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FXEmpire Review Process
Our goal is to provide traders with reliable and objective information about financial products. We strive to ensure that our reviews are not influenced by our marketing or affiliate relationships, rather, they’re based on facts and on the general impression from the actual products that we review. As FXEmpire is free for traders you can learn more about how we make money.
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Navigating the world of forex and CFD brokerage is complex, and there are hundreds of firms to choose from across the globe. Among these, the products and services vary greatly, from the platforms available to the range of tradable instruments. As a decentralized market with multiple regional regulators, it can also be a challenge for traders to understand the degree of oversight their broker is subject to and how this benefits them.
Our comprehensive, unbiased reviews are designed to bring clarity and confidence to the process of choosing a broker. FXEmpire draws from over a decade of experience in rigorous testing conducted by industry experts. Dozens of hours go into the methodical process of evaluating each broker. Armed with the insights from our reviews, we believe you can make an informed decision on which broker will best enable you to reach your financial goals.
Editorial Independence and Integrity
The purpose of our broker reviews is to assist you, the reader, in making informed decisions. For that reason, FXEmpire abides by strict guidelines for editorial integrity. Scoring is based on objective criteria and mostly measurable data, so our reviews cannot be swayed by individual preferences or biases. The review process is independent and follows a strict protocol. In addition, all facts are carefully checked and rechecked, as reviews are continually updated.
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The team of forex and CFD writers and editors at FXEmpire is composed of trading industry professionals and seasoned financial journalists. Our writers have been published on leading financial websites such as Investopedia, Forbes, and Nasdaq.
Here at FXEmpire, we see objectivity and standardization as the key elements of broker reviews. We rate the brokers based on 9 core categories and calculate a score that reflects their offering, services and tools.
We understand that no broker is perfect. Each broker has different strengths that may make it more suitable for one or another profile of trader. This is why we carefully take into account different types of traders in the nine categories of our test. We consider the suitability of a broker in relation to the experience level (beginner to advanced) of a potential client and the style of trading they may undertake (scalping, day trading, swing trading and long term investing). For example, a broker with high quality educational materials and reliable customer service may be a good choice for an individual new to the markets. Meanwhile, a broker with an advanced platform offering one-click trading, market depth and tight spreads would be suitable for day traders.
FXEmpire gathers data through live testing, research, detailed questionnaires, and in-person broker demonstrations. We open an account with each broker, focusing primarily on the services of one entity and testing using the most standard account type and platform.
Our review system is based on 9 core categories and 99 variables. These variables range from major factors such as where a broker is regulated to finer details like the number of chart types available. Our hands-on, detailed research results in reviews that are original and revealing.
Drawing attention to such a diverse range of variables helps traders to pick an ideal broker based on their objectives. For example, an active trader may demand features like one-click trading and trading from the chart, which are measured in our platforms category. Another trader may be more casual and seek platforms that offer copy trading, which also forms a part of our rating.
We determined that the most important categories for reviewing forex and CFD brokers are the following: Trust, Fees, Platform and Tools, Tradable Instruments, Customer Support, Deposits and Withdrawals, Account Types and Terms, Research, and Education. Each category has a final star rating from one star (weak) to five stars (excellent).
In the decentralized world of forex and CFD trading, the trustworthiness and stability of your broker are critical factors. In this category, we find out how a broker is regulated and the benefits guaranteed to you. Very often, brokers have multiple entities globally. An entity is a distinct company that a broker operates in a country, so brokers may have multiple individual companies operating in different countries.
We find out how each entity is regulated and use this in our scoring. The degree of oversight varies greatly between regulators, making it particularly important for traders to understand. For example, when opening an account with an entity governed by a top-tier regulator such as the FCA or CySEC, clients can rest assured that there is a compensation fund to benefit them in the event of broker insolvency. At the other end of the spectrum, offshore regulators typically provide very little oversight and exert few requirements on brokers.
We also consider factors relating to stability, such as how long the broker has been operating, whether it is publicly traded, whether it has a bank parent, and the number of employees. Finally, we take into account the broker’s level of transparency in fees, regulation, history and management.
In this category, we zero in on the costs of trading. The cost of entering and exiting trades is particularly important for short-term traders and can make or break whether profitability is reached at the end of the day.
With spreads, commissions, swaps and account maintenance charges to consider, coming to grips with a broker’s fees can be complex and confusing. Our testing breaks down and brings to light a broker’s cost structure and whether their fees are competitive in relation to the CFD industry as a whole.
We test spreads and commissions across various instruments, including CFDs on forex, commodities, shares, and indices. Tests are conducted twice in one day (during the London and the New York trading sessions) to gain a greater perspective. We also measure swap fees, which represent the cost of holding a leveraged position overnight. Finally, we take into account whether there is an inactivity or account maintenance fee.
Trading platforms are the interface between the individual and the markets and thereby have a tremendous impact on an individual’s trading experience. Brokers can differentiate themselves with a unique proprietary platform and the range of third-party platforms they offer. The popular MetaTrader is feature-rich but not highly intuitive. Many brokers have stepped up to create their own cutting-edge platforms, which are often web-based and more user-friendly.
We open accounts with each broker and download all available platforms for testing. The desktop, web and mobile versions of each platform are all carefully reviewed in our manual tests.
Mastering a platform can be a hurdle for new traders, so we pay careful attention to the quality of the platform design and how easy it is to use. The order types within a trading platform determine the flexibility you have for placing trades. We measure the available order types, from standard (market order, limit order) to advanced (trailing stop-loss orders). Charting is another core area of trading platforms, and we test a range of features from chart types to the number of technical indicators available.
We look for a number of popular platform features, including 1-click trading, trading from the chart, watchlists, and the ability to set price alerts. Some of these, such as 1-click trading, may be essential if you are a day trader or scalper.
Advanced platforms, typically via desktop, may offer algorithmic trading capabilities, and we take this into account. The world of copy trading is growing fast, and we also measure if a platform provides the ability to track and copy trade other successful traders.
Mobile trading is continually growing in importance. We pay careful attention to the quality of the mobile trading apps via Android and iOS, testing most of the same features as we do for the desktop and web platforms.
High-quality customer support is an indispensable part of having a good experience with a broker. With your money on the line, you need to be able to reach support quickly and reliably. We test customer support across all mediums; live chat, email, and phone. Hours of availability are noted, and the length of time it takes to receive a response across all mediums is carefully measured in multiple interactions. Agents are tested with various questions from basic to complex; for example, queries relating to regulation and order execution. Finally, we measure the number of languages available for support interactions.
In this category, we measure the range of tradable assets available. The bar has been set high by leading CFD brokers. The range of instruments available among top brokers is quite staggering, with CFDs on thousands of products spanning every asset class and corner of the globe. In our assessment, we measure the available number of CFDs on forex, commodities, shares, and indices. We also track if a broker has other available instruments such as CFDs on futures contracts, CFDs on cryptocurrencies, and real shares.
Being able to move money in and out of your trading account as fast as possible, with minimal expense, is important to traders. Under the deposits and withdrawals category, we list all available deposit and withdrawal methods, including bank wire transfer, debit/credit cards, digital wallets, cryptocurrencies, and various others. We also record the time it takes for the broker to process the deposits and withdrawals via each method and any fees charged. Our tests identify the brokers you can trust to enable swift and easy deposits and withdrawals.
In the account types category, we look at the minimum required deposit for opening an account, the currencies in which an account can be denominated (base currencies), the time it takes to open an account, and whether the process is entirely digital. In doing this, we reflect on how easy it is to open an account at a given broker.
Many brokers offer multiple account types geared to different trader profiles. We cover and compare the different accounts and their various features, such as spreads, maximum leverage, and minimum deposits. In addition, we track whether other specialized account types such as demo accounts, Islamic accounts, and professional accounts are available. In our reviews, we walk readers through the process of opening a standard account and give an idea of the questions they can expect to be asked and the documents they must provide.
Research is an exciting category where brokers can set themselves apart from the pack with a unique market analysis and tools offering. We take into account whether a broker has an in-house team of analysts, the mediums that are used (articles, videos, webinars, podcasts), the volume of content, the frequency with which content is produced, and most importantly, the quality of the content itself. We also carefully consider available tools, such as economic calendars, sentiment data, and content from third-party providers such as Trading Central.
The business of trading is notoriously difficult, and beginners can benefit greatly from solid educational resources. In this category, we look at the range of available materials such as articles, videos, webinars, and structured courses. As with research, we measure the amount of available content, how often it is updated, and the overall quality. In addition to materials covering market basics, and technical and fundamental analysis, we look for practical tutorials covering how to use the available trading platforms.
The table below shows how we weighted the importance of each review category:
|Platform and Tools||17%|
|Deposit and Withdrawal||7%|
|Account Types and Terms||6%|
FXEmpire Online Stock Brokers Review Process
Choosing a stock broker is a big deal. At FXEmpire, we understand that you are rightfully concerned with who you trust to hold your money and investments. The fees and expenses charged by your broker could make-or-break a profitable trade or investment. That’s why we take editorial reviews seriously. We know you count on them.
Here are the most important criteria we look at when reviewing an online stock broker and some of the steps we take to ensure reviews are objective and helpful to our readers.
Editorial independence is critical in an objective review process and remains a key element in ensuring you get a positive, well-rounded experience. To ensure you get an honest opinion, the reviewers are completely independent of the FXEmpire team responsible for sponsor relationships and sales.
In order to provide you with the most critical information, FXEmpire reviewers and editors created a list of core evaluation categories relevant to the majority of traders and investors.
For each category, the independent reviewer finds information on broker websites and publications. Brokers are asked to complete a form listing important details about platform, pricing, product offerings and additional features which is used in completing reviews when available.
Each broker is given a numeric score based on the evaluation categories as well as a written review focusing on the most important factors for beginner, intermediate, and expert investors and traders. Reviews assume you are familiar with basic investing terms and the risks involved.
The numeric scores that brokers receive in this category is based on how well the broker compares to others in its peer group. Editorial content is focused on the widest range of needs with comments aimed at both beginners and experts.
|Costs and fees||9%|
|Types of accounts||9%|
|Bonus and promotions||9%|
|Regulations, reputation, and security||10%|
|Research and education||9%|
Costs and Fees
Costs and fees are one of the most important parts of your broker experience. With a growing group of brokers that charge no fees, as well as market-leading discount brokers, consumers have shown with their dollars that this is what they care about most.
We agree and factor in the costs of stock, ETF, bond, mutual fund, and options trades, as well as other securities, offered. Brokers that offer flexible pricing catering to different needs earned extra credit.
Types of Accounts
The winners here serve users an array of account types including individual, joint, retirement, and business accounts. Some brokers do well in other categories but only offer a few types of accounts. In that case, they wouldn’t score well here.
You may not need all types of accounts, but we like it when a brokerage gives you the ability to handle all of your investment accounts under one roof with one online login and one place to call for help.
Investing doesn’t mean just stocks. The best brokers in this category offer more than the typical stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, and options. Those are all expected, and brokers that offer less than this list don’t score as well. Adding things like futures, cryptocurrencies, and of course, foreign exchange, help a broker earn top marks.
Opening a new investment account should be less painful than a trip to the dentist – sorry dentists. We looked into the account opening process and tested many of them ourselves. If you can easily and quickly open an account yourself online without jumping through additional hoops, a brokerage earns the best score. Offering in-person locations also helps. Requiring additional paperwork or forms in the mail, on the other hand, is a negative factor.
Active traders should look here first. Trading platforms are an important part of the experience for expert and active traders, while passive investors may not care at all about what a brokerage offers here. The best brokerages in this category offer desktop platforms with fast in-app trading, flexible windowed environments, lots of chart options, and the information you need at your fingertips. A lack of desktop or mobile app hurts scores here, as does a lack of support for popular operating systems like the Mac.
When possible, the reviewer downloads and tests both desktop and online platforms during the review process.
Every brokerage should offer market, limit, and stop orders. That’s the baseline for “average” brokerages. A small group offers a shorter list than this and earned low scores. The ability to offer complex trades and multi-leg options trades leads to the highest scores.
Not all brokers offer bank accounts, but it is a growing trend and for good reason. Having your bank at the same place as your broker is convenient and makes transferring funds lightning fast. If a brokerage offers banking, high scores are earned by accounts with low fees and competitive interest rates. If no bank accounts are offered, the broker earns a score of zero here.
Hopefully, your account hums along without any hiccups. On occasion, however, even investors with simple needs may need to call customer service. To get the best score, brokerages should offer 24/7 customer support online and by phone. A footprint of physical branches in large cities helps earn a perfect 10.
Limited hours or weekday-only hours customer service is negative for scores. Difficulty finding a customer service phone number, contact form, or online chat is poor for customer experiences and scores in this category.
Bonus and Promotions
Not all brokers offer a bonus or promotion, but it sweetens the deal when one is available. The best scores came from brokerages that offered something useful to the majority of people signing up. If only ultra-wealthy customers would qualify, the bonus gets a low score. No bonus or promotion leads to a zero score.
Regulations, Reputation, and Security
We expect financial institutions to uphold a high level of security and ethics while adhering to government regulations. Most brokers earn a 10 here. A history of security incidents, conflicts with regulators, or major fines lowers scores.
Research and Education
Both new and expert traders and investors can level up their skills. The best scores in this category come from a suite of education and research resources. For education, we look for courses, webinars, live events, videos, and articles that help users learn more about earning more and losing less.
For research, the most important factors are access to a wide breadth of timely information. That can include streaming prices, live charting, and news streams inside of trading platforms. Access to more reports from more sources helps scores while less information pulls scores lower.
We don’t give brokers a score in this category, as there is no right or wrong. In the editorial reviews, we use this section to explain why a brokerage is good for beginners, experts, or both.
Review Team and Updates
Reviews are compiled by a team of writers and editors spread around the world. The primary reviewers for each US brokerage is located in the United States and have tried many of these brokerages themselves for personal use in addition to review purposes.
Reviewers include Eric Rosenberg, a former bank manager with two finance degrees and more than ten years of writing about money online. The main office for FXEmpire is located in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Reviews are dated based on the time they were created. We work to ensure reviews stay up-to-date and note the last update date on the review’s page on FXEmpire.
We Are Investors Like You
The entire FXEmpire team is passionate about finance. Our reviewers, editors, and production team are all investors ourselves with our own accounts. We apply this passion, experience, and insight into every single review to bring you the best possible experience.
We hope every trader and investor that passes by FXEmpire goes on to reach success in the financial markets. We are honored to be a part of your journey.