FXCM Active Trader Review
FXCM Active Trader Review: On the whole a very good offering from FXCM. Though the trading interface appears to be simply functional, there are many powerful plus points of the platform such as configurable 10-level market depth with VWAP feature, premium complimentary access to a state-of-the-art charting package, price improvements, priority over standard accounts, real time margin watcher and no dealing desk execution. Scalpers will appreciate the one-click order execution feature. The research available is second to none.
On the flip side we have our concerns regarding Customer Service in that Live Chat was not functional on the one occasion we tried to access them. Instead an email acknowledged receipt of the queries for resolution in due course. Till the time of writing no response was received, though of course this was for a demo account, hence expect something better for live accounts.
The biggest drawback is the high minimum deposit required of $50,000, the alternative being a very high monthly trading volume.
FXCM Inc is a public company and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ‘FXCM’.
FXCM has offices and operations all around the world and is a ‘No Dealing Desk’ broker, i.e. customer orders are executed directly on the forex market without manual intervention by the broker.
The broker boasts of strong execution relationships with financial institutions, a variety of global banks and liquidity providers which enable it to offer better prices, faster execution and the benefit of size to its clients. This is especially important considering the forex market is an over-the-counter market, and the size, integrity and financial strength of the broker enables access to the best prices, and thereby quote tight dealing spreads.
FXCM has among the highest trading volumes in the industry. Clients may also choose to trade, on the same platform, products other than forex such as oil, gold, silver and stock indices offered as CFD products by a subsidiary of FXCM.
FXCM is a recipient of the following awards, among others:
2011 Global Finance Award for the Best Retail Online Foreign Exchange Provider
2010 FX Traders’ Choice Awards – Eagle Award for Best FX Broker (Europe)
2010 What Investment Magazine Readership Award for Best FX Provider
2010 MoneyAm OnLine Finance Award for the Best Online FX Broker
Name of the Company: FXCM Inc.
Ticker: FXCM (New York Listing)
Date of Incorporation: August 10, 2010.
Place of Incorporation: State of Delaware, U.S.A.
The FXCM group is made up of several companies and these are registered and regulated according to their jurisdiction, as follows:
FXCM Active Trader Product Review
FXCM offer a number of trading platforms, this review is for the FXCM Active Trader platform.
Stand Out Features
No Dealing Desk Execution: Orders are executed without manual interference, there are no re-quotes and across multiple liquidity providers, thus getting a competitive price. All trades are anonymous.
Three dimensional market view: A client can view the market just like a market maker – he sees the price, market depth up to 10 levels and the available liquidity at each price level in the market depth.
One click market orders: Scalpers and short-term traders can utilise the one-click order facility, which also has the facility to pre-set stops and limits.
Priority Service: Active Trader account holders are entitled to the services of a personal account executive and support from the Active Trader Team round the clock. Active Trader Team members are highly experienced and senior personnel who are also traders.
Price Improvements: FXCM has added ‘price improvement’ to execution of all orders – what this means is that an order can get positive slippage as they get filled with FXCM’s best available price – so limit and limit entry orders can get a better price if the market gaps up or spikes favourably through the order.
Unique, customizable Market Depth: A trader can customize the market depth across three views – Standard, VWAP and Consolidated. This is a great feature and can greatly facilitate strategic placement of orders turned to the market liquidity and price levels.
VWAP (Volume Weighted Average Price): Large volume traders will especially appreciate this feature, which enables the client to change the display of the price ladder to reflect the cumulative quantity available at any given average price. A decision can then be taken whether to capture the entire liquidity at that average price or to adjust the trade size. Also with VWAP, a client can chose to effectively place an order quickly for a certain amount of liquidity available by simply clicking on that price tier rather than having to change quantities.
Usage of Active Trader
The main graphical interface is uncluttered and functional. Charting features on the platform itself are rudimentary – this is because a separate charting package, ProRealTime is provided to Active Trader users free of cost.
The platform provides the option to create up to 4 ‘spaces’, i.e. separate windows that can be customized to contain any information as per the trader’s preference. We used this option to create a separate Space (SP2) for holding selected charts available on the platform. Creating the space was easy but for some reason this configuration was not saving. On the other hand the action of creating a space generated an error message the next time we logged in, as follows:
Up to 12 pairs can be displayed in the market watch section.
Placing and executing orders was very fast and easy. The one-click order option is especially useful. A snapshot of the market watch gave us the following spreads prevailing on the platform:
The spreads compare quite favourably with the spreads on the standard accounts (shown in the last column).
Market depth can be configured to show up to 10 levels. (This is discussed more in detail in a later section).
The different screens for placing orders are shown below. In addition to these one can set ordering options to ‘one-click’ or ‘two-click’. Open positions may also be closed by clicking on the ‘close’ tab of the open position ticket. The Entry order screen is used for entering ‘Limit’ or ‘stop’ orders. Trailing stops may also be placed through the same screen. The Market order screen is used for buying/selling at the prevailing market price. Entry orders can be given the ‘OCO’ or ‘One-cancels-the-Other’ order functionality using the OCO order screens.
Orders pending for execution may be viewed in the ‘Orders’ window in the platform.
The open and closed positions can be seen in the Positions window as below.
A summary of the account equity is shown on the platform itself. A very useful feature is the ‘Day P/L’ column, which shows day traders the performance of the day without having to separately extract it from the platform. Up-to-the-minute details of the margin availed and the margin available are also displayed on this screen.
A separate Accounts Statement may also be generated for a desired period – this opens in a separate web page.
This is a web-based platform and no set-up files needed to be downloaded. An e-mail containing log in particulars was received immediately upon registration for a demo account. On clicking the link, the web platform asked for the log in details and opened up immediately. The process was simple and quick.
Access to research
Research services are available through DailyFX.com. This is the research division of FXCM and has nine analysts employed full-time. These analysts generate research reports that are read by traders across the world and cover forex, gold and oil sectors. Over 30 articles and reports are published every day providing analysis, market news, and strategy.
In addition, an interactive global economic calendar provides a glance at the important news events coming up, and 24-hour hour real time news coverage is streamed to users.
The Live Trading Room provides real-time coverage of important news events providing interpretation, chart set-ups and trading strategies.
Active Trader account holders are offered the following additional benefits:
Exclusive access to the research team
Key research articles are offered earlier to Active Trader accounts
Facility to put questions to the DailyFX Research Team in real-time during live and interactive market previews, held weekly.
Some research reports are made directly available to Active Trader account holders, prior to their becoming public.
A Live Active Trader client is eligible to receive a complimentary professional charting package called “Pro Real Time” which costs about $90 a month.
FXCM are currently working on integrating charts (similar to MarketScope on the FXCM Trading Station), into the Active Trader platform. At this time there are no charts embedded directly into the Active Trader platform in order to maximize allocation of all the platform resources to execution speed.
We found ProRealTime to be an extremely capable, user-friendly and feature-rich charting package.
The package produces aesthetically pleasing charts that are highly customizable as per user preferences. Charts can be adjusted for viewing across a large list (the largest we have seen so far) of time intervals and data unit quantities. The user can create his own lists of instruments for convenient viewing. It is also possible to create alerts as required by the user. The package also contains the highly useful feature of SCREENERS – candlestick pattern screener, trend screener and a customizable screener. A very comprehensive selection of line studies and indicators is provided. Even a back-testing facility is available. Here are some good features of the package with screenshots:
Default screen with main menu
Chart options for display – time intervals and units
Setting up an alert
Setting up a personal list of instruments
Running the candlestick pattern screener
In the chart below we ran the screener for the pattern called ‘Three Black Crows’ across the forex pairs. It duly produced the results and we can clearly see the pattern in the chart of the pair USD/MXN (see the yellow ovals)
We used this screener to hunt for a pair quoting near to its horizontal support line. The GBP/USD pair came up in the results and we have highlighted the green support line with an arrow.
Line studies and Indicators
On the whole we were highly impressed with this charting package.
Market depth can be viewed up to 10 levels. There are three ways to configure market depth – Standard, consolidated and VWAP. A trader can view each depending upon his particular requirements. Large volume traders will especially appreciate the VWAP feature, which enables the client to change the display of the price ladder to reflect the cumulative quantity available at any given average price.
A decision can then be taken whether to capture the entire liquidity at that average price or to adjust the trade size. Also with VWAP, a client can chose to effectively place an order quickly for a certain amount of liquidity available by simply clicking on that price tier rather than having to change quantities.