## What formulas do you use to calculate the margin on options?

Overview:

There are many different formulas used to calculate the margin requirement on options.  Which formula is used will depend on the option type or strategy determined by the system.  There are a significant number of detailed formulas that are applied to various strategies.  To find this information go to the IBKR home page at www.interactivebrokers.com.  Go to the Trading menu and click on Margin.  From the Margin Requirements page, click on the Options tab.  There is a table on this page which will list all possible strategies, and the various formulas used to calculate margin on each.

Background:

The information above applies to equity options and index options.  Options on futures employ an entirely different method known as SPAN margining.  For information on SPAN margining, conduct a search on this page for “SPAN” or “Futures options margin”.

## How do you calculate margin requirements on futures and futures options?

Overview:

Futures options, as well as futures margins, are governed by the exchange through a calculation algorithm known as SPAN margining.  For information on SPAN and how it works, please research the exchange web site for the CME Group, www.cmegroup.com.  From their web site you can run a search for SPAN, which will take you to a wealth of information on the subject and how it works.  The Standard Portfolio Analysis of Risk system is a highly sophisticated methodology that calculates performance bond requirements by analyzing the “what-ifs” of virtually any market scenario.

Background:

In general, this is how SPAN works:

SPAN evaluates overall portfolio risk by calculating the worst possible loss that a portfolio of derivative and physical instruments might reasonably incur over a specified time period (typically one trading day.) This is done by computing the gains and losses that the portfolio would incur under different market conditions.  At the core of the methodology is the SPAN risk array, a set of numeric values that indicate how a particular contract will gain or lose value under various conditions. Each condition is called a risk scenario. The numeric value for each risk scenario represents the gain or loss that that particular contract will experience for a particular combination of price (or underlying price) change, volatility change, and decrease in time to expiration.

The SPAN margin files are sent to IBKR at specific intervals throughout the day by the exchange and are plugged into a SPAN margin calculator.  All futures options will continue to be calculated as having risk until they are expired out of the account or are closed.  The fact that they might be out-of-the-money does not matter.  All scenarios must take into account what could happen in extreme market volatility, and as such the margin impact of these futures options will be considered until the option position ceases to exist.  The SPAN margin requirements are compared against IBKR's pre-defined extreme market move scenarios and the greater of the two are utilized as margin requirement.

## What happens if I’m assigned stock at expiration, and my account doesn’t have the funds necessary to satisfy the margin requirement?

Overview:

If an expired USD option position results in an automatic exercise (the Options Clearing Corporation will automatically exercise any stock option which expired 0.01 or more in-the-money), and the resulting stock position causes a margin deficit in your account, the account would become subject to immediate liquidation.  Given that the OCC processes the exercise and assignment after the expiration Friday close, liquidations in USD equities usually occur shortly after the open of regular trading hours (09:30 EST) on Monday or the next trading day.  Please be aware that any positions could be liquidated as a result of the account being in margin violation—the liquidation is not confined to only the shares that resulted from the option position.  For example, if the account holds currency, futures, future options positions, or any non-USD positions, such products may begin trading prior to Monday morning and, as such, liquidation of any of these positions could occur in order to meet the margin deficit which resulted from an options exercise.

Background:

Account holders should refer to the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options disclosure document which is provided by IBKR to every option eligible client at the point of application and which clearly spells out the risks of assignment.  This document is also available online at OCC's web site.

## What happens to the USD equity option that I am long at expiration?

Overview:

There are two scenarios which could occur if a long option is taken to expiration.  If the option is out-of-the-money at expiration and you do not choose to exercise it, the option will expire worthless, and your losses will consist of the premium that was paid to acquire the option.  If the option is in-the-money at expiration by 0.01 or more, it will be automatically exercised on your behalf (unless you previously chose to lapse the option) by the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC).  The OCC processes monthly expiration options on the third Saturday of the month, or the day after Friday expiration.  The resulting long or short position will be put into the account, effective on the Friday trade date.  If the account has sufficient margin to satisfy the requirement on the resulting position, it will then be up to the account holder to decide what they want to do with the position.  If the resulting position causes a margin deficit, the account will be subject to liquidation at a time which is defined by the holdings within the account.  Please be aware that any positions could be liquidated as a result of the account being in margin violation—the liquidation is not confined to only the shares that resulted from the option position.  For example, if the account holds currency, futures, future options positions or and non-USD product, the account may begin to liquidate to meet the margin deficit as soon as a corresponding market opens.

Background:

Account holders should refer to the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options disclosure document which is provided by IBKR to every option eligible client at the point of application and which clearly spells out the risks of assignment.  This document is also available online at OCC's web site.

Overview:

The concept of adding or removing liquidity is applicable to both stocks and stock/index options. Whether or not an order removes or adds liquidity is dependent on that order being marketable or non-marketable.

Marketable orders REMOVE liquidity.
Marketable orders are either market orders, OR buy/sell limit orders whose limit is at or above/below the current market.

1. For a marketable buy limit order, the limit price is at or above the Ask.

2. For a marketable sell limit order, the limit price is at or below the Bid.

Example:
XYZ’s stock current ASK (offer) size/price is 400 shrs at 46.00. You enter a buy limit order for 100 XYZ stock @ 46.01. This order will be considered marketable because an immediate execution will take place. If there is an exchange charge for removing liquidity, the customer will be charged that fee.

Non-marketable orders are buy/sell limit orders in which the limit price is below/above the current market.

1. For a non-marketable buy limit order, the limit price is below the Ask.

2. For a non-marketable sell limit order, the limit price is above the Bid.

Example:
XYZ’s stock current ASK (offer) size/price is 400 shrs at 46.00. You enter a buy limit order for 100 XYZ stock @ 45.99. This order will be considered non-marketable, because it will be posted to the market as the best bid, and instead of being immediately executed.
If and when someone else sends a marketable sell order that causes your buy limit order to be executed, you should receive a rebate (credit), if an add liquidity credit is available.

1. All accounts trading options will be subject to any options exchanges’ remove/add liquidity fees or credits.
2. Per IBKR’s website, only negative numbers under the Remove/Add Liquidity schedules are rebates (credits).

## If I am assigned on the short leg of an option spread, will the long option leg be automatically exercised so as to offset the resulting stock position from the assignment?

The answer depends upon whether the assignment occurred at expiration or prior to expiration (i.e., an American Style option).  At expiration, many clearinghouses employ an exercise by exception process intended to ease the operational overhead associated with the provision of exercise instructions by clearing members.  In the case of US securities options, for example, the OCC will automatically exercise any equity or index option which is in-the-money by at least \$0.01 unless contrary exercise instructions are provided by the client to the clearing member. Accordingly, if the long option has the same expiration date as the short and at expiration is in-the-money by a minimum of the stated exercise by exception threshold, the clearinghouse it will be automatically exercised, effectively offsetting the stock obligation on the assignment.  Depending upon the option strike prices, this may result in a net cash debit or credit to the account.

If the assignment takes place prior to expiration neither IBKR nor the clearinghouse will act to exercise a long option held in the account as neither party can presume the intentions of the long option holder and the exercise of the long option prior to expiration is likely result in the forfeiture of time value which could be realized via the sale of the option.

## Are there commissions associated with option exercise or assignment?

The answer depends upon the option type and its region of listing.  There is no IBKR commission associated with US stock and index security options and out-of-the-money Non-US index options.  A commission is charged for an exercise or assignment of an in-the-money Non-US index option and for options on futures. Please refer to the Pricing section of the website for details.

## What positions are eligible for Portfolio Margining?

Overview:

Portfolio Margining is eligible for US securities positions including stocks, ETFs, stock and index options and single stock futures.  It does not apply to US futures or futures options positions or non-US stocks, which may already be margined using an exchange approved risk based margining methodology.

## Are there any qualification requirements in order to receive Portfolio Margining treatment on US securities positions and how does one request this form of margin?

Overview:

In order to enabled for portfolio margining an account must be approved for option trading and must have at least USD 110,000 in net liquidating equity (USD 100,000 to maintain, once enabled). Account holders will also be required to acknowledge and sign the Portfolio Margin Risk Disclosure document and be bound by its terms.

Portfolio margining may be requested through the on-line application phase (in the Account Configuration step)  or after the account has been approved. To apply once the account has already been approved, log into Client Portal and select the Settings and Account Settings menu options. In the Configuration section, click the gear icon next to the words "Account Type". There you may choose the portfolio margin treatment which will initiate the approval process.  Please note that requests are subject  to review  (generally a 1-2 day process) and may be declined for  various reasons  including a  projected increase  in margin  upon upgrade  from Reg T to Portfolio Margining.

## What is SMA and how does it work?

Overview:

SMA refers to the Special Memorandum Account, which represents neither equity nor cash, but rather a line of credit created when the market value of securities in a Reg. T margin account increase in value. Its purpose is to preserve the buying power that unrealized gains provide towards subsequent purchases which, absent this handling, could be assured only by withdrawing excess equity and depositing it at the time the subsequent purchase is made. In that sense, SMA helps to maintain a stable account value and minimize unnecessary funding transactions.

While SMA increases as the value of a security goes up, it does not decrease if the security falls in value. SMA will only decrease when securities are purchased or cash withdrawn and the only restriction with respect to its use is that the additional purchases or withdrawals do not bring the account below the maintenance margin requirement. Transactions which serve to increase SMA include cash deposits, interest income or dividends received (on a dollar for dollar basis) or security sales (50% of the net proceeds). It’s important to note that the SMA balance represents an aggregation of each historical bookkeeping entry impacting its level starting from the time the account was opened. Given the length of time and volume of entries this typically encompasses, reconciling the current level of SMA from daily activity statements, while feasible, is impractical.

To illustrate how SMA operates, assume an account holder deposits \$5,000 and purchases \$10,000 of securities having a loan value of 50% (or margin requirement equal to 1 – loan value, or 50% as well). The before and after account values would appear as follows:

 Line Item Description Event 1 - Initial Deposit Event 2 - Stock Purchase A. Cash \$5,000 (\$5,000) B. Long Stock Market Value \$0 \$10,000 C. Net Liquidating Equity/EWL* (A + B) \$5,000 \$5,000 D. Initial Margin Requirement (B * 50%) \$0 \$5,000 E Available Funds (C - D) \$5,000 \$0 F. SMA \$5,000 \$0 G. Buying Power \$10,000 \$0

Next, assume that the long stock increases in value to \$12,000. This \$2,000 increase in market value would create SMA of \$1,000, which provides the account holder the ability to either: 1) buy additional securities valued at \$2,000 without depositing up additional funds and assuming a 50% margin rate; or 2) withdraw \$1,000 in cash, which may be financed by increasing the debit balance if the account holds no cash. See below:

 Line Item Description Event 2 – Stock Purchase Event 3 - Stock Increase A. Cash (\$5,000) (\$5,000) B. Long Stock Market Value \$10,000 \$12,000 C. Net Liquidating Equity/EWL* (A + B) \$5,000 \$7,000 D. Initial Margin Requirement (B * 50%) \$5,000 \$6,000 E Available Funds (C - D) \$0 \$1,000 F. SMA \$0 \$1,000 G. Buying Power \$0 \$2,000

`*EWL represents equity with loan value which, in this example, equals net liquidating equity.`

Finally, note that SMA is a Reg. T concept used to evaluate whether securities accounts carried by IB LLC are in compliance with overnight initial margin requirements and it is not used to determine compliance with maintenance margin requirements on either an intraday or overnight basis. It is also not used to determine whether commodities accounts are margin compliant. Similarly, accounts which report negative SMA at the time each day when overnight, or Reg.T initial margin requirements go into effect (15:50 ET) are subject to position liquidations to ensure margin compliance.