The growth of online trading has fueled the foreign exchange market over the past decade to an average daily traded volume of over $4 trillion; the largest financial market in the world. Forex has no central marketplace requiring traders to work through a broker in order to place trades. The only problem is choosing which broker to open an account with.
There are thousands of forex brokerages on the internet with new ones opening every day. Along with the ever-expanding number of brokerages; are even more forex review websites. They feature “reviews” and “ratings” for each broker and claim to be unbiased. On one review website you will read that a certain forex brokerage is the best and on another review website you will read that the same brokerage doesn’t payout funds to the trader. (ForexGator.com, unlike other review websites, does not list hundreds of forex and binary brokerages but only a select few (the best) that have been thoroughly vetted by a member(s) of our staff.)
Most forex traders will choose their forex broker in one of two ways:
1. The easiest and most common method is to read broker reviews, read feedback from previous traders and choose a “five star” brokerage. The only problem is that the majority of reviews and ratings are bogus. This is the simplest and least effective approach.
2. The more in-depth route takes time and actual interaction with REAL traders from the different brokerages and contact with the prospective brokers prior to opening an account. This is time consuming and most traders will not invest the time and energy. ForexGator.com has done this.
ForexGator.com will help make your forex trading experience a rewarding one by personally matching you with the brokerages that best fit your trading parameters. Fill out the form at the bottom of this page and a member of our staff will contact you back to discuss your predetermined requisites and offer their brokerage suggestions.
Our recommendations are based on several different facets that are vital to any successful broker-trader relationship.
• Broker Types, Spreads & Commissions
• Account Types
• Customer Service
• Additional Services
• Trader’s Location & Specific Requirements
The brokerage’s license and regulation are the most important factors when choosing a firm to trade with. The broker should show proof of regulation from a recognized financial capital markets authority. Licensing and regulation ensure the security of the trader’s funds along with the legitimacy of the brokerage.
A well-capitalized broker is crucial to guaranteeing the ability of a firm to pay their traders. The minimum capitalization requirements vary from one regulatory body to another. If a broker is undercapitalized the trader risks not being paid. Undercapitalized forex brokerages go bankrupt regularly. The capitalization of a firm is usually available by looking at the websites of the regulatory bodies.
There are hundreds of different trading platforms to choose from with only a few major ones. MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5) are the most popular ones, facilitating over 85% of the retail trades in the forex market. The MT4 platform includes; trading robots, hundreds of free indicators, clear ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ buttons and many more features. There is a strong chance that you will be using MT4 or MT5.
ACT Forex is another platform that is popular in Europe. The layout is different from MetaTrader but the features of each are very similar.
Which platform you use comes down to personal preference. It is recommended that you open a demo account with the brokerage to test the platform prior to opening a real account. Demo accounts are free and easy to open.
Broker Types, Spreads & Commissions
There are two main forex broker types. The first is known as a ‘market maker’ or ‘counter-party broker’ or ‘dealing desk.’ This type of broker will make their money on the spread. For example; there maybe a 2 pip spread with a currency pair but they will charge the trader 4 pips. There are normally no other fees or costs involved with this type of broker. This broker will often take the other side of your trade. They will first try and match your order with another trader but will take the other side of the order, if it is required.
The second type of broker is an Electronic Communications Network (ECN) broker. This forex broker type will not take the other side of the trade, they are a true intermediary. If there is no one for the other side of the order, it will not be filled. This broker type will charge a commission on each trade. There is no mark up in the spread. The spread is much tighter with ECN brokers.
There are a number of different types of accounts available from forex brokerages. The most common are; standard, mini, micros and demo. The differences in the accounts are the size of them. Normally, if you have under $10,000 you should be trading micro lots. Most micro account forex brokers offer accounts that only require a $5-$100 minimum deposit. Of course, you will need to deposit much more than this to be successful. Secondly, make sure there is no limit on how much you are allowed to have in a mini or micro account. Third, check with the brokerage to confirm you are able to trade these smaller lot sizes even when using a standard account. It is recommended to trade micro lots if you have under $10,000 to trade with.
Forex trading is a 24 hour a day, 5 days a week market and the brokerage’s customer support should match it. Support should be available with a live person by; phone and online chat. Forex brokerages with auto attendants or answering services during trading hours should be avoided. It is suggested that you call the broker’s customer support to test their knowledge of both; their system and the financial instruments offered.
Value-added-services are very normal these days with forex brokerages. This includes but is not limited to; account opening bonuses, deposit bonuses, rescue bonuses, volume bonuses, offering analysis, news, signals and education resources. These are great services and references which are easily found with most brokers. Check with the brokerage prior to signing up if you are unsure if they are offered.
Trader’s Location & Specific Requirements
Every brokerage has a list of countries they do not accept traders from. The majority of these countries are prohibited because they have sanctions placed against them or they are countries on the OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control) list. The United States is another popular country on the normal restricted list because of the US government’s strict policy against US citizens trading through non US regulated brokerages. Make sure to check with your brokerage prior to opening an account.
Making a list of your specific requirements and questions will help narrow down your prospective broker list. Possible requirements would include; customization options, automated trading options, order entry types, back testing, strategy builders and trading alerts.
The process of choosing a forex brokerage is much easier when you have a wish list of the features and services you are looking for in a broker.
Potential Questions You Will Need to Answer:
• What currency pairs will you be trading?
• What spreads will you require (variable, fixed)? How many pips?
• Will you pay a commission for trading?
• What will be your account size (minimum investment)?
• What leverage do you require?
• What tools will you need?
• Do you need a particular platform; such as MetaTrader?
• Will you be scalping?
• Will you be hedging?
• Do you need a trailing stop?
• Will you require “one-click trading” trade execution?
• Will you be trading on your mobile device?
• Will you need mobile alerts?
• How will you be funding and withdrawing from your brokerage account (wire transfer, credit card etc.)? Does your financial institution or country have any restrictions on this payment method? What fees are you willing to accept for these services? Are there minimums? How easy is the process?
• Does it matter if the broker is an ECN/STP or a Dealing Desk Broker?
We apply a few straightforward guidelines to our research.
1. Has the broker been in the industry for over 10 years? This alone says a great deal. Any online business (especially any online forex brokerage) operating for over 10 years shows how well they take care of their; clients, staff and affiliates.
2. Is the brokerage regulated? When a broker is licensed and regulated, it demonstrates their professionalism along with their efforts to conform to the supervisory organizations of the jurisdiction(s) they operate from.
3. What products are offered? Businesses, who offer more products/services are normally much larger, established and have more customers (Amazon, Wal-Mart etc.) than their smaller competitors. This is the same with the foreign exchange market. Brokers offering; options, stocks, futures, CFDs etc. in addition to forex, normally cater to a much larger customer base. The chances of a large brokerage firm canceling your profits or denying a withdrawal is highly unlikely.
4. Take reviews and ratings with a grain of salt. Traders need to filter the good reviews and the bad reviews. While some reviews may be of some value; many are not. A review by a seasoned trader is normally more valuable than a review from a beginner. 95% of beginners, who attempt short-term trading, lose their money (forex, similar to any other type of business requires a strategy and time; there are no short-cuts). Some novice traders will voice their disapproval with a particular broker because of mistake they made. Lastly, it is not unlikely for brokers to post positive reviews on their company and negative ones on others. Brokerages employ people full-time to “handle” their online reputation.
Choosing a forex brokerage is comparable to choosing; a bank, an attorney or an accountant. It is a process necessitating research and due diligence. Subsequently, after you have found the right forex broker and are confident in their company, your time now is able to be dedicated to developing forex strategies and placing trades. Open a demo account or open a real account and deposit a small amount of money to see how their brokerage operates and then build from there.
Please contact us below and let ForexGator.com help match you with the best forex brokerage!