations with the clearinghouse each day. While the shares necessary to cover your short sale may have been available as of the date your trade took place and subsequently thereafter, there can be no assurance that those shares can be borrowed indefinitely. The inventory of available shares to borrow is dynamic and subject to change throughout a given day. When we believe that there is a reasonable chance that we will not be able to maintain your borrow position on a particular day, we will make every effort to provide you with a notice of those short positions which are likely to be bought in absent preemptive action on your part.

What happens if I trade a product denominated in a currency which I do not hold in my account?

The particular currency which is necessary to purchase and settle any given product is determined by the listing exchange, not IBKR. If, for example, you enter into a transaction to purchase a security which is denominated in a currency that you do not hold and assuming that you have a margin account and sufficient margin excess, IBKR will create a loan for those funds. Note that this is necessary as IBKR is obligated to settle that trade with the clearinghouse solely in the designated currency of denomination. If you do not wish to have such a loan created and incur its associated interest costs, you would need to either first deposit funds into your account in the required currency form and amount or convert existing funds in your account using either our IdealPro (for amounts in excess of USD 25,000 or equivalent) or odd lot (for amounts below USD 25,000 or equivalent) venues, both available through the TWS.

Also note that once you close out a security position which is denominated in a given currency, the proceeds will remain in that currency regardless of whether it is the Base Currency you've selected for your account. Accordingly, such proceeds will be subject to exchange rate risk relative to your Base Currency until such time you either perform a currency conversion or use those proceeds for another similarly denominated product.

Glossary terms: 

Does IB provide broker assistance for trades?

Although the default method for order submission is intended to be direct entry by the client into either the TraderWorkstation, WebTrader or Mobile Trader execution platform, IBKR will provide broker assistance for select trades in the circumstances outlined below: 

1. Large or Complex Orders - clients who trade large or complex orders having a trade size of at least 100 option contracts or 10,000 shares may wish to use the specialized services of our Broker Assisted Trading Desk.  The Broker Assisted Trading Desk handles both opening and closing orders and is staffed to provide immediate access with no phone queue or wait time.  Note that trades executed through this desk are subject to commision rates which are greater than the published rates for self-directed orders.  As rates vary by product type and listing exchange, we recommend that you contact the desk directly at 1-203-618-4030 for specific pricing details. For additional information, please refer to the website link titled 'Broker Assistance' below. 

2. Emergency Closing Orders - in the event the client is temporarily unable to access the trading platform and needs to close a position, assistance may be obtained by contacting the trade desk of one of our Client Service Centers.  It should be noted that this service is provided solely to accommodate closing trades and is associated with a Telephone Order commission surcharge.  The amount of this surcharge varies by the Base Currency of the account with USD based accounts subject to a $30 surcharge (in addition to regular stated commissions).  For additional information, please refer to the website link titled 'Fees' below.

Glossary terms: 

Are the proceeds from a closing stock sale made available immediately to my account?

IBKR allows account holders to designate and maintain their account as either a 'Margin' or 'Cash' type of account at the point of application.  If one maintains a 'Margin' type account, the proceeds from closing stock sales are made available for trading effective with the sale transaction. However, the account holder may not withdraw those funds from the account until such time as settlement has taken place and IBKR has been credited with the proceeds from the clearinghouse (generally 3 business days).

If one maintains a 'Cash' type account, proceeds from closing stock sales are not available for trading or withdrawal until settlement has been completed. To provide otherwise would constitute an extension of credit which is prohibited from being offered to 'Cash' accounts.

Click here for information on upgrading from a 'Cash' type account to a 'Margin' type account.

Why does the Cash Report section of my Activity Statement reflect an internal transfer between securities and commodities?

For regulatory purposes IB is required to segregate the securities assets within your account from the commodities assets.  Those commodities assets may include the market value of options on futures positions plus any cash required as margin as a result of commodities futures and options on futures positions.  Periodically, the margin requirement on your commodities positions will be recomputed and should this requirement decline, cash in excess of that required as commodities margin will be transferred from the commodities side of your account to the securities side.  Likewise, should the commodities margin requirement increase, IB will transfer any available cash from the securities side to the commodities side.  As SIPC insurance is provided to assets on the securities side of your account but not the commodities, this periodic transfer is performed to ensure that your cash balance is afford the greatest protection possible. It should be noted that these cash movements represent journal entries within your account which serve to fully offset each other and therefore have no impact upon the aggregate cash balance within your account (see the Total column within the Cash Report section of the Activity Statement).

How do I enter the symbol for Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares onto TWS?

Overview: 

There are a variety of symbol conventions for denoting Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares (CUSIP 084670207). On the IBKR trading platforms, this security is designated by entering BRK, then a space and then B (BRK B). This compares to Bloomberg which uses the convention BRK/B and Yahoo Finance which uses BRK-B.

It should also be noted that this security has been designated as a 10-share unit issue by its primary listing exchange, NYSE Arca, due to its relatively low trading volume. A round lot in this security is therefore set at 10 shares as opposed to the standard round lot unit of 100 shares. If your opening buy or sell order is for an amount less than 10 shares, it is considered an odd-lot and subject to  special handling considerations. Please review our website under the Trading and then Order Types menu options for additional details.

What is Interactive Broker's margin rules for stocks below $5?

Overview: 

Interactive Brokers does not have a special rule regarding stocks that trade below $5. Although other brokerage firms may have a house rule regarding stocks trading below $5, IBKR does not employ such a rule.

Background: 

There are other IBKR-specific rules to consider in this scenario.  In general, IBKR would not have a special rule for long positions in stock trading below $5, as long as they are exchange-listed. Once a stock is delisted from one of the exchanges and moved to the OTC market, it would be subject to a 100% margin requirement, since the stock would no longer be considered marginable. 

Also, for long positions, the maintenance margin requirement is 30% of the stock value or $2,000, whichever is greater.

For short positions, the maintenance requirement on stock greater than $5, is $5 per share or 30% of the stock value, whichever is greater.  For short positions in stock where the last sale price/share is less than $5, then the maintenance margin requirement is $2.50 per share or 100% of the stock value, whichever is greater.

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