Playing the Forex market is something which more and more people are doing today, yet for those of us who have not yet begun our adventure in the Forex world, it can be a somewhat cloudy topic. Beginning to invest in the foreign exchange market is not something that just happens. That is to say that you cannot just walk into an office and buy some money in a foreign currency and become a Forex trader by doing so. It requires a process to be put into action, and the first step towards this is to choose a Forex broker.
Your brokerage company will provide software so that you can control your trades online. They will also give you leverage so that you can trade on margins and control much larger sums that you have yourself.
Picking the right broker is not something that can be done without a good deal of prior research, as the quality and practices of brokers differ greatly from those who work with large banks (and therefore themselves have greater borrowing power and leverage) to those which are more independent but may suit a prospective trader with specific needs.
There are several things to take into account when choosing a forex broker. Here are some of the most important points to consider.
Finding a broker that you can trust is not as straightforward as you might think. The forex market operates worldwide and there is no global regulatory body, so some brokers are unregulated. Check where their business is based and what registrations and memberships they have. American brokers should be registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC) and/or the National Futures Association (NFA). Other countries have other associations.
You can usually see if a broker has a big problem by checking forex forums for user feedback. However, be sure to get several views. Do not accept one person’s point of view as fact. That person may have personal or financial reasons for praising or criticizing a broker.
2. Services provided
The forex is a 24 hour market, five days a week. You will want your broker’s trading software to be live online all of this time (most are). You may also want to check if they have 24 hour customer support Monday through Friday.
Check that they cover all of the major currency pairs, that is USD against EUR, JPY, GBP, CHF, CAD, AUD. They should also offer at least some cross pairs of the major currencies, that is two of the other currencies not including the US dollar.
All brokers will offer charts and technical analysis. Check that these meet your needs. You will also want to check whether they offer instant execution of orders at the displayed price without slippage.
Forex trading brokers generally do not charge a fee or commission. Instead they make money from the spread, which is the difference between the bid and ask prices of a currency pair. Spread is usually in the range of 1-3 pips, depending on the broker and the currency pair, but it can vary at times of volatility.
The size of the spread can make a big difference to whether you make profits in the long term. If you know which pairs you are likely to trade most often, the spread on those pairs will be more important to you than others.
4. Minimum account and lot size
The minimum investment will be an important factor. Some brokers only offer standard accounts where the minimum investment could be $10,000 or more. Mini forex trading accounts have a much lower minimum account balance, often$250-$1,000. These are better for almost all beginners.
Leverage is the factor that determines how much you can control with the money that is in your account. You can often control a lot that is up to 100 times the money that you actually put in, with your broker covering the rest. Some brokers offer even higher leverage but be aware that the higher the leverage, the more you are risking on each trade.
You can also look at a prospective broker’s rollover percentages and other policies. However, the above 5 points are the main factors to take into account when selecting a forex trading broker.
Once you have chosen a broker, you will need to open an account. Opening a Forex account involves proving your competence to deal with large sums of money – you will be playing with borrowed money if you get seriously involved, and brokers are not likely to lend to just anyone. It is also advisable to play with a virtual, paper-based account initially, until you are fully confident of your abilities to make a real profit.