CMC Markets has nearly 30 years of experience in the forex and CFD business. The company has a comprehensive product line including forex pairs and commodity, index, and single stock CFDs. The company is regulated in the UK by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and is publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange. Spreads and trading costs are better than average, and the trading platform and research tools are good; however, traders familiar with platforms like MetaTrader and automated "expert advisors" will find those missing with CMC Markets. Fee-based, guaranteed stop loss orders and binary options are somewhat unique in the industry and may be an advantage to many traders.
CMC Markets has below average spreads for the largest forex pairs, indexes, and Commodity CFDs. There is a spread and minimum commission for single-stocks but no maximum commission which can get expensive for large traders. The spreads aren't fixed and will vary with market liquidity. Investors can use guaranteed stop loss orders, for a fee, that will protect them from market volatility; but only a portion of that fee will be refunded if the trade closes at a price other than the stop loss (or the stop is cancelled). There are no charges for normal withdrawals and an inactivity fee only kicks in after an account has been idle for two years.
CMC Markets' trust scores suffered slightly in our ratings because of the lack of account protection above and beyond what's required by UK regulators. Also, traders cannot use custodian banks to hold their capital and it is possible to lose more than you have deposited unless you pay a fee for guaranteed stop loss protection.
Account funds are held by CMC Markets in the UK which is subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority. The amount of protection for each account in the event of default is limited. The funds are held in segregated accounts with UK banks including Barclays, Lloyds, and HSBC, or outside the UK in banks like Deutsche Bank, and Ulster Bank.
We rated CMC Markets low for special features because the broker does not offer any backtesting, auto trading, or shadow trading functionality. However, it is worth noting that CMC Markets still offers an impressive array of other types of trading tools, mostly accessed through its proprietary trading platform, that are worth a second look. Tools-based education, including YouTube videos, are better than average and organized well. Some unique features include the ability to not only view what other clients are trading (in the aggregate) but also what CMC Markets' "top clients" are trading. We especially liked the ability to share and view chart analysis between CMC Markets' account holders. Fairly standard pattern recognition and advanced charting tools are also available. CMC Markets offers two variations of binary options as well which may be interesting to some investors, but the spread was very expensive.
CMC Markets' analysis tools are focused on allowing traders to find new opportunities and streamline their analysis. The trading platform does not include the ability to preprogram trading strategies, backtest, or install "expert advisors," but the tools they do have should still allow traders. The features we highlighted won't require programming skill, but the learning curve could be steep for new traders. Fortunately, CMC has good education and videos to help investors leverage the platform.
CMC Markets' "Next Generation" trading platform is browser-based and supports complex order types and account analytics. The platform includes customizable charts, advanced studies, templates, customizable display styles. Clients can trade directly from the charts, and research and analysis tools, including screeners, market calendar, and social charting, are integrated into the platform. The trading platform rating was hit slightly by the fact that there isn't an MT4 alternative or trade analytics functionality.
The navigation was unique but easy to use with familiar menus. Traders can enter complex order types including buy, sell, and trailing stops from watchlist-style menus or directly from the chart. Position sizes are customizable, and defaults were easy to set. The charts were easy to use and included advanced functionality and indicators. Integrated research, screeners, social charting, news and calendars were one of the best benefits of the platform.
There is no autotrading, "Expert Advisors," or backtesting functionality. The platform is easy to use but it is Adobe Flash based, which may cause technical issues for some users as many modern browsers and operating systems no longer install Flash by default. Because the platform is Flash, there are no right-click menus, which can also throw some users off.
The CFD Trading mobile app includes most of the functionality available in the desktop application. Traders can access CMC Markets' trading instruments, complex order types and account details, screeners, and charting from the Android or iPhone apps. The app has a customizable layout so that a client's default opening screen can be focused on the information they want to see first. The iPhone app includes fingerprint security, but the Android version does not.
The mobile app includes all the functionality to analyze and research trading opportunities. Clients can use advanced order types and track their accounts the same way they would in the desktop app. The filtering and searching tools will help investors navigate to the products they are interested in without getting lost in the smaller screen format. A customizable home screen is also helpful for traders who use their mobile app for specific purposes.
Although the app includes fingerprint security in the iPhone version, there is otherwise no added security beyond the login password. We would like to see the app include customizable, automatic sign-out and verification of login from another device. Although the app was full-featured, the text and design was very dense and could be difficult for some clients to navigate on smaller mobile screens.
CMC Markets' customer support is available whenever the markets are open via phone, chat, and email. During our tests, we found that support was relatively quick to respond and we didn't have to wait more than 1 or 2 minutes for a chat request and phone calls to be answered. If you prefer chat-based support, the feature is most easily accessible from the desktop trading application.
We found CMC Markets' representatives to be courteous and knowledgeable. The chat function in the trading platform was very easy to use and helpful, and phone support was very fast to pick up a call. The support website also has a good knowledge base and searchable archive that should answer most questions about the trading platforms and order types. Some of the material was a little old, but for the most part self-help support was easy to find and use.
CMC Markets scored very well in the research category. The platform includes real-time news feeds, calendars, and advanced data analytics. A feed of CMC Markets' own internal analysis throughout the day included links to commentary, analysis, trading ideas and webinars. The addition of Morningstar's stock reports is a unique offering for live accounts. The amount and quality of the research resources are above average.
CMC Markets provides a very wide range of analytics, research and tools. We liked the client sentiment tool and pattern screeners. The economic calendar was easy to use, integrated into the trading platform, and included expectations, actual results, currencies affected, and historical data. Research from CMC Markets' analysts was good and will help investors understand the market and the proprietary trading platform.
The Commitment of Traders report was missing from CMC Markets' research tools. While we liked the fact that many of the research tools were available on the mobile app, the text may be too small and dense for some users.
CMC Markets' education was well organized and comprehensive. The ongoing webinars and commentary used the trading platform, which will help investors to become more proficient with its use. Many of the educational videos were available on YouTube, which will be convenient for mobile use and accessibility. Short courses on CFDs, Forex, stocks, spread-betting, and stocks were good, and covered the basics. Our biggest complaint was the minimal amount of education available for more advanced traders.
The education offered by CMC Markets was good and easy to navigate. Many of the videos can be accessed on YouTube or directly on CMC Markets' website. The education is mostly focused on introductory content to get a trader familiar with the trading platform and the core concepts of trading forex, CFDs, stocks, and spread betting. There wasn't a great deal of advanced education, however, the ongoing webinars and market commentary can partially fill that gap.