AuthorBy Chris Cammack
Updated: March 22, 2021

The retail Forex market is a complex space, and the brokers that work within it have different business models, but most of them are known as market maker brokers. The key identifying factor of a market maker broker is that they will take the exposure from any trade on to their books, i.e. they will use their liquidity to be the counterparty to your trade. Market makers rarely set their prices because their pricing is usually at the mercy of their liquidity partners, who would have already set a price on the interbank market.

To test these brokers, we created a live trading account, verified their regulation, and read the fine print to identify if the broker can manipulate or intervene in the client trades in any way or if they operate non-intervention dealing desks (NDD). In addition to establishing the total trading costs paid by clients and fee structure, we studied the educational material and tested customer service’s patience. These are the best market maker brokers for 2021 according to our testing and our research.

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These are the best Market Maker Brokers for 2021

Last updated on 22 Mar 2021
Updated 22 Mar 2021
by Editorial Director Chris Cammackby Chris Cammack
Chris Cammack
All Brokers Regulated
All Brokers Regulated
by Trusted Authoritiesby Trusted Authorities
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1
AvaTrade
Min. Deposit
USD 100
4.184.18
Trading Cost
USD 9
Min. Spread
0.90 pips
Trading Desk Type
Overall Rating
11110.54.18/ 5
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Average spread EUR/USD 0.90 pips on trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage 30:1. Islamic account available. MT4 & MT5 platforms supported. AvaTrade Group regulated by ASIC, FSCA, B.V.I FSC & FSA.
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AvaTrade is an internationally and FSCA regulated CFD broker offering trading on Forex, cryptocurrencies, commodities, indices, stocks, bonds and EFTs. AvaTrade has one of the best mobile trading applications in the industry and, unlike many global brokers, offers a local South African customer support team. 

AvaTrade has over 200,000 active traders on the MT4, MT5, and AvaGo platforms and provides free access to trading tools like Autochartist, Duplitrade and AvaProtect, its own innovative risk management system.

While AvaTrade is a dependable broker for beginners, professional traders looking for advanced educational material and industry-leading market research will be underwhelmed.

Pros
  • Good for beginners
  • Well regulated
  • Low minimum deposit
Cons
  • Dealing desk
  • Limited education
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2
FXTM
Min. Deposit
USD 10
4.174.17
Trading Cost
USD 19
Min. Spread
0.10 pips
Trading Desk Type
Overall Rating
11110.54.17/ 5
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Average spread EUR/USD 1.90 pips on trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage Flexible. Islamic account available. MT4 & MT5 platforms supported. Leverage offered can vary depending on country of residence, and your trading knowledge and experience. FXTM is regulated by CySEC, FCA, FSCA, and the FSC.
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FXTM is a multi-regulated FSCA registered CFD broker offering clients trading on Forex, cryptocurrencies, indices, metals and stocks. With a complete education and market analysis section, and the unique FXTM Invest copy trading platform, FXTM is plagued by unfavourable trading conditions and platform choice limits on their entry-level accounts and charging withdrawal fees.

Beginners at FXTM will find a good overview of how Forex trading works and the basics of a beginners course in their guides and tutorials, webinars, ebooks, trading glossary and videos that cover beginner and intermediate topics. Daily market analysis will help beginners understand the real-world implications of news events on the Forex market and where the opportunities lie. However, Serious beginners should consider the ECN Account (minimum deposit 500 USD) or the ECN Zero Account (minimum deposit 200 USD) as trading conditions dramatically improve to fall in line with industry averages.

Pros
  • Good for beginners
  • Excellent education
  • Well regulated
  • Low minimum deposit
Cons
  • Expensive withdrawals
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3
BDSwiss
Min. Deposit
USD 100
4.324.32
Trading Cost
USD 16
Min. Spread
1 pips
Trading Desk Type
Overall Rating
11110.54.32/ 5
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Average spread EUR/USD 1.60 pips on trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage 30:1. Islamic account available. MT4 & MT5 platforms supported. BDSwiss is regulated by CySEC, FSC, and the FSA-Seychelles.
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BDSwiss is a European CFD broker regulated by CySEC, the FSC (Mauritius) and the FSA (Seychelles). BDSwiss offers trading on Forex, commodities, shares, indices, and cryptocurrencies. While trading costs on the entry-level Classic account are slightly above the industry average, the trading platform choice and the industry-leading education and market analysis material make up for it. A professional 5000 USD Raw account is also available with industry-competitive trading costs of 8 USD per EURUSD lot traded.

BDSwiss offers MT4, MT5 and a bespoke BDSwiss Web Trader application – the star attraction for new traders – with an intuitive and modern interface, an extended set of technical analysis tools, and advanced charting. The BDSwiss trading academy and market analysis are some of the best in the industry, with structured courses for all levels, frequent strategy webinars, and insightful market analysis headlined by a detailed daily market preview.

Pros
  • Tight spreads
  • Good for beginners
  • Wide range of assets
Cons
  • Expensive withdrawals
  • Limited market analysis
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4
CM trading
Min. Deposit
USD 100
3.243.24
Trading Cost
USD 15
Min. Spread
1.50 pips
Trading Desk Type
Overall Rating
1110.503.24/ 5
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Average spread EUR/USD 1.5 pips on trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage 200:1. Islamic account available. MT4 & Sirix platforms supported. CM Trading is regulated by the FSCA.
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CM Trading is a major South African CFD broker offering trading on Forex, indices and commodities.  South African traders will be pleased that CM Trading is fully licenced by the FSCA, but should be aware that trading and withdrawal costs are high.

The minimum deposit is 250 USD and CM Trading offers both MetaTrader4 and Sirix trading platforms on desktop computers and mobile devices. A variety of promotions and bonuses are available for new accounts.

The local customer service is generally excellent, but wide spreads and only basic market analysis might discourage traders.

Pros
  • Good for beginners
  • Great customer support
  • Copy trading accounts
Cons
  • Expensive withdrawals
  • Local regulation only
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5
XM
Min. Deposit
USD 5
4.384.38
Trading Cost
USD 16
Min. Spread
0.60 pips
Trading Desk Type
Overall Rating
11110.54.38/ 5
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Average spread EUR/USD 1.60 pips on trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage 30:1. Islamic account available. MT4 & MT5 platforms supported. XM Group regulated by CySEC, ASIC, and the IFSC.
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XM is a reliable multi-regulated CFD broker offering trading in Forex, stocks, commodities, indices, metals, and energies. XM leads the Forex industry in terms of education and market analysis, but with customer service closed on the weekend, beginner traders with technical issues could face difficultly.

With support for MT4 and MT5, trading costs below the industry average on both introductory and professional accounts, and a low minimum deposit of 5 USD (70 ZAR), XM Group stands out from a crowded field of market maker brokers.

Pros
  • Well regulated
  • Excellent education
  • Wide range of assets
  • Fast and free withdrawals
Cons
  • Dealing desk
Read More About XM
6
FxPro
Min. Deposit
USD 100
4.214.21
Trading Cost
USD 15
Min. Spread
0.60 pips
Trading Desk Type
Overall Rating
11110.54.21/ 5
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Average spread EUR/USD 1.50 pips on trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage 30:1. Islamic account available. MT4, MT5, cTrader and FxPro proprietary trading platform supported. FxPro Group is regulated by FCA, CySEC, FSCA, and the DFSA
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FxPro is one of the most respected Forex brokers in the industry. Regulated by the FCA and CySEC and with over 870,000 client accounts in 173 countries, FxPro is a truly global powerhouse.

FxPro offers a no dealing desk execution model on MT4, MT5, cTrader and a browser-based platform. A reasonable 100 USD opening deposit and outstanding customer service are combined with competitive spreads – often as low as 0.6 pips – to match profitability with security.

Pros
  • Well regulated
  • Great platform choice
  • Tight spreads
Cons
  • Limited education
Read More About FxPro
7
Exness
Min. Deposit
USD 1
4.324.32
Trading Cost
USD 7
Min. Spread
0.10 pips
Trading Desk Type
Overall Rating
11110.54.32/ 5
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Average spread EUR/USD 0.70 pips on trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage 2000:1. Islamic account available. MT4 & MT5 platforms supported. Exness is regulated by CySEC, FCA, and the FSC.
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Exness is an FSCA and internationally regulated CFD broker offering trading in Forex, cryptocurrencies and metals. Exness has some of the tightest spreads in the industry and a relatively low minimum deposit, but its selection of financial instruments is limited compared to similar brokers.

Exness has market and instant execution accounts and full support for MT4 and MT5 on both standard accounts. An optional ZAR account is available to South African traders, deposits and withdrawals are free of charge, and customer service is 24/7.

While Exness’ trading costs are well below the industry average, its education and market analysis are poor compared to other major brokers.

Pros
  • Well regulated
  • Tight spreads
  • Wide range of assets
  • 24/7 customer service
Cons
  • Limited education
  • Limited market analysis
  • Unavailable in Europe
Read More About Exness
8
MarketsX
Min. Deposit
USD 250
4.394.39
Trading Cost
USD 6
Min. Spread
0.60 pips
Trading Desk Type
Overall Rating
11110.54.39/ 5
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Average spread EUR/USD 0.60 pips on trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage 30:1. Islamic account available. MT4 & MT5 platforms supported. MarketsX is regulated by CySEC, ASIC, and the FSCA.
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Marketsx is a premium trading platform. It’s operated by Markets.com and offers traders fast, low-cost trading on over 2,200 financial instruments. Marketsx provides CFD trading on global stock, forex, commodity, indices, cryptocurrency, ETF and bond markets. Clients in the UK can also use spread bets on applicable instruments.

The proprietary Marketx trading platform is packed full of features and trading tools and is optimised for lightning execution. As well as in-depth charting and asset comparison tools, Marketsx also gives traders a wealth of decision-supporting data with sentiment tools, tutorials, and regular live-streamed, expert analysis.

Owned by Tradetech Markets (South Africa) Pty Ltd., a subsidiary of Playtech PLC, Markets.com (South Africa) SA is one of the best-recognised Forex brands.

Pros
  • Well regulated
  • Tight spreads
  • Wide range of assets
  • Fast and free withdrawals
Cons
  • High minimum deposit
Read More About MarketsX
9
eToro
Min. Deposit
USD 200
3.693.69
Trading Cost
USD 10
Min. Spread
1 pips
Trading Desk Type
Overall Rating
1110.503.69/ 5
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Average spread EUR/USD 1.0 pips on trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage 30:1. Islamic account available. eToro proprietary trading platform support. eToro is regulated by CySEC, FCA, and ASIC. 67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
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eToro is a world-famous multi-regulated CFD broker offering clients a unique experience trading Forex, stocks, commodities, cryptocurrencies, ETFs and indices. While eToro’s main attraction is a bespoke crowd trading platform built to encourage clients to follow expert traders or select market strategies, their trader community is continually let down by inadequate disinterested customer support and tortuously long response times.

Upon sign up, eToro’s clients become part of a massive community of traders all following expert traders or professional traders contributing to their social trading platform. Although traders can make trades independent of the community, the popular CopyTrader tool allows clients to copy individual trader’s strategies automatically. Similarly, the CopyPortfolios tool allows traders to invest in a single market strategy that includes multiple assets assembled into a single investment vehicle.

For the most part, the trading conditions at eToro align with other market makers with a unique platform offering, but in contrast, eToro has numerous non-trading fees on both deposits and withdrawals. All in all, a trader who is looking for a traditional trading environment eToro won’t find a fit. Still, for those looking for a strong copy trading platform, eToro wrote the book on copy trading and still stands out as the leader.

Pros
  • Well regulated
  • Good for beginners
  • Innovative trading tools
Cons
  • Limited education
  • Wide spreads
Read More About eToro
10
XTB
Min. Deposit
USD 5
4.144.14
Trading Cost
USD 5
Min. Spread
0.80 pips
Trading Desk Type
Overall Rating
11110.54.14/ 5
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Average spread EUR/USD 0.50 pips on the trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage 30:1. Islamic account available. MT4 & xStation platforms supported. XTB Group is regulated by CySEC, FCA and the IFSC
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Founded in 2002, XTB is a Polish market-maker with tight spreads on a single account and a focus on providing top-class education and market analysis for its clients. Regulated by the FCA, CySEC and the Belize IFSC, XTB offers negative balance protection for all clients and high-speed trading on over 1500 instruments.

XTB recently dropped support for MT4 to focus on its award-winning proprietary platform, xStation 5, which features more modern elements and a more intuitive design than the MetaTrader platforms.

Pros
  • Well regulated
  • Tight spreads
  • Low minimum deposit
  • Good for beginners
Cons
  • Limited platform choice
Read More About XTB
11
Forex.com
Min. Deposit
USD 100
4.494.49
Trading Cost
USD 8
Min. Spread
0.80 pips
Trading Desk Type
Overall Rating
11110.54.49/ 5
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Average spread EUR/USD 0.80 pips on trading account with lowest minimum deposit. Max leverage 200:1. Islamic account available. MT4 & MT5 platforms supported. Gain Capital is regulated by the FCA, ASIC, MAS, and CIMA.
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Forex.com was founded in 2001 and is part of the NYSE-listed GAIN Capital Group. Trading conditions are competitive with other large market makers and regulation is excellent, as you would expect from a publicly listed company.

A huge range of assets is available to trade, including 80+ Forex pairs and 5 cryptocurrencies. Platform choice is good, with Forex.com’s proprietary platform offered alongside MT4 and MT5. For beginners, education and market analysis are best in class, though the demo account does expire after 30 days of use.

Pros
  • Well regulated
  • Wide range of assets
  • Excellent education
Cons
  • Expensive withdrawals
  • Limited demo account
Read More About Forex.com
12
Plus500
Min. Deposit
USD 100
3.693.69
Trading Cost
USD 8
Min. Spread
0 pips
Trading Desk Type
Overall Rating
1110.503.69/ 5
AlertAccepts South African Clients. Plus500 does not publish their spreads, and thus a cost of trading can not be established. Max leverage 30:1. Islamic account available. Only Plus500 proprietary trading platform supported. Plus500 is regulated by FCA, CySEC, ASIC, and MAS.All information presented is verified as of the date of the review.Most retail CFD accounts lose money. Your capital is at risk.
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Plus500 is a leading CFD provider with CFDs on Forex, equities, indices, cryptocurrencies, commodities and options. Clients of Plus500 have access to an easy to use trading platform with a ZAR account, but membership lacks trading courses for beginners and market analysis. Plus500 is supervised by some of the best global regulators but is not currently licenced by the FSCA.

The Plus500 trading platform offers South African traders a single account option, however, a lack of platform support for copy trading, hedging and scalping, could limit traders looking for new ways to trade. Plus500 falls behind in market analysis, advanced trading tools, and an absence of trading courses, making it less suitable for beginners or inexperienced traders.

Pros
  • Well regulated
  • Wide range of assets
Cons
  • Limited education
  • Limited account options
Read More About Plus500

The Forex Market and Market Makers

In order to better understand how and why market makers operate the way they do, we need to understand how the Forex market works.

The vast majority of Forex trading takes place in the interbank market, trillions of dollars in currencies move between the major banks in this market on a daily basis (6.6 trillion USD per day is the 2019 estimate). It is in this space where the market is made; the prices set here, between the members of the interbank market, will be the basis for pricing in the lower volume sections of the Forex market, including the retail CFD market.

It is fair to say that the primary market makers in the Forex market are the members of this interbank market. They effectively set the rules for everyone else to play by – including market maker CFD brokers.

How do Market Makers Work?

Like all Forex brokers, market makers will offer you a bid and an ask (buy and sell) price on currency pairs, this price will be mostly set by the pricing of the currency pair on the interbank market. As market makers will be taking exposure to the risk associated with the trade (i.e. will be counterparty to the trade) they will also charge a mark-up fee on both the buy and sell prices.

The difference between the buy and sell prices is called the spread and is how market makers make most of their money. Think about it as the fee charged by the broker for creating the liquidity needed to make your trade. Most market makers will also hedge the trades they take on with a member of the interbank market, thus protecting themselves from losses – this is especially true in cases of large volume retail trades.

Market makers may also make alterations to the pricing on pair based on other factors:

  • Current exposure – a broker’s risk management team may dictate changes in pricing if they believe they are holding too many trades in one direction on a pair
  • The dealing desk’s views on future price movement – if the broker believes the GBP is overpriced against the USD, this will affect the pricing offered
  • Volume – as mentioned above, market makers will protect themselves when taking large volume trades, so will often insist on wider spreads and less leverage in these cases.

Market Makers vs ECN Brokers

Market makers are distinct from the other form of retail Forex CFD brokers, known as ECN (Electronic Communication Network) brokers. Instead of making a market and exposing themselves to the trading risk of their clients, ECN brokers act as a middleman between the trader and the members of their networks. Rather than being the counterparty to trades, ECN brokers will match trades against the best available price from their network of possible counterparties.

Because ECN brokers take no risk exposure from the trade and sit at the centre of a web of ruthless supply and demand forces, spreads are generally very tight and trade execution speeds are often much quicker. But ECN brokers will charge commission on every trade they match – making them an expensive proposition for smaller account sizes.

Should I Trade with a Market Maker?

As mentioned at the top, many traders are wary of working with market maker brokers, as they feel that there is an inherent conflict of interest in the business model. While it is true that a market maker will never quote prices that are going to damage their business, they will always have to offer a fair price – they cannot alter the pricing too much one way or the other before they open themselves up to arbitrage risk (the risk of traders making a profit by trading the discrepancies in pricing).

Furthermore, market makers in Europe, the UK and Australia will have strict requirements placed on them by regulators committing them to ensuring best execution of trades. Under this rule, it is illegal for market makers to skew trades to damage a client’s position.

If you are trading with a well-regulated market maker, the only real discussion to be had when considering trading through them or not is the style of broker you prefer. If you want tighter spreads and can afford commission on your trades, then an ECN broker may best – but for many retail Forex traders, this will be an unreasonable expense. It is also worth noting that many market maker brokers also offer very tight spreads and excellent all-round trading conditions.

How We Rate Market Maker Brokers

When we consider which market maker brokers are suitable for recommendation, we always look at the same factors. Each of these factors has the potential to radically alter your trading experience, and it is especially important for new traders to have trading conditions good enough to learn without being wiped out.

Regulation

Regulators ensure that market makers host a fair and transparent trading environment, all the while conducting strict auditing oversight and ensuring client fund protection. Brokers that are regulated by more than one major regulator are considered more trustworthy.

The major regulators are:

These international regulators are respected for their commitment to consumer protection, strong oversight and swift enforcement of sanctions on fraudulent brokers. They also all publish warning lists of unauthorised firms, so it is worth checking these before signing up with a broker. The FSCA in South Africa is also seen as an excellent regulator, if not in quite the same class as those listed above. 

All market makers regulated by one or more of these regulators will be a fair and secure firm to do business with.

Trading Conditions

It is important to choose a market maker with the trading conditions that will support your trading strategy. Think about how much leverage you want to have available; keeping it low (100:1 or less) is a good idea if you are still learning how to trade. Also, consider what account currencies are supported by the broker and what currency pairs you want to trade, you do not want to be spending a fortune in conversion fees.

Other trading conditions to consider will be how tight the spreads are on the currency pairs you will want to trade, and what other assets are available that you may want to trade. Most Forex brokers will also offer CFD trading on commodities (such as oil, gas, etc.), precious metals (gold, silver, etc.), indices (FTSE, DAX, NYSE) and cryptocurrencies.

Account Types

Consider the different account types on offer at your broker, most market makers offer swap-free Islamic accounts, and all will offer demo accounts to practice with – the best demo accounts are unlimited and exactly simulate the real market.

Other popular account types are copy trading and social trading accounts. These will allow you to copy successful traders, who will then take a cut of your profits. A similar idea is the PAMM (Percentage Allocation Money Management) account, which is a pooled money operation, where the members of the money pool can choose what proportion of their account they want to allocate to a certain trader.

Trading Platforms

It is important to carefully choose a trading platform and find a broker that supports that platform. MetaTrader 4 (MT4) is a safe choice as it’s the industry standard and there is a multitude of online tutorials, though it is gradually being replaced with MetaTrader 5 – which has a more modern look and feel and has many features missing from MT4.

Market makers will not offer cTrader, as this is an ECN-only platform, but many will have their own in-house platforms, most of which are designed with new traders in mind so are easy to learn and have a more intuitive layout.

Broker Fees

We always check for additional broker fees that may be charged and so should you.

Market makers generally make their money from the spread, but some will also charge additional fees to further boost their profits. The most common charge is withdrawal fees, and it is good practice to always ask your broker if and how much they charge for withdrawing from your account. Generally, withdrawals fees are cheaper or non-existent when using online payment systems (such as Skrill) are used for funding your account.

We always highlight any extra fees charged by brokers in our reviews and will penalise brokers with extortionate fees.

Customer Service

Customer service is in your native language is important and many brokers offer full support in multiple languages. The best customer service will be available by live chat, email, messaging apps and over the phone. Many brokers will also offer a call-back service, so you do not have to make expensive international calls.

Good market makers offer customers support 24 hours a day, Monday-Friday and a rare few will also offer weekend service. If you are new to Forex trading you will want a broker with responsive technical support and customer support representatives with an in-depth knowledge of their products and platforms.

Education and Research

Forex education is especially important for new traders, many of the larger market maker brokers offer excellent structured Forex courses for beginners and a few will also have courses covering more advanced topics, like strategies and indicators. If you want to be a successful Forex trader you will never stop learning, so having a broker with excellent educational resources will essential.

Alongside educational support, a good broker will also have an in-house research team offering insightful market analysis on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Some market makers will leave market analysis to third-party companies such as Trading Central or TradingView – while these applications are both very useful, we find that brokers with their own analysis teams often provide better market research ideas and more useful information for new traders.

Final Word

Market makers are often unfairly blacklisted by many members of the Forex CFD trading community; the truth is that well-regulated market makers are an essential part of the Forex market. By committing themselves to be counterparty to any trade they provide much-needed stability, both in terms of liquidity and in terms of market function.

With the current regulations in place, it is also impossible for market makers to work against their clients – even if they wanted to ruin their reputation and open themselves up to arbitrage in this fashion.

It is worth noting that while well-regulated market makers are trusted members of the Forex market and essential for its function, there are many unregulated (or very poorly regulated) market makers that do not behave as ethically. Therefore, it is critical that you always trade with a market maker you trust – one that has a good track record and has oversight from a major regulator.

Forex Risk Disclaimer

Trading Forex and CFDs is not suitable for all investors as it carries a high degree of risk to your capital: 75-90% of retail investors lose money trading these products. 

Forex and CFD transactions involve high risk due to the following factors: Over-leveraging, unpredictable market volatility, slippage arising from a lack of liquidity, inadequate trading knowledge or experience, and a lack of regulatory protection for clients.

Traders should not deposit any money that is not disposable. Regardless of how much research you have done, or how confident you are in your trade, there is always a substantial risk of loss. (Learn more from the FCA or from ASIC)

Our Methodology

Our State of the Market Report and Broker Directory are the result of extensive research on over 100 Forex brokers. The explicit goal of these resources is to help traders find the best Forex brokers – and steer them away from the worst ones – with the benefit of accurate and up-to-date information.

With over 150 data points on each broker and over 3000 hours of research and review writing, we believe we have succeeded in our goal. 

In a world where trading conditions and customer support can vary based on where you live, our broker reviews focus on the local trader and give you information about these brokers from your perspective.

All research has been conducted by our in-house team of researchers and writers, gathering information from various company representatives, websites and by sifting through the fine print. Learn more about how we rank brokers

References

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Trading Forex and CFDs is not suitable for all investors and comes with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75-90% of retail investors lose money trading these products. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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