As two of the largest ECN brokers both IC Markets and IG Markets offer low spreads from 0.0 pips, customer support and leading platforms but IC Markets offer higher leverage of 500:1 compared to IG only offering 200:1 while IC markets offer 28 fewer currency pairs at 63 vs 91 for IG.
When comparing the spreads of the brokers, it is important to understand the reason each account has different spreads. We will look at each account one by one the fundamentals between each account.
|IG Markets (Standard)||0.75||0.76||0.76||1.117|
|IC Markets (Standard)||1.1||1.2||1.2||1.4|
|IG Markets (Forex Direct)||0.263||0.292||0.512||0.992|
|IC Markets (True ECN)||0.1||0.2||0.2||0.4|
This account offers the narrowest spreads. The reason for this is because it is the only account that uses ECN style execution technology. Electronic Data Communication (ECN) allows you to execute your orders directly electronically without the need for third-party involvement. Removing the ‘middleman’ between yourself (the trader) and brokerages means you are dealing directly with competitive liquidity providers. No middleman means you can achieve narrow spreads.
As the spreads you access are ‘true’ brokers will charge a commission for each trader you execute. IC Markets a charge $7.00 (round trip) commission for every 100,000 units (standard lot) you trade. Use of commissions means the higher volume of trades means better profits for the broker. With this in mind, brokers have little motivation for the broker to manipulate spreads. While the account isn’t a true ECN, the spreads are equivalent of such an environment.
You will notice the spreads of the on this account is 1 pip wider than the Raw Spread account. This is because the broker has widened the spread. This 1 pip in the spread replaces the commission you see in the Raw Spread account. We recommend selecting the IC Markets Raw Spreads account over the Standard account. The reason is that the narrower spreads of ‘True’ account have lower costs despite the commission expenses.
The Forex Direct account uses Direct Market Access (DMA) execution technology. This is similar to ECN but the broker has individual contracts with each liquidity provider in liquidity pool. This is different to ECN where the brokers have no contracts as you are connected to anonymous ECN networks.
This account is not readily available as an option for most traders. To be eligible for this account you must qualify as a ‘Professional’ trader. This means having at least $2.5 million in net assets and AUD$250,000 gross income. We suggest you look at other accounts unless you have reason to believe you qualify for this account.
With this account, IG Markets operate as a market maker. This means when you execute a trade, you are dealing directly with IG Markets. When you open your position, IG Markets will act as the seller. When you sell, IG Markets will act as the buyer. In short, IG Markets take the other side of all your trades. This means only one of you can have a winning position.
Despite taking the opposite side of your trade, IG Markets use data sources from liquidity providers to keep prices ‘real’. While the spreads are wider than the Raw Spread account, there is no commission charge. This means IG Markets Standard account is competitive with IC Markets Raw Spread account.
We recommend IC Markets ‘Raw Spread’ account. The ECN style account can consistently offer the narrowest spreads as prices are set by the market. While the IG Standard account is competitive, we can’t be sure prices will also match ECN prices.
When trading, we always prefer brokers that offer higher leverage limits. Leverage means you don’t need high levels of your own capital to achieve large returns on your fx trading. While we always recommend being aware of the risks when trading with leverage, often you need leverage to achieve significant returns. This is because currency movements most of the time are only incremental. It is only in extreme events such as a political crisis that current movements can be drastic.
IG Markets only offer leverage of 200:1 and this is far lower than 500:1 that IC Markets offer. It is for this reason we recommend IC Markets when it comes to leverage.
Some of the fastest execution speed in the forex online broker industry is available with IC Markets. IC Markets place their fibre optic cable technology at Equinox data centres near major forex trading centres. This placement means they can achieve order execution completion of under 40ms. Fast execution is imperative for IC Markets as they only offer the basic risk management tools all forex brokers offer. Without the fast execution speed and low latency that IC Markets achieve your trades could be at risk of ‘slippage’ which can impact your ability to trade confidently.
The infrastructure behind IG Markets trading infrastructure is not spoken about on their website. However, IG Markets do provide statistics in relation to their slippage performance which is a good indication of their trading speeds.
Looks at the table what needs to be understood is that the ‘stop’ slippage should be low (i.e. closer to 100%) and the ‘limit’ slippage should be higher (i.e. close to %0). IG Markets use algorithms that use ‘asymmetric’ logic when executing trades which helps them achieve ideal execution levels.
IG Markets also publish their rejection levels. Rapid price changes and varying levels of liquidity can determine if you trade will be successful. Remember that IG Markets are a market maker which means they only hold so much liquidity of each currency at one time. This may mean if you are trading high volumes of a currency pair, IG Markets may not have necessary volumes of liquidity to execute your trade.
IG Markets allow you to mage rejection risks through the following
While the above are all tools IG Markets when it comes to execution speed, IG Markets also have some risk management tools that IC Markets do not offer. The main tools are guaranteed stop-loss order. This tool allows you to set your sell price for a small fee and IG Market can guarantee this price when you go short.
The other feature IG Markets off is a ‘limit risk account. This is a setting on your account that when enabled, will require you to purchase a guaranteed stop-loss order for every trade you do.
It is worth noting that neither broker offer guaranteed negative balance protection. Instead, both brokers offer a margin call system or minimum balance protection. This system is a series of warnings that your account funds are below specified margin limits. The idea of the notifications is to give you an opportunity to add more funds to your account or sell some of your positions.
It is important to understand why each broker have such different approaches when it comes to speed and execution. Speed is very important to IC Markets because they offer an environment similar to an ECN broker. Foreign exchange prices are constantly changing and any lags during trade execution may mean the price you buy or sell might not match the advertised price. This can result in slippage.
IG Markets, on the other hand, is more about managing risk. While IG Markets do provide fast execution speeds
The following trading platforms are available with IC Markets. MetaTrader 4 (MT4), MetaTrader 5 (MT5) and cTrader. IG Markets also offer MT4 (along with their own platforms).
This trading software or platform has long been the most popular trading platform for both traders and brokers. Continual upgrades mean the platform become one of the most ‘complete’ trading platforms available making it popular with fx brokers. MT4 makes trading easy for those new to trading but also offers sophisticated features for traders requiring more in-depth information. While it is true many other products nowadays offer similar features, MT4 continues to be the best as they consistently offer new features.
Key features of note on MT4 include charts and indicators, expert advisers (i.e. trading automation) and ability to customise your trading screens.
This platform is an upgrade on MetaTrader 4. While it is true MetaTrader 4 continues to be far more popular than MetaTrader 5, slowly but surely MetaTrader 5 is catching up. MetaTrader 5 uptake has been slow because when MetaTrader was released in 2010, it was built to be compliant with USA trading regulations. USA trade regulation doesn’t allow hedging or F.I.F.O style trading. MetaQuest made the mistaken assumption that the rest of the world would follow the USA with these regulatory requirements. This error has since been rectified and MetaTrader 5 now allow netting (F.I.F.O) and hedging systems meaning the meets USA and international regulatory requirements. So although MT4 remains the chosen platform, there is now little reason to choose MT4 over MT5.
MetaTrader 5 is an improvement over MT4 as it allows better trading through central exchanges. This makes the platform a better choice as now better built to allow for trading of all types of asset classes including shares, commodities and indices. Other benefits include faster processing (which can help reduce slippage) as it is a 64-bit multi-threaded platform which can handle up to 4GB (an upgrade on MT4 which uses 32-but, mono threading with 2GB limit, more charts and indicators). Lastly, MT5 is better built for backtesting as it is using MQL5 which should assist with easier creation of expert advisors.
|MetaTrader 4||MetaTrader 5|
|Programming Language (for expert advisors)||MQL4||MQL5|
|Number of orders executable||3||4|
|Number of pending orders available||4||6|
|Number of indicators||30||38|
|Number of Analytical tools||33||68|
|Hedging||Yes||Yes (since 2016)|
|Threading||32bit / 2GB||64 Bit / 4Gb|
|Speed / Stability||Fast / Stable||Faster / More Stable|
|CFD Trading||Decentralised||All (Decentralised and trading exchanges)|
If you use MetaTrader with IC Markets you will also get access to their MT4 Advanced Trader tools. This is a series of 20 additional trade execution and management tools that will make your trading experience even better.
This platform is another very popular readily accessible free platform available for traders, choosing cTrader over MetaTrader is simply as case of personal preference. All platforms offer many of the same key features however some many prefer the cTrader interface. Some of the main features of cTrader are Level II pricing, Detachable charts, dedicated platform for trading automation and 26 Time-frames. Do be aware however that cTrader is only for forex trading, not CFD or cryptocurrency trading.
There are different trading tools available with IG Markets. It is important to understand each platform serves a different purpose and therefore will serve the needs of different traders.
The first table shows with ‘Web-based’, ‘mobile app’ and ‘Tablet apps’ are IG markets proprietary platform. This platform is IG award-winning platforms and contains all the standard tools traders will want access too. It is worth noting that the Tablet is only built for iPad and that you can only trade directly from charts if using the web platform.
Below are some of the custom platforms that IG Markets offer.
IG Markets give you an extensive range of platform choices to choose from. We however, don’t find these platforms interesting enough to choose over the MetaTrader options available with IC Markets. If you choose MetaTrader with IC Markets you can access the platform on your phone, tablet or the web. MetaTrader 4 is a great option as many brokers offer this platform however we are recommending MetaTrader 5. While not as many brokers offer this as MetaTrader 4, it is still relatively common and offer all the MT4 features and more.
This broker offers a solid collection of different asset classes for trade. While IG Markets offers a far more extensive range of trading options, IC Markets off most of the standard CFDs most people will look to trade with.
These CFDs include 17 different indices, 19 different commodities plus spot and futures CFDs, 120+ stocks from the ASX, Nasdaq and NYSE (provided you are using MT5). 6 different Bonds, 4 Global futures and 10 of the most popular cyptocurrencies.
IC Markets do not charge commission when trading bonds and indices. Leverage is available and this is between 1:200 and 1:500.
If your looking for a broker that offers an all-in-one CFDs trading portfolio then IG Markets might be the right broker for you. IG Markets range of derivatives covers just about any assets you might want to consider for trading. Trading options include over 8,500 shares from the Australian and international stock markets, over 31 global indices, 26 different commodities and all the major Cryptocurrencies.
IG Markets also offer other assets not commonly on offer with other brokers, these include options, interest rates, bonds, exchange-traded products (ETP), exchange-traded funds (ETF) and initial public offerings (IPOs).
If purchasing shares then IG allows you to purchase shares with lower commissions for the first weeks of trading while you build your confidence. After this period it is 0.08% commission per side with a minimum charge of $7.
IG Markets offer great portfolio derivatives that cover all the CFDs you may wish to consider for investment.
IC Markets do not have any sign on or deposit bonus. Nor do they have a refer a friend program. This could be looked at favourably in some aspects. IC Markets focuses on offering the lowest spreads through their ECN broker. This means they are operating on very low commission margins. If they had a sign-on bonus, this could be passed onto consumers through other costs.
IG Markets (who are a market maker, not ECN broker) on the other hand have a refer a friend program. With this program, IG will give you up to US$1000 in credit and your friend US$100 for each friend you introduce to IG Markets. The program does have certain conditions whereby the friend must meet minimum deposit and trade requirements.
Given IC Markets don’t have a bonus program then consider IG Markets as an option if you desire a bonus.
You can contact the IC Markets support team 24/7 through live chat, email or call back. They also provide FAQ in their help centre where you can find possible answers to your questions.
IC Markets offer an extensive range of educational resources that will provide you with all of the trading information you may need. This includes information on the advantages of Forex and CFD trading, video tutorials on how to use MetaTrader 4 and Web TV which is recorded daily from the New York Stock Exchange discussing trade ideas in short video format. They also have a devoted web-page which provides an educational overview. When you choose this page you are taken to a page they call an ‘Information Hub for the Serious Trader”. This site includes information on different types of analysis and trading data and a range of other topics such as risk management. You can also find links to all the past webinar they have hosted about different trading topics here.
You can reach out to IG Markets for support via Email, Live chat, phone and twitter. The customer support is available 7 days a week however the hours are more limited on Saturdays.
The broker has a decent collection of tools that can assist you when trading for any issues or information you may need. These include glossaries, forums, users guides and FAQ. the most notable feature their ‘IG Academy”. This education series is made of 9 different trading courses covering forex and CFD trading. Here you will find booklets, webinars and mobile apps as different means to relay trade information.
While both brokers provide good customer support and service we like IG markets range of education tools as they are more comprehensive.
IC Markets have no fees when it comes to making a deposit or making a withdrawal. The range of methods you can use for funding is quite broad.
IG Markets on the hand have charges for various funding methods. You will find they have a 1% fee when using Visa and 0.5% when using MasterCard. PayPal also has a 1% fee. All these methods have a minimum of $500 when making a deposit. BPAY and Bank Transfer are free and have no minimum deposit.
IC Markets not only offer more funding options when we compare with IG Markets but don’t have fees.