Forex Brokers Operating Under US Regulations
Do you live outside the United States of America? If so, the brokers listed below may not be regulated in your country, and even if they are, you have a much wider pool of potential to choose from. For our list of best brokers regulated outside the United States, see our global brokers list.
If you’re a United States citizen or even simply resident in the United States and trying to choose between different United States Forex brokers, you’ve probably realized that your options are more limited than those available to international traders. Since 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act has been the major source of law governing Forex within the United States, and its provisions were stringent enough to almost kill off the burgeoning American Forex industry. All Forex brokers able to offer their services within the United States, even including “introducing” Forex brokers, must secure registration as a retail foreign exchange dealer from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and as a futures commission merchant from the National Futures Association (NFA). Regulated Forex brokerages in the United States are subject to very stringent restrictions which are (allegedly) designed to protect US traders, although many industry analysts suspect that such restrictions are more the result of intense lobbying by the options/futures/stock brokerage industry, which is a far bigger business there than Forex has ever been, and are designed primarily to protect the interests of that industry rather than the interest of aspiring retail Forex traders or investors. Interestingly, the Securities Exchange Commission (the SEC) has no jurisdiction over Forex in the United States as Forex currency pairs are not deemed to be a “security”.
An additional restriction placed upon U.S. Forex brokerages is that they aren’t allowed to offer CFDs (contracts for differences) as tradable products to their clients. Furthermore, NFA regulated brokers must limit their leverage to 50:1 and conform to rigorous record-keeping and reporting requirements. However, it is worth noting that 50:1 leverage is considerably higher than the maximum limit placed upon Forex / CFD brokerages in the European Union, which regulators have set at 30 to 1. Both maximums are higher leverage than any Forex trader should ever need to use anyway. Another well-known, tedious and frankly pointless restriction specific to the U.S. is an effective ban on hedging due to the FIFO (first in, first out) rule which stipulates that traders with multiple positions of the same size in the same asset must close a position opened earlier than a position opened later, as the rule’s title suggests. This may sound painful, but two reasonably straightforward work arounds are opening two different Forex brokerage accounts (it can be difficult to do this with the same broker) or always opening trade positions of slightly different sizes. The second option can be challenging to execute if you are not well capitalized.
Despite these minor obstacles, there are a handful of Forex brokers in the United States successfully maintaining NFA regulation offering reliable services and user-friendly platforms (there are also several “offshore” Forex brokers operating outside the United States without American regulation, although most. brokerages outside the United States expressly refuse to accept U.S. persons as clients). We’ve tested the trading platforms, customer service and ease of use of the top U.S. Forex brokers and recorded our findings to help you choose an NFA-regulated brokerage.
Before you start making comparisons to make a selection, you might ask, what are the characteristics of Forex brokers regulated in the United States? They are primarily market-making brokers with few ECN / STP execution models available. Very few of them are well-known globally, and one or two of them are primarily futures brokers offering Forex as a sideline. At least one broker falling into this category requires clients to have a liquid net worth of at least a quarter of a million dollars in order to trade Forex even without using any leverage at all, and it is hard to see much sense in that when other asset classes are demonstrably far riskier. However, don’t worry, it is still entirely possible to find a good regulated Forex brokerage in the United States.
If you're looking for a Forex / CFD broker outside of the United States, check out our Forex broker reviews list to find another broker that's appropriate for you.