Due to the popularity of forex trading over the past decade, hundreds, if not thousands, of new forex brokers have flooded the market, all seeking your patronage. Our desire is to help you find out exactly which one of these brokers is the right one for you, thereby avoiding a potential nightmare from ever happening before you even get started.
Table of Contents – 5 Step Guide
Forex brokers range widely from the highly reputable and well regulated firms like FXTM or AVA, handling many accounts honorably, to those engaging in questionable pricing and order execution practices, to outright fraud in some cases, like Refco, a highly publicized bankruptcy of a forex and commodities broker that attempted to hide $430 million in bad debts from investors and clients. Customer accounts were not held in segregated bank accounts and suddenly reverted to paying down other creditor claims. In other words, traders lost their money before they were able to make their first trade.
Consequently, it is basic common sense that all traders should take their time when choosing their most significant business partner, the one that will support their trading aspirations going forward – their forex broker. The process is called “due diligence” or “vetting a vendor” or whatever name you may wish to assign to the task, but urgency should not be a factor. When it comes to money, there is a criminal element in our society that will go to great lengths to deceive you. Significant research in advance will pay rewards. Take your time to find a forex broker that is worthy of your trust, before you ever send them any money.
There are many websites that can help you in your search process. The staff at Forextraders.com has reviewed many capable brokers and reduced the group down to a list of worthy candidates. The selection process begins by choosing a minimum of three possible brokers, and then following with an evaluation of each and whether they meet your needs. Even after you narrow the group down to one final candidate, you may want to start off slow with a small deposit and small trade positions to validate your initial findings. There is no reason to rush. There will always be trading opportunities around the corner.
Step 1: Choose a trusted forex broker
Of course, the first and most important consideration when selecting a forex trading broker involves determining whether or not your funds will be secure in the broker’s hands.
There are four aspects you want to examine to make sure your money is safe: Domicile, Regulation, Reputation, and Funding.
If the domicile of your forex broker is in a major country with well-developed financial regulation, this legal infrastructure can often help you recover your funds if problems arise. Make sure to double-check the domicile of the company even if the address looks reputable. Sending your money to an online forex broker based in less well-regulated places like the Bahamas or Panama may not be in your best interests. Trying to exert your legal rights in a foreign jurisdiction can be a daunting task, especially if there is no regulatory oversight in the background to support your effort. Avoiding forex brokers with a dubious base of operations will actually help narrow down considerably the search for a reputable broker! And you want to save time, right?
The second security signal to check is whether the broker is regulated or not. You should be aware that opening an account with a forex broker who has taken the trouble to register with a regulatory agency – while a very good idea – will still not guarantee that the company is legitimate or that your trading funds are safe.
Nevertheless, by having a regulatory agency involved, a certain amount of recourse exists for a broker’s clients if the company files for bankruptcy or if other problems develop that put the return of your trading funds at risk. To conclude, you should always choose a regulated broker.
The third point to check out is the broker’s reputation. Be sure to check the Internet for either favorable testimonials or continuing complaints about the brokers you have chosen for consideration. Especially look for reviews and comments where traders have had difficulties in withdrawing their funds. If you see evidence of this, don’t waste any more time on this broker.
The fourth and last point when it comes to choosing a trusted broker involves the financial security of the broker. Your money will always be more secure in the hands of a forex broker with great financial backing. The broker should be well funded, or have a trusted owner or parent company. These supporting relationships are often disclosed on the broker’s official web site on tabs like “About Us” or “Press Releases”. Although all the top forex brokers represented here should be well funded, it is always a good idea to make sure one extra time. You may also want to visit the website for the regulatory body in the region. Regulators often publish annual statistics on the capital funding for their licensees and whether they are adequate or not. You will also want your broker to hold your funds in segregated accounts at Tier-One banks. Safety and soundness are key factors when dealing with a broker.
Use the chart below to compare forex brokers. Here you will find our top choices of brokers that you can trust with your money.
Top list of most trusted forex brokers
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Note that a high degree of leverage can work against you as well as for you.
• Leverage over 50:1 for majors and 20:1 for minors is not available to traders in the U.S.
• As indicated in the list, only NFA regulated brokers are available to U.S. customers.
* Brokers offer variable spreads which means that the spreads are subject to current market conditions.
If you want to get some more basic information on brokers, and more information on different regulatory bodies that provide oversight for forex brokers as well as articles that dig deeper into the different aspects on choosing a forex broker that we talk about on this page, you will find that in our forex broker tips section.
Step 2: The broker’s offer and services
After you have found a broker that you think you can trust with your money, it is time to look at the offer and services you should expect from your broker.
My top list of things to check out include the following:
- Spread Margins
- Execution of orders
- Trading Platform
1. Spread Margins
Forex brokers usually charge a commission on deals by taking part of the bid offer spread, so the tighter their spreads, the more money the trader saves. If your preferred trading strategy is more active than most, then spread margins will be more important for you.
2. Execution of orders
Speed is really important when it comes to execution of orders. You should test his speed and effectiveness with a demo account with the broker you have chosen. More on demo accounts later. In some cases, the demo account may not be a good barometer. You should also check other online reviews to find out if there are “slippage” problems or constant re-quotes from the broker. If the speed and effectiveness is not there, then choose another broker!
3. Check out the trading platform
You need to determine the ease of use and reliability of the broker’s trading platform, in addition to the quality of the online market information offered by the broker to its clients. Does the platform need to be downloaded, as with Metatrader4, the most popular and widely used platform on the market? Some downloads are easier than others. Is the platform a proprietary design? This situation may be good or bad. Demo testing can help here, as well. It is not always easy to decide the best forex trading platform since it depends on your needs. Are you on the go and need to access your account via an iphone or Android device? Some brokers support mobile trading. Others do not.
Remember, the forex market is open 24 hours a day almost 6 days a week, if you count from the opening of the week in Sydney Monday morning until closing in NY Friday afternoon. See the forex market opening times. Different time zones can impact the accessibility of customer support services. If the broker’s support crew is on one side of the globe and you are on the other, you might need support from your broker on a 24-hour basis. We highly recommend that you choose a broker with 24-hour support.
These were our four most important points to review when accessing the capabilities of your prospective broker. It also helps to be aware of the pitfalls that can occur in the forex industry. Here are a few tips that could alert you to the possibility of questionable business practices and help you to easily discard prospective brokers on your short list.
Step 3: What to watch out for
Beware of Unusual Trading Rules
Beware of forex brokers with arcane trading rules, such as giving you a minimum time to hold a position or denying you to “pip hunt”.
Beware Outrageous Marketing Claims
There are unscrupulous brokers that will attempt to attract your interest with marketing claims that seem too good to be true. In most cases, be suspicious of claims of high returns, super tight spreads, and professional support that will help you make a fortune in forex trading. Competition is high, and many brokers will say anything to get your initial deposit. Be wary and skeptical. You are your first line of defense when it comes to preventing fraud.
Avoid Brokers That Requote
Requoting is the situation where your trading platform shows a certain price, and then when the trader goes to deal on it, the platform makes them wait, and then shows them another often worse price.
Excessive slippage on stops
Slippage occurs when an order, usually a stop loss, is not executed by a forex broker at the rate at which it was placed. Instead, the order is filled at a rate that is usually worse than originally intended by the trader.
Front running orders
Front running means that the broker may be holding an order for an especially large commercial transaction and might trade it ahead of or “front run” the order to make money at the client’s expense.
Step 4: Other considerations
You will want to read the prospective broker’s official website and any documents thoroughly to get clear on both their terms and operational rules of the road.
We also suggest you give their customer support a test call. You will want to assess the helpfulness and market expertise of the customer service department when assisting you in getting started trading or in case a problem arises. Brokers that fail to answer questions or that put you on hold when you try to call in are best avoided.
Withdrawals and Deposits
Make sure that the forex broker’s withdrawal and deposit policies agree with you. Some brokers charge exorbitant fees for bank or wire transfers, while some will even take PayPal.
Also, some brokers can make you wait an agonizingly long time to withdraw your funds. Make sure you have this information before you give them your money.
Make use of bonuses
Make sure to check out the prospective broker’s bonus offering. Often they will provide you with some kind of extra bonus with your first deposit. Some of them also offer other types of bonuses for you as a loyal customer. Make sure to understand the terms and conditions connected to the bonus.
What type of account to use?
There are demo trading accounts and live trading accounts. We always recommend that you start trading with a demo trading account to check out the trading platform. But you need to understand that there are differences between demo and live trading.
When you are ready to open a live account we recommend that you start trading with a micro account first.
Step 5: Checklist of features
The following list presents many of the more desirable features and services offered by forex brokers. We have already covered many of these in the above discussion, but not all. This list will help you prioritize your personal needs.
- Competitive dealing spreads
- Fast and reliable executions
- Mobile phone trading support
- Automated trading support
- Dependable order execution on stop loss orders
- Minimal slippage on stops
- Easy deposits and withdrawals
- Sign up bonuses and promotions
- Trading in a wide array of currency pairs
- Trading in other markets such as gold, silver and crude oil
- Low initial deposits
- Instructional material for novice traders
- Personalized trading strategy and market advice
- Economic calendars
- Reuters or AP/Dow Jones financial newswires
- Forex expert market commentary
- Calculators and trading tools
- Technical analysis tools
- Charting software
- Size of dealing lots
- High leverage accounts
- Competitive rollover fees
Most of these services can be obtained through a variety of online retail forex brokers, so it is up to you to determine what services you consider important for your personal trading needs. Your goal is to select the broker that best suits your personal trading needs.
As you might expect, the larger the forex broker, generally the more services the broker can make available to their clients, the tighter their dealing spreads, the more reliable their trading platform and the faster their transaction executions are likely to be. Thus, in general we recommend that you choose one of the larger brokers.
Any qualified forex broker will provide you with a reliable trading platform, 24-hour customer support during forex trading hours, charting and technical analysis tools, access to quality forex news and commentary, competent order execution, competitive dealing spreads and a wide choice of currency pairs to trade. Brokers offering any less than this basic package should not be considered in the selection of a forex broker, since today’s market offers a broad blend of online retail forex brokers for your consideration.
Performing adequate due diligence on the front end on your prospective forex broker, before making your first trade, can literally save you thousands of dollars and prevent nightmares from ever happening down the road. Finding the right broker for you and your trading needs is your top priority. Invest the time that this task requires, and you will never regret it.
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