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Foreign Exchange Brokers: What To Look For

Foreign exchange brokers that cater to the retail investor are springing up all of the time all over the world. What should you look for in selecting a forex broker and how can you be sure you are getting the best?

Everybody starts out currency trading with hopes of having big returns and some of the publicity that you will see will make this sound almost inevitable. In fact of course currency trading is full of risk and many people get their fingers burnt. You could easily lose your startup funds, especially if you start trading for real too soon.

Be sure that you are signing up with a broker who states the risks clearly. When you are starting out you should probably look for a company that will protect you from margin calls by automatically closing your trades if your funds become exhausted. Of course this is a bad situation that you will hope to avoid but it is better than finding you are committed to paying more than you had in the account.

Forex traders often work with 100, 200 or even 400 times leverage. This means that the funds in your account can control 100-400 times their own value. With $100 of the funds in your account you can trade lots of $10,000. So if something goes wrong and the price moves unexpectedly against you, you could be down by more than $100. You can put your own stop losses into place but it is useful to have a broker who will do this in case you forget one time.

Of course you also want to make sure that the brokerage company is honest and will not disappear with your money. If they have been around for a while or form part of a large, reputable company that is a good sign. Another valuable point to consider is whether they are members of any regulatory bodies. This may give you protection if the company goes out of business.

Foreign exchange brokers will offer you various services including charts and technical analysis through their software platform. It is important to know what charts you are likely to need not only for your current system but for other ways that you may want to trade in the future. Compare the charts provided by the different brokers. Think about how you would want to use and combine them and make sure that your chosen broker offers what you need.

You will also want to be sure about the reliability of the software. If it goes offline you could lose the chance to control a trade. Try to find feedback on forex forums or the company’s own forum if there is one, to check how satisfied users are with the reliability of the software platform and also the support provided. Forex is a 24 hour market during the business week and you should be able to get support 24 hours too.

Spread is something that most traders look at when selecting a brokerage account. This is the difference between the bid and ask prices and it is how forex brokers make their money. You may be tempted to go with a company because they offer a low spread but remember that it may not be permanent and probably does not apply to all currency pairs. Spread should not be your only or even your main consideration when considering foreign exchange brokers.

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Saturday, June 20th, 2009 Brokers No Comments

FX Trading: Who, Why And How?

Forex or FX trading is a way of making money from currency price movements. Forex traders buy and sell world currencies according to whether a currency seems likely to rise or fall.

Who Can Do FX Trading?

When you first hear about currency trading you might think that you need to know a lot about economics, politics or finance. You might think that all forex traders would be employed on Wall Street or other financial centers of the world. But this is not true at all.

In the past, it was certainly the case that the foreign exchange markets used to be almost entirely dominated by banks and investment companies. These days, however, all of that has changed. There are two main reasons for this.

The first is the internet, which allows anybody with a high speed connection to have access to up to the minute prices, charts and other data. People can trade from home, connecting to their broker and controlling their account online in real time. Brokers have seen the opportunity and reduced the amount of money you need to get started, encouraging people to start trading with only a few hundred dollars.

The second big development in fx trading has been the appearance of forex robots. These are automated trading programs that you can set to run on your own computer. They will connect up with your broker’s website and make trades for you. This means that you do not even need to know a lot about finance to get involved.

Why Would You Become A Forex Trader?

Why? Well, to make money, of course. At least that is most people’s reason for getting involved in the forex markets. It could be that there are some people out there who just enjoy the challenge and treat it as a game, but unless you are just using a demo account it is better to take it seriously.

Forex is a risky business with the possibility of making losses as well as gains. Money can come and go very fast. When you make a deposit into your brokerage account it is best to think of that as money spent. Any income that comes back from it is a bonus. Do not trade with the rent money!

How Do You Get Involved?

To begin forex trading you will need an account with a broker. If you want to use a forex robot you should get that right away and start using its demo settings so that you understand how it works and can see it making profits before you let it control your real money fx trading account.

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Thursday, June 18th, 2009 Introduction No Comments

What Is A Forex Pip?

When you start to look around forex websites online, you will soon see references to the forex pip. Your gains and losses will be measured in pips. Something else that is measured in pips is the spread, the difference between the bid and ask prices which is the main cost of forex trading and how the brokers make their money. So it is clearly very important to understand what is a forex pip.

The word is an acronym standing for percentage in point (or sometimes, price interest point). It is the smallest increment of changes in values. It allows us to measure a rise or fall in currency values in percentage terms instead of in dollars and cents.

Why do we need to talk in pips? The reason for this is simple. In the foreign exchange market there is no world currency in which to express values. The US dollar may be the most commonly traded currency but it is not involved in all trades. If you are trading cross rates, i.e. two other currencies such as EUR/GBP or any other combination that does not involve USD, it would not make any sense at all to express your gains and losses in terms of US dollars. Instead, we need something that is a small percentage of the value of whatever currencies we are dealing with.

This means that the monetary value of a pip varies according to the currency.

Most currencies are quoted to four decimal points. For example you might see the bid price for EUR/USD quoted at 1.3642 and ask price 1.3644. The difference (the spread) is 0.0002 or 2 pips. Here a pip is 0.01% of a lot.

So if the lot size was $100,000, one pip would be worth $10. For a lot size of $10,000, one pip would be $1.

That is the value of pips when the US dollar is the quote currency, i.e. XXX/USD. But when the quote currency is different, one pip is usually 10 units of that currency (e.g. 10 euros or 10 pounds). Or if your lot size is 10,000 units, one pip is 1 unit (1 euro or 1 pound).

The exception is the Japanese yen which has a much lower unit value than most currencies (you get a lot of yen to the dollar). Because of this, the yen is only quoted to the second decimal point. You might see a price USD/JPY 110.15. In this case one pip is 0.01 or 1% but in yen, not dollars. So the pip value is JPY 1000 which at that price would be worth US $11.015.

These differences can be confusing when you are just starting out. So it is better for beginners to trade consistently with just one currency pair.

If you are trading one pair regularly every day you will soon get used to how much a pip means in terms of your actual gains and losses in your account. You will know how much one pip is worth in dollars or in your own currency.

But when you are trading several different currency pairs, you have to deal with pips of different value. If you get confused, you could be taking greater risks than you planned or closing trades with less profit than you thought. It is much easier to deal with only one pair at first until you have a sound understanding of trading practices and forex pip values.

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Thursday, June 18th, 2009 Glossary, Introduction No Comments

A Quick And Easy Foreign Exchange Tutorial

Your first foreign exchange tutorial will cover the basics of what you need to do to get started with forex trading. The aim, of course, is to have you making money by predicting the rise and fall of one currency against another and opening and closing your trades at the right moment.

It takes time to learn to be a successful forex trader but you can cut corners if you have a good introductory program that covers everything you need to know. This includes:

- understanding the principles of currency trading including managing your account, trading margins, and allowing for the cost of the spread

- technical analysis: discovering how to recognize trends in the markets, the different types of charts and how to interpret them so that you can profit from market movements

- fundamental analysis: understanding what to do in the face of major national or international economic events that are likely to impact on currency values.

- finding out how to minimize your risk and protect your trades with stops

- developing the power to apply your system without allowing losses or emotions such as fear to throw you off balance and affect your chances of earning long term profits

A good place to pick up hints and tips can be a forex trading online forum. There are many of these on the internet and members will comment about all kinds of issues relating to the market and their own trading. This can be a great place to go if you have questions.

However, forums have some drawbacks. One is that the advice you get may be very contradictory. There is more than one way to trade forex profitably and it can be confusing to be receiving advice from several different people, each with their own approach. It is usually better to stick to your own system.

The other problem with taking advice on forums is that you do not usually know anything about the people who are posting. Somebody could sound very knowledgeable and then it turns out they have only ever used a demo account and never made a real trade in their lives. Some people spend more time hanging out in forums than trading. Just because somebody is very active in a forum does not mean he or she is an expert.

So do not rely on forums, free guides or untested theories for your trading system. When you are starting out in forex trading you need a solid grounding in the basics and a system that is easy to follow and actually works. As with most things in life you usually have to pay for the best. So look for a foreign exchange tutorial that is part of a profitable forex system.

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Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 Introduction No Comments

What Are The Risks With Fx Managed Accounts?

Forex managed accounts present an attractive opportunity for people who want to make money from the lucrative currency trading markets but cannot or do not want to learn to trade for themselves. With a managed account you do not have to do any trading at all. Instead, you entrust your fund to the management company who will act for you.

There are two basic types of forex managed accounts.

1. Standard accounts

With this type of account, your money is kept in your brokerage account in your own name and the manager simply has control over it so that they can trade with it. You can see how much is there and how it is doing at all times. It remains your money.

You have to accept the risk that even a skilled account manager cannot predict the markets 100% and you may have to take some losses. Still, if you are a beginner, he is likely to do better with your money than you would yourself, so it is just a question of whether he can do well enough to cover his fees and make you a good profit.

2. Pooled accounts

Pooled accounts are more risky in that there is more possibility of fraud. Here, your money goes into a pool held by the account manager. You are paid a share of their declared profits.

In theory the pool provides a buffer so that profits and losses are more evenly spread and your income could be a little more predictable than when your money is being managed separately. The problem is that you cannot really know what is happening and an unscrupulous management company could simply be making small regular payments to keep their customers happy while illegally diverting the bulk of your funds into their own pockets.

If you are guaranteed a certain percentage return on investment by a forex account manager using pooled funds, you could be heading for trouble. There are no guarantees with forex trading and any company that makes promises of a 10% return or whatever should be treated with extreme caution.

Of course there are some well run pooled accounts and they have the advantage of a little more predictability than standard forex managed accounts. However, you should research a company offering pooled accounts even more thoroughly than usual before you decide to invest.

Even if you choose a standard account, you need to shop around. Avoid managers who insist on you signing up with their preferred broker. That usually means that they get a commission on all your trades, so they have an incentive to make a lot of small trades even if that is not the most profitable strategy, simply to increase the broker’s earnings from the spread and their own commission rakeoff. Even if their commission is worked on a different basis, you probably will not get the best or cheapest broker that way. It is better to sign up with a company who will let you choose your own broker for forex managed accounts, even if they charge a slightly higher fee.

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Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 Managed Accounts No Comments