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9.2.1 Long Positions And Short Positions

Explore the fundamental concepts of long and short positions in the stock market, including detailed examples and guidance for Canadian Securities Course exam preparation.


In this chapter, we explore the concepts of long positions and short positions. These terms are fundamental in understanding various trading strategies in the securities market. Developing a clear grasp of these concepts is essential for anyone pursuing certification through the Canadian Securities Course.

Long Positions and Short Positions

Long Positions

A long position represents actual ownership of a security. When an investor holds a long position, they are optimistic about the security’s future performance and profit when its price increases. Here are the key points:

  • Ownership: The investor owns the security.
  • Expectation: The investor expects the security’s value to rise.
  • Action: The investor purchases the security and holds it in hopes of selling it for a profit later.

Example of a Long Position

An investor buys common shares of a company to initiate a long position in the stock. This means they now own those shares. The investor must pay for the stock purchase by the settlement date (typically two business days after the transaction, known as T+2). To close the long position, the investor sells the stock in the market. They would ideally do this when the stock price has appreciated, thus securing a profit.

Short Positions

A short position is created when an investor sells a security they do not actually own, expecting the price to decline. Here are the critical aspects:

  • No Ownership: The investor does not own the security.
  • Expectation: The investor expects the security’s value to decrease.
  • Action: The investor borrows the security and sells it in the market with the intention of buying it back at a lower price.

Example of a Short Position

An investor, with permission from their dealer, sells shares they do not own to initiate a short position. The following steps are typically involved:

  1. Borrowing: The investor borrows the shares they intend to sell.
  2. Selling: The borrowed shares are sold on the open market.
  3. Margin Account: The proceeds from the sale are kept in the investor’s margin account, and an additional margin deposit may be required if the security’s price rises.
  4. Closing: The investor buys back the shares from the market to return the borrowed securities, ideally at a lower price, thereby making a profit.

Understanding Margin Accounts

For a short position, maintaining a margin account is essential. A margin account allows investors to borrow money from the broker to buy securities. The difference between the amount borrowed and the value of the securities is covered by the investor’s equity in the margin account. The maintenance of sufficient margin is crucial to guard against potential losses.

Common Questions

What are the risks of a short position?

Short selling is inherently risky because there is no upper limit to how high a stock price can rise, potentially leading to limitless losses. Additionally, investors must maintain margin requirements, which can lead to margin calls if the borrowed securities’ value increases.

How is profit calculated in long and short positions?

Profit in a long position is calculated by subtracting the purchase price from the selling price.

$$ \text{Profit (Long Position)} = \text{Selling Price} - \text{Purchase Price} $$

For short positions, profit is calculated by subtracting the repurchase price from the selling price.

$$ \text{Profit (Short Position)} = \text{Selling Price} - \text{Repurchase Price} $$

Key Takeaways

  • Long Position: Represents ownership of a security with the expectation that its value will rise. Profit is made by selling at a higher price than the purchase price.
  • Short Position: Involves selling borrowed securities with the expectation that the value will fall. Profit is made by repurchasing at a lower price than the selling price.
  • Margin Account: Required for short selling to handle the borrowed security’s sale proceeds and additional margin deposit.
  • Risk Management: Short positions carry higher risk, necessitating careful risk management and margin maintenance.


  • Long Position: Actual ownership of a security with the prospective gain from rising prices.
  • Short Position: Selling borrowed securities with the expectation of repurchasing at a lower price.
  • Margin Account: A brokerage account that allows customers to borrow money to purchase or sell securities.
  • Settlement Date: The date by which a security transaction must be finalized, typically two business days after the trade date (T+2).
  • Margin Call: A demand by a broker for an investor to deposit additional money or securities to cover potential losses.


Understanding long and short positions in the securities market is essential for successful trading strategy formation. Through examples and discussions of margin accounts and risk management, this chapter prepares you to handle these concepts proficiently.

CSC® Exams Practice Questions

📚✨ CSC Exam Questions ✨📚

Welcome to the Knowledge Checkpoint! You'll find 10 carefully curated CSC exam practice questions designed to reinforce the key concepts covered. These questions will help you gauge your grasp of the material, identify areas that need further review, and ensure you're on the right track towards mastering the content for the Canadian Securities certification exams. Take your time, think critically, and use these quizzes as a tool to enhance your learning journey. 📘✨

Good luck!

## What does a long position in a security represent? - [ ] Borrowing shares and selling them - [ ] Holding a future contract - [x] Actual ownership in a security - [ ] A type of financial derivative > **Explanation:** A long position means the investor actually owns the security. ## What does a short position involve? - [x] Selling a security that the investor does not own - [ ] Selling a security that the investor owns - [ ] Buying a security in anticipation of a price rise - [ ] Holding a security indefinitely > **Explanation:** A short position is created when an investor sells a security they do not own. ## What must an investor do to close a long position? - [ ] Buy the security - [x] Sell the security - [ ] Borrow the security - [ ] Return the security to the lender > **Explanation:** To close a long position, the investor must sell the security. ## What is required to initiate a short position? - [x] Permission from the dealer member - [ ] Ownership of the shares - [ ] A margin account only - [ ] A future contract > **Explanation:** Permission from the dealer member and a margin account are required to initiate a short position. ## When initiating a short position, what must the investor do with the proceeds? - [ ] Use them to buy other securities - [x] Leave them in the margin account - [ ] Withdraw them after 2 days - [ ] Invest them in risk-free assets > **Explanation:** The proceeds must be left in the margin account. ## What additional action must be taken when initiating a short position to cover potential security value rise? - [x] Make an additional margin deposit - [ ] Take out an insurance policy - [ ] Purchase put options - [ ] Enter into a forward contract > **Explanation:** Additional margin deposits are required in case the value of the securities rises. ## How is a short position closed? - [ ] By selling more shares - [ ] By buying insurance - [x] By buying back the stock from the market - [ ] By rolling over the contract > **Explanation:** To close a short position, the investor must buy back the stock from the market. ## Why might an investor choose to initiate a short position? - [x] To profit from a decline in the security's price - [ ] To gain dividends - [ ] To benefit from interest payments - [ ] To own the security outright > **Explanation:** A short position is initiated to profit from a decline in the security's price. ## What does leaving proceeds in a margin account help avoid? - [ ] Tax liabilities - [x] Risk of margin calls - [ ] Shareholder voting rights - [ ] Holding physical certificates > **Explanation:** Leaving proceeds in a margin account helps manage the risk of margin calls. ## What is a common reason for requiring an additional margin deposit when holding a short position? - [ ] Anticipated future dividends - [ ] Higher brokerage commissions - [x] Increased security value - [ ] Brokerage bonuses > **Explanation:** An additional margin deposit is required to cover the potential increase in the security's value.

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Sunday, July 21, 2024