5 Best Forex Brokers UK 2021
The Forex industry is highly competitive, with over 1,200 MT4 brokers plus hundreds offering MT5, cTrader, and a growing number of proprietary trading platforms. While there is an abundant choice, not all brokers are suitable for all types of traders. Before considering a Forex broker, each trader needs to determine his or her individual needs and trading style. Various brokers cater to a specific trader base and knowing what to look for in a broker will narrow down the field significantly.
One of the most important aspects of any broker is trustworthiness. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is one of the prime global authorities. Every U.K. based broker must hold a license with the FCA, and in doing so, these brokers operate under a high level of security. It should be noted that regulation is not everything, as there are cases of well-regulated brokers defrauding clients, but the FCA grants a trustworthy environment. It should also be noted that UK-based traders can opt to trade with brokers that have other, non-FCA regulations, such as FP Markets. Traders also need to consider cost structure and asset selection, as they will have a direct impact on the profitability of any executed trading strategy.
Almost all brokers offer reputable trading platforms, with MT4 the industry standard, often marketed as a cutting-edge and industry-leading gateway to financial markets. While the MT4 infrastructure possesses those capabilities, the out-of-the-box version, as offered by most brokers, falls short of this. Competitive brokers offer the necessary third-party plugins or create an alternative in-house. This may be one of the most overlooked aspects of the overall product and service portfolio of Forex brokers. Auxiliary trading services, like research, VPS hosting, account management services via MAM/PAMM, should also be considered, as they set apart brokers focused on the minimum to operate and those with a genuine desire to grant traders a competitive edge.
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U.K. (United Kingdom) Regulation
The UK, with the FCA as the regulator in charge of the industry, became the primary financial sector destination after 2002, when the passage of unfavorable legislation forced an exodus out of the U.S.A.
Until the recent U.K. exit from the European Union, commonly referred to as Brexit, U.K. brokers had to comply with uncompetitive regulations mandated by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). The transition period of Brexit will end in December 2020, and the UK brokerage industry may resume its previous competitive framework with sole oversight by the FCA. Despite Brexit, the UK is highly likely maintain favorable trade relationships with core markets. It will possibly strengthen them, adding to the competitiveness of the financial sector as a whole.
The online trading conditions under which U.K. Forex brokers operate under FCA oversight remain the most competitive ones globally. Adding to its leadership position are trading instruments that are legally available, like contracts for difference (CFDs) and other derivatives not available in the US. Most U.K. Forex brokers have relatively ow minimum deposit requirements, often less than $100 or a currency equivalent. Security of funds, which must remain fully segregated from corporate capital, is superior in the U.K. to any other jurisdiction.
Role of the FCA to the UK Forex Broker
The FCA provides a set of requirements which must be met before a Forex broker can receive an operating license. It also maintains a set of rules to ensure transparency and a stable capital structure. Violating them will result in investigations, fines, and possible suspension of a license, ensuring only trustworthy brokers operate legitimately out of the U.K.
Below is a list of some requirements all U.K. Forex Brokers must comply with:
- Maintain minimum capital requirements of £125,000 for straight-through processing (STP) models and £730,000 for market makers.
- Client deposits must remain segregated from corporate funds.
- Daily submission of the capital balance, and monthly as well as quarterly financial documents.
- Ensuring the business model operates in line with best practices.
- Brokers must disclose the risk involved with each trading instrument to its clients and always act in their best interest.
Client deposit protection of up to £85,000, per the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), is the highest in the world. By comparison, brokers regulated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) deploy the Investor Compensation Fund (CIF), capped at €20,000. The FCA also maintains a list of scam brokers, as many fraudulent brokers attempt to copy an FCA regulated one. This allows traders to swiftly identify genuine brokers from scam “clone brokers”, as the FCA designated them.
How to Verify FCA Authorization
Traders should locate the FCA register number, usually located at the bottom of the broker’s homepage. Comparing it with the official FCA database will then verify FCA authorization. It will also reveal all known clone firms for the registered broker.
How a regulated market benefits you
Trading with a regulated Forex broker ensures a safe and trustworthy trading environment, access to best business practices, the security of deposits and financial stability of the broker, and ease of mind that a regulator will ensure brokers act in the best interest of their clients.
Is Forex legal in the UK?
Yes, Forex trading is 100% legal and regulated in the UK, which is the largest Forex trading market globally, with over 37% of all daily volume flowing through the UK financial sector and its hundreds of brokers servicing it.
Advantages of Choosing to Work with U.K. Forex Brokers
A reputable Forex broker will ensure clients manage their portfolios from a competitive trading environment, as the profitability of traders increasing revenues at non-market-maker brokers enables a stable income. Therefore, auxiliary trading services fulfill an essential role for any successful broker. On top of an excellent regulatory environment, U.K. Forex brokers offer a distinct advantage in overall financial services.
The financial infrastructure in the U.K. remains superior in global terms. The vast network of brokers, banks, counterparties, accountants, lawyers, analysts, and research firms located in the U.K. offers unlimited access to financial products with an excellent support network. Whether the client is a new trader or a hedge fund, the U.K. financial services sector deploys the right tools for the entire spectrum, adding to an unparalleled list of advantages and allowing all types of traders to acquire the necessary edge in today’s financial markets.
Being the global financial center of the world, the market information available within the extensive UK financial sector includes every economy around the world. Therefore, traders generally receive market-moving information promptly. This offers a wide range of mobile trading opportunities and allows traders insight into areas often ignored by brokers based in many other countries. Countless specialized and boutique outlets cater to all types of strategies and markets, with a network of brokers enabling access.
Within the financial services sector, an essential component of the U.K. economy, the quality of professional experts is high throughout the industry. U.K. Forex brokers either hire in-house or seek third-party partnerships to ensure traders not only have access to a high quantity of research and market commentary but also a high quantity. U.K. brokers attempt to offer highly skilled professional experts to assist traders to reach their goals.Back to top ⬆
Understanding the UK Forex Market
The U.K. has been the global financial center for nearly two decades and is home to the sixth-largest economy globally. It has attracted tens of thousands of finance professionals and caters to international clients more than any other economy. Given the various currencies involved, the U.K. Forex market grew tremendously and today accounts for over 37% of the daily global trading volume. It applies to the unregulated Forex spot market, as well as derivatives like CFDs. Due to its leadership position, the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR) became the industry-wide standard, impacting over $350 trillion of derivatives globally. Forex brokers use it to calculate swap rates on overnight leveraged positions.
Economic Turbulence and the Forex Market in the UK
Since the turn of the millennium, economic turbulence has increased and become more frequent. It resulted in changes to the Forex market in the U.K. Several brokers filed for bankruptcy amid higher capital requirements imposed by the FCA to ensure financial stability, while others left the jurisdiction voluntarily. Regulations stipulated by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) also had an adverse negative impact together with MiFID II, but Brexit could rectify them as the UK will no longer be subject to the E.U.'s rules. The FCA will ensure that financial stability, transparency, and competitiveness remain an essential driver of the U.K. financial system, which besides an excellent infrastructure, enjoys a favorable time zone and tax-friendly environment which is also positioned to improve after the end of the Brexit transition period.
The aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis and the January 2015 unpegging of the Swiss Franc from the Euro by the Swiss National Bank caused ripple effects across the financial system and the end of unsustainable brokers. It has also given rise to a new breed, and competition remains healthier than ever. The rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions brought FinTech companies into the mix, evident in 2019, when London took the crown as the world’s number one technology investment hub, dethroning Silicon Valley in the U.S.A. The Forex market in the U.K. will change further, become more competitive, and offer traders around the world more favorable options.
Forex Trading Taxation in the UK
With currency trading gaining popularity, two of the most commonly asked questions about taxation of Forex trading profits in the U.K. are “Do Forex traders pay tax in the UK?” and “How can I avoid paying taxes on Forex?”. While these remain somewhat complex topics which depend upon personalized circumstances, U.K. traders generally are required to pay a capital gains tax (CGT) on trading-related profit. There is a £12,000 allowance for individuals. Any profit above that is taxable. It is the responsibility of traders to declare profit from trading in their annual tax returns filed with Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC), the tax authority of the U.K.
There is a difference in the tax treatment of CFD/spot market trading and spread betting. The former is taxable in two brackets. Those with a total income below £50,000 pay a 10% tax, the rest 20%, unless HMRC deems trading-related income to be taxable under personal or corporate tax rates. The £12,000 tax-free allowance (£24,000 for couples) still applies. U.K. retail clients trading in spread betting accounts are generally not required to pay taxes, which is why it has become the dominant form of currency trading in the UK, offered by all UK brokers.
How Can I Avoid Paying Taxes on Forex?
UK retail clients trading in spread betting accounts are broadly not required to pay taxes on any profits, which is why it has become the dominant form of trading in the UK and is offered by all UK-based brokers.
Avoiding Forex Scams
The easiest way to avoid Forex scams is to trade with a regulated Forex broker that is legally allowed to accept clients resident within the U.K. If you are choosing an FCA regulated broker, make sure to check the official FCA database to avoid cloned firms and scammers.
Trading Platform & Software
Trading platforms come either as a desktop client, a web-trader, or a mobile app. Traders should make sure that they are user-friendly with quality charts and a broad range of technical indicators. Trade and risk management tools are equally important. MT4 is the industry standard, and FP Markets, Tradeo, FXTM, and AVA Trade offer it. Regrettably, only FXTM grants MT4 plugins, while FP Markets and AVA Trade also maintain the MT5 version. Fineco Bank deploys its proprietary PowerDesk platform, which is superior to any proprietary offering from the other four.
Spreads, Commissions & Leverage
Trading costs and leverage remain essential aspects every trader needs to consider. Spreads refer to the difference between the bid and ask price. There are two types of spreads: fixed and variable. The former does not change according to market conditions, while the latter accurately reflects them. Fineco Bank maintains the most competitive offer here, with a minimum cost of just 0.8 pips, followed by AVA Trade with 0.9 pips. The lowest spread usually applies to the EUR/USD, the most liquid currency pair.
Forex brokers deploying an STP/ECN execution model allow access to raw spreads as low as 0.0 pips for a commission per lot. It is ideal for high-frequency and short-term traders. From our Top 5 list, only FP Markets and FXTM offer commission-based accounts, charging $3.00 and $4.00 per 1.0 lot, respectively, but FXTM can be up to $20.00.
Many confuse high leverage with high risk and blame account losses on it, but to be honest, losses are usually the result of poor risk management, not high leverage. Still, to protect traders from making poor leverage decisions, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has limited the available leverage for all EU-based brokers. FXTM, Tradeo, and AVA Trade cap the maximum leverage at 1:30, Fineco Bank notes 1:50, while FP Markets, based in Australia, allows leverage up to 1:500. After the end of the Brexit transition period, the likely return of high leverage UK forex brokers will further boost the competitive mobile trading environment in the UK.Back to top ⬆
The most important distinction between account types is between commission-free accounts and commission-based accounts, as this distinction impacts the cost per trade. Some brokers offer mini accounts, where the new traders with smaller deposits can trade mini lots, equaling 10,000 currency units. By comparison, one standard lot totals 100,000 currency units. An outdated but still common approach is tiered accounts, where brokers offer better conditions for more substantial deposits. Fineco Bank caters to all traders from one commission-free account, while FP Markets has a commission-based version. Tradeo separates its account types into five ill-structured tiers, while AvaTrade maintains a spread betting account plus a distinct options trading alternative besides a standard account. FXTM offers three different types of standard account plus three ECN versions.
There is no regulatory requirement for a minimum deposit, which remains at the sole discretion of brokers. Fineco Bank offers the most trader-friendly approach with zero minimum deposit requirement, closely followed by FXTM with $10. FP Markets and AVA Trade are competitive at $100, while Tradeo asks for a minimum deposit of $1,000. Though a low minimum deposit may seem advantageous, it should be fairly obvious that you cannot make much money by trading if you risk very little.
Most traders will never require customer support at a well-managed broker, but easy access in case of emergencies is mandatory. Live chat is the most convenient form to reach out, offered by all five brokers. FP Markets, Tradeo, FXTM, and AVA Trade, offer e-mail support, and all except AVA Trade grant phone support. An FAQ section attempts to answer the most common questions, available at FP Markets, Tradeo, FXTM, and AVA Trade.
Additional services separate excellent brokers from average ones. The most popular include research, education, VPS hosting, MT4 add-ons, loyalty programs, and bonuses. Even if a trader does not require any of those, trading with a broker that creates a well-rounded, competitive online trading environment is beneficial anyway. FP Markets and FXTM offer MT4 add-ons, VPS hosting, research, and education, all of which can be beneficial to traders at all levels. The former also grant MAM/PAMM accounts, Autochartist, and social trading via Myfxbook. The latter rewards active traders with a loyalty program. Fineco Bank maintains investment and banking services on top of their trading services, together with education and an API for developers. AVA Trade and Tradeo also have an educational section. The latter offers an additional distinct options trading platform and a social trading alternative, while the former does not grant extra value-added services.Back to top ⬆
We reviewed over 100 brokers based on eleven criteria. Over 100 brokers were reviewed in-depth and from a trader's perspective, ignoring the marketing tactics deployed by some to confuse retail traders. Therefore, we sourced the list of our Best UK Forex Brokers from more than 200,000 words of dedicated research compiled over 1,000 hours, ensuring the most comprehensive approach to identify the best UK Forex brokers.
How to start trading Forex in the UK?
Education is the most critical step and will dictate the profitability of any portfolio. Beyond that, select the Forex broker most suitable to your needs, make a deposit, and you can embark on your Forex trading venture.
What time does the Forex market open in the UK?
The Forex market is open 24/5, but the U.K. open is generally considered to be between 8am to 9:30am U.K. time.
How can I become a Forex trader in the UK?
Education, patience, and adequate trading capital form the three pillars on which most successful Forex traders build their portfolios. Make sure you undertake each before you become a Forex trader just by opening a trading account and funding it with real money.
How much do Forex traders make in the UK?
The answer to this question is dependent on many individual circumstances, including time, capital, and trading strategies. Over 75% of retail traders lose money, and more than 20% earn only small returns.Back to top ⬆