See also General Forex Guide
The following is a list of questions you may like to consider before opening an account. You can use this checklist to narrow down your selection of companies that fit your requirements. You may also wish to refer to the forex broker ratings page on this site to read about traders unique experiences with particular brokers.
The following links will also give you some background information on U.S. FCM's (Futures Commission Merchants).
1. Word of Mouth
2. Customer Protection
- Is the broker regulated?
- What regulatory organisation are they registered with and what protections does it afford the client?
- Are client funds protected against fraud?
- Are client funds protected against bankruptcy?
- What business model do they operate? i.e. Are they a Market Maker[?], ECN[?] or no-dealing desk broker[?]?
- How fast is their order execution?
- Are orders manually or automatically executed? [?]
- What is the maximum trade size before you have to request a quote?
- Are all clients trades offset?
4. Spread [?]
- How small is the spread?
- Is it fixed or variable?
5. Slippage [?]
- How much slippage can be expected in normal and fast moving markets?
6. Margin [?]
- What is the margin requirement? e.g. 0.25% margin = max 400:1 leverage [?]), 0.5% margin = max 200:1 leverage, 1% margin = max 100:1 leverage, 2% margin = max 50:1 leverage, etc.
- Does the margin requirement change for different currency pairs or days of the week?
- At what point does the broker issue a margin call?
- Is required margin the same for standard and mini accounts? [?]
- Does the broker charge commissions? (Most market makers commissions are built into the spread)
8. Rollover Policy [?]
- Is there a minimum margin requirement in order to earn rollover interest?
- What are the swap rates like for going long or short in a particular currency pair?
- Are there any other conditions for earning rollover interest?
9. Trading Platform
- How intuitive and functional is it to use?
- Are there many disconnections during trading hours?
- How reliable is it during fast moving markets and news announcements?
- How many different currency pairs are available to trade?
- Does the broker offer an Application Programming Interface (API) to allow clients to automate their trading systems?
- Does the broker offer any other special features? (e.g. One click dealing, trading from the chart, trailing stops, mobile trading etc.)
10. Trading Account
- What is the minimum balance required to open an account?
- What is the minimum trade size?
- Can clients adjust the standard lot size traded? [?]
- Can clients earn interest on the unused margin in their account?
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Risk Disclosure: Trading foreign exchange on margin carries a high level of risk, and may not be suitable for all investors. The high degree of leverage can work against you as well as for you. Before deciding to invest in foreign exchange you should carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite. The possibility exists that you could sustain a loss of some or all of your initial investment and therefore you should not invest money that you cannot afford to lose. You should be aware of all the risks associated with foreign exchange trading, and seek advice from an independent financial advisor if you have any doubts.