IG is a global leader in online trading, providing fast and flexible access to over 10,000 financial markets – including shares, indices, forex, commodities and binaries.
Established in 1974 as the world’s first financial spread betting firm, its aim is to become the default choice for active traders globally. It is already an award-winning multi-platform trading company, the world’s No.1 provider of CFDs* and a global leader in forex, and will be launching its new execution-only stockbroking service in late 2014.
It is a member of the FTSE 250, with offices across Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the US, where it offers limited risk derivatives contracts via the Nadex brand.
*Based on revenue excluding FX, published financial statements, August 2013.
Country: United Kingdom
Good platform but recently continual IT Problems
I am in the UK and have been trading now for two and a half years, as a retail trader, with progression from losing, then to breaking even, then to making consistent but very modest profit. The plan is to now go to the next level and start making bigger profit of course but I am in no rush and consistency is what is important to me. For the last six months I have concentrated solely on trading the Dax Futures on a day trading basis. I trade perhaps what some traders would call scalping. But it is not scalping in the proper sense, whereby huge stake players try to make a point or so and then close and are in for micro seconds. More in terms of going circa £2.00 to £20.00 a point and averaging anything from a few seconds to 15 minutes in a trade. So I am not a swing or position trader and donít hold trades for an hour or two or overnight etc. As such I donít trade the front month futures which have a wider spread but no overnight costs, but simply the daily futures (which have a 1 point spread on the Dax). I trade every day and rarely outside of cash hours.
I have used IG consistently over the last two years but have had a look at the competition as well.
Firstly, IG are not some sort of bucket shop or offshore dubious, or even criminal or fraudulent, operation. They are a UK company regulated by the FCA and are listed (on the FTSE 250 I think) along with all the strict obligations which come with that.
Secondly, there appears to be a bit of debate over whether they are the counterparty to your trade or not. There should not be this debate. As most other reviewers have (negatively) concluded, IG are indeed the counterparty to your trade. IG are a market maker not an STP or ECN broker in the true sense. If you trade with IG they offer either spread betting or CFDs but very few people in the UK will do anything other than spread betting with them, as profits / losses from spread betting are not subject to taxation in the UK whereas the reverse applies with CFDs. Of course most would be traders donít stop to think that they may not actually make any profit at all, and by contrast may loose money, and so there will be nothing there for the state to tax in any event, but rather people aspire to be successful, and so opt for the spread betting route. The term spread betting is however really misleading. Whether what you are doing ends up being gambling rather than trading, is a consequence of whether or not you are actually a successful trader, more so than the generic description of how you get into the market. Assuming therefore that if you use IG, you will be using their spread betting platform, then as I say, IG are the counterparty. They would like you to hear from them that they make their money through the spread. This is not untrue. They clearly do make money through the spread. If I go long on the Dax in cash hours at £10.00pp then they have made £10.00 form me before we start. That said there is no commission and so in a way you can argue its just swings and roundabouts when compared to a pure broker. However thatís only how they make some of their money. What they are not as keen to advertise, although obviously a plain fact, is that the real money in it for them when your trade loses. If I do that £10.00 pp long with a 10 point stop, and the trade is successful and I close for +20 points, then they have to shell out £190.00 of their profits to pay me (keeping £10.00 for the spread). If by contrast the trade is not successful, and the stop gets hit, they make £100.00 out of me rather than just the £10.00. In either case no other trader, either person, corporate or robot, at the other side of the world, or indeed a mile down the road from me, is involved. There is no matching your buy with someone elseís sell here - you simply trade IGs index.
Thatís not to say that IG donít hedge or mirror in the underlying market. They certainly do. They will tell you that rather than doing this with individual trades they mirror or hedge their aggregate position. I have no reason to doubt that. Equally, I am sure for some, their trades do go to the dealing desk, or are individually mirrored, hedged or even placed in the underlying market. This will include extremely successful traders, more so if they are migrating to higher stakes, traders dabbling with spoofing etc, or those with lots of money who go very large stake pp irrespective of whether they know what they are doing or not. But for the vast majority it is likely your trade will just be automated and you should have no problems if you are trading a very liquid market like the Dax, FTSE, S&P etc, during cash hours.
Notwithstanding you are trading index futures, if you stick to cash hours, then I have not seen anything to concern me regarding the price on offer. I have checked on a number of occasions and IGs Dax and FTSE indexes (and I expect the rest of the big ones) follow the underlying market price pretty much to the tenth of a point all day long. Your stop doesnít get hit because IG go hunting for it (although it benefits them if it does), it gets hit because the underlying market hits it. I have never seen IGs index do something different to the underlying market during cash hours. When I started trading and was trading the FTSE I was short with a 20.00 stop and got stopped out on a sudden spike up and back down which turned out to be a fat finger caused by HSBC. IG refused to refund my trade but I could later see myself that this had occurred on the underlying market itself and IGs index had simply tracked the underlying market. HSBC were ultimately to blame (and if recall correctly I think got fined) not IG. Thatís a more extreme example however and in terms of the minute to minute movement it does seem to me to track the underlying market fully. If, by contrast, you place a trade at 3.00am in the morning, then it may be a different story. Other than in cases of pronounced fundamentals there is clearly nothing like the same liquidity at these out of hours times. Just to be clear I am not saying I think that IG see out of hours as open season on stops. I personally donít, and I think their reputation, let alone their license, is more important to them in a heavily regulated market like the UK. On the other hand I am a lot less cynical than some other traders I know. Either way however, in my view, you are asking for trouble anyway if you trade seriously out of hours. There is however plenty of liquidity in the 7-8am slot and up until the S&P close after the European cash close.
The reason of course that IGs business model works is human pride. I donít know the exact figures but seemingly something like only 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 retail traders make money (with the rest losing money) and this seems totally believable to me. So for every £10.00 pp winner that IG have pay out they likely have 15 or so losers to gain from. Do the maths, and it becomes clear that and the spread is a nice add on for them, rather than their core profit. However, all the above said, providing you are clear on all that, I donít personally see it as a criticism of IG compared to their competition out there.
In terms of their platform then, I would review as follows. Bear in mind here, as I have said, I am a relatively newish retail trader and I am comparing IG here to their other high street peers, not to the hedge funds or corporate brokers used by the real pros or much bigger ticket or more experienced traders.
There are more pros than cons in my view.
The main positive is the speed of execution. This is particularly important with quick in and out day trading. You can set automatic orders to open and close, and short of any slippage which can happen now and again when the market ticks through a level (which is rare but does happen), these work every time immediately. If you click manually to enter and close ditto. I have had a couple of annoying rejections but generally get filled at the price I click at within the boundaries of technology and speed of the market. When you click you are in instantly. I have tired some other platforms. I recall trading with City Index for example when I first started out. On clicking both on entry and exit you would get a windows type hourglass revolving on your screen and your action was then confirmed say a few seconds after you clicked. IG claim something like that on average a trade is executed in one tenth of a second. I have regularly called up and had them check my own stats and this does appear to be representative. In short, their platform is in a different galaxy to some of the competition out there. They have some sort of rejection policy whereby all trades at one price level are rejected if the resulting price is more than I think two points either way or maybe double this in a very fast moving market. It does not favour larger trades over small ones. I have had rejections on average in about one in fifty trades, which is a small few every month or two, albeit still annoying. However I have encountered some resistance by them to go into finite detail on this policy and thatís why I cannot describe it definitively. I see no reason why they cannot be more transparent about this.
In terms of formal slippage, by which I donít mean the market moving in that tenth of a second when your trade is in transit from your PC to IG (or more than that sometimes), but I mean where you have a pre-set limit or stop, and that is not fulfilled. For example a long (which fails) with a 10 point stop, which is closed at a loss of -12 instead of the -10 it should have been. Again, this does happen. But again rarely (leaving aside the Swiss thing of course). The most I have been slipped in this way is -4.5 points last month. I have been slipped by a couple of points negatively a few times and twice positively for 2 and 3 respectively. Usually a couple of times a month. On each occasion I have checked (or had them check) the tick by tick chart and this happens where one tick straddled the stop or limit level. So again annoying but no complaints really.
In terms of charting, IGs own chart is good to watch the immediate price action on, and works well in a market where you have decided to enter based on price action, rather than on technical levels. Its feed mirrors the price action and so in that respect it is robust and as such is necessary to have open on one pane at all times. While it does easily allow plotting of basic lines and so on, and has more advanced options too, it is really no good for advanced technical charting as it is too basic. Here IG offer ProRealTimeís full package, albeit that it is linked to their own index / prices, and platform. This is offered essentially for free. Technically it is not free and costs £30.00 a month but if you place something like a couple of trades a month you donít pay anything so if you are trading regularly then thatís free. This is a very good professional charting package and allows all the technical charting you want.
IG offer a mass of different markets to trade. Although I would caution against trading all sorts of exotic stuff on a market makers platform.
Otherwise the platform is easy to use and operate and as good as anything else out there. Customer service is generally good but not perfect.
IG used to fail to provide a demo account which was a major minus but now they do.
In terms of negatives, there is only one main one in my view, if and once you have accepted that they are a market maker not direct to market interchange. Clearly for some people that is a negative in itself but that is what it is.
The one negative I do have is the amount of IT outages / problems of late. When the platform works it works well, and as above the speed of execution is pretty much second to none in the UK retail market. But I first used IG from 2013. In the first year and a half I can only remember one major and one minor IT outage. By which I mean you canít log on at all, or if you can the platform is down so you canít trade, or if not totally down you canít trade properly because half of it is not working, etc. And thatís having been on it pretty much every day in that period. Most people would think that is pretty good stats. Ideally however it should not really ever happen. But once a year I think we can forgive and forget.
However in the last 2-3 months (I am leaving this review May 2015) there have been no less than four further IT outages. For the first the entire platform was simply down for the vast part of the trading day sometime in late March early April. I was lucky in that I made a pile of points from 8.00am to 8.20am and decided to call it day then and had no open positions when it went down at circa 8.30am. It wasnít fully fixed until about 3.00pm, during which time you would not have been able to log on or trade at all and (assuming you could get through in less than 30 minutes in a queue) would have had to phone up to close any trades in progress. A couple of weeks later ProRealTime was down for the whole weekend. While no one is going to trade on a Saturday or a Sunday it is a time when you want to give your main charts a good spring clean and plot and update your channels etc etc and / or do a load of back-testing or other similar non trading stuff. This was out from first thing Saturday morning until late on Sunday. IG can argue that the fault was at ProRealTimeís end however I donít really care. It is provided through, linked to and tailored to their own platform and integral to any serious trader who uses them, and they know this and took two days to fix it. I had not even logged my trades from Friday and ended up having to start an hour early on Monday just to be able to trade that day. Then back to IGís own platform a couple of weeks later. Could log on this time and place a trade but not working properly again. No lines appearing on your chart showing your stop level or even entry level and I wasnít even clear if my trades had actually been entered. IG didnít fix this until early afternoon. That was a couple of weeks ago. Today is a Monday and we now have instalment number four. Platform is working in terms of being able to log on, and itís not a trading day as multiple public holidays, but once again there are problems. Your saved layout is not working. You are presented with an entirely different screen layout when logging in. Your list of markets is different. You have no chart. And so and so on. I called IG about this at 10.00am and they were aware of it. Despite that the platform says there are no reported problems. So that is simply untrue. Itís now 6.00pm and it is still not working. Who knows whether it will be fixed for market open in the morning. Lastly, at various times over the last few weeks, the price feed to the ProRealTime chart seems to be lagging IGs own chart and feed, by a about a second, and this has persisted on and off for the last month or so. It is not always present and manifests itself more so when the market gets into high gear. ProRealTime shows exactly the same price action, just lags by a second getting there. The problem here is that many traders like me will have both charts open at once. IGs chart totally keeps up and looking at that is fine. But you have your support and resistance levels and lines and so on, on the PRT chart. If you are long and propose closing the split second it hits that strong resistance, and are at that time watching the PRT chart alone, you can see the problem here. Again IG have told me they are acutely aware of this and are working to sort it as a priority, but I am not sure sorting it out is happening at breakneck speed, if indeed at all.
This ĎIT issuesí trend is starting to seriously worry me. I have no idea what is behind it. IG obviously donít want this to happen as when it does, at worst no one can and thus will trade with them and they will lose a whole days business. At best it will frustrate their client base. Each time you jump up and down on the phone and determine to leave a negative review, but once it is fixed you move on and donít have time. However it is now becoming too much of a regular occurrence to ignore. IG lost a significant amount of profit when the SNB made their appalling announcement in January (along of course with anyone who was long with them on that market at the time probably losing their whole account). Those cynics I know wonder whether they have made a cut to their very large IT department to cut costs. I have no idea. This may just be coincidence which may go away. But no matter how good their platform is when it works, if it is down every couple of weeks then its time to start having a look elsewhere.
For now thatís not my intention. IG is simply too good in terms of execution to as a retail platform for me to move at the moment. But I am going to keep a close eye on these ongoing IT issues in the coming weeks and may well review that if things donít improve.
rock solid track-record and policies in 'swiftly' bankrupting their clients
Their track record in doing so is without comparison in the industry: http://www.smh.com.au/business/when-brokers-are-the-enemy-20100827-13w40.html
In case the link does not work google: When brokers are the enemy - Sydney Morning Herald
Personally, I was robbed of a six figure sum - and earned cynical comments from their Credit department - the abyss is so unbelievably deep, there is only one advise for retail traiders: RUN AWAY, spend your money on something nice, treat yourself, be good to yourself
They treat clients like wolves kill sheep
I find IG arrogant and having had business dealings with them I can say they are arrogant with a false sense of self-importance; sadly as in most of the City ethics don't come first in their business dealings. Steer clear.
Trade with a non market maker broker, they take a commission, nothing more, or at least, trade with a broker that will not try to take 100 or 200 times the money you can afford to lose.
So, they manage their prices on their products.
IG Markets chases negatives balances of their client. In 5 minutes, they can claim you 100 or 200 times the money you can afford to lose.
Without stop loss, you take an enormous risk to finally lose (potentially 100 or 200 times your balance account), it's obvious.
With stop loss :
When you win, you can see on forums many people complaining about stop orders executed, while the real underlying only went several points away !!
When you lose, they will not execute your stop order if they cannot trade a hedge on their side !! For example, the EUR/CHF quoted more than 1.17 one minute (which already is a very long time) after the PEG removal, but they finally executed the orders at 0.925 !!
And after this "treatment" of your positions, they will go after you to take the negative balance on your account (potentially 100 or 200 times the initial balance of your account), which is : the loss they managed (by not executing your stop order) !!!
My advice : Trade with a non market maker broker, they take a commission, nothing more, or at least, trade with a broker that will not try to take 100 or 200 times the money you can afford to lose.
This last point is very easy, just see the list of brokers that forgave negative balances of their clients after the EUR/CHF PEG removal.
Passing market losses to their clients
Will let you down when you need them the most
Glad I read this now
I got mugged...
Coincidence or "Extremely Unfortunate" as the broker put it on the phone... You decide...
Where Amateur Traders Go To Die
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