Is Leverage Evil?

The following guest post is courtesy of Jens Chrzanowski, Regional German Director at FCA regulated broker Admiral Markets UK.

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Jens Chrzanowski, Admiral Markets

If you’re an avid reader of LeapRate and other trading portal articles on a daily-basis (like me), you may have noticed that every week seems to bring news of yet another national regulator intent on introducing even stricter trading regulations. Often the central theme of such ‘thinking out loud’ is leverage and how to limit the level that’s available to traders. The constant spotlight on this topic seems to imply that leverage is evil, or a generally bad thing. So, would it actually be better to not use leverage while trading?

The Prohibition, which began nearly 100 years ago, was a constitutional ban on the production, importation and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States. There’s a lot of very good evidence to suggest that people should avoid drinking alcohol, during the 1920s and early 1930s the US government vehemently followed this advice. Prohibition supporters, known as ‘Drys’, saw this as a victory for “public morals” and health…

Was it a good idea? Well, is the ban still imposed? No. Society’s opinion changed over time.

The purpose of this historic example is to help understand my view of leverage. We should, of course, treat alcohol with great care. Children should never be allowed near it and the golden rule of “don’t drink and drive” should always be followed. This is just common sense. But is it common sense to also totally ban adults from drinking wine or beer… Definitely not!

Just as with alcohol, leveraged trading is not suitable for everyone. Simple risk warnings stating this can be found on every regulated European broker’s webpages. They can be found everywhere: in their advertising, on their homepage, during the account opening process, etc. It’s almost impossible not to notice these warnings, which is how it should be. But if something is “not suitable for everybody” it means that it IS still suitable for some!

If you have a smaller account, a higher leverage of maybe 200 or 500 could make sense, allowing you to make smaller trades. If you have a bigger account, a leverage of “just” 50 may be more appropriate. For scalping, holding a position just for seconds or minutes, I can only imagine the kinds of interesting trades that could happen with a higher leverage!

If you’re the kind of trader who gets scared by losing just 5 percent in a single day, leveraged trading is not for you.

The alternative to leverage trading is to use a ‘safe’ savings account, where, depending on your country, you can get maybe 1 per cent interest per year. In Germany, my home country, the usual interest rate for a saving account is around 0,01 per cent, per year! This can hardly be classed as a ‘Rock n’ Roll’ investment!. But, it is safe, at least you won’t lose money. This is your choice. With leveraged products you could make this amount in seconds – or lose it… with interest. As always, the opportunity goes hand in hand with the risk.

So, will a heavily regulated, strict limitation of leverage end up like the US Prohibition and not last long at all?

We at Admiral Markets believe in and even encourage good regulation. But, and here’s the key, it has to be regulation which acts with sound judgement, one that strikes the perfect balance between personal freedom and protection. For an experienced daytrader or scalper, a maximum available leverage of 10 or 50 doesn’t make sense. If he faces these conditions, he may decide to simply abandon regulated brokers and find an offshore broker who will offer him “anything”. Is this the best solution for our industry? I don’t think so.

National regulators are not competitors, but they do offer very different opinions on the concept of leverage. For example, the German regulator, BaFin, proposed a 100% Negative Balance Protection on any CFD offered in Germany. But BaFin don’t see that a limitation of available leverages makes more sense, because different traders should be able to use different trading strategies. This is freedom. Other national regulators believe that a maximum leverage of 20 or 25 (or even less) should be offered.

Nobody is able to say what the ‘right’ way is, because people are different, we are all unique. But in general, we all believe in personal freedom. So, let’s think, in which world would we like to live… in a world of US prohibition, or in a world which has found the right balance between freedom and protection.

Leveraged trading is not evil. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s not that simple. Actually, it’s the same as drinking alcohol… Use it wisely!

See you next week.

Do you have feedback, concerns, requests, maybe even compliments? I’d love to hear. Please contact me via: [email protected].

Trading on margin carries a high level of risk, and this article should not be seen as advice or solicitation to buy or sell, but written for informational purposes.

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  • Dave Dave

    the arseholes at the fca wont listen

  • Regulators are pressured to “do something” as a kneejerk reaction to public outcries or mistrust that brews as a result of a few high profile and/or unscrupulous brokers overshadowing true PoP and/or LEGITIMATE market making activities.

    Actually less leverage only hurts smaller brokerage/smaller clients because a client that only has $3k cannot compete with a client that has $30k or $300k with the same 1:50 leverage. Of course the larger brokerages ‘don’t mind’ because they already have larger clients and/or $100MM+ AUM.

  • Julius

    We suggest that brainwashed country managers from russian/estonian money laundering mafia shop, to not write stupid-self promoting articles and to avoid giving any suggestions or recommendations. thank u very much

    • Jens Chrzanowski

      Greetings from Berlin, dear “Julius”,

      I’d like to counter, if I may?

      Firstly, I’m based in Berlin and our entire company is regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). YES we are a global broker with many many legal entities around the world, and yes, some of them are in your mentioned countries. I do hope you’re not saying that one country is better than another…

      To be honest, you don’t have to like my weekly column. That’s fine. But you can’t speak for the entire audience. Anyone who want’s to read this article can do so, if not they don’t have to. It’s that simple.

      By the way, I believe in transparency, so I never use a “Micky Mouse” and Co. name. This is me. This is us. We have nothing to hide.

      Best wishes from Berlin!

      Jens Chrzanowski, Admiral Markets UK, Berlin Branch
      Potsdamer Platz 10
      10785 Berlin
      [email protected]

    • jun

      agree. he probably run out of leads!

  • Digby Cromwell

    I think this is super! I would never have thought of comparing the US Prohibition to the regulatory debate surrounding leverage! It’s actually very nice.

    I really hope that regulators don’t go too far with any changes they make. It should be a robust system for all levels of trader.

    Looking forward to next week’s article already!

    • yoni

      where did u learn your english mate?

      • Digby Cromwell

        Eton. How about “u”, MATE?

  • arthur

    ladies relax. who really cares about jens or julius or admiral or their kebab shop offshore illegal mtrading? at the end of the day everyone is allowed to write or express whatever he/she wants. ego-feeding is free!
    take it easy. jens is just expressing his own option. 🙂 have a nice weekend


Is Leverage Evil?


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