My broker sent me this email:

This is an automated message to alert you that your overall account value has just decreased by -10% within the day.

The broker claims that this message means, the account decreased by 10% from the beginning and is more or less ignoring the within the day.
I am Austrian and therefore not an English native speaker but an English friend [from Liverpool] read the email and she told me that the email means the account value decreased by these 10% in 1 day - be more specific: The previous day the email was sent.

My question:
How is this email really to be understood? Is it clear what the broker says that they mean the account value decreased by 10% from the beginning, or does it mean the account value decreased by 10% that one day?

Another point:
When writing decrease I consider the minus sign in the percentage value also as not correct. The word decrease is precise enough so in my eyes it should be like this: ..has just decreased by 10%...

I am asking because this a one of the biggest brokers and they send in my eyes not clear statements.

So, in the end I would have expected the email something like this:

... has just decreased by 10% since the account was opened.

  • 2
    If this is indeed the decrease "from the beginning", then I guess that "within the day" tells you that your account passed that 10% mark during the previous 24 hours. But I agree that my first guess would be as your Liverpudlian friend said.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 13:26
  • 1
    I agree with your point about the -10% -- that looks redundant and illogical. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 13:37
  • 1
    To decrease by -10% means to increase by 10%. I believe the use of the minus sign here was a mistake. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 14:32
  • I would argue that the meaning of the message is that you need a new broker. (If they're not going to be careful about messages to their clients, will they be careful in managing your account?) Normally, I would expect within the day to be used in a future context, as in "I will respond within the day." In this instance, when combined with "has just", I would take it to mean that your value is 90% of what it was yesterday -- the decrease has occurred in the last 24 hours. If they wanted to say that it just passed the 90% mark, they ought to say it just reached or passed it. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 17:30
  • Also, the minus sign was almost certainly an error -- which leads me to wonder if your account has fallen in value because they purchased or sold negative amounts. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 17:31

1 Answer 1


"Within the day" seems pretty meaningless in this context. The phrase is commonly used to refer to the future ("we will deliver it within the/a day," or some number of days) or a 24 hour period. Here is an example: ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Wines Pulled Within A Day Of Backlash, meaning it was pulled within 24 hours.

So, for your example, I would expect something more specific like: "since the start of trading today", or "in the past 24 hours" or, if it really does mean what they claim, "since the account was opened" (as you suggest).

I think this is an example of the problems caused by letting engineers or non-English speakers write automated messages!

  • 1
    Or letting money men write them. (My dad was a CPA but my mom wrote all the correspondence so the grammar and spelling was impeccable.) Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 17:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.