Choosing an online FOREX broker that offers excellent scalping features starts with assessing the broker’s overall value proposition. Even before you begin to measure its scalping capabilities, you need to be satisfied that the broker is well-established. In the trading world, the elements that make a broker one you can trust include, but are not limited to, top-tier regulation, excellent liquidity, and mature platforms.
It is only once you are satisfied that these boxes have been checked that you can start to assess a broker’s suitability to provide you with the right level of scalping services you need. This article has been developed to help you understand what to look out for as a would-be scalper.
Best FOREX Brokers for Scalping
This table format section is based on a comprehensive in-house research study conducted at Arincen.
Scalping is an investment strategy where traders attempt to profit from small changes in the price of financial instruments by entering and exiting positions hundreds of times during a day. The practice is founded in the idea that traders can make high volumes of small profits, informed by data from advanced technical analysis.
As you can imagine, with scalpers making hundreds of trades per day, the practice is intense and frenetic. Traders must be always hyper-aware, and the technology they use should bear institutional-level speed with constant uptime. While other traders might use 30-minute trend analysis charts, scalpers trade using tick charts and one-minute charts. This shows the importance of extreme decision-making speed in scalping.
Scalping is the fastest trading style there is. Every other trading method, including day trading, requires investors to follow trends and hold positions for longer periods of time. This can mean holding positions open for days or weeks in the case of slow-moving instruments, like commodities. Some instruments, like bonds, require months and even years to reach maturation.
Scalping is characterized by lightning-fast order opening and trade execution. Traders enter so many positions simultaneously that they cannot assess the merits of every position they take. Instead, they act on a longer-term strategy that is informed by technical analysis of cyclical price fluctuations and market inefficiencies. Some scalpers increase their activity still more when important economic news regarding interest rates and earnings results are released.
Many people in the industry consider scalping a high-risk style of trading as it is most often used in conjunction with high leverage. Scalpers themselves argue that it is inherently less risky to make only small bets on any one trade. Scalpers believe they can control other factors that might see them make losses by installing strategic stop-loss and take-profit orders and reducing timeframes. Indeed, one thing to remember about scalping is that if exiting trades very quickly saves traders from making losses, surely the opposite is true and exiting profitable trades suddenly stops them from making gains. This is known as the opportunity cost of scalping. It is where serious discipline comes in as scalpers must use strategies to exit at the exact time they have predetermined.
How to Choose the Best Scalping FOREX Broker
As mentioned, before choosing a broker for scalping, you need to check that the broker offers you the right conditions in several other areas. These conditions include regulation by reputable bodies, adequate capitalization, and a reputation that speaks for itself. You could also check what other traders just like you are saying about the broker.
On a more specific level, to give you the best scalping experience, the broker needs to have access to:
Responsive stop-loss order facilities to minimize losses.
A platform that allows you to open several hundred positions per day.
Non-restrictive order opening rules. Positions should be opened and closed instantaneously.
Razor thin spreads on FOREX.
Extremely low fees.
Access to better-than-average liquidity.
High-end indicators that allow you to monitor multiple markets.
Access to view market depth and what other traders are doing.
ECN-based direct access to markets with few dealer desk intermediaries.
If there is intermediation, counterbalancing measures must be in place to unblock bottlenecks inherent in dealer desk models.
Lightning-fast order execution.
Generous, but well-controlled leverage.
Fast and intuitive trading platforms.
Finally, you need to be able to choose the financial assets best suited to scalping. Often, these are high liquidity assets such as FOREX. Large indices also work well for scalping. With these dynamic and highly liquid markets, there is never a situation where there are too few sellers or buyers, rendering the market unable to trade. Frequently, in illiquid markets that are prone to lulls, market corrections occasionally occur, inflating spreads temporarily. This is not ideal for scalping as the practice requires consistently stable conditions in which to facilitate rapid trades.
Clearly, the bar for scalping services is high. It should not surprise you to learn that not all brokers offer scalping because of this. Many brokers simply do not permit it. Whether it is because scalping is inherently risky or because the broker cannot meet the technical requirements is up for conjecture.
What are the Regulations Surrounding Scalping?
Scalping as a form of trading is not bound by any formal regulation. It is down to the individual broker to put in place any rules or regulations it may see fit. Usually, any rules are intended to serve two purposes. The first is to protect the client and brokers’ interests, so this could look like limiting the amount of leverage to which clients have access. The second reason is related to the limitations of the broker’s platform. A broker might place limits on execution speeds or the number of indicators it can support.
That said, scalpers generally have a lot of freedom over the strategies they employ. This can see them choosing their stop-loss or take-profit levels without difficulty and taking control of the timeframes for trades. There is some truth to the idea that scalping cannot be supported by a broker that is not technologically capable. Later in the article, we will discuss the type of broker operating model that is best suited to scalping.
What is the Broker’s Policy toward Scalping?
As you may have gathered, scalping is a strategy that is loved by many traders who enjoy the speed of trading and the thrill of being involved in such a fast-paced marketplace. The best brokers make every effort to accommodate scalping as no company likes to leave a segment of its client base uncovered.
However, as we have said, brokers have different attitudes to scalping. Some brokers offer scalping, but do not have all the tools in place, making it a troublesome and frustrating exercise. In fact, disappointed traders on many message boards complain that while some brokers offer scalping in principle, they are simply not set up for it in practice.
Other brokers refuse scalping outright. Besides the technological aspect we have mentioned, there are also some operational reasons a broker can shy away from the practice. Scalping requires the broker to have its house in order from the point of view of handling the large wins or losses that traders can make. Scalping requires that broker platforms have high uptime and robust servers. You can imagine a situation in which, due to performance issues, scalpers are interrupted during a trading session and a broker does not have a responsive customer service team to handle the complaints.
Commercially, there are also some additional challenges. Imagine a broker offers scalping on a Dealer Desk method, meaning they trade against their clients, thereby offsetting their market risk to zero. In practice, with the Dealer Desk method, if a trader takes a massive loss on a trade, the broker makes a compensatory win as it will have placed a counter trade. In this instance, if the broker is not operationally sound enough to routinely counter hundreds of thousands of daily client trades, then they are at risk of going out of business. Brokers have been known to fold because their operations are not set up for a rapid-fire trading environment. This is one of the reasons why some brokers fear scalping.
Reputable brokers will always make it clear if they are open to scalping or not. If your broker does not include this information or if they are intentionally vague, it is a cause for concern. Scalping is a valid trading strategy in which many traders engage. If the broker recognizes scalping, but is hesitant to embrace it, then it is sometimes an indictment on the broker’s ability to offer these services.
In what Jurisdiction is your Broker Located?
Jurisdiction plays an important part in scalping. Typically, brokers that are domiciled in areas with weaker tier-2 and tier-3 regulators are likely to be unsafe. Often, the regulators in these jurisdictions do not mandate client compensation schemes, putting traders at risk. If a broker were to fail for any reason, including failures emanating from its scalping division, there would be no way to claim compensation.
As you embark on your search for the best FOREX brokers for scalping, you will find that the more rules are in place around acceptable leverage, negative-balance protection, and trader compensation, the safer you will feel.
Is your Broker Using an ECN Platform?
It is much more suitable for a broker to use an Electronic Communications Network (ECN) platform to facilitate scalping services. This type of network is fast and stable and is perfectly suited for the rapid trading that takes place in the scalping world. Brokers that do well in this space are often the fastest among their immediate competitors and provide a space where the trader can enjoy unfettered access to market-making participants like liquidity providers.
What does all this mean? FOREX brokers typically operate in two ways. The first and more traditional is the Dealer Desk model, where the trader buys FOREX from the broker who then goes out to the market to find the FOREX at the best prices. In this Dealer Desk model, you can already see that scalping would be a difficult exercise to execute at speed because of the presence of a middleman.
The other, newer, operating model is the technology-enabled ECN method in which the broker simply provides their platform for the scalper to utilize and essentially steps back and allows the trader to buy FOREX directly from the market. It is much faster and much more suited to scalping.
ECN platforms facilitate a vibrant space for buyers and sellers to be in the same market to negotiate and finalize orders. Using technical tools that place an emphasis on speed, the network automatically matches buy and sell orders in real time.
All the information relating to active bids and offers available for trading is available in a bustling electronic marketplace. The system was designed to be more efficient and streamlined than traditional counterparty or dealer desk trading.
Trading on an ECN platform is faster and more transparent. Scalpers can see the same information in the form of a market newsfeed that shows up-to-the-minute pricing, including price history. ECN platforms allow an institutional level of transacting. Scalpers thrive on high-trade volumes, something that is easily achieved in a bustling ECN-enabled marketplace.
ECN platforms also allow scalpers to trade outside of standard trading windows. By providing electronic access to markets on a 24/5 basis, traders can work at night or early in the morning as exchanges in other areas of the world are bound to be open.
Does the Broker have Fast Execution Speeds?
When we speak of fast execution speeds in the context of scalping, non-ECN trading is disqualified. For the reasons we have discussed before, any broker still offering dealer-desk scalping where they act as the market maker is, by definition, slower than ECN trading since they place themselves as an intermediary and cannot match ECN speeds.
Slippage is not an option for scalpers. This is when trades are not executed at the price the trader indicated because the broker could not action the request fast enough. Scalpers need to trade continuously without delay, or they may as well not bother. This high intensity trading form requires institutional grade tools that are highly efficient and reliable.
As far as execution speeds go, some brokers market themselves as leaders in terms of execution speeds without stating on what they base those claims. Other brokers proudly tell you how fast their average execution speeds are. When conducting research for any purchase, you would look to corroborate any firm’s claims, and you would go further by looking for testimonials from other clients. Therefore, settling on a broker based on execution speeds follows much the same idea. The more verifiable information you can find to back up the broker’s claims, the better.
Terms and Conditions: What to Look Out For?
It is important to understand what a broker seeks to highlight when they inform you about terms and conditions. Remember, as an unregulated practice, scalping rules are set by the brokers themselves. When reading the fine print (and you should certainly do this), ensure that you are not prejudiced in any of the following ways:
Be certain that you have enough time to close your trades. Many established brokers give scalpers extra time to complete their trades outside normal hours. Because ECN trading is usually the norm, having electronic access to markets across the world means you can trade across time zones.
Understand how much margin you need to stay in good standing. You should also pay attention to what the broker says about when they will make a margin call if you start losing money, which is the process of the broker calling in the collateral they asked you to put up.
On the matter of execution speed, it is crucial to know how much of the broker’s execution performance speed is guaranteed. This test most often separates the serious brokers from the remainder. The best brokers offer detailed execution speed guarantees because their platforms are durable and market tested. Other brokers limit guarantees to peak hours, while some brokers offer no guarantees at all.
Reasons for Choosing a Broker that Allows Scalping
Due to the technical and operational demands that scalping places on brokers, not all of them can do it. It is fair to say that reliable, fair and fast scalping services can act as a proxy for how established a broker is.
You do need to understand that this type of trading usually requires a bigger deposit than other forms of trading. With access to high leverage and the sheer speed at which trader positions can shift, brokers need to protect themselves if a scalper gets into trouble.
Scalping is a trading form that is characterized by high trading speed and elevated trading volume. The plain truth is that it is a risky exercise, especially for inexperienced traders. Brokers that understand this and embrace it by educating scalpers extensively and putting in place rules to protect themselves and the scalper are your best bet as you enter this space.
Technical Tools for Scalpers
Scalping and advanced technical software go hand in hand. Brokers must provide scalpers with powerful indicators that are customizable and easy to follow. Traders who engage in scalping rely heavily on technical analysis to inform their strategies.
Scalpers make the most use of tick charts and rapid one-minute charts. They also need access to long-term trend analysis tools like Fibonacci graphs. Market updates and daily signals and recommendations also come in handy. This level of technical expertise disqualifies a great many brokers, who simply do not have the resources to put these services in place.
New traders should also not underestimate the value of a well-designed and intuitive trading interface. Serious scalpers spend hours staring at the screen, making a good visual interface a non-negotiable item. Part of the design brief for any interface should include access to multiple timeframes at once so traders can keep track of as many price movements as possible.
It may sound trivial, but having a well-laid out screen could be the difference between a costly mistake and a trouble-free trading session. Imagine that during trading you need to place an urgent trade and you press the wrong button or you must navigate between cumbersome screens to achieve what you want. It is these fine performance margins that only the most serious high-volume scalpers will be able to tell apart.
The team at Arincen collected over 120 pieces of data covering in excess of 100 licensed FOREX companies. Data collection was done in three ways:
Other Websites that have ranked FOREX companies.
A survey questionnaire (referred to here as Survey “1”) we had sent to the companies invited to participate in the exercise.
We have identified 12 criteria for our assessment, each containing several aspects and carrying its own relative weight. These include licensing, deposits and withdrawals, number of assets, scalping features, etc.
Afterward, we validated the data by:
Registering with FOREX companies as a secret shopper and/or as Arincen.
Survey number “2,” in which we asked these companies’ customers for important feedback and past experience.
The next step saw us evaluate and rank each company, relying on the hard work of 15 Arincen employees. We were very careful in ensuring the most accurate assessment possible, including taking into account different languages, as well as the various mobile-app operating systems, e.g., Apple, Samsung, etc. To add credibility to our research project, we sent a final and third survey (referred to here as Survey “3”) to enable participating FOREX companies to evaluate our own research and whether it accurately reflects the realities on the ground. We were fortunate enough to receive a mark of 9.9 out of 10! We have kept to a minimum the margin of error, which stood at a measly 1%.
What is Scalping?
Scalping is a trading style that involves opening and closing multiple positions each day to make small profits. It is not uncommon for serious scalpers to make hundreds of small trades every session.
Is Scalping Profitable?
Yes. Scalping can be profitable. However, you need to be well-prepared before you start. Educate yourself on scalping strategies and familiarize yourself with your broker’s platform. Also, be aware that scalping requires a large deposit to start trading. Finally, understand that scalping is an intense exercise that needs your active attention if you are to be successful.
Is Scalping Legal?
Yes. Scalping is legal. It is widely practiced and supported by modern technology. Most well-established brokers offer it as a legitimate part of their services.
How Do I Choose an Asset for Scalping?
The best assets to scalp are those that are highly volatile and exist in large and liquid markets. FOREX is a prime candidate for scalping, as are stocks and securities.
How Can I Minimize Scalping Risk?
Do your research first. Produce a well-informed strategy and stick to it. Make use of an established broker that can offer you advanced technical tools that guarantee correct and up-to-date information, as well as performance speed. Finally, it is always good advice in any form of trading to diversify your interests and to not expose too much of your portfolio at any one time.
Does it Matter Where My Broker is Based?
Yes, it matters. The best brokers are regulated by reputable and powerful oversight bodies. If you are to receive the benefit of this regulation, then you must pay attention to where your broker is based.
My Broker Does Not Support Scalping, What Should I Do?
Not all brokers offer scalping. The best advice is to do your research and find one that does.
What are Scalping Regulations?
Scalping itself is not regulated. Each broker puts rules in place regarding how you can perform scalping on its platform.
How Much Money Do I Need to Start Scalping?
In general, the minimum deposits for scalping are higher than other types of trading. This is because scalping is risky, and so you can lose money quickly. Before you start, investigate how much your broker needs in your account before you can start scalping.