IG is one of the biggest Contract for Difference (CFD) brokers in the world. It offers (where allowed) the full panoply of investment products – forex, stocks, stock market indices, ETFs, bonds, commodities, options, and cryptocurrencies – all through CFDs. Its inventory of over 17k CFDs makes it perhaps the largest CFD broker in the world, by revenue if not by the number of CFDs. This makes it a pre-eminent company for traders but perhaps less so for investors.
The firm’s proprietary web trading platform is easy to use and easy to customize. It comes with a wide array of trading tools, plus offers access to Autochartist and ProRealTime, two third-party providers of charts and analysis. There’s a mobile app for Android and a web-based trading platform that can be used on iOS devices. But traders looking mostly for automated trading solutions will have to use MT4.
The educational section is excellent and the market information section is second to none – IG has a separate website, DailyFX, with nine in-house analysts, among the largest research department of any online broker. You can also tap the collective wisdom (or not) of the company’s many clients worldwide through the IG Community.
Deposit and withdrawal conditions are excellent. The minimum deposit of $300 is a bit higher than elsewhere but not outrageous.
The company is regulated by an unparalleled 12 regulators: nine Tier 1 regulators, two Tier 2, and one Tier 3. Moreover the parent company, IG Group, is listed on the London Stock Exchange, meaning it files publicly available accounts. It doesn’t get much safer than this.
Fees are about average for most CFDs but on the high side for stock CFDs.
IG is an excellent broker for traders, not long-term investors. Its products are all CFDs, meaning they are not meant for long-term buy-and-hold purposes but rather for buy-and-sell.
Having said that, if that’s what you’re looking for – and the fact that you’re on this web site suggests that you are – then IG is definitely one of the brokers you should be considering. It offers an astonishing range of CFDs in all asset classes: some 82 currency pairs, commodities, stock market indices from across the world, cryptocurrencies, share CFDs, plus some unique assets not usually offered by CFD brokers such as bonds, short-term interest rates, ETFs, and market sectors.
The company has many unique products. For example, you can trade in the three major currency pairs (GBP/USD, USD/JPY, and EUR/USD) over the weekend when markets are closed. They offer “knock-out” CFDs. You can take a position in stocks ahead of an IPO. Professional clients can take advantage of their Digital 100 binary options, allowing them to take a view on, say, the US nonfarm payrolls.
UK traders may be able to benefit from spread betting instead of CFDs due to different tax regulations. More traditional UK and Australian traders can also trade stocks.
The website is available in English, Arabic, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.
IG Group Holdings plc is one of the world’s largest CFD traders.
The company was founded in 1974 by Stuart Wheeler as a spread betting business under the name IG Index (an abbreviation for Investors Gold Index). It allowed people to trade the gold price as an index instead of buying the physical commodity. In July 2000, shares in the newly named IG Group plc were listed on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: IGG). Its annual report for 2022 shows revenue of GBP 973mn (said to be the largest among all the online brokerages) and profit before tax of GBP 477mn. (The profit margin of 49% explains why there are so many companies in this business!) Its market capitalization is GBP 3.29bn.
According to the annual report, the company had over 381,000 clients and 2,507 employees in 24 offices. The head office is in London and the company has operations in 19 other countries.
The company’s main product is the Contract for Difference (CFD). They are perhaps the largest CFD provider in the world, making a market in some 17,000 CFDS. Clients can trade forex, stock market indices, individual stocks, commodities, futures, cryptocurrencies, bonds, interest rates, and IPO grey markets…all through CFDs. The firm also offers forex and listed options & futures trading in the US and Europe.
Since their clients are trading CFDs with IG and not the asset itself, IG is the market-maker on the opposite side of the trade in most instances. This has the advantage of no requotes but does create an inherent conflict of interest.
There’s one confusing option. IG also offers what it calls Direct Market Access (DMA) aka Forex Direct. DMA is a way of placing trades directly onto the order books of exchanges. (Other brokers, such as FOREX.com and IC, offer a similar service with the same name.) This looks like IG is acting as a Straight-Through Processing (STP) or Electronic Communications Network (ECN) broker, but it’s not. Although the prices you get are derived directly from the market, IG places an order in its name at that price and at the same time creates a parallel CFD between you and them. So you are still getting a CFD, it’s just priced differently. The spreads are tighter and the company tacks on a commission as if it were doing an STP trade, but it’s still a CFD.
IG moved into the US in 2021 when it bought tastytrade, a US online broker for options, futures, and stocks. CFDs are banned in the US, so people who trade forex with IG in the US are carrying on normal margin trading.
Hahaha! What a question! IG is the most highly regulated firm in the industry, as far as I know, being regulated in 12 jurisdictions (see below). It’s also a publicly listed company so it has to provide audited accounts twice a year. That’s about as safe as you can get.
Furthermore, IG also subscribes to the FX Global Code of Conduct. This is a set of global principles of good practice in the foreign exchange market, developed to provide a common set of guidelines to promote the integrity and effective functioning of the wholesale foreign exchange market. It was developed by a partnership between central banks and Market Participants from 20 jurisdictions around the globe. Brokers that have signed the code are required to offer a fair trading environment.
The firm even has its own app, IG Access (Android only), to generate verification codes for security. Unfortunately it has one of the worst ratings I’ve ever seen for an app: 3.2 stars after 166 reviews! As many 1-star reviews as 5-star (55). The one I enjoyed the most: “I installed it and it locked me out of the platform immediately. I could not access my trading account. The app had to be deactivated from the IG central office. The app is absolutely useless.” I’d be skeptical about using it.
Mind you, all of these precautions don’t completely rule out the possibility of something terrible happening or you getting a rogue relationship manager who pulls a fast one – even spy agencies such as MI6 and the CIA have accidents – but it shows that the company is doing everything it can to prevent that.
IG is regulated by so many regulators, it’s a wonder that the company can function: nine Tier 1 regulators, two Tier 2, and one Tier 3. Moreover the parent company, IG Group Ltd., is listed on the London Stock Exchange, meaning it has to file publicly available accounts, and is a member of the FTSE 250 index of mid-cap stocks. It doesn’t get much more highly regulated than that.
IG is regulated by the following authorities in the following countries:
For UK clients, there are two entities they can choose from, depending on whether you want to trade CFDS (IG Markets Ltd) or spread betting (IG Index Ltd).
One advantage for European clients is that they’re covered by the relatively strict German regulator, BaFin, rather than the somewhat looser Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) or the Malta Financial Services Authority as is often the case in Europe. Retail clients onboarded under the European entity are required by law to have negative balance protection for spot FX and CFD trading.
If you want you can open multiple accounts and trade with more than one IG entity to take advantage of different regulations (more leverage here, more protection there). Only the US, UK, Japan, and New Zealand require their residents to deal with firms registered in those countries.
Yes, IG US LLC is fully licensed to do business in the US, although of course CFDs are not legal. US traders can only trade FX with IG. The company does however offer a fuller range of products through its tastytrade subsidiary: options, futures, options on futures, stocks, ETFs, commodities, and indices. But you asked about IG, not tastytrade.
One exception: IG accounts are not available in my home state of Ohio. So if I ever go home, I’ll either have to use a different broker or get a VPN.
Canadians beware! The IG that you may be familiar with is a totally unrelated company, IG Wealth Management. It used to be known as Investors Group. It has nothing to do with the London-based IG Group plc, which is not available in Canada.
The head office is in London and the company has operations in 19 other countries.
It’s a publicly listed company, IG Group Holdings plc, listed on the London Stock Exchange. Most of the shares (91%) are held by mutual fund companies such as BlackRock and Vanguard or other financial institutions. The largest individual shareholder is Tom Sosnoff, a co-founder of tastytrade, who owns 3.9% of the company. He presumably acquired his stake when IG bought tastytrade in 2021. Norges Bank Investment Management, the Norwegian government’s sovereign wealth fund, owns 2.2%.
As mentioned above, IG is doing everything possible to assure the safety of its clients. It’s regulated in 12 jurisdictions, perhaps the most of any company in the online brokerage industry. It’s a publicly listed company (London Stock Exchange). And just to make sure, it subscribes to the FX Global Code of Conduct, a set of global principles of good practice in the foreign exchange market, developed between central banks and market participants from 20 jurisdictions.
Of course, things happen in this world. Nothing is 100% certain except death and taxes. But you won’t find any company that’s making more efforts than IG in this respect.
Leverage at IG varies by country and is often below the maximum set by the regulator. One thing doesn’t vary though: you can’t change the default leverage. That’s a drawback as this is an important aspect of risk management that you should control.
Traders in the UK, Europe, South Africa can trade a maximum of 20:1 leverage, which is lower than the 30:1 maximum leverage allowed by ESMA-compliant regulators. On the other hand, professional traders can trade a maximum of 222:1.
IG clients from Dubai and USA can trade 50:1. In Australia, it’s 200:1 for retail clients or 250:1 for professional traders. This seems high to me but it’s one of the lowest levels of all ASIC-regulated brokers.
Stock CFDs are leveraged 20:1.
IG operates in many countries and therefore has to tailor its offerings to the laws in each country. Some types of accounts are only available to people in certain jurisdictions. On the other hand, people who are outside these jurisdictions can choose which entity to enroll under. You can see a comparison of the kinds of accounts and the safety features they offer here.
The main account, the one that (almost) everyone anywhere can have, is called the IG Trading Account and allows the holder to trade CFDs and forex, the company’s meat and potatoes (well, I’m a vegetarian, so let’s say tofu and potatoes). In some jurisdictions you can also trade options and listed derivatives through this account. Of course CFDs are not allowed in the US so it’s only forex.
You can get a joint account, you can give Power of Attorney to your account, and there are also corporate accounts, but we’re not going to discuss those.
Within the Trading Account, some people qualify forpremium services. These enjoy some extra services such as advanced charting and live data fees at reduced prices or free; better margins and flexible credit; faster service times for trades or requests; and your own personal account manager. The requirements for premium services vary country-by-country.
Professional traders can open an IG professional account and access some products and services not available to the hoi polloi. The qualifications for being a professional are usually set out by the regulatory authorities and the same for all firms in that jurisdiction. They usually include experience trading leverage derivatives and a whole lot of money in the bank. You get extra services, better pricing, and higher leverage, but since you’re a professional you lose some safeguards. If you have to ask the details, you probably don’t qualify.
People trading forex with IG can choose between using IG as their market-maker or getting quotes directly from the market, where the spreads are usually narrower. For the latter, they need to activate Direct Market Access (DMA) within the platform after joining. This is also known as Forex Direct in some places. It usually requires you to have a certain minimum balance in your account (eg, $1,000 in the US, GBP 1,000 in the UK). As mentioned above, you’re still trading CFDs, only the price comes from the market, not IG, and you pay a commission.
Other specialized accounts include:
First off, let me say that the facts & figures here all depend on which IG entity you’re enrolled with. Fees for someone in the UK are likely to be different from someone in Australia. So please take this just as a guide.
Trading fees in the IG Trading Account depend on which kind of execution you choose: standard or Direct Market Access (DMA).
With standard execution, there are no commissions, just the spread between IG’s bid and offer prices. This makes sense as the IG dealing desk is your counterparty in this case. Spreads range from 0.6 point on key FX pairs, 0.8 point on major indices, and 0.1 point on commodities. This is generally tighter than at other brokers. The fee structure is quite transparent and there’s a lot of data available on the website giving the minimum and average fee. This applies to forex, stock index CFDs, commodity CFDs, and bond CFDs.
Spreads for forex vary by currency and of course market conditions. According to the company’s website, the minimum spread for EUR/USD is 0.6 pip, the average spread is somewhere between 0.85 pip and 1.04 pips, depending on what time period you use. The widest spread among major currency pairs is GBP/CAD, which has a minimum spread of 3 pips and an average of 4.92-5.83. Weekend spreads, when the market is closed, are of course wider, e.g. 6 pips for EUR/USD, and are fixed. Spreads for minor pairs can be much wider still – GBP/ZAR is 200 pips minimum.
For funding forex positions overnight, you naturally have to pay the swap rate. This is calculated as nights held X (tom/next rate + annual administration fee of 0.8%) X trade size. You can see a worked example for a CFD here and for a spread bet here. It’s hard to say how these fees compare with other brokers without knowing how IG calculates its tom/next rate.
IG offers discounts via its three-tier active-trader rebate program. This pays you a rebate on the spread you paid (half the difference between the bid and offer prices for the contract traded). It starts with a 5% rebate if you transact over $100mn notional per month and goes to a 15% rebate for trading $500mn a month. (Details may vary by location.)
For those really active traders using the DMA system, IG will charge a commission of $60 per $1mn traded, falling to $10 per $1mn for those whales trading $1.5bn or more a month.
Spreads for indices change depending on the time – spreads are narrower during trading hours when that particular stock market is open and wider outside of trading hours. EG the spread on the FTSE 100 index, the main index for UK stocks, is 1 pip from 0800-16:30 local time but 4 pips from 21:00-01:00, and 8 pips during the weekend.
CFDs on shares are charged differently from other CFDs. You deal at the actual market price and are charged a commission. This is 2 cents per US share and 0.18% for Hong Kong shares.
Note though that you will also have to pay a 0.5% FX conversion fee on any profits or losses if the stock you’re buying is in a different currency than your base currency.
Share trading: Only clients in the UK, Australia, and UAE can buy stocks. Commission for trading US and UK stocks depends on how often you traded in the previous month. For example, if you traded UK shares more than twice, your commissions per trade for UK shares will be GBP 3 instead of GBP 8 for the next month. In the case of US shares, if you traded more than twice, you’ll be able to trade commission-free next month. No need to worry about this if you’re in Australia though, because trading in UK and US shares there is free. There may also be a custody fee and exchange fee.
Non-trading fees: As mentioned above, there are neither deposit nor withdrawal fees. An inactivity fee of $12 a month (for the US – different in other countries but around there) kicks in if the account is inactive for two years. That’s quite a long time to be inactive – for most companies it’s one year at most. And frankly if your account is inactive for two years, you should just close it anyway.
Options: IG's options fees are low, although the contract sizes are also smaller compared to regular exchange-traded options. Both trade barrier and vanilla options are available. Commissions are 10 cents of whatever currency your options are denominated in (GBP, USD, or EUR).
Options trading is available only in several European countries (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, and Sweden).
Spread Betting Account: UK traders can utilize this tax-advantaged way to trade. The costs are the same as with CFDs: the spread on EUR/USD is only 0.6 pip. It’s 1 point for the FTSE 100 index and only 0.1% for individual shares.
IG offers trading in an extremely wide range of assets, but as I mentioned before, they’re almost all in the form of CFDs. That is, you can trade forex, stocks, stock indices, commodities, bonds, etc., the whole panoply of investment products, but only as CFDs, not the underlying product themselves. (There are a few notable exceptions in certain places, which we’ll get to later.) This makes the company much more suitable for traders (people aiming for a short-term capital gain) rather than investors (people hoping for long-term asset appreciation).
The company says it has over 17,000 products in its inventory. I have to admit, I didn’t count them myself. These include:
Forex: The company trades an unusually wide range of 101 different currency pairs in CFD form. These include 16 major (CAD, CHF, EUR, GBP, JPY, USD) and 8 minor (SGD, ZAR) forex pairs; 18 Antipodean pairs (AUD, NZD); 12 Skandis (DKK, NOK, SEK); 25 exotics (CZK, HUF, ILS, KRW, MXN, PLN) and 22 Emerging Market pairs (BRL, CNH, IDR, INR, MYR, PHP, THB, TWD). (It’s around 80 pairs in the US.) Given that you should trade what you know and understand, these EM currencies should make IG an attractive choice for traders in those countries – not every company offers them.
You can even trade several pairs (GBP/USD, USD/JPY, and EUR/USD) during the weekend when the market is closed – albeit at wider-than-usual spreads. IG is the only broker I know of that offers this. Imagine you’re out on a date Saturday night and you want to impress the lady: “Oh wait, what you said just made me think…I should buy $1mn of EUR/USD!!!” She’ll be floored as you whip out your phone and place the order. How many guys does Never mind that she dumps you on Monday after she figures out that you lost $5,000 on the trade. You’ll have scored big that night!
Each CFD is equal to one standard lot of the base currency.
Stocks: You can trade CFDs on over 12,000 shares listed on exchanges world-wide. Most shares are only available when the home market is open, but they also offer out-of-hours trading on over 90 leading US shares. You can also buy sector-specific CFDs on some 44 sectors in the UK (35) and Australian (8) markets, such as Banks or Consumer Discretionary.
IG enables you to speculate in stocks before they’re even issued by trading in the IPO grey market. The way it works: IG gives an estimate for the company’s market cap at the end of the first trading day. You “buy” if you think the market cap will actually be higher than this or you “sell” if you think it’ll be lower. You can also buy a CFD in the company after the IPO has taken place.
Stock market indices: You can trade something like 32 major market indices from around the world, including all the major (and several minor) ones from the US, UK, Europe, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, China, India, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan. You can trade volatility in the US equity market (VIX) and European equity market (VSTOXX). Plus there are a number of indices that they’ve made up, such as the Cannabis Index, an Emerging Market index, and a US inflation index (based on the performance of five publicly listed US TIPS ETFs). (While for most assets you should “buy low, sell high,” the Cannabis index is one you’ll want to buy high and sell higher!)
ETFs: You can trade any number of ETFs, including currency, sector & industry, commodity, geographic, inverse or short, and leveraged ETFs. (CFDs are already leveraged investments; apparently you can buy a leveraged investment in a leveraged investment!) Most IG clients will be buying the ETFs through CFDs, but those clients in the UK and Australia who can access IG Market’s stock brokerage service can buy them outright too.
Commodities: IG offers CFDs on 19 different commodities, including seven energy commodities (Brent, WTI, heating oil, gasoil, natural gas, gasoline, and carbon emissions), five metals (gold, silver, palladium, copper, iron ore), and seven softs (sugar, soybeans, hogs, cattle, orange juice, and both Robusta and arabica coffee).
Bonds: IG offers 12 different CFDs on government bonds from Germany (4), France, Italy, Japan, UK, and US (4). This is quite a wide range, more than most other companies offer. In addition, you call also trade short-term interest rates – 30-day AUD and three-month Euribor, Eurodollar, and sterling contracts. I don’t remember seeing that anywhere else. Both spot and futures are available.
Cryptocurrencies: IG offers CFDs on 11 cryptos, two cross-cryptos pairs (Bitcoin Cash/Bitcoin and Bitcoin/Ether), and also offers its own Crypto 10 index. Personally I wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole, but their website says 97% of the clients are long the index, so clearly I’m in the minority here. Maybe that’s why I’m still working. Crypto CFDs are not available to UK clients due to FCA regulations.
Options: IG offers CFDs on options – a leveraged bet on a leveraged product! They offer daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly options. The quarterly options go as far out as three quarters before expiry. You can trade options on forex, stock market indices, individual stocks, and commodities. Options are only available in some European countries. In the US you can trade them on an IG subsidiary, tastytrade, although that requires a separate account.
Some CFDs are available in currencies that are different to what the underlying asset is traded in. This is useful because otherwise you’ll have to pay a 0.5% conversion fee on the profit or loss that you make. The main such currency is AUD, where there are 36 CFDs available (11 stock indices, 5 energy, 4 metals, and 16 agricultural commodities). There are also a number of stock indices, energies and gold & silver available in NZD and four major stock indices available in GBP (DJIA, S&P 500, DAX, and CAC).
They also offer other sophisticated products, such as:
Knock-outs: These derivatives (similar to callable bull/bear contracts) move like a normal CFD but with a twist: your position gets closed (knocked out) if the price of the product goes below (bull) or above (bear) a certain level. This gives you greater leverage than if you just bought the CFD outright but with a greater chance of losing all your investment. Nonetheless you can’t lose more than your initial investment. You can trade knockouts on major forex pairs, global stock indices, commodities, and some shares.
How does it work? Let’s say the asset you want to buy is trading at $5.00 and you think it’s going higher. You might buy a bull knock-out at $3.00. The price will be $2.00 (the difference between the price of the underlying and the knock-out price) plus a premium, which might be 8 cents in this case. So you’d pay $2.08. If the price closes at $6.00, you’d get $6.00-$3.00 = $3.00, which would be the same as if you had bought a CFD on the asset at $3.00. Your profit is 44%, vs 20% if you had just bought a CFD at $5.00. The twist is that if at any time before expiry the price goes below $3.00, your position is “knocked out” and you lose all your money. (As I understand it, in effect you are buying the CFD and at the same time selling an out-of-the-money put option on it, which reduces the cost of the CFD.)
Knock-outs are only available in some European countries and Hong Kong. In Europe, IG calls these products Turbo24 and trades them on Spectrum, a 24-hour-a-day retail exchange that it started up in 2019.
Digital 100s, aka binary options: These are “yes” or “no” bets: will the FTSE close above a certain level tonight? Will EUR/USD fall below a certain level? The price ranges from 0 to 100, with the number reflecting the market maker’s view on the probability of this event occurring. If it turns out that the statement is true, the price settles at 100. If it’s false, the price settles at zero. Your profit or loss is the settlement price minus what you paid for the option. Unfortunately, Digital 100s are only available to Professional clients, which is a shame because then the retail clients looking for these simple trades will migrate to binary options platforms, which don’t offer anywhere near as good odds (and are often just scammers anyway).
As mentioned above in the Accounts section, the range of products that you can trade depends on which of IG’s regulatory entities you’re trading with. Residents of New Zealand, Japan, the UK and the US must by law choose their respective local IG entity, so they don’t have any choice in the matter.
US clients can only trade forex with IG. No CFDs on anything. The firm offers 81 currency pairs in the US, fewer than in its CFD offering but still with the same currencies – just fewer obscure crossrates that most people won’t miss anyway.
Smart Portfolios (UK only) UK savers who want to invest their money rather than trade can put their money into a Smart Portfolio. These are diversified portfolios built from iShares ETFs and managed by BlackRock. They’re available in five different risk categories, ranging from Conservative to Aggressive.
IG allows accounts in at least six base currencies: USD, EUR, GBP, HKD, AUD, and SGD, and probably CHF, JPY, and NZD too, depending on where you’re located.
In the UK, new accounts are automatically set up in GBP. If you want to change it, you’ll have to send an email to Customer Support with your personal details and the number of the account you’d like to change. This is a hassle for those who trade USD CFDs and don’t want to pay the 0.5% conversion fee. It’s unclear to me what happens in other countries – I assume that the account is based on whatever currency you use in that country and the process of changing it would be similar.
You can set up an account without funding it. If you do want to fund it, the minimum deposit depends on which entity you decide to establish your account with and how you pay. There’s no minimum deposit for bank transfers, however may be a minimum for a deposit made by credit/debit cards or PayPal. (Not every company allows you to send money via PayPal.) People in Hong Kong can pay with Hong Kong’s Faster Payment System (FPS), while Aussies get to use their popular BPAY system.
Account opening is fully digital and straightforward, but can take a bit longer than at some other companies to finish. It might take two or three business days to get your account up and running, vs a few hours at many other brokers. Probably this has to do with their strict regulation in many jurisdictions.
The minimum deposit to start online trading or spread betting with IG Markets is usually between $200 and $300, depending on your country. However it’s a massive CHF 2,500 in Switzerland. That’s not surprising as everything is more expensive in Switzerland.
There are no withdrawal fees, although the minimum withdrawal is GBP 100. It can take a couple of days for the money to get to you. Withdrawing money with a debit card can take two business days.
For its own platforms, you can use their web trading platform, their mobile trading app, or their progressive web app.
The web trading platform, their flagship platform, is excellent for both beginners and professionals. It’s easy to use, can be customized easily, and has all the functions you’ll want: two-step login, clear fee reports, watchlists, etc. The flexible design allows you to move windows around easily and to save your layouts. Search is done using the sidebar on the left. You can also browse through the asset class categories or by typing manually. Once you’ve found your asset, you can trade with just one click if you like. You can trade CFDs, spread bets, and shares on the platform (assuming that you’re in a jurisdiction that allows them). There are news headlines from Reuters.
There are two problems with the web trading platform. First off, it doesn’t have any predefined layouts – the default view is mostly empty. You’ll have to configure it yourself to start. Fortunately that’s pretty easy as it’s fairly intuitive and you can save your layouts. Secondly, you can’t implement any automated trading strategies. For that you’ll have to use one of the outside platforms, ProRealTime or MetaTrader 4.
Available order types include:
There are also an unusual number of alerts and notifications available, including
As for charts, the firm’s system displays live prices and allows you to compare up to four timeframes from tick-by-tick to monthly in a single chart and access many different indicators and drawing tools in 16 different time frames across five chart types, including tick charts, which many brokers don’t offer. You can add alerts to several of the indicators and trade directly from the chart with an integrated trade ticket that allows you to drag stops and limits with great precision.
If that’s not enough, you can access two outside charting systems: ProRealTime and Autochartist. That should be enough for any human being. (There’s a $40 a month charge for ProRealTime, but that may be waved “if your trading activity is consistent and with fairly high value during the month,” which is said to be around four trades a month.
You get newsfeeds from IG’s in-house team of analysts as well as Reuters, plus trading signals if you like.
The online platform allows you access to the firm’s DMA system, but only when trading shares, not forex. If you’re a professional who wants to trade forex using DMA, you’ll have to go with L2 Dealer.
Note that this is a browser-based system, not a stand-alone application.
The mobile trading app is similar to the web-based application. It’s easy to find your way around it and does a great job of balancing ease of use with providing sufficient features. The main difference seems to be that you can’t access ProRealTime or Autochartist through it. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem though as it does come with most of IG’s own extensive range of charts, just with reduced timeframes and fewer charting options compared to the web-based platform.
You can use two-step authorization or biometric log-in.
The app is only available for Android users, probably because of the nefarious practice of the Apple store in kicking out the FX business. iPhone users will have to use the progressive web app (PWA), “which offers you a seamless trading platform on any device – without having to visit a third-party app store.” It’s browser-based but with a mobile shortcut.
There are several differences between the trading app and the PWA though that make the app the distinctly better choice. These are: A) you can’t set price alerts on the PWA; B) the PWA doesn’t have any research tools, such as the newsfeed; and C) you can’t trade stocks (which most clients can’t do anyway with IG, so this is only a problem for people in the UK and Australia)
Both the mobile app and PWA integrate well with the web-based platform.
All three platforms share one common feature that might be a problem for you though: they’re only available in English. But if you’ve gotten this far in this report then clearly English isn’t a problem for you.
You can read about their trading platforms here.
Next we come to IG’s three specialist platforms: L2 Dealer, a proprietary platform, and ProRealTime and Metatrader 4, two outside platforms.
For people who want to trade actual shares with IG (not just CFDs), especially who want to trade shares in size, L2 Dealer is the professional-level platform for Direct Market Access (DMA) and algorithmic trading. It’s aimed at advanced share traders who maintain a minimum balance of USD, EUR, or GBP 1,000 a month or thereabouts. You can also use the DMA system for forex if you happen to be a pro client (as mentioned above, that requires GBP 500k in your account plus significant experience…my guess is that not many of our readers will fall into that category.) Using L2 Dealer you can trade cash equities as well as CFDs on indices, forex, equities, commodities and cryptocurrencies. (No spread betting on this platform.)
The key aspect of this platform is that through the DMA system it provides superior access to direct order book and over-the-counter (OTC) liquidity on a range of dark and lit venues. You get to see the market depth from a range of exchanges (including full market depth from the London Stock Exchange). The prices from the exchanges are passed on as is without any additional spread; rather, IG charges a commission based on volume.
L2 Dealer supports a wide range of “native, synthetic and algorithmic order types,” including several that I’ve never heard of, such as “iceberg orders” (large orders that have been divided into smaller limit orders in order to hide the total quantity). You can’t use automated trading strategies with this platform though, which surprises me since it’s aimed at more advanced users. Add-ons include Bloomberg, which gives you an idea who this is aimed at; a Bloomberg subscription costs about $2,700 a month.
L2 Dealer is not available on mobile devices.
If you prefer a desktop-based platform or if you want to use automated trading strategies, you can use MetaTrader 4 for CFDs and spread bets for free. It’s the standard version of MT4 upgraded with a number of custom add-ons and indicators to bring it almost up to speed with IG’s web trading platform. This is an improvement over most firms, which just supply the standard MT4. You can also get access to Autochartist on MT4. On the other hand, you don’t get access to Reuters news through MT4.
ProRealTimeis another third-party platform that is aimed at technical traders and those using automated trading strategies. You can either use ProRealTime’s development tools or code from scratch, if that’s your thing. You can import strategies from others and back-test them with 30 years’ worth of data. ProRealTime will even trade for you while you’re asleep!
Speed of trading: IG says that it’s able to fill 98.3% of all market orders within 0.014 seconds across all its trading platforms, including the spread bets. They claim no slippage on 89% of orders.
IG offers as rich a trading environment as any broker.
We briefly discussed IG’s many charting tools in the section on platforms, but just to recap: the firm’s system displays live prices and allows you to compare up to four timeframes from tick-by-tick to monthly in a single chart and access 28 indicators. 30 technical indicators, 20 drawing tools, and 16 selectable time frames across five chart types. You can add alerts to several of the indicators and trade directly from the chart with an integrated trade ticket that allows you to drag stops and limits with great precision.
If you’re using MT4, IG has upgraded it with 12 custom add-ons and six indicators to bring it almost up to speed with their web trading platform.
These add-ons include:
The indicators include:
We already mentioned that some of the platforms offer Autochartist and ProRealTime with its many charts with nearly 100 indicators (free for active traders, charged for less active traders – but why would anyone want it if they’re not going to trade actively?) The firm also offers access to PiaFirst, aka Signal Centre.
IG offers high-volume traders two trading tools that reduce the chance of having their trades rejected:
As for trading ideas, traders have access to automated trading signals generated by Autochartist’s automated pattern recognition and technical analysis software. You can transfer these trading ideas to a trade ticket window with a single click. Signal Center also sends out trading signals, as you might well imagine. Both can be accessed from the drop-down Signals menu in the trading platform. Beginning traders may benefit from reading the commentary that accompanies the signals to learn how more experienced traders spot trading opportunities.
For risk management, traders in most (but not all) regions have the option of guaranteed stop losses for a small fee.
For those who want to share their thoughts & ideas on trading, IG offers IG Community, a social forum that allows clients to share trade ideas and discuss market opportunities (not to mention ask people how to do X, Y, or Z on the platform). The community is divided into several fora: “Strategy and Market Discussion” (which is sub-divided by asset class), “New to IG,” and “Help: Trading, Platforms, Apps & Chart Support.” There’s also an “Our Picks” section that highlights especially noteworthy posts.
There are some 90k posts on 20k topics so far in the community.
If you’re looking for copy trading, you’ll have to use the MetaTrader 4 platform. You can’t use popular copy trading sites like ZuluTrade or DupliTrade with IG.
IG has an extraordinary educational offering with something to appeal to beginners, intermediate, and advanced traders. The IG Academy offers a set of 16 online trading courses that are far more detailed than the usual 2-5 minute introductions that most firms offer – some last as long as 85 minutes. (I’d estimate there’s at least 11 hours of videos here, probably more.) These have quizzes to track your progress. Or you can learn from live trading sessions, which offer traders the opportunity to ask questions directly of analysts. There are 20 previous webinars available for you to view at your leisure. IG Academy is also available as a stand-alone app.
If you like watching videos, you’ll love IGTV (not to be confused with IGTV from Instagram), which puts out four videos a day on major news developments and updates on charts, as well as educational content and other videos. Previous shows are available on the IG Community in IGTV On Demand.
The “News and trade ideas” section contains a large number of articles on markets and companies. Some of these articles are from DailyFX, a separate website that’s “provided by IG,” whatever that means. There are nine writers contributing articles to DailyFX, making it perhaps the biggest research department of any online broker. Moreover many of these authors have serious backgrounds working at serious investment firms and they produce serious research. You can get market news, trading strategies, market data, calendars, and many educational articles on this website. (Note: this seems to be free and available for anyone, not just IG clients.) . DailyFX has a mobile app available for both Android and iOS.
You can get IG’s Morning Call and The Week Ahead reports delivered to your email.
If that’s not enough, you can get streaming news and TV from Reuters.
One issue: like the platform, all the videos and most of the articles are in English. The IG Academy does offer articles in other languages (the Swiss website has German, French, and Italian).
There’s no fundamental data on companies available.
IG really shines when it comes to news and information. The “Market Insight” tab is divided into “News and Trade Ideas,” “Strategy and Planning,” “Financial Events,” “Economic Calendar,” and “Market Screening.” The firm’s “Recommended News” section tailors the headlines that you see based on what you trade. Then there’s the DailyFX report.
I have to say – my experience trying to get answers to my questions about this company was among the worst I’ve ever had with any company I’ve ever had the misfortune to deal with. I first mailed them my questions around the end of December and didn’t get answers to my repeated emails until early May, and even then many of the answers were quite vague, e.g. “this depends on the country” and “it’s displayed on the relevant local website.” I admit I was only trying by email – I never tried calling – but still, the company’s response was abysmal.
I understand though that it’s better if you have a simple question and you’re a client. That may expedite things.
You can contact IG via:
IG customer support is available in theory almost 24/7 (closed only between Friday night and Saturday morning).
The live chat is available through the “Contact Us” page. However it only appears after spending around 30 seconds on the page. It seems to be offline often. Similarly, some people have reported long waits for the phone support: no answer even after waiting for up to 10 minutes. However these relate only to the UK help. We haven’t tested all the languages. Moreover it probably depends a lot on how many people are seeking help at any given time. Customer support is available in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.
The bad news is that the live chat is often offline and the response by email and phone can be slow.
If you can’t get an answer from Customer Support, you can always ask the IG Community and get an answer from one of your fellow traders.
IG is an excellent broker for beginners. It has a great proprietary platform as well as offering the widely used MT4 platform if you prefer to learn on a platform you can take to another broker. It offers an extraordinary range of products outside the US (in the US it’s mostly forex). Pricing is within the normal range.
Aside from all that, two aspects stand out with IG that may be of particular concern to beginners: one, it’s as safe as they come in this industry, as it’s part of a publicly listed company and is regulated in a dozen countries; and two, it has an excellent educational program and offers extensive trading information and ideas. If you’re just beginning trading, you have to learn to understand the markets and how to trade so that you can do so profitably.
Regardless of how or what you trade, the broker you choose should be safe to use, affordable, and offer everything you need to trade at your best. That’s why we’re highly selective. We only feature brokers regulated by a trusted authority and we make it easy to compare their fees & features, so that you can make an informed choice.