What Is Forex Trading?
Foreign exchange trading (Forex trading) is trading on the worldwide currency markets. Over AUD $6 trillion is traded each day on forex markets with one currency exchanged for another by currency traders. A forex deal can be a currency exchange at a bank or an airport foreign exchange teller but forex trading also involves using leverage.
How To Trade Forex
To trade currency markets there is the requirement to select a forex broker and associated forex trading platform to suit their needs. Traders then select the currency pairing they want to trade such as the AUD/USD where the rate display indicates the number of Australian Dollars one US dollar can purchase. Traders can purchase USD and if the value of that currency rises against the AUD they make a profit after closing the order. If the Australia dollar rises in the same transaction they will lose money. The amount needed to start trading forex depends on the foreign exchange broker and can start at $100.
The three elements needed when trading forex are:
- The forex broker
- The forex trading platform
- A solid forex trading strategy
The ‘Top 5’ Forex Brokers
i) Pepperstone – 10/10
Pepperstone is a Melbourne based ECN forex broker allowing trading directly with liquidity pools.
Their main features include:
- The use of either the MetaTrader 4 (MT4) or cTrader forex trading platform
- Industry leading leverage of 500:1
- Fast execution speed with the use of Equinix servers in New York and London.
- Award winning (Investment Trends) customer service
- Qantas Frequent Flyer points when trading
Pepperstone’s offering of the most popular forex trading platforms, low spreads and commissions, high leverage and execution speeds are why they are recommended for intermediate to expert forex traders.
ii) Easy Markets – 9/10
Easy Markets are a Cyrus based forex broker with a Sydney offer and locally regulated for Australian forex trading.
Their main strengths are:
- Deal Cancellation allowing forex trades to be cancelled within 60 minutes
- Risk management safeguards including guaranteed stops and negative balance protection as standard
- Fixed spreads and no commissions providing transparent trading costs
- 300+ markets including cryptocurrencies
- 400:1 leverage when trading foreign exchange
Easy Markets offering of transparent trading fees combined with unique risk management tools make them the ideal forex broker to beginner forex traders of those with a low risk profile.
iii) AxiTrader – 8.5/10
AxiTrader are similar to Pepperstone offering ECN forex trading in a fast foreign exchange environment.
Their key strengths are:
- The offering of the most popular forex trading platform – NextGen
- Added NexGen platform features including autochartist
- Fast execution speeds thanks to Equinix data centres
- Automation trading using Expert Advisors (EAs) and DupliTrade
- Leverage of 400:1 on currency pairings
AxiTrader only offer MetaTrader 4 which can be limiting for some traders but if this is your preferred forex trading platform this may be the right forex broker for you. Their enhanced trading features including EAs are ideal for traders looking for tools to assist their trading.
iv) GO Markets – 7.5/10
GO Markets are a Sydney based forex broker with a tiered service approaching.
The brokers core features are:
- The offering of MetaTrader 4 Genesis with enhanced features and charting
- Low spreads and fees dependent on the deposit made within the account
- The offering of additional products including binary options
- 300:1 leverage available
- VPS option to speed up the forex trading environment
GO Markets are an excellent option but only for those that opt for their new GO Markets PLUS account. This account has the lowest fees with raw spreads and AUD $3.00 per side commission. The issue though is that regularly the minimum deposit is $10,000 making this broker only suitable for high volume currency traders. If you’re a high frequency trader, then you should consider this forex broker.
v) Plus500 – 4.5/10
Plus500 is a public listed company that have an office in Sydney.
The forex broker offers trading with:
- 200:1 leverage
- Their own forex trading platform
- No commission trading with fixed spreads
- Share trading of the ASX 200
- Risk Management tools including guaranteed stops
Plus500’s key strength is their offering of financial products outside of currency trading such as shares. Their forex trading platform is very unique to the other Australian forex brokers which is both their strength and weakness if you want to change brokers at a later stage. The are work considering if your looking for something unique from your forex brokers.
Overall, if you can’t decide which forex broker based on the information above, the click on the image below for the full forex trading platform comparison table and reviews.
How to open a forex trading account
Most individuals new to forex trading will open a trial forex trading account which requires no funds and limited personal information. This provides a risk free environment to try currency trading. A trial account can be upgraded to a live account or a new live account can be opened. This requires detailed personal information (required to avoid money laundering) and funding of the account which varied by forex broker.
It’s worth reviewing the funding options and minimum deposit requirement to make sure the forex broker suits your preferences. The forex broker will provide you a forex trading platform which will either require a download to your PC/Mac, a download of an app or a web-based environment.
Which forex trading platform is the best?
When currency trading there are three forex trading platforms options to view charts, news and make trades. These are the:
- MetaTrader Trading Platforms
- cTrader Trading Platforms
- Propriety Trading Platform
MetaTrader Forex Trading Platform
MetaTrader by MetaQuotes is the most popular currency trading platform worldwide offering:
- MetaTrader 4 – The most used trading platform known as MT4 released in 2005
- MetaTrader 5 – An improved version of MT4 from a automation perspective released in 2010
Below compares MT4 to MT5 to help decide which forex trading platform is ideal for your trading need.
|MetaTrader 4||MetaTrader 5|
Supports continuous zooming
|Multiple time frames to analyse quotes|
Four zoom modes
|Flexibility||With MAM, MT4 can manage multiple accounts||MT5 can manage multiple account|
|Graphic||Easy to follow currency indicators||Large icons with improved speed|
|Timeframes||9 with limited charting capabilities||21 and unlimited charting|
|Tick Charts||Not available||Available with one-click trading|
cTrader Forex Trading Platform
cTrader by Spotware is the second most popular forex trading platform worldwide and is tailored towards intermediate to expert traders with features including:
- Professional analysis and charting
- Depth of market functionality
- Extensive historical data access
- Cloud hosted solutions
Propriety Forex Trading Platforms
A large number of forex brokers offer their own forex trading platform including:
- CMC Markets
These platforms often have unique features such as DealCancellation for EasyMarkets which is not available with MT4. It’s hard to generalise about these currency trading platforms as they vary but they do make it hard to switch forex brokers long-term. Once a forex trader gets used to a platform, it can be difficult to move to another one. This is why MT4 remains the most popular platform despite it been created over a decade ago.
What forex trading strategy is right for me?
There are two common types of forex trading strategies:
- Fundamental Analysis
- Technical Analysis
Although investors of different types will evaluate and analyse both of these systems, the truth of the matter is that they are very different.
Here is further analysis and breakdown of both fundamental and technical analysis forex trading strategies.
What is Fundamental analysis?
The first thing to look at with forex trading strategies is what is most commonly referred to as fundamental analysis. With fundamental analysis, traders analyse the market and measure currencies based on a variety of different fundamental factors. These factors are often much more calculated, while, as you’ll read later, technical analysis looks more at patterns and price movements.
When an investor uses fundamental analysis, they look to the intrinsic value of currency. They can do this by looking at industry conditions and the economy, as well as management and condition of particular companies in an economy. Those interested in fundamental analysis also look at earnings, assets, liabilities, and expenses of an economy, in order to help them get a better idea of what could happen in the near future.
What are the advantages of fundamental analysis?
One of the first advantages of a fundamental analyst is that investors immediately have all of the information that they know right on the table. They can look at economic indicators and expectations and then make moves based on what they think will happen to the values of the currency. In addition, fundamental analysis puts a strong emphasis on patterns based on the calendar. For example, many economies have shown common patterns from year to year, which can be used as a helpful way to determine whether or not it should be invested in.
Many will argue that the fundamental analysis of Forex trading is much more likely to pay off in time. However, that’s not to say that it doesn’t come with its downsides.
What are the disadvantages of fundamental analysis?
As mentioned above, fundamental analysis of Forex trading is likely to pay off in time, but not necessarily anytime soon. Many experts say that fundamental analysis of foreign exchange takes too long to evaluate. In some cases, a person may make the evaluation and it could take quite some time before the expectations occur. This means that they’ll have to hold out for a much longer time than with other methods.
In addition, the process of fundamental analysis is said to take too long and can be time consuming and tedious. Most investors want to turn around their results as quickly as possible. Therefore, they don’t want to waste the time that is often required in order to consider the economic indicators that come with this process. If expectations are not met, some investors may also leave early, which can harm the overall process of the investment to begin with.
What is technical analysis?
On the opposite end of the spectrum of fundamental analysis, technical analysis looks at possible price movements in the future as a way to predict patterns that couple result in financial gains. Those that rely on this type of investment have a variety of different types of graphs, and they are able to use this evidence that they have in order to make market predictions. While technical analysis typically looks at the current intrinsic values, technical analysis look at Bollinger bands to see how quickly a prove moves and what happens when it breaks out of an expected guideline. It also helps to determine how long it’ll take before band comes back to its original status. Many technical analyses assume that the tighter a band is, the more likely it is that a big move is coming in the future.
What are the advantages of technical analysis?
The advantage of technical analysis is that it’s truly one of the most revealing ways to evaluate foreign exchange. After all, the price never lies and you have exactly what you need in front of you. In addition, the greatest advantage may be the fact that it can be done incredibly quickly, in comparison to the fundamental analysis method. By looking at trend analysis and moving averages, technical analysis is often thought to be done very quickly and therefore it is considered to be an advantage by those that want quicker returns.
Furthermore, it’s important to keep in mind that technical analysis is well established. Many people have used technical indicators, such as the RSI, for quite some time and been pleased with the results that they get in return. Another benefit is the fact that there is no slow stochastic guesswork necessary. In all, many people believe that technical analysis has fewer downsides than fundamental analysis.
What are the disadvantages of technical analysis?
A disadvantage of technical analysis is that it can be very hard to understand and master. For example, understanding Fibonacci numbers can be very difficult to comprehend for those who have never been educated with it before. It requires for your predictions to be reliable and accurate, or else they could be completely off altogether. In some cases, technical analysis is also thought to be subjective. With this mindset in place during the analysis of a foreign currency, the numbers may not be as truthful as they are assumed.
Which strategy is right for you?
The truth of the matter is that each person is going to have their own ideas for what is best for foreign exchange investing and when it comes to trading/investing there is no real right or wrong answer it’s just a matter of what each person thinks they might have more success using or have had success with in the past.
For some, the ideas and concepts that come with fundamental analysis may be easier to grasp. On the other hand, technical analysis may be more interesting for those that are eager to get involved as fast as possible and is the one that is often easier to grasp because it doesn’t involve extensive research. It’s basically just reading charts and graphs etc while fundamental analysis can often involve lots and lots of research into financial data, economic data, interest rate data etc.
Whatever the case may be, it’s important that investors find forex trading strategies that is best for them and then develop a process that helps them with the best Forex investing possible.
What Is Forex Leverage And Do I Need It?
Leverage when forex trading is the act of borrowing money from a forex broker to trade on currency markets. The amount borrowed will be a multiple of the deposit and will need to meet the initial margin requirements. Leverage amplifies the modest movements of currency markets to make sizeable profiles or losses.
Example Forex Leverage Scenario 1
The first scenario is a trader who trades with a 100:1 leverage level. The deposit is $100 which effectively allows $10,000 to be traded on a currency pair. In this scenario the currency movement was 0.5%. Such as movement would lead to a profit of $50 or loss of $50 (which effectively is 50% of the deposit).
Example Forex Leverage Scenario 2
The second scenario is a trader who trades with a 500:1 leverage level. The deposit is $100 which effectively allows $50,000 to be traded on a currency pair. In this scenario the currency movement was 0.1%. Such a movement would lead to a profit of $50 or loss of $50 (which effectively is 50% of the deposit).
What Leverage Is Offered By Forex Brokers?
Leverage is determined by the forex broker and can vary by the account chosen of the brokers discretion.
The maximum leverage of the ‘top 10’ Australia forex brokers are:
Remember, these are the maximum leverage available with these forex brokers and not all traders will have access to these levels. It’s important that before you request for high leverage that you understand currency trading and the risks involved. It’s also worth considering risk management tools such as guaranteed stops, DealCancellation and negative balance protection.
Benefits Of Foreign Exchange Trading
• 24-hour market – Whether you want this to be your full-time or a part-time job, currency trading Australia brokers operate from 5 p.m. ET Sunday to 5 p.m. ET on Friday giving you the opportunity to trade whenever your schedule permits.
• Liquidity – Unlike many other markets, the currency forex trading Australia markets are the most liquid of the financial markets and offer the ability of trading big amounts of volume in and out of the trading markets with minimum impact.
• Leverage – leverage amounts are changeable or may not be available all the times. For example, with 500:1 leverage, if you invest only $100 you’ll control $50,000 units. But keep in mind that, although leverage helps building profits in no time, it can also cause catastrophic losses in a short period of time.
• Opportunities in trading – Besides the technical trading, most currency trading Australia markets offer other opportunities to trade primary changes in economy all around the world. All changes and developments are tracked through monthly events and calendars.
• Low cost in currency trading – With most currency trading Australia brokers spread is the cost to trade. They tend to be much tighter than stocks.
• Margin-based trading – These accounts differ from the regular credit card accounts where you have to open an account with a broker first and then deposit money into account (fund the account)
Risks Of Foreign Exchange Trading
• Leverage Risks – As we mentioned above, leverage amounts are changeable and as it can help you gain profit in the same way it can cause you large losses quickly.
• Price risks – As in any trading market, forex prices are determined by long-term and short-term demand and supply. This can make prices move fast and often unpredictably. Traders need to apply some risk-management techniques for every trade they make. Using stop-loss orders can help determine the maximum exposure users will have in given positions.
• Rate risks – in cases when the interest rate of different currencies comparing to others decreases or increases dramatically, the exchange rate and trading prices can also dramatically change.
• Dealing with unregulated forex brokers overseas
Currency Trading FAQs
How many forex trades per day
There are no limits on the number of forex trades that can be done hourly or daily. The only limit to trading is the total size of the trades at any one time which must meet the margin call amount set by the forex broker.
IC Markets as an example forex broker has a margin call amount of 0.2%. An example trade that is denominated in USD purchases a standard AUD/USD lot at an exchange rate of 0.7999. Using the calculation (100,000/500 * 0.7999) there is a margin requirement of $159.98 for the trade.
One a broker reaches the margin requirement they will be exited from their positions (normally automatically) to avoid a negative balance. In extreme turbulence slippage can occur leading to losses exceeding the deposit which should be understood by traders.
How to calculate profit in forex trading
Leverage allows forex trading at a multiple of their deposit (up to 500:1 with some forex brokers). Each pip of movement for the EUR/USD will result in a profit/loss of $10 for a standard lot. A mini lot on the other hand will results in a pip movement of $1 profit/loss. When trading other currencies the “pip value” can be lower or higher. For example the AUD/USD on the 19/02/2018 is 1.26 AUD.
In a scenario a strategy allows a loss of up to 5 pips with an attempted profit of 10 points for a $10,000 account.
With the risk of 5 pips a trade size of 6.9 mini lots. This is $34.50 of risk for each individual trade.
A successful trading strategy will see a broker winning at least half the time. Making 10 trades daily over the month (20 days) would result in 200 trades.
If 50% were successful = 100 * $10 * 6.9 mini lots = $6,900
If 50% were unsuccessful = 100 * 5 * 6.9 mini lots = ($4,980)
The total net profit in this example would be over a month $1,920.
What hasn’t been factored in above are forex trading costs through the forex broker which vary by account. Keeping these costs down can there be critical to a traders bottom-line.
How to make a forex trading robot
A forex trading robot is most commonly created as part of the expert advisors package of the MetaTrader 4 forex trading platform. It adopts a forex strategy into automated trades at rapid speeds.
To create a trading robot you need to:
- Create or adopt a trading strategy
- Integrate trading signals to the strategy
- Ensure the forex robot executes the trades
- Adopt trading features such as trailing tops and time-based conditions
How safe is forex trading?
Leverage is the variable that increases risk when forex trading. A trade with the maximum leverage available 500:1 means that a movement of just 0.2% will lead to a total loss of a trade or the amount doubling. Choosing the right leverage profile should match the traders experience level and risk appetite.
Another risk for forex trading are sudden movements in currency markets from market evens such as rate decisions. Sudden movements may lead to stop-loss orders been exceeded (called slippage) leading to losses exceeding safeguards. To help manage this risk some forex brokers offer:
- DealCancellation (only EasyMarkets offers this)
- Guaranteed Stops
- Minimum Balance Protection
Choosing the right currency broker is the foundation of a successful forex trading strategy.
Beginner forex traders should be looking for modest leverage, risk management features and strong customer support. EasyMarkets meets these criteria and also offers fixed spreads making trading fees transparent.
Intermediate forex traders should be looking for higher leverage, a solid trading platform and low spreads and commissions. AxiTrader is such a forex broker offering the most popular MetaTrader 4 forex trading platform plus added charting and trading features, low ECN spreads and leverage of 400:1
Expert forex traders should focus on the execution speed of the broker, platform and spreads. Pepperstone is such as forex broker offering 500:1 leverage, ECN trading including low spreads and fees and ‘Edge Technology’ offering up to 12x improvement in execution speed and 10x latency reduction.