By Chris Cammack Updated: May 29, 2020

The retail Forex CFD 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 own books, i.e. they will use their own liquidity to be the counterparty to your trade.

Some traders are wary of Market Makers because they believe there is an inherent conflict of interest in this business model (trader loses, broker wins and vice versa), but the truth is that they are an integral part of the Forex market, providing essential liquidity and access to a market that would otherwise be out of reach for all but the large institutional traders, such as banks and hedge funds.

It’s also important to note that market makers very rarely set their own prices – that is, they are not true market makers – because their pricing is usually at the mercy of their liquidity partners, who would have already set a price on the interbank market.

We will discuss how market makers operate in detail below, but for now, it is enough to know that well-regulated market makers offer a fair and transparent trading environment for retail traders.

These are the best market maker Forex brokers. We have selected them based on their regulation, trading conditions, platforms and how good they are for beginner traders.

By Chris Cammack Updated: May 29, 2020
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  • Broker
    AvaTrade

    AvaTrade  - Best Market Maker Broker

    REGULATED BY
    ASIC ASIC
    FSCA FSCA
    B.V.I FSC B.V.I FSC
    FSA FSA
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 100
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5

    With over 200,000 active traders around the globe, on both the MetaTrader 4 and AvaGo platforms, and the award for Best Trade Execution 2016 by the African Finance Expo, AvaTrade is a good partner for all types of trader. AvaTrade has built its reputation on being a client-focused, dependable broker, and continues to add to that reputation with the recent addition of AvaProtect to its product lineup.

    With great trading conditions across Forex, commodities, cryptocurrencies, ETFs, bonds, and equities and boasting FSCA and ASIC regulation, AvaTrade is competitive with some of the best brokers in the world.

    • Good for beginners
    • Well regulated
    • Low minimum deposit
    • Dealing desk
    • Limited education
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Islamic1.2 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
    Professional0.9 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
    Retail0.9 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
  • Broker
    FXTM

    FXTM  - Most Trusted Broker

    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    FCA FCA
    FSCA FSCA
    FSC FSC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 10
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5

    FXTM is regulated by the FCA, CySEC and the FSCA in South Africa and the educational material offered is first-class. By keeping the focus on beginners looking for reasonable trading conditions, the FXTM team of educators and analysts have succeeded in creating a welcoming environment for new traders. Additionally, FXTM are one of the few brokers with 24/7 support, allowing new traders to get set up on weekends or holidays.

    For the absolute beginner, FXTM has a great deal of training material to help new traders get started. Materials include articles, videos, webinars and a searchable glossary of new vocabulary. This is an excellent resource and many hours can be spent covering the basics of Forex Trading. There is an additional set of videos that cover analysis topics, and more detail on chart reading techniques.

    FXTM has an open “Daily Market Analysis” section on their website where research analysts post bulletins that connect daily news items with analysis and actionable trading ideas. This can be combined with other sources to achieve a more comprehensive view of global events and the trading opportunities they represent.

    The Standard Account has a minimum deposit of 100 USD and spreads start at 1.3 pips. FXTM also offers a Cent Account where the minimum deposit if only 10 USD but the spreads will be wider. If you can afford it, I would recommend starting with the Standard Account.

    • Good for beginners
    • Excellent education
    • Well regulated
    • Low minimum deposit
    • Expensive withdrawals
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Cent Account1.5 pipsNoneInstantUSD 10 Account Details
    Standard Account1.3 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
    ECN Zero Account1.5 pipsNoneMarketUSD 200 Account Details
    ECN Account0.1 pips$2.00MarketUSD 500 Account Details
    FXTM Pro Account0.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 25000 Account Details
  • Broker
    CM Trading

    CM Trading  - Best Education

    REGULATED BY
    FSCA FSCA
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 250
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • Sirix

    CM Trading is a well-regarded South African broker, regularly cited as the largest in the country, and headquartered in Sandton, Johannesburg.

    CM Trading is a market-maker, but offers competitive spreads and is a good choice for new traders due to their great educational material and the CopyKat copy-trading system. Maximum leverage is 200:1 and both MetaTrader 4 and Sirix Webtrader platforms are available, allowing for some flexibility.

    Customer service is generally excellent and, while deposit and withdrawal costs are high, many customers will find comfort in working with a good local broker.

    • Good for beginners
    • Great customer support
    • Copy trading accounts
    • Expensive withdrawals
    • Local regulation only
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Bronze1.5 pipsNoneInstantUSD 250 Account Details
    Silver1.2 pipsNoneInstantUSD 1000 Account Details
    Gold0.9 pipsNoneInstantUSD 10000 Account Details
    PremiumNot Published pipsNoneInstantUSD 25000 Account Details
  • Broker
    Plus500

    Plus500  - Most Assets Available

    REGULATED BY
    FCA FCA
    CySEC CySEC
    ASIC ASIC
    MAS MAS
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    ZAR 1500
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • Plus500

    Founded in 2008, and with over 300,000 active customers, Plus500 is a leading player in the CFD trading industry mainly due to the simplicity of their trading platform, and the appealing trading conditions. Educational and analytical material are limited, but beginners will find the Plus500 trading platform very easy to use and reliability and security are absolute priorities.

    • Well regulated
    • Wide range of assets
    • Limited education
    • Limited account options
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Standard0.0 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
  • Broker
    HotForex

    HotForex  - Best Trading Conditions

    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    FCA FCA
    FSCA FSCA
    DFSA DFSA
    FSC FSC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    ZAR 70
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5

    Listed as on the Top 100 Companies by World Finance Magazine and the award for Business Excellence 2015 (World Confederation Of Businesses) HotForex is not just recognized for their integrity by their industry peers, but also in the financial industry as a whole.

    As an STP broker regulated by multiple major international organizations including the FCA, CySEC and the FSCA, HotForex has built a reputation among traders for achieving a stable, fair, secure and transparent trading environment for both the beginning and expert level trader.

    • Low minimum deposit
    • Tight spreads
    • Well regulated
    • Good range of accounts
    • Limited base currencies
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Micro1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 5 Account Details
    Islamic1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 100 Account Details
    Premium1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 100 Account Details
    Auto1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 200 Account Details
    Zero0.0 pips$3.00MarketUSD 200 Account Details
    HFCopy1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 300 Account Details
    Premium Pro1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 5000 Account Details
  • Broker
    XM

    XM  - Best Trading Platforms

    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    ASIC ASIC
    IFSC IFSC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 5
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5

    XM Group has achieved substantial growth since 2009, earning 1.5 million clients living in 196 countries. Regulated by three major regulators and the recipient of many industry awards, XM Group stands out from a crowded field of market maker brokers for their customer service and educational support.

    XM Group has extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of the global financial markets. XM’s operational philosophy is aimed at client satisfaction and low client turnover; they earn client loyalty through award-winning 24/5 personal customer service, varied account types and competitive trading conditions.

    • Well regulated
    • Excellent education
    • Wide range of assets
    • Fast and free withdrawals
    • Dealing desk
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Micro1.0 pipsNoneInstantUSD 5 Account Details
    Standard1.0 pipsNoneInstantUSD 5 Account Details
    XM Ultra Low0.6 pipsNoneInstantUSD 50 Account Details
    XM Zero0.6 pips$7.00InstantUSD 100 Account Details
  • Broker
    REGULATED BY
    FCA FCA
    CySEC CySEC
    FSCA FSCA
    DFSA DFSA
    SCB SCB
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 100
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5
    • cTrader
    • FxProEdge

    With over 870,000 client accounts, FxPro is one of the biggest international brokers regulated in South Africa. Major awards shows and institutions are continually showering FxPro with honours including top accolades like Best Broker 2018 and Best Forex Trading Experience 2018, which is the pinnacle of success.

    The account options at FxPro are arranged by platform, which is not the case at most other brokers. Accounts are available with either MT4, MT5 and cTrader, where all accounts have a demo option, and the same minimum deposit of 100 USD and a spread as low as 0.6 pips.

    The education section is smaller than that of other leading brokers. Despite the lack of structure and depth, the material that is offered is updated and honest and hosted webinars are free to join a couple of times a week.

    FxPro is the broker choice for traders who need a reputable international broker while still being FSCA regulated, supporting a broad platform choice and a reasonable minimum deposit.

    • Well regulated
    • Great platform choice
    • Tight spreads
    • Limited education
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    FxPro cTrader0.45 pips$4.50MarketUSD 100 Account Details
    FxPro MT41.2 pipsNoneMarketUSD 100 Account Details
    FxPro MT51.52 pipsNoneMarketUSD 100 Account Details
    Islamic1.2 pipsVariableMarketUSD 100 Account Details
  • Broker
    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    FCA FCA
    FSC FSC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 1
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5

    Founded in 2008, Exness is a well-regulated broker with tight spreads and unlimited leverage on a specialist zero account.  With both market and instant execution methods and full support for both MT4 and MT5, there is little to find fault with here - including its well-publicised sponsorship of Real Madrid.

    Exceptionally, customer service is available 24/7 and most traders will find something to like from the wide range of account types.

    • Well regulated
    • Tight spreads
    • Wide range of assets
    • 24/7 customer service
    • Limited education
    • Limited market analysis
    • Unavailable in Europe
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Standard Cent MT40.3 pipsNoneMarketUSD 1 Account Details
    Standard MT40.1 pipsNoneMarketUSD 1 Account Details
    Standard MT50.2 pipsNoneMarketUSD 1 Account Details
    Pro0.1 pipsNoneMarketUSD 200 Account Details
    Raw Spread0.0 pips$3.50MarketUSD 200 Account Details
    Zero pips$3.50MarketUSD 200 Account Details
  • REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    ASIC ASIC
    FSCA FSCA
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    ZAR 2500
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5

    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.

    • Well regulated
    • Tight spreads
    • Wide range of assets
    • Fast and free withdrawals
    • High minimum deposit
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Live0.9 pipsNoneInstantUSD 250 Account Details
  • Broker
    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    FCA FCA
    ASIC ASIC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 200
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • etoro

    Founded in 2007, eToro are renowned as founders of the social trading methodology and its platform has won multiple awards for innovation.

    The social component, which sits at the centre of the platform, seeks to inspire and encourage traders. eToro also believes that making its community of 6 million traders integral to the platform creates transparency and makes the overall experience more enjoyable. As cryptocurrencies have become more popular, eToro has introduced a wide variety of cryptocurrency CFDs to traders.

    eToro has succeeded in making trading more accessible to the beginner trader, but only by completely upending the traditional broker space.

    • Well regulated
    • Good for beginners
    • Innovative trading tools
    • Limited education
    • Wide spreads
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Professional1.0 pipsNoneMarketEUR 200 Account Details
    Standard1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 200 Account Details
  • Broker
    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    FCA FCA
    IFSC IFSC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 5
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • xStation5

    Well-regulated, safe and award-winning, XTB is a leader in the Forex trading space. Joining other leading Forex brokers with reasonable trading conditions, excellent educational and analysis material XTB has developed an award-winning proprietary trading platform that goes beyond MT4 to offer clients easy-to-use functionality along with fast execution speeds.

    • Well regulated
    • Tight spreads
    • Low minimum deposit
    • Good for beginners
    • Limited platform choice
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Islamic0.28 pips$10.00InstantUSD 5 Account Details
    Pro0.28 pips$7.00InstantUSD 5 Account Details
    Standard0.35 pipsNoneInstantUSD 5 Account Details

We pride ourselves on giving good advice, and we always put our readers first. When choosing partners, we do our research according to our review process which covers areas such as regulation, trading conditions, and the product offering.

We don't put just anyone up here. We put you first.

To pay the bills, and keep the lights on, we need a business model. That business model makes use of affiliate programs whereby we get a commission from partners featured on our website.

Our business model never influences our opinion of any partner, and the partner selection and review processes are separate. The compensation we receive from partners may affect how our lists are arranged, but the reviews are genuine, and the data is accurate. Our opinion can not be bought, and we always put our readers and their financial livelihoods first.

All Forex Brokers in South Africa

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.

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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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