Review by H. Hamid
cTrader is a new forex platform by London-based company, cTrader Limited. It has been custom designed for ECN brokers with its initial launch for FXPro, a top ECN broker. cTrader now serves several other leading ECN brokers, including Liquid Markets. The cTrader platform serves two functions: firstly, execution of trades, and secondly, charting.
Visually, cTrader is clean and attractive - it has an uncluttered layout that is easy on the eye. The designers have gone to great efforts to ensure that the entire platform is intuitive to use. I remember many years ago when I first started using MetaTrader – I found it much harder to learn compared to my learning experience now with cTrader. Once you’ve been using it for a few hours, MetaTrader by comparison feels quite clunky.
Let’s start off by looking at how cTrader executes trades.
The left side of the platform has a vertical column containing a list of currency pairs with bid/ask quotes (looks similar to MetaTrader’s Market Watch window). Click on any pair and the quote expands allowing you to place an immediate order. Here is the column with the GBPUSD pair expanded:
Either a single-click or a double-click (you can specify which) on the Buy or Sell quote, and you’ll submit an instant market order. Alternatively, you can have a safe setting so a standard entry order box pops up instead of an automatic execution.
For each trade, the entry, stop-loss and take-profit have to be entered as separate orders – you can’t have bracketed orders. So let’s say you want to buy GBPUSD below the current market price. You enter a Buy Limit as normal, and then you enter a separate Sell Stop order that acts as your stop-loss. Once you’re filled on your Buy Limit, you can enter a separate Sell Limit order to act as your take-profit. If either your stop-loss or take-profit is hit first, you have to manually cancel the other. Obviously, care has to be taken: for example, you have to make sure each part of the order is the correct size – you don’t want enter with 2 lots but set your stop-loss at 3 lots. Once you’ve entered a few trades though, the process becomes easy.
All pending orders are shown visually on the chart so it’s easy to keep track of what orders are where with what size. There are also Positions, Orders and Deals tabs keeping track of your trades.
One function that makes order entry much easier is the Favorites column – you can add the pairs you trade most often to a separate Favorites column; in this column the quote box always remains expanded to give you quick access to your most traded pairs.
The charting tools are thorough and are easy to grasp.
cTrader has multi-chart and single-chart modes. You can view multiple charts tiled neatly beside each other or have the chart area filled with just one chart and toggle between different charts. You can also detach any chart to its own separate window outside of the platform. This is very neat especially because on Windows the detached chart creates its own tab on the Taskbar at the bottom.
Each chart’s colour settings can be changes from the standard green bars on black background. Whenever you open a new chart, the colour settings always begin with the default view; if you have a different preferred colour scheme, you have to change it for every new chart you open. When you shut down the platform though, it reopens exactly how you left it.
Below the 1-hour timeframe, most charting packages have the 1, 5 and 15 minute timeframes. This is the same for cTrader, but you also have available 2, 3, 4, 10, and 30 minute options. Above the 1-hour level, you have the usual 4-hour, daily, weekly and monthly views. But with cTrader, you also have a 12-hour option. To save screen space, cTrader makes use of a dropdown menu to change timeframes – I personally prefer a dropdown menu.
The indicator list contains over 40 indicators, split into the categories of Trend (10 indicators), Oscillators (16 indicators), Volatility (9 indicators), and a section entitled Other (8 indicators). There’s a full complement of indicators to suit most traders’ needs – from Moving Averages, MACD, Stochastics, Bollinger... the list goes on. If you’re a trader that relies on a very specific indicator or settings, it is best to download a demo cTrader to see if your needs are met.
The only area that I found lacking with their technical tools was the Fibonacci tool. The Fib retracement tool does not allow you to add your own Fib levels in addition to their own set. So between 61.8% and 100%, I could not add 78.6% and 88.6%. And there is no Fib extension tool allowing you to make measurements from one wave projected onto the start of another (you can still do this manually though with the retracement tool). This meant that I occasionally opened up MetaTrader for my Fib analysis but not for execution. But I have found a growing trend amongst traders to use MetaTrader for its charting and ease of use to share templates with other traders, but not use it for execution because of its poor reputation in this regard.
I tested cTrader on a live account with FXPro, but it must be noted that this platform is now available elsewhere, and we expect that it will soon be offered by additioanl top ECN brokers in the coming years. I found their executions fair and quick, and I will give one anecdotal example. On Friday 15 July, I placed a trade on EURUSD shortly before 10am ET right over a news announcement. The price came to within less than 1 pip from my stop-loss. I was still kept in the trade and I managed to exit afterwards for a profit. I knew of another trader using a non-ECN broker that had placed the same trade as me with the same stop-loss. His broker widened the stops to over 10 pips and he was stopped out of the trade with a loss. For me, this advantage of good execution – good platform with a good broker – is the key consideration. Everything else is secondary.
In terms of performance, the cTrader platform is like a Ferrari. It may not have cup holders or a place for your golf clubs such as a Bentley, but it is designed for speed and execution which it does extremely well. In terms of design, it is like an Apple product – clean and intuitive. I began using cTrader for the purposes of testing it for this review. But I found the platform so very good to use that I have decided to continue using it for my own live trading indefinitely.
*Editor's note: At the time of this cTrader review update, only a demo version of the Forex platform is available. As such, we recommend that traders who wish to open a live cTrader account open an account with FXPro or Liquid Markets to see the full range of this platform's benefits and to enjoy each broker's excellent trading conditions and all of the helpful features that cTrader has to offer.