CFD Trading: What is leverage in trading? How to avoid the risk of leverage?

Categories: CFD Trading  

Tags: CFD trading Malaysia  Leverage  

Publish date: 2023-6-14

One important aspect of CFD trading is leverage, which can be a very effective tool for you. Here is a guide on maximizing leverage, including how it operates, when to use it, and how to manage risk.

Table of Contents

  • The principle of leveraged trading
  • What products with leverage can you trade?
  • What financial assets are available for leveraged trading?
  • Advantages of leveraged trading
  • Risks of leveraged trading
  • How to manage the risk of leveraged trading
  • Conclusion

The principle of leveraged trading

In trading, leverage refers to the use of borrowed funds or margin to increase the potential return on an investment. It allows traders to control a larger position in the market with a smaller amount of capital. Essentially, leverage amplifies both gains and losses.

When a trader uses leverage, they are borrowing funds from their broker to open a position larger than their account balance. The amount of leverage available varies depending on the financial instrument and the broker's policies. Common leverage ratios include 2:1, 5:1, 10:1, or even higher.

For example, let's say you have $1,000 in your trading account, and your broker offers you 10:1 leverage. With this leverage, you can control a position worth $10,000. If the price of the asset you're trading moves in your favor by 1%, you would gain $100 (1% of $10,000). Without leverage, your gain would have been only $10 (1% of $1,000). However, it's important to note that if the price moves against you, your losses would also be magnified.

Leverage can be a double-edged sword. While it can potentially increase profits, it also increases the risk of significant losses. It's crucial to use leverage wisely and have a thorough understanding of the risks involved. Traders should consider their risk tolerance, have a solid risk management strategy in place, and carefully monitor their positions when using leverage.

What products with leverage can you trade?

The majority of leveraged trading involves derivative products, which means that instead of really holding the underlying asset, you trade an instrument whose value is derived from the price of the underlying asset.

With us, you can trade CFDs for derivatives. CFDs, or contracts for difference are an arrangement to swap the price difference of a certain financial product between the time the position is opened and closed with a supplier (like FXCM).

FXCM is a leading online forex trading and CFD broker in Malaysia & South-East-Asia. Find out more about CFD trading with us.

What financial assets are available for leveraged trading?

Leveraged trading is available for a wide range of financial assets across different markets. Here are some commonly traded financial assets that can be leveraged:

  1. Stocks: Leveraged trading on individual stocks allows traders to use borrowed funds to amplify their exposure to the price movements of specific company shares. Margin trading accounts are commonly used for leveraged stock trading.
  2. Indices: Leveraged trading on indices involves trading contracts based on the performance of a group of stocks representing a specific market. Traders can use leverage to amplify their exposure to the index movements, both long and short.
  3. Commodities: Commodities such as gold, silver, oil, natural gas, agricultural products, and metals can be traded with leverage. Leveraged trading on commodities allows traders to speculate on the price movements of these assets using margin accounts.
  4. Forex (Foreign Exchange): Leveraged trading in the forex market involves trading currency pairs. Forex trading platforms provide leverage to allow traders to control larger positions with a smaller amount of capital.
  5. Cryptocurrencies: Leveraged trading on cryptocurrencies has become popular. Traders can use leverage to trade popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and others, taking advantage of price movements with increased exposure.
  6. Bonds: Certain platforms and brokers offer leveraged trading on government bonds or corporate bonds. This allows traders to amplify their position in the bond market and potentially capitalize on interest rate changes.
  7. Options: Leveraged trading on options contracts is available in some markets. Options allow traders to control a larger position in the underlying asset using leverage, potentially amplifying their gains or losses.
  8. Futures: Leveraged trading is prevalent in futures markets, where contracts are traded based on future delivery of commodities, currencies, indices, and more. Futures contracts provide inherent leverage, allowing traders to control a larger position with a smaller initial investment.
  9. Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs): Some leveraged ETFs are designed to provide amplified exposure to an underlying index or asset class. These ETFs use financial derivatives and leverage techniques to replicate multiple times the daily returns of their respective benchmarks.

The availability of leveraged trading on specific financial assets may vary depending on the platform, broker, or exchange you choose to trade with. It's important to carefully consider the risks associated with leveraged trading and familiarize yourself with the specific terms, conditions, and requirements of the platform or broker before engaging in leveraged trading.

Advantages of leveraged trading

Leveraged trading offers several potential advantages for traders. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Increased buying power: By using leverage, traders can control larger positions in the market with a smaller amount of capital. This allows them to potentially generate higher returns on their investments. With leverage, traders can participate in markets that would otherwise require a significant amount of capital.
  2. Magnified profits: When the market moves in the trader's favor, leverage can amplify their gains. A small price movement can result in a larger percentage gain on the leveraged position, leading to potentially higher profits compared to trading without leverage.
  3. Diversification opportunities: Leverage provides traders with the ability to diversify their portfolio and exposure to different asset classes. With a smaller amount of capital, traders can trade multiple instruments simultaneously, spreading their risk across various markets and potentially taking advantage of different trading opportunities.
  4. Flexibility: Leverage allows traders to take advantage of short-term trading opportunities, such as day trading or scalping. They can quickly enter and exit positions, capitalizing on small price fluctuations. Leverage can provide the necessary liquidity and flexibility to execute trades efficiently.
  5. Hedging and risk management: Leveraged trading enables traders to use hedging strategies to manage risk. They can open positions that offset potential losses in other positions, mitigating the impact of adverse market movements. This can be particularly useful in volatile markets or uncertain economic conditions.

Risks of leveraged trading

Leveraged trading carries substantial risks that traders should carefully consider before engaging in such activities. Here are some of the key risks associated with leveraged trading:

  1. Magnified losses: While leverage can amplify profits, it also magnifies losses. If the market moves against a leveraged position, losses can accumulate rapidly and exceed the initial investment. Even a small adverse price movement can lead to significant losses. Traders must be prepared for the possibility of losing their entire investment or even owing additional funds to their broker.
  2. Margin calls and forced liquidation: When trading on margin, traders are required to maintain a certain level of equity in their account, known as the margin requirement. If the account value falls below this level due to losses, the broker may issue a margin call, demanding additional funds to restore the account's equity. Failure to meet a margin call can result in the broker liquidating the trader's positions to cover the losses, potentially locking in substantial losses.
  3. Increased volatility and market risk: Leveraged trading exposes traders to higher levels of volatility and market risk. Price fluctuations can have a more significant impact on leveraged positions, increasing the likelihood of sudden and substantial losses. Market movements can be unpredictable, and leveraged traders need to be prepared for increased volatility.
  4. Psychological impact: Leveraged trading can have a psychological toll on traders. The potential for significant gains and losses can evoke strong emotions and lead to impulsive decision-making. Fear, greed, and emotional biases can cloud judgment and disrupt a trader's ability to make rational decisions. Managing emotions and adhering to a disciplined trading plan are crucial when dealing with leverage.
  5. Counterparty risk: When trading with leverage, traders rely on their brokers to provide the leverage and execute trades. There is a risk that the broker may face financial difficulties or become insolvent. In such cases, traders could experience delays in accessing their funds or face losses if their positions are not properly closed out.

How to manage the risk of leveraged trading

Leveraged trading is a high-risk, high-return financial trading strategy that can magnify an investor's profit potential, but it also brings greater risks. In order to effectively manage the risks of leveraged trading, here are some methods and strategies.

i) Rational planning

Rational planning is crucial before engaging in leveraged trading. Investors should make a detailed trading plan, including determining the target, risk tolerance and appropriate leverage ratio. Rational planning helps investors avoid impulsive decision-making and reduces the impact of emotional factors on transactions.

ii) Understand the market and assets

Before engaging in leveraged trading, investors should have a solid understanding of the markets and assets involved. Understanding market trends, industry development, and asset fundamentals and technical analysis methods will help investors judge market trends more accurately and reduce the risk of wrong decisions.

iii) Strictly implement the stop loss strategy

Stop loss is the key to managing the risk of leveraged trading. Investors should set a reasonable stop loss position and strictly implement the stop loss strategy. Setting a stop loss position helps limit potential losses and prevent further losses.

iv) Diversification

Diversification is an effective way to reduce the risk of leveraged trading. Investors should diversify their funds across different markets and asset classes and avoid over-concentrating on a particular transaction. This reduces the risk associated with a particular transaction and balances out potential losses.

v) Maintain good money management

Good money management is an important aspect of avoiding the risk of leverage. Investors should allocate funds reasonably and avoid using too much money for a single transaction. In addition, investors should set appropriate trading goals and risk tolerance, and strictly abide by these regulations in transactions.

vi) Learning and gaining experience

In leveraged trading, it is very important to learn and accumulate experience. Investors should continue to learn relevant market knowledge, trading strategies and risk management skills. By practicing trading and summing up experience, investors can gradually improve their trading skills and reduce the possibility of wrong decisions.

vii) Control emotions and avoid overtrading

Emotion and overtrading are common risk factors in leveraged trading. Investors should learn to control their emotions, keep calm and think rationally. Avoid impulsive trading decisions, as well as over-trading, as this can lead to unwise trades and unnecessary risk.

viii) Use protective tools

Some trading platforms offer protection tools, such as take profit and trailing stop orders, to help investors manage risk. Investors can use these tools to automate take-profit and stop-loss strategies to protect investment capital and reduce risk.

ix) Work with professionals

For investors who are not familiar with leveraged trading, it is a wise choice to seek professional help. Working with an experienced trading advisor, financial advisor or broker can provide professional advice and guidance to help investors better manage the risks of leveraged trading.


Leveraged trading can be a powerful tool that allows traders to amplify their exposure and potential returns in the financial markets. However, it's important to approach leveraged trading with caution and a thorough understanding of its risks.

To sum up, avoiding the risk of leveraged trading requires investors to adopt a series of strategies and methods. This includes rational planning, understanding the market and assets, strict implementation of stop loss strategies, diversification, good money management, learning and accumulating experience, controlling emotions and avoiding excessive trading, using protective tools, and working with professionals. Through these methods, investors can better manage risks, improve the success rate of transactions, and ensure that leveraged transactions play a positive role in their investment portfolios.

If you want to learn more about financial and forex trading strategies, you can browse the FXCM Market insights website.

[Disclaimer] The articles above are purely personal opinions and are not intended to be investment advice. Only for the purpose of mutual learning and sharing. There is no express or implied warranty regarding the accuracy or completeness of the above-mentioned information. Anyone who relies on the information, ideas, or data contained in this article does so entirely at their own risk.