IC Markets Strengths + Weaknesses
A review of IC Markets (International Capital Markets Pty Ltd) was completed in January 2020 focusing on the spreads and commission, forex trading platform, customer service and other forex trading features. It found the following:
Strengths Of IC Markets:
- The Spread Forex Broker worldwide From 0.0 Pips
- Choice Of The Best Forex Platform
- The Highest Leverage Level
Weaknesses Of IC Markets:
More details on these key points are discussed below.
IC is designed for advanced forex trading based on their low spreads and minimum deposit requirements, advanced trading platforms and fast execution speeds. Other benefits include up to 500:1 leverage and low deposit and withdrawal fees.
|Feature||Feature 1||Feature 2|
|Fees||Spreads From 0.0||$3.50 Commission|
|Trading Conditions||Leverage up to 500:1||$200 Min Deposit|
|Regulation||UK FCA||Australian ASIC|
|Range Of Markets||Currency Trading||Contract For Difference (CFDs)|
Strength 1 – IC Has Lowest ECN Spreads
There are three main trading accounts but our review focused solely on the Raw spread and cTrader trading account. These two account types offer the best features, no requotes and the lowest forex trading costs.
1) Standard Account
- No commissions on trades, rather larger spreads
- Use of the MetaTrader 4 forex trading platform
2) Raw Spread Account (formally True ECN account)
- Lowest spreads with EURUSD from 0.0 pips
- $3.50 per lot commission
- Use of MetaTrader 4 forex trading platform
- MLQ4 programming language
3) cTrader Raw Account
- Low spreads with EUR/USD from 0.0 pips
- $3.00 USD per lot commission and lower market-based spreads
- Use of cTrader forex trading platform
- C# programming language
The IC Markets Raw Spread account was awarded the 2020 lowest spread account of any CFB broker worldwide. The account is an Electronic Communication Network (commonly called a true ECN account) offers faster forex trading with lower commissions. When it comes to IC a Raw broker allows small market participants to trade with large liquidity providers on Foreign Exchange Markets. Both the MT4 and cTrader Raw account types provide a real ECN trading environment. This means at these accounts achieve ECN style pricing using 50+ banks and dark pool liquidity providers. Not only does this achieve tight spreads from zero pips but also low latency that’s ideal for day traders.
You can view our comprehensive 2020 spread and commission comparison article for more detail on the forex broker’s fees. It should be noted there is also an Islamic account that has no interest fees (swap-free). These account types are available on either the cTrader of MetaTrader forex trading platforms.
There are a number of funding and withdrawal methods such as bank transfer credit cards and even PayPal with no additional fees charges. Only in some instances may some fees be charged by some international institutions. View our standard vs ECN account comparison.
Spreads And Fee Summary
The IC Markets raw spread trading accounts (formally true ECN account) are considered the ‘best value’ based on their:
- Lowest average spreads of any forex broker
- Competitive commission of $3.50 per lot
- No deposit or withdrawal fees
Strength 2 – IC Offers The Best Forex Trading Platforms
IC Markets offers the three most popular forex trading platforms. All forex platforms support mobile trading including iPhone, iPad and Android applications and have a demo and live account.
- The world’s most popular trading platform for beginner, intermediate and scalping traders
- An interface that is easy to use with prompt order management functionality
- Algorithmic trading and Expert Advisors for scalping traders
- Has a built-in Market of trading robots for easy automated forex trading
- Includes the Virtual Hosting service (Forex VPS) to maximise execution speeds
- Access to the MQL5 community including free trading robots
- An interface that can be personalised with detachable charting options and an android app
- Direct access setup to liquidity pools designed for algorithmic forex trading
- cTrader platform back-testing facilities based on past market data
|Trading Platform||Server||Coding Language|
|Web Based||NY4 or LD5||None|
|MetaTrader 4||NY4 Data Centre||MQL4|
|MetaTrader 5||NY4 Data Centre||MQL5|
|cTrader||LD5 IBX Equinix||cAlgo|
Advanced Trading Tools
There are 10 additional tools the CFD broker integrates into the forex trading platforms. These enhance currency trading in most trading conditions giving traders the edge. Features include:
- Alarm Manager
The trading assistant that notifies the trader visa SMS, email or SMS of market changes and events on the account. This assistant can also take automatic actions.
- Correlation Matrix
Helps a trader identify the symbols with strong or weak correlation. This occurs on different time-scales to enable superior decision making.
- Correlation Trader
Highlights the correlation over a configurable time-frame between two symbols. This allows trading on the emerging differences).
- Trade Terminal
Trade execution tool with in-depth features to analyse the markets. This tool consists of a market watch, account summary or order list.
- Market Manager
This tool provides a ‘watch list’ and allows opening and closing of positions, provides headline information such as equity, lists tickets and positions and provides a summary of price activity.
- Sentiment Trader
Illustrates the sentiment based on current positions whether long or short when it comes to open position. These are calculated based on real-money accounts.
- Session Map
Provides forex traders with a market overview via a map using local time. It also provides markers for future news events and price activity during each session.
- Smart Lines
This tool uses line objects as the stop-loss or take-profit for positions. Features include a trend-line stop-loss, multiple partial stops and time-based stops.
- Stealth Orders
This tool hides a forex traders entry and exit levels from the market. This feature buys or sells at the current market price when the price level is reached.
- Tick Chart Trader
This shows tick charts in a variety of styles. It allows forex traders faster trades using a mouse or keyboard.
Additional Forex Platform Bonus – Execution Speeds
The three forex trading platforms above use Equinix servers (the LD5 server in London for the cTrader platform and NY4 in New York for MetaTrader) maximising the execution speeds of the three trading platforms shown above. They also have a direct access inter-bank price feeds from more than 50 banks and institutional liquidity providers minimising slippage when forex trading.
Summary Of Why IC Markets Has The Best Forex Trading Platform
IC Markets forex platform is the leader of the Australian forex brokers based on three factors:
- Choice of MT4 or cTrader (the two most popular platforms)
- Over 10 advanced features to boost these platforms
- Fast servers and infrastructure to minimise latency times
Strength 3 – IC Markets Offers The Highest Leverage
Of the most credible Australian forex brokers, IC Markets offered the equal highest leverage level of 500:1. This may vary across the 65 currency pairs offered by the Australian forex broker.
As the graph above highlights, only a handful of Australian forex brokers offer 500:1 for forex trading and of these brokers. Some put restrictions on what forex traders can access this level. These can also be adjusted based on market conditions or your trading experience.
So What Is Leverage?
Leverage is effectively the amount a forex broker allows a trader to borrow when trading currency. It’s a multiple of the deposit so for the maximum of 500:1 leverage this means you can trade up to 500 times the initial capital. For example, a $200 deposit can lead to $100,000 worth of currency to be traded on currency markets.
Forex Trading Leverage Example
- A trader has a $100 deposit and selects leverage of 100:1 for the AUD/USD pairing.
- The markets move in the trader’s favour by 0.4% and the position is closed
- The trader will make $100 * 100 * 0.004
- The total profit is $400 (or 40%)
Why Is High Leverage Important?
Currency markets normally have relatively small movements each day compared to other financial products. If you used a conventional forex exchange service (eg purchasing USD currency) the returns would be normally very modest. To amplify these movements leverage is required which can make it easy to make a profit (or loss) from small movements.
High leverage is particularly suited for forex traders who have a high-risk tolerance, use scalping software (eg expert advisors) or trade currency pairings with low volatility (or during a low volatility period). The high risk of losing funds means that lower leverage may be more suited to certain traders.
Summary Of IC Markets Leverage
IC Markets has the highest leverage of the mainstream Australian forex brokers. The level of 500:1 can be reduced if your risk appetite is lower based on a request. Overall though, having the option to maximise leverage can be critical for some traders strategy.
Weakness 1 – IC Has Minimal Risk Management Tools
IC Markets provides the highest leverage of 500:1 increasing exposure to the market. This is ideal for forex traders with a high-risk appetite or those using third-party tools such as expert advisors. Traders though with a lower risk appetite or those new to trading may require risk management tools that are limited with the CFD broker.
1) Guaranteed Stops
A guaranteed stop such as offered by Plus500 is when you can pre-set the maximum amount your willing to lose on an individual trade. Regardless of market conditions, this predetermined amount is set. This different from icmarkets.com stop-loss order facility, which allows a trader to set the maximum loss but in high volatility environments losses may exceed this amount.
2) Negative Balance Protection
IC has an advanced margin call facility that detects when a trader is approaching a $0 balance and exits the trader automatically. The key issue is that in extreme market events such as the floating of the Swiss Franc this software may not have the ability to exit the market fast. This can lead to losses exceeding deposits and the Australian forex broker may request for the outstanding debt to be paid.
Overall, IC is an ECN broker which means faster exeuciton speeds and lower spreads but market maker broker features that interfere with trading can’t be offered. You can view our comparison with easyMarkets to compare an ECN broker vs market maker broker.
Weakness 2 – IC Has Limited Research
IC offers some research support when forex trading including:
- Their blog offering fundamental and technical analysis
- Content from 3rd parties including trading central
- An economic calendar
- Myfxbook news headlines
- ZuluTrader social copy trading
- FX Blue LLP Advanced Trading Tools
Outside of these features our IC Markets review found the forex broker doesn’t offer advanced research features such as new headlines and pattern-recognition tools.
Weakness 3 – IC Has No Joining Bonus
IC don’t offer gimmicks like joining bonuses. They instead focus on the core fundamentals of having the lowest spreads, low commissions, no deposit or withdrawal fees and fast execution speeds. If you’re looking for a short-term based on a joining fee then you should look for another CFD broker.
Conclusion Of This Review Of IC Markets
IC Markets is one of the larger Australian forex broker firms thanks to their strong offering in several areas including their spreads, commissions, forex trading platform, leverage and trading tools which led to the following recommendations:
Beginner Forex Trader
Those new to currency trading should consider the standard account but with a lack of management features, this may not be the best forex broker for them. A recommended forex broker may be EasyMarkets which offers features including dealCancellation, guaranteed stops and negative balance protection.
Experienced Forex Traders
Advanced traders with a risk appetite that matches the 500:1 leverage of IC Markets should consider the Raw forex broker account. This account offers raw (ecn style spreads), leverage of just $3.50 per lot and the MT4 forex trading platform. With many advanced MT4 trading tools this is the strongest niche for the online broker.
Forex Trader Scalpers
Those looking to use scalping strategies on currency markets should consider the cTrader account. With $3.00 per USD $100k traded commission combined with ECN broker equivalent spreads, the use of cTrader and fast execution speeds through Equinix LD5 facility, this forex broker has tools required for scalping using C# programming language.
IC Markets is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). There Australian Financial Services Number (AFSL) is 335692. To avoid SCAM brokers it’s recommended to use a top regulator from ASIC, FCA to FSCA. They have a large list of clients both retail and institutional that can guarantee the company’s credentials. They have a sound financial background and are committed to protecting investor, consumer and creditor interests.
Why Is Australian Regulation Important?
Australia boasts some of the strictest and most robust financial regulations in the world. The laws that govern the finance industry dictate the state of play to any company offering financial products, services or advice to consumers. In order to promote integrity, encourage business and keep the market ticking along nicely, financial services companies, including Forex & CFDs brokers, are heavily regulated. This ensures your deposits are 100% safe as they’re held in segregated bank accounts.
Customer Support Levels
IC offers local customer support from their Sydney office located at Level 6 309 Kent Street Sydney, NSW 2000. CFD traders can reach them through different channels like email, Skype or by phone. Their Sydney response time is within 15 minutes based on our enquiries with most complex issues solved within a day. Customer service is open 24 hours, 5 days a week. Live chat is also available through the CFD provider. The company is also dedicated to their educational centre (video journals and articles) which is great for those who have no previous knowledge in trading. Pepperstone is one of the only fx brokers that has won more awards for customer support than IC.
What Is The Minimum Deposit Of IC Markets?
The minimum deposit is USD $200 with micro lots supported through there forex platform which is 1,000 units of the base currency. When you start trading Contract For Differences the minimum is one trading CFDs contract.
Trading account funding includes a credit card or debit card, Neteller and wire transfer (bank wire), bPay and WebMoney. Other methods as shown below include PayPal, Skrill, POLI, China UnionPay, Fasapay and broker to broker transfers. Currencies accepted by IC include the AUD, NZD, SGD, USD, EUR and GBP for deposits and withdrawals.
Base currencies available include AUD, GBP, USD, CAD, JPY, SGD, NZD, HKD, CHF and EUR.
Other Trading Services
There are a number of CFD trading services with no dealing desk available including:
Gain exposure to the 17 of the larges indices around the world with 200:1 leverage. This can be traded on all three trader platforms with no commissions charged.
Trade with 500:1 leverage across agriculture, metals and energy predicting the USD against these commodities. 19 mainstream commodities can be traded on both spot and futures CFDs trading.
There are over 120 stocks that can be traded as a CFD. This is only available through the MetaTrader 5 forex platform. These shares are across the NYSE, Nasdaq and the Australian Stock Exchange.
Six core bonds can be speculated on including the UK, Japan, USA and Europe. There is 200:1 leverage available with no commissions charged.
Trades can predict if cryptocurrency from Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin to Ripple goes up or down with a 20:1 leverage. Social trading can also be integrated including ZuluTrade and MyFXbook.
With up to 200:1 leverage, 4 Global Futures available can be traded with no commissions. This includes both the ICE Dollar Index and the CBOE VIX Index. You must have the MT4 platform to trade futures with the CFD broker.