As the number of FOREX traders continues to rise, the best FOREX Brokers are increasingly focusing on customer retention, thereby securing improved revenues and higher profitability. Traders, some wary of the relatively high risks involved in FOREX activities, will need all the help they can get to avoid fraudulent brokers altogether. In what follows, we will first list the best FOREX brokers today.
The FOREX market is the world’s largest and most actively traded financial market in the world, by a long shot. However, when shopping around for the “best” FOREX broker, traders – beginners and experienced alike – typically look for a number of features and benefits. Chief among these are the breadth and depth of product offerings, be they currencies, contract for differences (CFD), indexes, commodities, spread betting, cryptocurrencies etc. The list also includes:
The overall trading experience.
Fees charged (be they spreads and/or commissions).
The trading platform on offer (Web-based, downloadable software, mobile, charting and third-party platforms).
Customer care and support.
Trading education and research.
These and other features and benefits will be discussed at length as the article progresses below. The latter is broken up into seven sub-sections, each helping traders achieve the peace of mind that Arincen can give.
The Dos and Don’ts of FOREX Companies.
Deposits and Withdrawals
Technical Aspects of the Website.
Mobile Apps and Trading Platforms.
Spread Differences, Extra Commissions and Commission-Free Accounts and Leverage.
It is noteworthy that the above-mentioned seven categories were picked and expanded upon because they form the basis upon which our research of best FOREX brokers is based (see relevant section below below for more details). By better understanding each sub-section and, therefore, the major topics that have been associated with the market for currencies, readers would be able to understand how each FOREX broker fares in a specific category and how this has impacted its overall company ranking.
What is FOREX and Why Do We Need a Broker?
The FOREX market is a global decentralized marketplace for the trading of currencies. This market, which determines foreign exchange rates for every currency, includes all aspects of buying, selling and exchanging currencies at current or determined prices. In terms of trading volume and liquidity, the FOREX market is by far the largest in the world, at some six trillion dollars daily, only followed by the credit market. The FOREX market operates 24 hours a day and five days a week (Monday through Friday), except international holidays.
By trading FOREX online, users are able to make extra income on the side, a phenomenon that appears to be on the rise in recent years. Such activity is facilitated by a brokerage firm, which, in turn, enables clients to buy and sell through a trading platform, either on your personal computer (PC) or more recently by using one’s own smartphone.
In what follows, we list to those who know and those who don’t the most important terminology in FOREX trading. This includes:
Spread, defined as the difference between the bid (sell) price and the ask (buy) price of a currency pair.
Leverage, the borrowing of a certain amount of the money needed to invest in some currency deal.
Lots, denoting the number of currency units you will buy or sell.
Pips, short for percentage in points, used to quote changes in FOREX currency pairs.
How to Pick the Best Forex Broker; Why Arincen
At the beginning, it is best to learn about regulatory bodies and their role in the FOREX market. Regulatory bodies are government entities or independent units vested with authority to oversee a certain sector and/or activity. They play two main roles:
Observing and regulating the work environment in the FOREX market; and
Protecting FOREX investors and their funds.
Every FOREX firm must at least obtain one license from a relevant regulatory authority. Companies that do not have such a license must be avoided at all times. All you have to do is to log into one of the regulatory authorities we mention below and search for the company with which you wish to deal. If your search yields a result, then the company is licensed and as such can be used. Of course, this is partly subject to you screening its past track record and business dealings, where and if applicable. Otherwise, if no results pop-up, it means the firm for which you are looking is not licensed and should be avoided at all costs.
In the following paragraphs, we will list the most formidable FOREX market regulatory bodies from around the world.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), UK.
The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
The Financial Markets Authority (FMA), New Zealand.
The National Futures Association (NFA), US.
While the world has many other FOREX market regulatory bodies, these are the most important five and also the strictest. To learn more about other regulatory bodies, please visit Arincen, where you will find a comprehensive global database.
Having ensured the integrity of the FOREX firm with which you would like to deal, as per the second point listed above, and after confirming legal and licensing matters related to the company in question, you are most likely dealing with a legitimate firm. It is never unimportant to reiterate that due to concerns about the safety of deposits, FOREX traders should only open an account with a firm that is licensed by one of the aforementioned bodies. However, before you take the plunge, there are other issues you need to consider. These include online technical concerns related to the FOREX firm at which you are looking, as will be discussed below.
The Dos and Don'ts of FOREX Brokerage Companies
The first step that one ought to check is the extent to which the FOREX company abides by the rules and regulations governing its operation and insofar what it can and cannot do.
Seven things brokerage firms cannot do are:
The FOREX brokerage firm cannot recommend a buy or sell.
The FOREX brokerage firm must not provide price or market expectations.
The FOREX firm cannot control your financial dealings (deposit/withdrawal).
The FOREX brokerage firm should not “manage” your portfolio under any circumstance.
The FOREX brokerage firm cannot grant a client a bonus unless there are clear terms guiding it from beforehand.
The FOREX brokerage firm must not use bank accounts not under its name.
FOREX brokerage firms cannot have or offer the service of account managers.
All that FOREX brokerage firms should do is to facilitate buyers and sellers to come together. As a deal is struck, the FOREX firm receives an agreed-upon commission. Therefore, if a FOREX brokerage firm violates any of the seven rules noted above, which if indeed is the case, indicates a lack of integrity on behalf of the company, clients must shy away from dealing with it. If you do, however, wish to receive any of the abovementioned services, our advice is to seek informed help from a company like Arincen, something we will explain more about toward the end of this article.
Deposits and Withdrawals
When trading currencies, making deposits and withdrawals with licensed FOREX brokers should be simple and straightforward, and hardly take up any of your time. Good FOREX brokers are constantly striving to offer traders even more deposit and withdrawal options, and to make the process even easier. In this regard, it is considered a great feat if the FOREX broker offers traders a credit card to enable them to withdraw their realized profits from an ATM wherever they may be.
Speed of execution in withdrawals and deposits is important, most notably in two cases:
1. Speed of withdrawal and funds arrival should not take more than two to five business days. In our research here at Arincen, we registered and deposited in all of the FOREX companies under review. We did that to test for the speed of withdrawal, with companies that are successful in a quick turnaround getting high marks. Of course, our research took into account differences that may arise from being in a different country or region and/or different withdrawal methods.
2. There should be an automatic integration between the customer’s portal (where he/she deposits and withdraws) on one hand, and the trading platform on the other. This is especially important given how significant it is to allow traders to deposit quickly ahead of major market movements. An automated system also ensures speed of withdrawals without having to involve a human element.
Of course, it would be very hard to find any trader who would reject the benefits of having a credit card to facilitate and ease the withdrawal process. We, therefore, gave high marks to the companies that offered a credit card to their customers. Unsurprisingly, companies that offered different withdrawal and deposit options got a bonus point in our research, especially those that offered a multitude of options for deposits. Such options may include:
Online banks like Skrill, Neteller, Paypal and Qiwi.
Technical Aspects of the Website
When it comes to sharing sensitive personal information online, such as a credit card, cyber security is paramount. To ensure this is the case, look for such things as SSL certification and two-factor authentication (especially when registering with a new FOREX site).
To provide our users with peace of mind as to the FOREX firms with which are looking to deal, we at Arincen have introduced the “Company Checker,” which is an online tool directly linked to a Website called Scamadviser. The latter is an independent site that checks the countries in which these FOREX Websites are managed, where the server is located, in addition to other security and informational aspects. It ranks FOREX firms by granting them a score from 0% to 100%. The best FOREX brokers usually receive a score of 90% and above. As such, any FOREX company that achieved a score lower than 85% should be avoided.
Mobile Apps and Trading Platform
We need a trading platform suitable for PCs, but also one optimized for mobile use. Moreover, the trading platform must offer users different indicators to determine price directions. Not least, the trading platform must execute quickly and with great speed. This is especially true for short-term “buy-and-sell” traders. In this regard, it is worth noting that MetaTrader4 (MT4) is currently the most popular platform for many FOREX market participants. Indeed, its MQL scripting language has become a popular tool for those looking to trade in currencies.
A FOREX trading platform is the software that enables investors and traders to place trades and monitor accounts through financial intermediaries, in this case FOREX brokers. It is thus important that this trading platform is available on cell phones (in addition to PCs), given the “on-the-go,” 24/5 nature of the FOREX market. Afterall, traders and investors may want to open and close positions at any given time, in various time zones, and from different places around the world.
A FOREX trader would need to look at several indicators when deciding on a new deal. These include support and resistance levels, the Averages index, in addition to tens of other indicators, such as the Relative Strength Index (RSI). Needless to say, and as aforementioned, given how the FOREX market is highly volatile and serves huge volumes, speed of execution is very important, and it is for this reason that the trading platform should be fast. Indeed, traders cannot make the most of a market movement after it has lost momentum. Many news or other factors that may cause market volatility do not last for long, and this is why they instigate short-burst changes in the market. The idea is to use the change before you are stopped out or the news loses energy. In the below sections, you will see how important this is; so important that we actually test the speed aspects of all the trading platforms used by the FOREX brokers under review.
Finally, while there are hundreds – if not thousands – of different trading platforms, the most popular platform for many FOREX market participants is MT4, which is not only a trading platform that interfaces with many different brokers, as opposed to platforms that work with only one broker, it is also available for use on a PC, as well on one’s smartphone. MT4 is unique in that it offers over 100 price indicators.
Meanwhile, speed of execution may differ from one broker to another, even if they are both using MT4, as this process partly depends on price providers. We have thus demonstrated how important the issue of speed is, which is why we included it in our assessment of best FOREX brokers as you will read later in the article.
Traders and investors should take multiple considerations into account while balancing trade-offs when selecting a trading platform. Chief among these are the fees involved and features available. Starting with the latter, day traders and other short-term traders may require features like Level-2 quotes and Market Maker-depth charts to assist in decision making.
Fees, meanwhile, are another important consideration while choosing trading platforms. For example, traders who employ scalping, the buying or selling of a currency pair and hold it for a brief period of time in an attempt to realize a profit, as a trading strategy, will lean toward platforms with low fees. In general, lower fees are always preferable, but there may be trade-offs to consider. For instance, an argument could be that low fees may not always be advantageous. This is especially true if they translate into fewer features and less useful informational research.
Spread Differential, Extra Commissions, Commission-Free Accounts and Leverage
Before you start dealing with a certain FOREX company, it is worth looking into the spread differential, defined as the difference between the bid (sell) price and the ask (buy) price of a currency pair. While, for some FOREX companies, the spread is the one “cost” that applies to any trade that you place, others add extra commission fees (this isn’t necessarily bad, as the combined fee of the spread plus the commission might still be competitive) to each trade. Then there is Swap, which is a commission fee charged for holding a position overnight. Equally important is to pick a FOREX company that offers leverage suitable to your needs.
The spread is how “no commission” brokers make their money. Instead of charging a separate fee for making a trade, the cost is built into the buy and sell price of the currency pair you want to trade. Good companies typically offer a EUR-USD spread of 1.4 basis points. It is noteworthy that some companies offer a variable spread, which is typically dependent on the market situation, thus making it vulnerable to fluctuations and volatility. Trade volume and market news play an important role in this regard. When there is extreme volatility, it is hard to realize the offered price, which means the broker may have to increase its variable spread. The variable spread is lower than a fixed spread, which is more appropriate for traders who prefer to plan prudently and not be surprised. Of course, some FOREX brokers offer both.
The commission is a fixed amount and depends on the trading volume of a currency pair. Traders do not pay an additional spread, only the commission itself. Commission-based account models are the cheapest accounts. However, one must mention that some FOREX companies offer a very low spread, but with a fixed commission.
A swap in FOREX refers to the interest that you either earn or pay for a trade that you keep open overnight and/or move from one market to another. A foreign currency swap is essentially an agreement to exchange currency between two foreign parties. The agreement consists of swapping principal and interest payments on a loan made in one currency for principal and interest payments of a loan of equal value in another currency. Though most companies offer swaps, a few do not and that is certainly an added advantage.
Finally, a few words on leverage in FOREX, defined as the ratio of the trader's funds to the size of the broker's credit. In layman's terms, leverage is money traders borrowing to increase their potential returns. Of course, the size of leverage is not fixed at all companies, depending, as it does, on the trading conditions provided by the FOREX broker. Most investors take advantage of the optional leverage feature, which allows them to obtain a large exposure of 1:100 for a relatively small initial deposit. Naturally, the high degree of leverage that is obtainable in the trading of CFDs and FOREX can work both against you as well as for you.
What distinguishes the FOREX market is the fact that it operates 24 hours, five days a week. As timing is key to FOREX trading, you must pick a brokerage firm that is able to support you around the clock and covers all the different time zones. Among other things, this includes the company representatives being:
Easy to reach.
This will, in turn, spare you of having to worry about problems down the road. As in any service-oriented business, customer care is paramount, and for that we computed it into our calculations when ranking the best FOREX brokers.
Ranking 7 Best FOREX Brokers Using Different Measures
The team at Arincen collected more than 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 13 criteria for our assessment, each containing several aspects and carrying its own relative weight. These include licensing, deposits and withdrawals, number of assets 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 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%.
FXDD 92.15 Best Overall Broker
ICM Capital 91.10 Best Deposit and Withdrawal Broker
XTB 85.55 Best Customer Service Broker
IG 85.45 Best Regulations Broker plus Convenient Platform
Saxo Bank 80.09 Excellent Private Trading Platform
CMC Markets 80.07 More than 9,000 Assets
Think Markets 80.05 Aimed at the Audience of Traders
FXDD received the highest score in our survey (92.15). One of the first FOREX companies to offer a credit card in order to allow traders to withdraw their profits, this New York-based company has the UK's FCA license under its belt. It also has a rich portfolio of assets, offers a relatively low spread, in addition to the MetaTrader4 (MT4) platform. Further, it has excellent and fast customer service, and also offers traders a variety of ways to deposit money.
CM Capital is considered the industry leader in deposits and withdrawals, whereby each withdrawal does not take more than five business days. Moreover, the company offers its customers a handy credit card to withdraw their profits, in addition to enabling customers to use various deposit methods. The company, which is licensed by the UK's FCA, has several branches around the world. Among other things, it has a rich portfolio of assets, especially stocks, offers a low spread, as well as the ability to use MT4.
What distinguishes XTB is the fact that it offers the best customer experience among all the companies we have surveyed. Indeed, it boasts the fastest response rate from all the companies under investigation. This is especially relevant, since the market is always on-the-go, and so you need to act fast. XTB offers lots of asset classes, as well as the ability to use the MT4 trading platform. Finally, it maintains a relatively low spread, which is suitable for quick deals.
IG is arguably the best broker when it comes to security and trust, boasting, as it does, licenses from 10 regulatory bodies, including the all-important FCA from the UK. The company is also a bank and is a publicly traded company in London. It is known for offering more than 10,000 asset classes of currencies, commodities, future contracts, ETFs, indices, cryptocurrencies etc. Further, it has its own state-of-the-art trading platform and offers a relatively low spread.
Saxobank is considered one of the best investment banks in the area of financial markets and currencies, as it offers the very best trading platform and tools from all the companies we have reviewed. Meanwhile, its spread is very low and, as such, suitable for short-term deals; and it offers a large number of asset classes, including currencies, commodities, indices etc. Finally, its customer service is excellent and very responsive to traders' needs.
CMC Markets is thought of as one the best companies, offering some 9,000 asset classes that encompass currencies, commodities, indices, cryptocurrencies, bonds and stocks. The company offers a relatively low spread, the MT4 platform, and fast customer service. It is most suited for traders looking for diversity in asset classes.
Originally founded in New Zealand in 2010, and moving to Australia within the space of their first two years, Think Markets is a global online brokerage focusing on FOREX and CFD trading. In addition to a range of major and minor currency pairs. Think Markets has an array of CFDs on offer. This includes indices, as well as hard and soft commodities.
The Difference Between a Dealing-Desk and an Agency Broker?
Upon choosing the FOREX broker right for you, it is vital to understand the trade structure under which you will be operating. In short, you need to understand whether you are using a “dealing desk” FOREX broker or an “agency broker.” Understanding the differences and identifying them beforehand can significantly impact whether or not you feel comfortable using the broker you choose in the long run. After all, the last thing you need is for your broker to be trading “against” you. In what follows, we will define both in short, while pointing to their differences.
A dealing desk FOREX broker, also referred to as a market maker, is a broker that takes the other side of a client’s trades. He does so by pre-setting the bid-and-ask price and waiting for a trader who would be willing to take advantage of these terms. There are two ways dealing desk brokers make their profit:
First, they buy at lower prices and sell at higher prices; and
Second, they cash in on the spreads between the bid and ask price.
For the vast majority of times, dealing desk brokers keep trades safely within their own liquidity pools, thus not requiring external liquidity providers. Though critics claim that these types of brokerage firms “exploit” the trader, others actually appreciate the fixed spreads that come with them.
Who is Arincen and What Are Our Services?
By sharp contrast, the exact opposite of a dealing desk broker is an agency broker. While these brokers differ slightly in their offerings from those of a dealing desk FOREX trader, they do share some similarities, including not taking the other side of their clients’ trades. As a substitute, they work with liquidity providers to give their clients variable spreads, and to match traders with other traders who would like to take the other side of a trade. Further, agency brokers tend to have lower spreads than dealing desk FOREX brokers, which, depending on the trader, can be an advantage or a disadvantage, as the spreads in this case aren’t fixed.
Put simply, Arincen is a social networking platform that brings together traders and experts to exchange expertise and ideas. Collectively, we evaluate the best FOREX brokers in the world while offering a compressive suite of services and tools, all in one place, either via a PC or a mobile app. Services provided by Arincen are wide. These range from
The latest in FOREX signals.
An online trading academy.
How to learn about FOREX.
An up-to-date economic calendar.
The platform is so rich, one can create his own private portfolio of traders and experts they like and, at the same time, follow their recommendations and investment sentiments. Further, thanks to Arincen, users can keep an eye on market-price developments, as well as the latest news. Users can also benefit from the network’s educational courses on offer, to say nothing of exciting Webinars ¬– all done in a modern and fast-paced work environment. Get all that you need in one place ¬– not less, not more. In short. Arincen: We Meet to Simplify the Trading World.
The best FOREX brokers in 2020 are those that are licensed by international and reputableregulatory bodies, such as the UK’s FCA; allow traders to withdraw their profits during a timeline that doesn’t exceed two to five business day, in addition to allowing for various deposit options; offers a USD-EUR spread of no more than 1.4 basis points; provides round the clock customer care 24/5; and finally, works through the MT4 trading platform.
If anything, the key message to take away from this article is that the FOREX brokerage firm one picks must be legally licensed and well-regulated. This and other conclusions are presented and summarized in the table below.
It has a registration number on its Website. This could be verified by browsing through the different regulatory bodies we outlined above, e.g., American, UK, Australian etc.
It has no registration number; and even if it appears to do so, it is mostly fake. Such companies cannot be found on the Websites of their relevant central banks (i.e., the regulatory authorities).
To avoid conflict of interest, licensed companies do not make recommendations, do not offer account services, and so not make predictions as to how the market is likely to trend.
Unlicensed companies do the exact opposite by offering these and other services to their clients.
Doesn’t interfere in deposits and withdrawals.
Tries its utmost to prevent withdrawals while encouraging clients to deposit more money and time.
Holds accounts with reputable banks.
Operates using non-banking financial services companies.
Profit stream comes from commission on new deals.
Profits come from endless customer deposits and constant losses.
Companies have a presence in international cities such as London, Honk Kong, Dubai etc.
Location is unclear.
On a final note, it is never advisable to deal with FOREX companies on your own. It is best this is done via a firm that may be able to provide valuable advice such as Arincen, which can provide you with all the services FOREX companies cannot. Start trading using Arincen and enjoy all the services, advice and tools it has to offer, while making your trading experience profitable!
What is FOREX?
The FOREX market is the largest financial market in the world at some six trillion dollars daily, only followed by the credit market. The market operates 24 hours a day and five days a week (Monday through Friday), except international holidays.
How do you ensure the trustworthiness of a broker?
FOREX firms must at least obtain one license from a relevant regulatory authority. Otherwise, they should be avoided at all times. In this context, we present the five most important FOREX market regulatory bodies from around the world.
1. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), UK;
2. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA);
3. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC);
4. The Financial Markets Authority, New Zealand; and
5. The National Futures Association (NFA), US.
What do the dos and don’ts of brokerage companies include?
One of the first things a new FOREX trader ought to do is to check the extent to which the FOREX company abides by the rules and regulations governing its operation. Emphasis must be placed on what it can and cannot do, details on which were outlined at length above.
What are the associated costs and commissions associated with FOREX trading?
A first step in FOREX trading is identifying the spread differential, defined as the difference between the bid (sell) price and the ask (buy) price of a currency pair. While most FOREX currency pairs are traded without commission, the spread is one “cost” that applies to any trade that you place. This is, indeed, the biggest source of profit for the FOREX company. Good companies typically offer a EUR-USD spread of three basis points.
As for commissions, FOREX trading companies can be placed in three categories. The first offer fixed spreads, while the second tender variable spreads, with a third category of companies offering low-cost spreads but that come with a (relatively high) fixed commission.
How important is good customer service in FOREX trading?
As timing is key to FOREX trading, you must pick a brokerage firm that is able to provide good customer support around the clock. This most notable include the company representatives being easy to reach, fast and polite, which will, in turn, spare you of having to worry about problems down the road.
Adrian Ashley is a seasoned business and finance writer. With a corporate career spanning over 20 years, he has developed deep experience in such diverse areas as investing, business, finance, technology and macroeconomics.