Leverage is the use of borrowed funds to increase one's trading position beyond what would be available from their cash balance alone. Forex traders often use leverage to profit from relatively small price changes in currency pairs. Leverage, however, can amplify both profits as well as losses.
For example, if you are required to deposit 1% of the total transaction value as margin and you intend to trade one standard lot of USD/CHF, which is equivalent to US$100,000, the margin required would be US$1,000. Thus, your margin-based leverage will be 100:1 (100,000/1,000). For a margin requirement of just 0.25%, the margin-based leverage will be 400:1, using the same formula.
|Margin-Based Leverage Expressed as Ratio||Margin Required of Total Transaction Value|
However, margin-based leverage does not necessarily affect risk, and whether a trader is required to put up 1% or 2% of the transaction value as margin may not influence their profits or losses. This is because the investor can always attribute more than the required margin for any position. This indicates that the real leverage, not margin-based leverage, is the stronger indicator of profit and loss.
To calculate the real leverage you are currently using, simply divide the total face value of your open positions by your trading capital:
For example, if you have $10,000 in your account, and you open a $100,000 position (which is equivalent to one standard lot), you will be trading with 10 times leverage on your account (100,000/10,000). If you trade two standard lots, which are worth $200,000 in face value with $10,000 in your account, then your leverage on the account is 20 times (200,000/10,000)
Traders may also calculate the level of margin that they should use. Suppose that you have $10,000 in your trading account and you decide to trade 10 mini USD/JPY lots. Each move of one pip in a mini account is worth approximately $1, but when trading 10 minis, each pip move is worth approximately $10. If you are trading 100 minis, then each pip move is worth about $100.
Thus, a stop-loss of 30 pips could represent a potential loss of $30 for a single mini lot, $300 for 10 mini lots, and $3,000 for 100 mini lots. Therefore, with a $10,000 account and a 3%maximum risk per trade, you should leverage only up to 30 mini lots even though you may have the ability to trade more.
This table shows how the trading accounts of these two traders compare after the 100-pip loss.
|Trader A||Trader B|
|Real Leverage Used||50 times||5 times|
|Total Value of Transaction||$500,000||$50,000|
|In the Case of a 100-Pip Loss||-$4,150||-$415|
|% Loss of Trading Capital||41.5%||4.15%|
|% of Trading Capital Remaining||58.5%||95.8%|