Customer Service in Retail FOREX

In the past, service in retail FOREX has been a hot button for me. The good news is—it is getting better. The bad news is—it still has a long ways to go.

A reader asked me recently: "How often do you really need customer service? After all, everything is automated now." The short answer is you do not need it very often. But when you do, you will really need it! If your data feed stops, what happened and how long will it be down? If your platform malfunctions and you cannot get in or out of a trade online, can you reach your broker by telephone and execute the trade? If you have a problem with a deposit or a withdrawal—will someone be there to actually care and make an effort to do something? If you have a complaint or an issue with the broker—what mechanisms do they have for resolution? Or, is it just "The broker is always right" approach? Unresolved small issues can quickly become larger issues; the markets move quickly and wait for no man or woman.

Do you have a broker—with a name—or do you just get whoever answers the telephone, assuming someone even answers?

High tech is wonderful, but it lacks redundancy and a single breakdown in the chain can cause serious problems which only high-touch human-to-human contact can resolve.

How do you know a broker offers a reasonable level of service to its customers? The following are some tests you can use.

Check the FOREX forums. Browse for broker discussions or search a specific broker of interest. Do keep in mind that few people ever bother to compliment a broker; but many are quick to complain. Additionally, FOREX has a constant stream of new traders who may or may not understand how the game is played. A simple FOREX fact of life may seem like crime on the high seas to them. Also, the largest brokers advertise the most and consequently get a bigger share of new traders. New traders often complain about issues that are FOREX facts of life and not legitimate.

How well does your broker's website work? Is it laid out efficiently? Can you find the information you need—or is the good stuff missing or hidden from view?

E-mail sales and ask two or three questions you may have about the company. Do you get answers in reply, or just a boiler-plated form? Does the response offer a real person to contact so you can dig deeper? Do you get a reply at all?

Work with a demo account for a few days and see how customer service responds to your needs. Do they offer training resources—position papers, live or on-demand webinars? Or is it, "We have your money. Thanks and good luck."

A good question to ask: "If my trading platform or Internet fails, what is the backup mechanism for entering orders?"

It seems with the consolidation of small firms into larger firms, more funds are being made available to train customer service personnel. Things are indeed looking up, but it is still caveat emptor out there in FOREX land. One broker told me they are opening 100 accounts a day. If 10 leave because they had problems, will it matter? Next!

By Michael Duane Archer
Michael Duane Archer has been an active futures and FOREX trader for more than 35 years. He has worked in various advisory capacities, notably as a commodity trading advisor, registered SEC investment advisor, and branch manager for Heinold of Hawaii. He currently trades FOREX and futures and is involved in several technical analysis research projects.

Copyrighted 2016. Content published with author's permission.

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