Features of a demo account
A demo account is a useful option offered by many brokers, allowing an investor to review a trading platform before risking their capital. Usually, a demo account will include an amount of fictitious ‘money’ to fund the trades, allowing the user to become familiar with the different features and tools of the platform. For the less experienced trader, it is an ideal way to familiarise themselves with the different financial products, such as forex, futures and options, testing different strategies to see what works.
For the more experienced trader, particularly one considering switching platforms, it is a way of testing the different features and experimenting with the tools to see if that particular platform works for them. Even those happy with their current broker may find it useful to use a demo account on occasions to test a new strategy. In addition to this, as most brokers have different accounts and platforms, it can be a way of testing those before switching. For example, someone familiar with the FXCM Trading Station II may like to use an FXCM MT4 demo before investing capital in a Metatrader 4 account. Before investing real money, it is useful for a trader to firstly make sure they can get answers to a number of questions.
- How is a limit order placed?
- How to set a stop order.
- What is the typical spread and is it fixed or variable?
- What is the lot size and can they be mixed?
- What to do if the internet connection goes down.
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More about FXCM
Since 2015, Leucadia, a diversified holding company, has been the majority economic owner of FXCM. The scale and breadth of the Leucadia companies has benefitted the customers, employees and stakeholders of FXCM, and a particular benefit has been gained from the partnership with Jefferies Group LLC, the world’s only independent, full-service investment bank, which provides expertise, prime brokerage services and liquidity to FX trading. Over the years, FXCM has won a number of prestigious awards, including:
- FX Street 2015 Best Sell-Side Analysis Contributor: DailyFX
- UK Forex Awards 2015 Best Forex Trading Automation
- Money Am 2013 Best Online FX Provider
- UK Forex Awards 2013 Best Forex Broker
- Forex Magnates London Summit Award 2013 Winner Best Retail Broker Execution
- 500 list of America’s Fastest Growing Companies Four Time Honoree
FXCM has good customer support on offer 24/7 and has multiple offices across the world, including in London, New York, Berlin, Sydney and Hong Kong. It offers a number of trading platforms, including the popular Trading Station, Metatrader 4, Ninjatrader and Zulutrade. The website has a handy comparison guide to allow you to select the trading platform that best suits you, but before investing, you can, of course, also set up an FXCM demo account on any of these platforms.
Using the FXCM demo
FXCM encourages investors towards its Trading Station platform, but there are a number of options. Those who have automated Expert Advisers (EAs) may, for example, want to find out more about the Metatrader 4 platform. Whichever of the FXCM platforms most interests you, there is an FXCM demo for it. After choosing which of the demos you want to try, it is worth carrying out at least 50 demo trades on it, making sure you are completely familiar with the specifics of order entry on the platform and the different tools available. It might also be a good idea to try two or more of the demos, so you can compare the Zulutrade demo with the FXCM MT4 demo to get a feel for how the different platforms operate. Using the demo, you can trade online 24 hours a day, five days a week, using live buy and sell prices. Using the demo programs is risk-free, allowing you to try spread betting and CFD trading without losing any real capital. When signing up for a demo account, FXCM provides £5,000 of virtual money, allowing you to see what returns you might be able to get when you trade for real.
Limitations of the FXCM demo
The FXCM demo is a decent replication of real markets but it is not perfect and there are some significant differences between the demo account and real trading. The demo account does not depend on real-time market liquidity or a delay in pricing. Working in the demo environment may result in expedited transactions, the absence of slippage and a lack of rejected offers, which would not be typical of live accounts. The emotional response to events in a demo account may be different from those in a real account. You may be able to respond calmly to a big loss in a demo account where there is no capital at risk, but this may not be your reaction to a significant loss of real funds. To get the best from a demo, you need to act exactly as you would if it were real money and not, for example, take risks with the virtual money that you would not take with real money. The amounts of money involved in trades can be very different, with the demo account offering more money than the trader may have in real life. It is not uncommon for people to successfully trade on the FXCM demo account, but still struggle when it comes to the real thing.
Setting up and using a demo account
A simple form of the website allows you to set up the demo account or accounts of your choice. Choose whether to trade in Great Britain pounds, US dollars or in the euro. In the demo account, you can open one in any country you choose, but be aware that when you come to open a live account, you can only open an account in branches that allow residents of your country. To get the best from the FXCM demo account, you may need to make some adjustments to your results to make it realistic. If the bid or offer you have placed is within one cent or tick of low or high of that move, make the assumption the offer was not fulfilled, even if the demo says it was. Trade only with amounts you can realistically expect, not giving in to the temptation to use all the virtual capital FXCM supplies. Any profit or loss from this order should be disregarded. Add slippage yourself, with a one-cent slippage on high volume stocks and even larger slippage to more volatile stocks. Although the capital is virtual and any profits or losses are not real, you can make it more so by withholding a treat from yourself in the event of a loss or rewarding yourself for your profits. Anything that can make you feel the more realistic emotions of trading will enable you to get the best from the demo account.
How reliable is FXCM?
Although there are no financial risks in setting up an FXCM demo, your time is also valuable and you will not want to waste it on a demo if the company is unreliable. However, when looking at any FXCM review and comparisons, the firm is generally well thought of. It has a long established history and as mentioned above, a number of awards. As an international operator, FXCM is regulated by a number of jurisdictions. The main one for FXCM is the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), where it holds the registration number 217689. This also permits it to operate in the European Union. Through its subsidiaries, it is also regulated in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Israel and South Africa. In New Zealand and Canada, FXCM has partnerships with local firms to allow them to offer services to residents of those countries. The FTA has strict regulations on keeping clients’ money separate from company money, and regular checks are carried out to ensure the firm has sufficient liquidity. FXCM clients will be protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). With almost two decades of operations, FXCM has a track record of reliability and high standards, so its claim to be one of the world’s leading online broker is not an empty boast.
The next stage
Using an FXCM demo is likely to give you a good idea of whether you want to open a real account at FXCM and which platform is the most suitable for you. However, with the aforementioned limitations on demo accounts, you may still have some doubts. Even an experienced trader who has been using the FXCM MT4 demo may be unsure if this type of platform is the right one for them. This where the low minimum investment of FXCM is a key advantage. You can open an MT4 account with as little as £50, and trade using micro lots. In this instance, you are trading with real money, experiencing all the psychological rushes and slumps that come with the movement of the markets. Trading on a real market, you will see how slippage, unexpected news, retracements and other extraneous factors affect the investment and the psyche of the trader. This stage may result in financial losses, but they are losses on an affordable scale. In any profession, it may cost money on training and education to fully hone the craft – for the trader, these losses can be seen as part of that, as you learn from each event and discover more strategies for trading. Even once you are ready to fully invest in real markets, the demo accounts still have their uses, with even the most experienced traders returning to them to try out new strategies before risking their capital.
- Demo gives a good sense of the real account
- Low minimum investment
- Experience psychological thrill of investing
- Trade on the real market
FXCM customer services
When making a forex broker comparison, a key question is the standard of customer service. FXCM has a BrokerNotes triple AAA support rating because support is offered by email, live chat and phone in a wide range of languages. This service is available 24 hours a day, five days a week. The languages supported include English, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese and Urdu. The company also takes seriously its commitment to developing the skills of their traders. Seminars in London are available on the first Wednesday of each month, while for those for whom this is not convenient, live interactive classrooms are held online. There is no need to worry if a session is missed, as thanks to the webinar archives, it is easy to catch up. There is also a large video library and a number of training manuals to help increase a trader’s competency. There is also access to tools such as analysis charts, a free daily newsletter and an economic scanner, allowing you to stay current with all the latest news and new developments. The economic calendar, too, is a valuable tool to help keep up with the predicted events and how they might affect the markets.
Is it worth the time?
Given the limitations of a demo account, it can be tempting to jump straight into the real thing. However, our verdict is to urge caution, particularly if you are new to trading or the type of trading platform you are considering. As anyone who trades knows, capital is at risk, with significant losses a real possibility. Proceeding cautiously can minimise the risk, and the demo account is a good way to start. With some careful planning, the limitations can be overcome, making it a useful training platform. New traders are reminded that trading on a demo account can be significantly different to live trading, and traders should be aware of these differences when operating a demo account. FXCM is a reliable company with a good level of customer service, so if you are considering an account with them, the FXCM demo account is a good way to familiarise yourself with their platform.