Top FOREX Broker-Dealers
You can please some of the traders some of the time, but you cannot please all of the traders all of the time. As you peruse broker-dealer review websites such as Forex Peace Army -- www.forexpeacearmy.com -- you will note many have both one-star and five-star reviews. Some of these are just plain sour grapes, and some are shills. Look for similar issues mentioned over long periods of time and on different review boards. Focus on the reviews in the context of what you as a trader require. As in anything else, a larger sample is a better indicator than a small sample.
Below, I highlight five brokers, all of whom I use as either a primary or secondary service.
The inclusion of a broker-dealer herein does not constitute a recommendation; exclusion likewise does not imply disapproval.
ATC BrokersATC Brokers is my primary broker for both the FOREX and futures markets. I began my trading career in the 1970s, in the days of real flesh-and-blood brokers, clacker boards, and telephones. To me, service is still a big deal and ATC has the best service I have ever seen within these industries.
The MetaTrader 4 software was originally designed for retail traders and was used by brokers with dealing desk operations. ATC was one of the first brokers to integrate institutional prices to the MT4 software and eliminated the dealing desk environment. They have created a plug-in for the MT4 software that allows for single-click execution and multiple bracket capabilities. Their pricing structure is competitive and they offer all of the major currency pairs.
Consider this experience: The clearinghouse data feed recently went down in futures for almost an hour. I was able to get through to my ATC broker on the telephone -- on the first call -- and learn why my quotes had stopped. Two other members of my GoodmanWorks trading room could not even get telephone access -- and several others reported busy signals when they called. This is service. You may not need it often, but when you do, you want it to be there. E-mails are answered promptly and issues are resolved knowledgably and honestly.
This is a well-run shop with true professionals at all positions.
ATC offers MT4 for FOREX trading as well as the fully integrated Trading Station II. See Figure below.
[caption id="attachment_13009" align="aligncenter" width="550"] ATC Brokers[/caption]
MB TradingThis company was originally EF Group -- which was an IB for MB Trading. MB reacquired EF Group in 2008. They are an ECN.
MB Trading is a relatively young and aggressive FOREX broker. Like many others, they had some growing pains but seem to have their operations all together now. Their original in-house platform, MN Navigator, was a near disaster, but they have moved to a commission-free MT4 ECN. Should you trade both futures and FOREX, they offer the MB Desktop Pro.
MB Trading offers this information on their leading-edge execution and pricing paradigms:
The MBTFX routing system with true ECN technology delivers transparent FOREX pricing in a non-deal desk environment. Clients participate in creating the market, tightening spreads and improving execution speeds. Recently recognized for "Best Execution" by IB Times and "Top Broker" by Barron's in 2011. Clients of MB Trading can choose from two FOREX trading plans -- the "Pay for Limits" plan, which charges a low commission and pays you 1.95 per executed limit order, or the "Free ECN" plan, with commission-free orders and tight spreads. International accounts (non-U.S. based) with 100:1 and hedging are available through MB Trading UK.
Fills and costs are in fact very good, and pair palette is excellent for an ECN. Rollovers were once high but seem to have come down in line with other brokers in the past year. MB Trading aggressively markets to small traders with a $400.00 minimum account, but I know professional traders who use them and are happy campers and they appear to have robust institutional interest.
Service is generally acceptable to very good, although it can be spotty and some of the young staff might need a little more training.
MB Trading offers both MetaTrader 4 and NinjaTrader 7. See Figure below.
[caption id="attachment_13010" align="aligncenter" width="550"] MB Trading[/caption]
Interactive BrokersInteractive Brokers (IB) is a large full-service brokerage with a full suite of products, catering to both individuals and institutions.
Its claim to fame is the universal account, through which a trader may work in a vast array of investment vehicles, including FOREX, futures, equities, bonds, and derivatives. An account may be denominated in any major currency, and you may switch the currency at any time for a small fee. This provides an entirely new level of trading possibilities for the sophisticated investor.
The pair palette is above average and fills and costs are acceptable. As they have many high-end and institutional clients, the small investor may be a little less comfortable here although I found service excellent.
IB offers MetaTrader 4 and NinjaTrader 7 as well as its own in-house plaforms. See Figure below.
[caption id="attachment_13011" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Interactive Brokers[/caption]
FOREX.comFOREX.com is the smaller retail subsidiary of Gain Capital, . I have worked with Gain for almost 10 years. The forums seem to indicate a higher-than-average number of complaints for than some other brokers. This has not been my experience. I find their service excellent and prompt. Customer service representatives seem extremely well trained and knowledgeable.
As a market maker, fills are not the best, but as a trade-off, offers a very big pair palette. For the new trader, the ability to trade micro lots of 1,000 is a definite plus. The number of complaints may well be explained by understanding that new and small traders use in vast numbers. They are most likely to complain about issues that are really more FOREX facts of life than legitimate issues.
Forex.com offers integration to both MetaTrader 4 and NinjaTrader 7. I had difficulty integrating NinjaTrader 7 to but an e-mail and a call to customer service got me straight through in no time.
PFG BestThis is an old-line commodity futures house (Peregrine) that moved into FOREX some years ago. They offer MetaTrader, eSignal, NinjaTrader, and Currenex platforms. PFG also offers stock and options trading.
Spreads are excellent. PFG has multiple liquidity providers; the actual number depends on which platform you use. Rollover costs are average.
PFG is a stickler for detail and compliance. It may take you a bit longer to open an account with them than with some other brokers but the process is smooth, thanks to quality customer care. The minimum account was $2,500 as of 2010 and the minimum lot size was a mini (10,000).
You can also trade futures with PFG. I am told they will integrate both FOREX and futures on the new MetaTrader-5 platform, but you can currently trade both futures and FOREX with them on the NinjaTrader platform.
Customer service is above average. E-mail responses can be nearly instantaneous -- or occasionally require a re-ping. PFGBest offers the largest selection of platforms of any retail FOREX broker. These include: MT4, NinjaTrader, ProTrader, TradeVec, Currenex, their in-house BestDirect 8.0 -- and others! I am told they will add MultiCharts soon. For BestDirect 8.0, see Figure below.
[caption id="attachment_13012" align="aligncenter" width="550"] PFG Best[/caption]