The criteria for choosing a forex broker have evolved over the years. While there are still some elements that are critical to the choice and which have remained constant over time, there are other parameters which have emerged and which will be considered below.
Spreads are the primary cost to the trader. Lower costs mean that the trader will have a chance to retain more profits, or at least reduce the losses that may be incurred. Competitive spreads are now a factor used in broker selection. It may not be immediately obvious how much savings on spreads can translate to, but high volume traders such as scalpers know that when up to 300 trades are placed in a month, then savings from reduced spreads can be substantial.
Leverage in forex is now a big deal. What started off in 2010 when leverage caps were introduced in the US by the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), has now been extended into the United Kingdom and Europe. Retail traders in the UK and EU have seen leverage caps reduced from as high as 1:500, to just 1:30 for major forex pairs. Minor pairs and CFDs have even tighter leverage limits. This has increased margin requirements significantly. However, some brokers outside these jurisdictions have continued to maintain the high leverages, thus attracting traders who were caught out by ESMA’s decision. Some of the UK/EU brokers have also opened international divisions, where their international client accounts are being migrated to. So traders now have a choice of operating with the low leverage brokers, or the high leverage ones.
Regulation will continue to remain a key factor in broker selection. Regulation ensures that traders are protected and that the trading environment is transparent and secure. The brokers presented on this site are regulated in their respective areas of operation, which ensures that traders who open accounts with them are assured of safety of their funds.
4. Broker Type
A mention has earlier been made about direct and indirect access to the interbank market. As a trader, you need to know how each type of access will affect you. Market makers provide indirect access because they buy positions from the interbank market and resell them to their clients using a dealing desk. Market makers usually require smaller amounts of starting capital, provide fixed spreads, and tend to have more slippages and requotes. They provide a low barrier for market entry.
ECN brokers on the other hand, provide direct market access. They require large amounts as initial capital, provide variable spreads, but do not have slippages and requotes. However, they charge commissions on trades in addition to spreads. At the end of the day, the trader’s financial capacity will determine if a market maker or an ECN broker will be selected for the trading venture.
5. Trading Resources
Trading resources are generally tools that are provided by a broker to enhance the trading experience and potentially improve a trader’s trading outcomes. More is not always better. In this case, it is about finding the broker that has the right mix of trading resources that cover analysis, news and market insight.
6. Customer Support
Customer support can now be offered using a variety of means that were not in existence 10 years ago. Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as messaging apps such as Telegram can now serve as channels for receiving near-immediate responses from a broker’s customer support desk. Choose a broker with a diversified customer support structure which deploys these new means of communication.