What Is a Forex Broker?

After the 1970s, when the United States dropped the Bretton Woods agreement regarding the USD convertibility in gold, the foreign exchange market grew dramatically. First available only to institutional players due to the high transaction costs and difficulty to access, it all changed when the Internet and online trading appeared. Forex brokers made it possible for the retail trader to join the largest financial market in the world – foreign exchange.

A Forex broker, therefore, is nothing but an intermediary link between the trader and the market. It offers market quotes via its various liquidity providers, and its trading platform reflects the best possible conditions it has to offer to its customers. For this, it charges a fee or a commission, and its interests align with those of the trader.

Types of Forex Brokers

A Forex trading broker is organized as either a dealing desk (also called market makers) or a non-dealing desk. In the first case, the Forex broker literally creates a market by mirroring the quotation from the interbank market and deals the prices to its clients. In the second case, the Foreign exchange broker routes its clients orders to the liquidity provider, and from the liquidity pool the best quote is offered to its retail clients.

Brokers organized like non-dealing houses often offer ECN (Electronic Communication Network) or STP (Straight-Through Protocol) execution. However, different types of brokers exist, as many of them mix dealing with non-dealing conditions, becoming a hybrid Forex broker in the end.

Depending on the type of the brokerage house, different account types exist. Micro accounts, ECN accounts, STP accounts, fixed spreads, variable spreads, etc., are just a few examples.

But the most impressive thing about the current Forex brokers is that they ceased to be just a Forex brokerage house. Nowadays, the Forex brokerage accounts give access not only to the currency market, but also to various other financial markets around the world (e.g., commodities – oil, gold, silver; indices – Dow Jones, S&P500; various other CFDs).

More importantly, traders have access to all these markets from the same trading account. As a result, traders benefit from further diversification options for their positions and more trading opportunities.

How to Start Trading with a Forex Broker

The Internet makes it simple for anyone to open a trading account and start trading. All you need is a stable Internet connection, and that's pretty much it.

All brokers have an online presence and a website with all the info necessary regarding the types of the trading accounts, the trading conditions, and the steps to take for opening a Forex brokerage account.

Typically the process of opening a Forex brokerage account is straightforward and smooth. In most cases all you need to do is to fill in some forms with personal information, prove your ID, choose the type of the trading account, fund it, and there you go – you can access the largest financial market in the world from home, actively participating in the world of international transactions. 

How Forex Brokers Make Money

The financial instruments offered by the Forex broker (e.g., currency pairs, commodities, cryptocurrencies, indices, etc.), form the Forex dashboard. Each instrument has two prices – the bid and ask price.

The difference between the two prices is called the spread, and it represents one of the ways the Forex broker makes money. It is a fee charged for providing access to the market, and it can either be fixed or variable, depending on the type of the trading account.

For instance, ECN and STP accounts have variable spreads, because the two accounts reflect the actual market conditions. Out there in the interbank market the conditions differ throughout the trading day, from moment with little or no activity to moments of very high market volatility.

As such, the spreads differ too. For example, during an important economic release like the Non-Farm Payrolls (NFP) in the United States, spreads widen on a variable spreads account, and tighten with the decrease in volatility.

A Forex broker having access to multiple liquidity providers can offer better spreads to its clients, whereas a Foreign exchange broker with a single liquidity provider will have wider spreads. 

Traders can only use the ask price when buying and the bid price when selling. Thus, by opening and closing a position, they pay the spread charged by the Forex broker as a fee.

Depending on the type of trading account, commissions also exist. In some cases, there’s a commission for each trade, directly related to the volume traded – the higher the volume, the bigger the commission. In some other cases, there’s no commission charged to the trading account, but typically that type of an account offers wider spreads.

Some other ways for Forex brokers to make money exist, but these two are the most representative ones – spreads and/or commissions.

Find out what FXOpen Offering Is

If in search of fair representation on the international financial markets and in need of a true partner to intermediate your transactions, FXOpen stands out of the crowd. With low spreads and transparent policy, it is a reliable partner for every retail trader willing to take a chance on the world's financial markets.

 

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 57% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.