IC Markets caters exceptionally-well to algorithmic traders through its commission-based accounts. That said, the range of markets, and research materials offered by IC Markets are not as impressive.
- Low forex fees
- Easy and fast account opening
- Free deposit and withdrawal
- Limited product selection
- Slow live chat support
- No investor protection for non-EU clients
Top Takeaways for 2021
Here are our top findings on IC Markets:
- The IC Markets brand maintains regulatory status in one tier-1 jurisdiction and one tier-2 jurisdiction, making it a safe broker (average-risk) for forex and CFDs trading.
- Third-party research and trading tool plugins are part of the IC Markets MetaTrader platforms offering, making it our number one MetaTrader broker in 2021. However, IC Markets trails the best forex brokers when it comes to its scope of market research spanning technical and fundamental analysis, including forex news.
- IC Markets excels for its low-costs and scalable execution that fits perfectly for traders running algorithmic strategies (Expert Advisors) on the MetaTrader and cTrader platform suite.
Is IC Markets Safe?
IC Markets is considered average-risk. IC Markets is not publicly traded and does not operate a bank. IC Markets is authorised by one tier-1 regulator (high trust), one tier-2 regulator (average trust), and one tier-3 regulator (low trust). IC Markets is authorised by the following tier-1 regulators: Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC).
Offering of Investments
IC Markets offers a total of 291 tradeable instruments across its Australian, Cyprus, and Seychelles-based entities. The following table summarizes the different investment products available to IC Markets clients.
Cryptocurrency: Cryptocurrency trading is available through CFDs, but not available through trading the underlying asset (e.g. buying Bitcoin). Note: Crypto CFDs are not available from any broker’s UK entity, nor to UK residents.
|Forex Pairs (Total)||61|
|Social Trading / Copy-Trading||Yes|
Commissions and Fees
Overall, given the low deposit requirement for both commission-based accounts, and the small effective spreads, IC Markets keeps up with the best forex brokers for low trading costs, including Saxo Bank, IG, and CMC Markets.
Account types: IC Markets offers three account types in which trading costs vary. There is the commission-free (spread only) Standard account and two commission-based pricing (spread + commission) on the Raw Spread and cTrader accounts.
cTrader versus Raw Spread account: The cTrader account has about a tenth of a pip lower commission than the Raw Spread account, making both accounts similar. The main difference is the platform that can be accessed. For example, the Raw Spread account, which uses MT4 or MT5, charges $3.5 per side for every 100k units (1 standard lot) or $7.00 per round turn (RT). In contrast, on cTrader, it is $3.0 per side or $6.00 per standard RT.
Effective spreads: IC Markets lists its average spread on the EUR/USD at 0.1 pips. After adding the commission equivalent of 0.6 pips on the cTrader account, the all-in costs would be 0.7 pips (or 0.8 on MetaTrader in the Raw Spread account), which is competitive.
Active traders: IC Markets also offers further discounts to traders that trade over 100 standard lots per month, akin to an active trader offering. Meanwhile, the commission-free standard account, with average spreads of 1.1 pips on the EUR/USD, is a less attractive option compared to the other two commission-based account types.
Agency execution: IC Markets provides execution on an agency basis, which means orders may be subject to positive or negative slippage as there are no requotes or instant execution.
|Minimum Initial Deposit||$200|
|Average Spread EUR/USD – Standard||0.8 (July 2020)|
|All-in Cost EUR/USD – Active||0.7 (July 2020)|
|Active Trader or VIP Discounts||Yes|
Platforms and Tools
IC Markets caters exceptionally-well to algorithmic traders thanks to its execution methods (i.e., no requotes) and by allowing orders to be placed within the spread. Both the MetaTrader and cTrader platform suites are available, and copy-trading platforms help round out its offering. Overall, IC Markets is a top contender in our best MetaTrader brokers category this year.
MetaTrader suite: IC Markets offers MT4 and MT5 for web and desktop. The desktop versions feature the Advanced Trading Tools package offered as an available add-on, along with plugins from AutoChartist and Trading Central. While these plugins must be installed separately, they are worth the effort to enhance the default MetaTrader experience.
cTrader suite: The IC Markets cTrader platform offering includes both the web-based and desktop versions. The cTrader suite includes several trading applications such as cAlgo – used for automated trading – and cTrader Copy for social copy trading. Note: cTrader is not available through the broker’s European brand, IC Markets EU.
MetaTrader Tools: IC Markets provides the Advanced Trading Tools add-on developed by FX Blue LLP, as well as installable plugins from Trading Central and AutoChartist.
VPS services: For traders that do at least 15 standard lots, the broker offers several third-party Virtual Private Servers (VPS) services to host client algorithms.
Social copy trading: In addition to cTrader Copy and the native Signals market from MetaTrader, IC Markets also offers Myfxbook and the ZuluTrade platforms for copy trading across all its global brands.
|Virtual Trading (Demo)||Yes|
|Desktop Platform (Windows)||Yes|
|Social Trading / Copy-Trading||Yes|
|MetaTrader 4 (MT4)||Yes|
|MetaTrader 5 (MT5)||Yes|
|Charting – Indicators / Studies (Total)||51|
|Charting – Drawing Tools (Total)||31|
|Charting – Trade From Chart||Yes|
|Watchlists – Total Fields||7|
|Order Type – Trailing Stop||Yes|
Despite thorough social copy-trading resources and a selection of platform add-ons, research is not IC Markets’ strongest point. Overall, I found there to be a gap between the range of research and related resources available at IC Markets when compared to industry leaders such as IG and Saxo Bank.
Market Analysis: IC Markets combines in-house technical and fundamental analysis content on its blog with daily updates in its market analysis section. The content is just “ok.” The main drawback is that IC Markets lacks video content and quality news headlines in its platforms.
|Daily Market Commentary||Yes|
|Forex News (Top-Tier Sources)||Yes|
|Trading Central (Recognia)||Yes|
|Social Sentiment – Currency Pairs||Yes|
IC Markets has a basic range of content for beginners. For example, under its 101 series, materials range from topics such as trading psychology to technical analysis, and there are nearly a dozen or more articles in each category.
To enhance its educational offering, IC Markets should consider expanding its educational content to include more intermediate and advanced concepts, alongside offering more video material.
|Has Education – Forex||Yes|
|Has Education – CFDs||No|
|Client Webinars (Archived)||Yes|
|Videos – Beginner Trading Videos||No|
|Videos – Advanced Trading Videos||No|
|Investor Dictionary (Glossary)||Yes|
|Tutorials/Guide (PDF or Interactive)||No|
IC Markets provides the mobile version of the three platforms it offers, including MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5, and cTrader, all of which come standard for iOS and Android. The lineup is good; however, it should be noted that the leaders in mobile (e.g., Saxo Bank, CMC Markets, TD Ameritrade) all offer proprietary trading apps.
Tools comparison: When it comes to mobile, both the MetaTrader and cTrader suite have similar functionality and charting. The platform you choose will likely depend on whether you trade manually or use automated trading systems on the respective desktop version.
Algorithmic trading: That said, automated trading is not possible in the mobile versions of cTrader and MetaTrader platforms. That means both are only an option to manage existing positions or manually open new trades. Finally, copy-trading is available on mobile on the related supported platforms, including the ZuluTrade mobile app.
|Apple iOS App||Yes|
|Alerts – Basic Fields||Yes|
|Watch List Syncing||No|
|Charting – Indicators / Studies||30|
|Charting – Draw Trendlines||Yes|
|Charting – Trendlines Moveable||No|
|Charting – Multiple Time Frames||Yes|
|Charting – Drawings Autosave||No|
IC Markets appeals primarily to algorithmic traders that use the MT4, MT5, or cTrader platforms, and who need agency execution coupled with competitive spreads and low commissions. Catering to high-frequency traders helps IC Markets achieve significantly higher trading volumes relative to its peers, as automated trading strategies can typically do higher turnover than manual traders.
Although research and education are not IC Markets’ strong point, the broker has room to build on its existing foundation. Offering social trading on Myfxbook and ZuluTrade helps round out its offering to retail forex and CFD traders.
The Standard account would not be my choice as spreads are inherently wider compared to the Raw Spread account for MT4 or the cTrader account. Bottom line, I do not recommend IC Markets unless you are an algorithmic trader.
About IC Markets
With servers in New York (Equinix NY4) and London (Equinix LD5), IC Markets has positioned itself as an agency broker that caters to scalpers and high-frequency algorithmic traders who require low-latency and fast execution. Founded in 2007, IC Markets executes over 500,000 trades per day, of which 60% are algorithmically-driven, totaling more than $15 billion in daily volume. IC Markets has 117 staff, as per its Wikipedia page.
Forex Risk Disclaimer
“There is a very high degree of risk involved in trading securities. With respect to margin-based foreign exchange trading, off-exchange derivatives, and cryptocurrencies, there is considerable exposure to risk, including but not limited to, leverage, creditworthiness, limited regulatory protection and market volatility that may substantially affect the price, or liquidity of a currency or related instrument. It should not be assumed that the methods, techniques, or indicators presented in these products will be profitable, or that they will not result in losses.” Learn more.
So, what do you think about the layout of the forex broker? Does IC Markets have the instruments that you want to trade?
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