Forex Broker Guide

 Introduction

The following is a list of questions you may like to consider before opening an account. You can use this checklist to narrow down your selection of companies that fit your requirements. You may also wish to refer to the forex broker ratings page on this site to read about traders unique experiences with particular brokers.

The following links will also give you some background information on U.S. FCM’s (Futures Commission Merchants).

* Selected Financial Data for FCM’s
* NFA Background Affiliation Status

1. Word of Mouth

* What do other traders say about the broker?
* What is their customer service like?

2. Customer Protection

* Is the broker regulated?
* What regulatory organisation are they registered with and what protections does it afford you?
* Are client funds insured against fraud?
* Are client funds insured against bankruptcy?

3. Execution

* What business model do they operate? i.e. Are they a Market Maker[?], ECN[?] or no-dealing desk broker[?]?
* How fast is their order execution?
* Are orders manually or automatically executed? [?]
* What is the maximum trade size before you have to request a quote?
* Are all clients trades offset?

4. Spread [?]

* How tight is the spread?
* Is it fixed or variable?

5. Slippage [?]

* How much slippage can be expected in normal and fast moving markets?

6. Margin [?]

* What is the margin requirement? e.g. 0.25% margin = max 400:1 leverage [?]), 0.5% margin = max 200:1 leverage, 1% margin = max 100:1 leverage, 2% margin = max 50:1 leverage, etc.
* Does the margin requirement change for different currency pairs or days of the week?
* At what point will the broker issue a margin call?
* Is it the same for standard and mini accounts? [?]

7. Commissions

* Do they charge commissions? (Most market makers’ commissions are built into the spread)

8. Rollover Policy [?]

* Is there a minimum margin requirement in order to earn rollover interest?
* What are the swap rates like for going long or short in a particular currency pair?
* Are there any other conditions for earning rollover interest?

9. Trading Platform

* How intuitive and functional is it to use?
* Are there many disconnections during trading hours?
* How reliable is it during fast moving markets and news announcements?
* How many different currency pairs can you trade?
* Do they offer an Application Programming Interface (API) to allow you to automate your trading system?
* Does it offer any other special features? (e.g. One click dealing, trading from the chart, trailing stops, mobile trading etc.)

10. Trading Account

* What is the minimum balance required to open an account?
* What is the minimum trade size?
* Can you adjust the standard lot size traded? [?]
* Can you earn interest on the unused margin balance in your account?

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