Alongside choosing a broker, you will also be researching the Forex trading software and platforms they offer. The trading platform is the central element of your trading, and your main working tool. It is an essential piece of the puzzle, as the best Forex tools can have a significant impact on your trading results. So, what should you be looking for when considering your options?
The service of the broker you choose, and the platform they offer, is essential in ensuring that you achieve the best trading results. If you were trading on a system that was slow and regularly crashed, for example, you might not be able to enter or exit a trade at the price you want. Instead, it's important to look for a broker that offers high levels of liquidity, low spreads and the ability to execute orders at the price you want (or as close to this as possible).
Unlike a stock market, the foreign exchange market is divided into levels of access. At the top is the interbank foreign exchange market, which is made up of the largest commercial banks and securities dealers. Within the interbank market, spreads, which are the difference between the bid and ask prices, are razor sharp and not known to players outside the inner circle. The difference between the bid and ask prices widens (for example from 0 to 1 pip to 1–2 pips for currencies such as the EUR) as you go down the levels of access. This is due to volume. If a trader can guarantee large numbers of transactions for large amounts, they can demand a smaller difference between the bid and ask price, which is referred to as a better spread. The levels of access that make up the foreign exchange market are determined by the size of the "line" (the amount of money with which they are trading). The top-tier interbank market accounts for 51% of all transactions. From there, smaller banks, followed by large multi-national corporations (which need to hedge risk and pay employees in different countries), large hedge funds, and even some of the retail market makers. According to Galati and Melvin, “Pension funds, insurance companies, mutual funds, and other institutional investors have played an increasingly important role in financial markets in general, and in FX markets in particular, since the early 2000s.” (2004) In addition, he notes, “Hedge funds have grown markedly over the 2001–2004 period in terms of both number and overall size”. Central banks also participate in the foreign exchange market to align currencies to their economic needs.
To use Gold CFD as an example, at the time of writing, to purchase an ounce of Gold you would need to spend 1,200 USD. However, with a leverage rate of up to 1:20 (which means a trader could trade up to 20 times the value of what they deposit), a trader could trade on the full value of an ounce of gold (equivalent to 1,200 USD), for a deposit of just 60 USD.
This will ensure that if you decide to trade stocks, indices, ETFs, commodities, cryptocurrencies and other instruments in the future, you won't need to find a new broker to do so. Admiral Markets, for example, provides traders with access to over 7,500 financial instruments, allowing you to create a diversified trading and investment strategy from a single platform.
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There are actually three ways that institutions, corporations and individuals trade forex: the spot market, the forwards market and the futures market. The forex trading in the spot market always has been the largest market because it is the "underlying" real asset that the forwards and futures markets are based on. In the past, the futures market was the most popular venue for traders because it was available to individual investors for a longer period of time. However, with the advent of electronic trading and numerous forex brokers, the spot market has witnessed a huge surge in activity and now surpasses the futures market as the preferred trading market for individual investors and speculators. When people refer to the forex market, they usually are referring to the spot market. The forwards and futures markets tend to be more popular with companies that need to hedge their foreign exchange risks out to a specific date in the future.