Founded in 2013, Lead Capital Markets Ltd. offers online trading through Trade.com. The company is headquartered in Cyprus and regulated by the financial authorities at the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission. Trade.com provides forex, index, commodities, shares and cryptocurrency markets to traders. The Trade.com WebTrader platform was fairly good, and investors could also use the industry standard MetaTrader 4 (MT4) platform as an alternative. Traders in some markets, like the U.S., are restricted from working with Trade.com. Dealing spreads and trading costs were average overall; however, the broker's registration status doesn't provide enough transparency to allow us to be confident that those costs are always typical.
Trade.com typically had wider spreads than the industry average, but there were no commissions. There was an extensive list of cryptocurrencies available including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple. Account fees were reasonably limited except for a surprising inactivity fee for accounts left idle for 60 days. There was a nominal minimum account balance required ($1,000) to open an account. Trade.com scored well on the breadth of products available. While we liked the straightforward spread-only cost structure some traders may actually find it cheaper to trade with a broker that charges a commission for some trades or that charge higher account fees with a narrower spread.
Trade.com's trust scores suffered in our ratings because registration in Cyprus does not provide the same type of oversight and account protection of brokers registered in the U.K. or the U.S. It must be acknowledged that Forex dealers registered exclusively in Cyprus do not have the best track record when it comes to protecting account holders. While that may be unfair to some companies (and it's true that the U.S. and U.K. have had their own share of problems) traders should keep this in mind. Trade.com did use better internet encryption than typical, which was a big plus. There are no guaranteed stop losses, but account holders are provided with negative account balance protection, which is important during a period of extreme market volatility.
Account funds are held by Lead Capital Markets Ltd., the owner of Trade.com. Given that Trade.com is registered in Cyprus, the expected oversight and protection from the financial authorities is minimal. While the negative balance protection is attractive, this is offset by the limited protection afforded account holders in the event of default. We found encryption security to be above average, which is a plus.
For scoring purposes, the special features we considered were mostly included with MT4. Traders who use Trade.com's WebTrader platform won't see backtesting, autotrading, or trade analytics; but there were a few other features we thought were worth pointing out. In particular, we were impressed with the speed of the WebTrader platform and how easy it was to set up trades, navigate to different markets, and use research tools without becoming overwhelmed.
Most of the special features we liked were research related. We'll cover those in more detail in our research section below. Extensive access to the cryptocurrency markets will be very interesting to many traders, regardless of the wide spreads. The "Top Trend" lists in the WebTrader platform is the type of feature we have come to expect from a stock and options broker, but rarely see with a Forex broker, which was a nice addition.
Traders can always opt to use the MT4 platform with Trade.com but there are a few features in the custom WebTrader platform that deserve a second look. WebTrader was very fast and easy to use. No download was required as it simply ran in a browser. This means traders aren't limited to using just their office or home computer. We also felt that the charting and symbol list functionality was superior to MT4's.
There is nothing to install because the platform runs in a browser, which may be easier for some traders. Order entry was straightforward and advanced order types like buy and sell stops were simple to create. Individual markets from each asset class (shares, Forex, indexes, crypto, etc.) could be added to a "favorites" list to make navigation easier. It should be noted that because of the speed of the platform, we found that using the symbol search function was just as fast and probably easier. The charts are not the best we've seen but they had the minimum advanced functionality to support most traders.
We would have liked to have seen some social functionality in the trading platform. There just wasn't a great way to connect with other traders. The WebTrader application didn't support more advanced functionality like backtesting, a VPS, or autotrading. Investors looking for "Expert Advisors" (EAs) will have to use the MT4 platform. The drawing tools and chart annotation tools were acceptable, but clunky to use, and fell short of new standards we've grown accustomed to such as Tradingview/Multicharts.
The mobile trading platforms offer similar functionality to the WebTrader application. Traders can access trading instruments, advanced order types, a favorites watchlist and account information all from their mobile device. The mobile platform also includes charts. But we found the charting functionality to be limited compared to the alternative mobile app for MT4.
The mobile apps were easy to use and had enough minimal functionality to execute trades and do some analysis. The asset classes (forex, shares, indexes, commodities, cryptocurrencies, etc.) were easy to find and add to a favorites list. When it comes to simply checking orders or making trades the mobile app should meet the minimum requirements for most traders.
The app was easy to install but we were disappointed to find it had minimal security protections beyond password access. This could be a problem for traders who rely on mobile access and frequently access sensitive account information on the go. Depending on your region, the apps may be unavailable in the Apple AppStore or Google Play marketplaces.
Customer support hours were comprehensive and there were multiple methods to contact a support representative. Customer service representatives seemed to be polite and quick to respond to our questions. While we found contacting support to be an above-average experience there were other issues that impacted our rating. Trade.com's website had a very limited FAQ section for quick answers to common questions, and it was unclear how long withdrawals would take to be completed. As far as we could tell, Trade.com does not offer in-person support.
Phone support was available during all market hours with several options for international callers. We found chat support to be quick and were provided accurate answers. We were a little concerned with the lack of clarity around account withdrawals and the lack of a robust FAQ section on the website.
Trade.com offers a lot of research and insight tools that range from technical reports and economic calendars to stock analyst reports and research. Some features are only available to traders who deposit a minimum amount in their account. For example, access to Trading Central's technical alerts and reports is only available to "gold" accounts with at least $5,000 on deposit.
The calendar was easy to use and provided the ability to drill down to get more detail on each report. The Trading Central technical alerts and research is provided by a third party and limited to accounts with minimum deposits; however, the research is good and will likely be useful for qualifying traders. We found the stock analyst ratings were made much more useful by the ability to rank analysts based on historical accuracy. This function was visually appealing and fun to use.
Some research tools are only available to traders with a minimum account deposit. Tools like Trading Central are good but exist outside the trading platform which fragments the experience and makes it more difficult to navigate back and forth. The daily update video was very poor quality and too short to be very useful for traders looking for a concise update and actionable ideas.
Most of the educational materials were basic and even a little superficial. It isn't unusual in the industry to have fairly thin education in an attempt to "check a box" on their platforms. But we find that good education is still useful, especially for new investors who need a solid introduction to the Forex and CFD markets. We liked the "tooltips"-style education in the WebTrader platform that gave a guided tour around the features and functions to help shorten the learning curve.
Most of the educational content looked well produced, however, there wasn't a lot of depth in the material. The actual trading and market education wouldn't be very valuable for traders with experience, but new investors will likely appreciate the background information. The content was well organized and easy to find. While the market education was too skimpy, we think the education around the trading platforms (both MT4 and Webtrader) were well done and will help traders get up and running quickly.