The first particular step to your successful trading is to choose a Forex broker. There are many questions that must be answered before you are able to decide responsibly. Brokers’ revenue and available information will not facilitate this decision. Below you will find information on the basic issues you may encounter when choosing a Forex broker and how to overcome those issues.
You cannot move forward without a Forex broker, and choosing the right one is essential and highly important. This is the reason why this topic is one of the most discussed throughout Forex forums.
Before you start trading Forex, you need to set up an account with a broker. The broker is essentially a mediator, individual or company that buys and sells orders according to the retailer. Brokers profit either from charging a fee for their services, or (and this is more often) from the spread. Considering the huge number of brokers offering their services online, it’s likely you may feel helpless and overloaded by lots of information you may do not know what to do with. And it is not easy to choose the right broker.
There are thousands of brokers, from the solid and reliable ones to the crooked and dishonest trying to pluck their clients. You should take a look on published references and stick to the advices to protect you from the sophisticated marketing brainwashing. Broker is a necessary mediator between you and the market. Its main task is to fulfill your orders to buy and sell a currency on the Forex market. Services, such as the fast transfer of money to him and back as well as a reliable platform should be standard of all brokers above the average.
When selecting parameter, it is appropriate to give preference to those that are related to your style of trading (fees, spreads, etc.), instead of peripheral ones like language support, assistance on what to buy and sell, etc.
Keep in mind one thing – before you start your search, it is good to take note of the fact that terms like “best, cheapest, most reliable, etc.” make little or no sense in the industry of Forex brokers and usually, the real interest of brokers who use those terms is solely to let you trade currencies as often as is possible regardless of whether you earn or lose money.
Criteria for selecting a Forex broker
There are several criteria that are worth considering before you fill in the registration form with a broker. Competition among Forex brokers is huge, which guarantees a neat chance for a good choice. It pays to take the time to choose a broker that will best fit your needs and you will be able to use their services for your benefit.
Regulation and References
The first thing you may want to take a look at when selecting a Forex broker is the issue of security. You have to find out if the selected broker is registered with any regulatory authority. In the United States, a broker should be registered as Futures Commission Merchant (FCM) with the Commodity Future Trading Commission (CFTC) and should be a member of the National Futures Association (NFA). The two authorities – the CFTC and the NFA are on the market in order to protect the public against fraud, manipulation and illegal trading practices.
On the website of the National Futures Association’s you can check the registration of a particular company or individual with the CFTC and the NFA. Focus on that the company you choose has a clean regulatory records and solid financial background. And watch out! It is not recommend using services of unregulated companies or individuals in any case.
Common foreign exchange controls include:
- Banning the use of foreign currency within the country
- Banning locals from possessing foreign currency
- Restricting currency exchange to government-approved exchangers
- Fixed exchange rates
- Restrictions on the amount of currency that may be imported or exported
Foreign exchange controls are various forms of controls imposed by a government on the purchase/sale of foreign currencies by residents or on the purchase/sale of local currency by nonresidents. Just like depositing your money in any bank or financial institution, before you deposit with an on-line forex broker, it’s important to comprehend which regulatory body is going to be looking after your funds. In the US, the National Futures Association (NFA) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) are tasked with overseeing off-exchange foreign currency exchange broker transactions.
As such, each forex company that is in any way involved with US traders, or is located in the US, must be registered and licensed with the NFA and CFTC. So, if you’re a US resident looking to trade forex, you should definitely inquire about a prospective forex broker’s regulation in the US before you decide to use their services.
Since the NFA/CFTC regulations regarding forex transactions are quite stringent, only a minority of forex trading brokers are eligible to accept US forex traders.
In Europe, there exist a wide range of regulatory bodies tasked with overseeing forex transactions with on-line forex brokers depending on the country.
In the United Kingdom, the Financial Services Authority has the mandate of regulating off-exchange foreign currency exchange trading.
In France, the Autorit de Contrle Prudentiel of the Banque de Franceis responsible for “the licensing of French financial firms and monitoring compliance by entities subject to its authority.”
In Italy, the CONSOB (Commissione Nazionale per le Societ e la Borsa) describes itself as the competent authority for ensuring transparency, disclosure and compliance by securities market participants.
Other financial regulatory bodies exist for Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and other European countries.
It’s a good idea to take a few minutes and inquire about a forex trading brokers regulatory status before you decide to use their investment services. Beyond the issue of financial regulation and supervision for on-line investors, it’s also important to ensure that the trading platforms you use and the financial transfers you initiate when conducting your forex investing with on-line forex brokers are secure.
The other aspect of account safety is encryption, and the physical safety of your account data against theft. Firms like Markets.com, and Finexo take great care about these aspects of safety, but there are also many others that assume a proactive attitude to this crucial side of running a brokerage business. To aid our task, technologies like SSL-encryption are standard in the business nowadays, and if you don’t see them implemented, it is time to depart for better, more serious brokers.
Also, there are many sites on the Internet dealing with Forex and on these websites you will find references to various brokers from around the world. You may find references also here. The reputation among the clients is an important factor when deciding about the Forex broker. However, if you still want more in-depth reference and you resort to any discussion forum, always ask how the broker behaves in crisis situations, such as:
- Performance of market orders in an important announcement
- Stretching spreads
- Extraordinary market movements
- Communication in poorly filled orders, etc.
Communication with Customer
When searching for a good and reliable Forex broker for your trading, it is recommended to find out how – and especially how quickly and operatively – a broker can communicate with you. Check out all the options. That means that if the broker is able to communicate by telephone, try it. Test also how quickly he responds to an e-mail, find out if he is using Skype or other types of online communication on the Internet. Check the possibility of helpdesk. Each broker provides a solid chat today, so you should try also this form of communication. But at the same time, you should check who you are talking to when using a helpdesk; if you are talking to someone competent and not to someone who will offer you an e-mail to their technical department on every possible issue. And because the currency market is a market that operates continuously, it is good to find out if the connection with your broker can be fully guaranteed 24 hours a day.
An important part of the brokers’ service is a trading platform on which you can serve your account. Many brokers use platform called MetaTrader 4 (MT4), but many others also have their own platforms including graphs and charts. From the perspective of your comfort is important that the platform meets your requirements of control and that all functions are user-friendly.
You should have all the necessary information available at every moment:
- List of your open positions
- List of your closed positions
- Overview of the account usage for margin – in percentage, for example
- Statement of account
- Overview of the SWAP or premium fees
Try some different software and see which suits you best. Check the reliability of the program by opening a demo account first. An inappropriate and badly selected program cost you not only time, but also money.
Information on what types of orders you can use with your broker is also very important. If you can open the same currency pair at two opposite positions simultaneously – i.e. one short and one long. Or if you can divide your position so you can close one half of the position and leave the second in trade. It would seem that these things are not important and not worth the concern, but they are decisive when it comes to your satisfaction and it is important to include them in your decision-making process.
Guaranteed “STOP” and “LIMIT” Orders
Brokers are divided into several basic groups according to how they are dealing with your trades. Either they are dealing with them within their own system or they are forwarding them to the interbank market or to other market participants. The first ones are also referred to as “dealing desk” brokers, and they do not guarantee the mentioned order, so in practice it appears that after you typing the order to sell or buy currency they will re-quote prices, or basically they will disallow entry for your price, or worse.
Fees, Spreads, Leverage
Sales fees also called spreads are one of the main sources of brokers income and their goal is obviously to have spread as high as possible. If we look at an example of EUR USD, where the spread is 2 pips and the current BID price is 1.2875 and the current ASK price is 1.2877, so you buy and sell at the ASK BID, while the broker buys and sells for a BID ASK. It’s logical and it has its reason. Nevertheless, it remains an effort of brokers to have the spread as high as possible; a lot of competition forces them to narrow spreads. Let take a brief look at the usual spreads for individual currency pairs:
- EUR/USD 1-3 pips [excellent to good condition]
- GBP/USD 3-5 pips [excellent to good condition]
- CHF/USD 3-5 pips [excellent to good condition]
- EUR/JPY 3-5 pips [excellent to good condition]
- JPY/USD 2-4 pips [excellent to good condition]
- CAN/USD 4-6 pips [excellent to good condition]
Whatever is above this range, must be taken with caution and care.
Leverage and Margin
Leverage is one of the advantages of trading Forex. But it can be a disadvantage for you if you understand it incorrectly. Leverage allows you to handle or control a larger amount of currency. In other words, the greater the leverage, the less you need margin. But the leverage has to be used wisely. Greater leverage can be of assistance, but you must be able to control it. Find out what options of leverage your broker offers. You should have also check the size of rollover fees, if you hold your positions overnight.
Slippage is the difference between estimated transaction price and the actual entry price. You can do a test program using your demo account so you calculate how fast your Forex broker fills in your order after you have pushed the button to buy or sell.
Computer and Mobile Equipment
Another aspect of decision-making is related to the technical aspect and depends on the OS you use. Most platforms run smoothly on Windows, but if you are using a Mac, it will be a good idea to verify the possibility of using Mac with your broker. The same pays for using a mobile phones or smartphones.
Data and Currency Pairs Available
It would be very surprising if any of the brokers that specialize in Forex charged any data services. Today, the Forex market has become so interesting that it is standard to have all data, including graphs and charts with different indicators for free. However, you should at least verify this information. You should also verify the currency pairs that a broker is able to offer to you. Generally, a broker can always offer you the major currency pairs, but if you’re interested in exotic pairs like USD CZK, check this option before choosing your broker.
Mini Accounts, Micro Accounts, Minimum Deposit to Open an Account
What is the minimum deposit to the getting an account is important information for those with limited capital to open an account or those who don’t want to invest that much into trading currencies. The lower limit is somewhere around $250 – $300. This opportunity is related to the use of mini and micro accounts. For mini accounts you are operating with a standard lot of 0.1 and for micro accounts the standard lot is 0.01. In practice, this means that if you trade in a micro account and open a position in the EUR USD, the value of one pip for you is $0.1. Most of the Forex brokers are trying to adapt to this trend and allow opening a standard micro account with a minimum deposit.
In conclusion, it is important to point out that, as in everything that relates to trading, the choice of a broker is your personal decision. Do not leave this selection to anyone else because you will bear the responsibility and the consequences of your decision, be it a good one or a bad one. And also if you don’t feel comfortable with your broker or you are not satisfied for any other reason, you are not obliged to remain with him forever – a change is possible at any time.
If your first selection of a broker isn’t entirely appropriate, signing a contract with the broker is not a marriage for life and it is common for traders to migrate between brokers due to advantageous offer or need. Technically, it is very simple.