If you do an internet search on forex broker scams, the number of results returned is staggering. While the forex market is slowly becoming more regulated, there are many unscrupulous brokers who should not be in business. Fortunately, they eventually get weaned out.
However, when you’re looking to trade forex, it’s important to know which brokers are reliable and viable, and to avoid the ones that aren’t. In order to sort out the strong brokers from the weak, and the reputable ones from those with shady dealings, we must go through a series of steps before depositing a large amount of capital with a broker. Trading is hard enough in itself, but when a broker is implementing practices that work against the trader, making a profit can be nearly impossible. (For forex trading tips, check out Top 4 Things Successful Forex Traders Do.)
[Finding the right broker is critical for day traders involved in any market – and especially the forex market. But, a good broker is just the first step in becoming a successful trader. Investopedia’s Become a Day Trader Course will show you how to identify winning trades using straightforward strategies, as well as minimize risk to enhance your risk-adjusted returns.]
Separating Fact from Fiction
In many cases, it may seem to a trader that a broker was intentionally trying to cause a loss. Complaints such as: “As soon as I placed the trade, the direction of the market reversed;” “The broker stop hunted my positions;” or “I always had slippage on my orders, and never in my favor” are not uncommon. These types of experiences are common to all traders, and it is quite possible that the broker is not at fault.
New forex traders often fail to trade with a tested strategy or trading plan. Instead, they make trades when psychology dictates they should. If a trader feels the market has to move in one direction or the other, there is a 50% chance he or she will be correct. When the rookie trader enters a position, often he or she is entering right at a time when their emotions are waning; experienced traders are aware of these junior tendencies and step in, taking the trade the other way. This befuddles new traders and leaves them feeling that the market – or their brokers – are out to get them and take their individual profits. Most of the time this is not the case, it is simply a failure by the trader to understand market dynamics.
On occasion, losses are the broker’s fault. This can occur when a broker attempts to rack up trading commissions at the client’s expense. There have been reports of brokers arbitrarily moving quoted rates to trigger stop orders when other brokers’ rates have not gone to that price. Luckily for traders, this is not likely to occur. One must remember that trading is usually not a zero-sum game, and brokers primarily make commissions with increased trading volumes. Overall, it is in the best interest of brokers to have long-term clients who trade regularly and thus sustain capital or make a profit.
The slippage issue can often be attributed to a psychological phenomenon. It is common practice for inexperienced traders to panic; they fear missing a move, so they hit their buy key; or they fear losing more and so they hit the sell key. In volatile exchange rate environments, the broker cannot ensure that an order will be executed at the desired price. This results in sharp movements and often slippage. The same is true for stop or limit orders. Some brokers guarantee stop and limit order fills, while others do not. Even in more transparent markets, slippage occurs, markets move and we don’t always get the price we want. (Learn about different forex trading strategies in Place Forex Orders Properly.)
Therefore, often what is perceived as a scam is just the trader not understanding the market he or she is trading.
The Real Problem
Any arising issues should be resolved and explained to the trader and the broker should also be helpful and display good customer relations. One of the most detrimental issues that may arise between a broker and a trader in this case is the trader’s inability to withdraw money from a trading account.
Do an online search for reviews of the broker. Take what is said and filter it based on what was said in the first section; could this be just a disgruntled trader? In the same search, find if there are outstanding legal actions against the broker.
What If You’re Already Stuck With a Bad Broker?
Read through all documents to make sure that your broker is actually in the wrong. If you have missed something or failed to read the documents you signed, you may have only yourself to blame.