By John A. Jagerson | January 2, 2018
IG provides direct access to an industry-leading breadth of financial markets - from Forex and CFDs to commodities and cryptocurrencies - and account types with relatively low spreads and commissions. While IG scored highly, Forex trading can be quite risky. 79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
IG has been in the Forex and CFD business for 40 years. The company offers access to a comprehensive product line including forex, stock indices, individual equities, stock sectors, commodities, cryptocurrencies, bonds, and interest rates on a variety of professional-grade web-based and mobile trading platforms. IG is the largest CFD dealer (based on trading revenue) with the largest number of active financial spread betting accounts in the UK. Its size allows it to offer some of the lowest spreads and commissions in the industry. IG Group is an FTSE 250 Company with a 2.1 GBP billion market capitalization and more than 185,000 clients worldwide.
IG provides access to a wide variety of financial markets - including forex, stock indices, individual equities, stock sectors, commodities, cryptocurrencies, bonds and interest rates - via spread betting, CFDs, shares and more. IG provides some of the lowest spreads in the industry, especially for Forex traders who are trading larger monthly volumes through IG's Forex Direct [Direct Market Access (DMA)] platform - which offers narrower spreads plus a commission. There is a spread and minimum commission for single stocks but no maximum commission. This can get expensive if you trade a lot of single stocks. There are no charges for normal withdrawals or terminating an account. Inactivity fees only kick in after an account has been idle for two years.
If there's one area where IG suffered slightly in our ratings it was with trust. It's worth noting, however, that most of the reason for this was the company's lack of compensation above and beyond what's required by regulators in the event of a default by IG. However, while IG does not provide additional deposit insurance, it does take steps to ensure client funds are not comingled with corporate funds - ensuring that client money and assets are protected in the unlikely event that IG becomes insolvent - by holding those funds in segregated accounts at regulated banks. The Gambling Commission classifies the way IG holds client money as "high protection".
IG is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and follows the strict regulatory requirements, known as the client money and client assets rules (found in the Client Assets Sourcebook - CASS) outlined by the FCA. Its Digital 100s (binary options) business is also regulated by the Gambling Commission in Great Britain.
IG gives you the flexibility to automate your trading and bypass IG and go directly to the market makers and even use your own, or a third party, trading platform. We are impressed with the number of trading platforms and tools that are available to individual and institutional traders (asset managers and introducing brokers) alike. In fact, their only negative mark was because they require a minimum account balance of GBP 5,000 to access its Virtual Private Servers (VPS) for free (Traders often use a VPS to run automated trading algorithms). Otherwise, access to the VPS costs account holders GBP 50 per month.
Depending on the functionality you are looking for you may need to choose among different trading platforms. If you're looking for direct market access (DMA) the L2 Dealer platform is for you. If you're looking for backtesting and trade automation the ProRealTime platform may be more ideal.
IG scored very well in the Desktop Experience category. Their browser-based trading platform is stable and fully customizable. It provides everything from news alerts and third-party trading signals to watchlists and dynamic charts. The amount of information you can apply to the charts - indicators, drawings, economic events and more - while maintaining a clean, organized layout (even when toggling back and forth between chart time frames and single- and multi-chart layouts) is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the platform. Some traders may gravitate toward IG's MT4 charting package or one of the other advanced charting packages for the special features they offer. But most traders are going to find everything they need in IG's online, browser-based trading platform.
Everything in the online trading platform is customizable - from the color of the platform to the positioning and number of charting, news and portfolio windows. You can also trade forex, indices, individual shares, commodities, cryptocurrencies, ETFs and bonds and rates all within the same platform. Integrated trading signals from Autochartist and PIA-First, news updates from Reuters and customizable trade alerts all help keep you engaged and informed.
Launching the online trading platform is a multi-step process. Traders must first log into your account and then choose which platform you would like to launch from the dashboard.
The IG mobile app includes most of the functionality available in the desktop application. Traders can access IG's trading instruments, complex order types and account details, trading signals, and charting (complete with trading indicators and drawing tools) 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 of the same functionality clients can use in the desktop version to analyze and research trading opportunities. Clients can use advanced order types, track their accounts and receive trading alerts. The dynamic charts can also be expanded to full screen to provide better clarity during the technical analysis process. Clients can also easily toggle back and forth between accounts if they have more than one.
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.
IG customer support provides a robust network of agents to assist clients. Clients can contact customer support via phone, email, live chat or Twitter. IG also provides a dedicated team to offer one-to-one guidance to new clients. The company also maintains a robust FAQ database and investor community where clients can interact with and support each other. IG's only negative? No in-person support is available.
Customer service is available 24 hours a day from 8am Saturday to 10pm Friday. In our experience, response times via each of these customer service channels was prompt, knowledgeable and courteous. The FAQ section covers a wide variety of topics and has an excellent search engine. The IG Community provides a forum to discuss trading strategies, ask for help and learn about the various features of IG's trading platforms. While anyone can browse the forum, you must have a live account to post in the forum. Demo account holders may not post.
IG scored high in the research category. The platform includes real-time news feeds, calendars, and advanced data analytics. It also provides insight into what is happening on the IG trading floor and what other IG clients are trading in their own accounts.
IG provides a wide range of analytics, research and tools. We especially liked the client sentiment tool and the dynamic charts. The economic calendar was easy to use, integrated into the trading platform, and included expectations, actual results, currencies affected, and historical data. Research from IG's analysts was timely and informative.
The economic calendar provides timely data for the current trading day, but it lacks the ability to go forward or backward in time to see what is coming in the future or what has happened in the past. The pop-up data windows that appear when you click on a specific economic event are also broken.
IG's education via its IG Academy is well organized and comprehensive. It is even available in a mobile app so you can take your education with you. The ongoing webinars and commentary incorporate the trading platform, which will help investors to become more proficient with its use.
The nine trading courses available emphasize spread betting and CFDs. But the courses on technical analysis, trading psychology, understanding risk and reward, etc. are applicable regardless of the market you are trading.